A Sort of Homecoming: Canadian Kyle Marcelli Revels in Return to Mid-Ohio

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By: Christian Ryan

If home is where the heart is, Kyle Marcelli has plenty to go around.

Hailing from Ontario, Canada, the well-traveled driver currently competes in the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship with 3GT racing in the GTD class. Having climbed through the ranks of professional sports car racing over the past decade, Marcelli is showcasing his talents in a field that goes against the grain of typical Canadian sport expectations.

“As most Canadians do, you start off playing hockey,” he said, before attending a promotion with the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL. “That was the case for me until I was 13… I started racing go karts at age 11, so I did both for a couple of years and then just had to make the decision as to what direction I wanted to go. The passion for motorsports outweighed the passion for hockey.”

Having turned his attention to professional racing opportunities in the United States, Ohio became a second home to Marcelli, who had previously spent significant time in the state visiting family. The shift from hockey into the rough and tumble world of motorsports proved to be a challenge, but Marcelli has deftly navigated the industry’s landscape.

“There’s so many talented, capable race car drivers out there,” Marcelli explains. “I can’t really pinpoint one particular reason you end up where you do. A lot of it is timing, and then of course doing your job with success when you are in the car and when you’re out of the car.”

Signing his first professional racing contract with Dublin, Ohio’s Intersport Racing and winning at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the American Le Mans Series in 2011, Mid-Ohio quickly solidified its place as a home track in Marcelli’s mind.

Personal connections aside, Marcelli is mostly just happy to have sports car racing back at the track he calls his second home. With the introduction of the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship, he sees the signaling of a new era for the historical sport and track alike.

“The last time that sports car racing was at Mid-Ohio when it was the American Le Mans Series, the car counts were sort of dwindling,” he says. “So it’s going to be a completely different environment and atmosphere this time around. Every category is maxed out for car count, and all of the best manufacturers are there. The racing is really, really good this year… It’s so exciting when you walk up the grid at Daytona or Sebring, and it’s going to be the same case at Mid-Ohio. You see everything from Lexus, to Porsche, to Ferrari, to Mercedes, and we’re going head to head. For those sports car enthusiasts, it’s really exciting.”

For him, a part of that growth was a chance to compete in GTD with 3GT Racing.

“It was an opportunity that I of course had to jump at,” Marcelli says. “It’s the first year for me driving for this manufacturer and race team. The car itself is in its second year of competition and it’s at a point where it’s very competitive and we will be there to challenge for the win.”

With IMSA bringing a whole new level of competition to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Marcelli knows that the return of sports car racing in Mid-Ohio will make an impact on fans.

“From the Prototype category right down to GT Daytona, every class is stacked with top teams and drivers and manufacturers,” he says. “It’s going to be a good show.”

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