It’s been another busy weekend in Quebec for me, attending events on Friday , Saturday and Sunday, but this weeks report begins in Cornwall , Ontario, on Tuesday (15th Sept).
A week ago , while I was at the Autodrome Granby, promoter Dominic Lussier, asked me and my buddy Don Simpson, if we’d like to do a few laps in a Sportsman car . Dominic has partnered up with Alex Lajoie , one of his local drivers, to operate DRIVR . It’s a company that rents out dirt Sportsman cars, to ‘would be’ drivers wanting to get some experience. Both Don and I, didn’t hesitate to say yes.
So, on Tuesday , I took a trip across town to see Brian McDonald who is one of my local Cornwall Modified drivers.
My big concern about Dominics offer, was my size, (I’m a big guy) and whether or not I could squeeze inside a race car. I didn’t want to arrive on the day, and have the embarrassment of not being able to fit. Brian, is one of the bigger guys that compete in dirt racing and he agreed to let me try getting into his car.
He was very helpful and gave me the all important tips, of getting in and out. He also loaned me one of his old racing suits. Although DRIVR were going to provide the race suits, I didn’t want to risk them not having my size.
Don and I were scheduled to be at the R.P.M Speedway, at St Marcel in Quebec, at 9-00 am , on Sunday the 20th of September.
This was perfect, as I had plans to be at the nearby Autodrome Drummond on Friday and Saturday for their two day show.
I’d arranged to go with my good friend Chanty , and I picked her up from Gatineau, early Friday morning.
Don was only going for the Friday show, as he was covering the Cornwall Motor Speedway Enduro on Saturday.
Chanty and I, took a leisurely drive up to Drummondville, and even had time to take the ferry across the Ottawa River, from Masson to Cumberland.
After checking into the Best Western , we took the short drive down to the track.
We were meeting up with the Cedric Gauvreau #22C Sportsman team that also come from Gatineau. Cedric had recently acquired the multi race winning, Shane Pecore Bicknell, and it was his first time out with this make of chassis.
One of Chanty’s first jobs was helping Eric (Cedric’s dad) to put the new numbers and decals on the plain white body.
Once the racing got under way I stationed myself in my usual spot on turn three and four.
The program consisted of Modifieds, Sportsman , Pro Stocks and Lightening Sprints.
The Sprint Feature was first and won by Pascal Levesque, followed by the Pro Stocks where Bruno Richard got the win .
Next up was the 50 lap Modified feature.
Earlier in the night David Hebert # ONE , had told Don, his car wasn’t set up very well for the track conditions that night, but somehow he managed to turn things round in this race.
From a midway start he gradually carved his way to the front, passing front runners Mathieu Desjardins and Francois Bernier to capture his second consecutive Drummond Victory.
The Sportsman Feature was the last race of the night, and just like the previous week at Drummond, it was the best race of the show.
Once again the Racine brothers were in Victory Lane , this time it was William in the # 35 car .
As you’d expect at a two day racing event, there was a bit of socializing ( at a distance, of course ) after the races, so when Chanty offered to be the ‘designated driver’ , I decided to stay after at the 22C hauler for a beer or three .
Cedric cranked up some country music and we had a great end to the evening with the team .
It was a bit late by the time we made our exit.
Saturday was a lazy day spent downloading and editing pictures from the night before.
At lunch time we had some nice spaghetti at the Normandin Restaurant in Drummodville with Marc Danis, from the 22C team, before we headed to the track.
The weather forecast said it was going get really cold on Saturday night and , oh boy, they weren’t wrong.
I’m glad they had a propane heater in the back of the hauler.
The program for the night included , Modifieds, Sportsman, Lightening Sprints, STR’s and Mod Lites.
One addition to the Modified roster was Clement Therrien of Victoriaville.
With the extreme chilly weather we were enduring , I decided to concentrate my picture taking, only on the main divisions.
The Modified Feature was a 75 lapper, (not really what I wanted when I was freezing my ass off LOL) , but it was a good one.
Again Matheiu Desjardins was the key player , as was, Steve Bernard , and Francois Bernier, but it was the # 25 of Michael Parent that a lot of people were watching.
As, Bernard, the main challenger dropped out, Parent moved up to within striking distance of the front two.
When the checkers came out for Desjardins , he crossed the line beside second place man Bernier to claim , third spot on the podium.
Last race of the night once again, was for the Sportsman, where , it was the turn of Even Racine # 54 to claim the win.
There was no socializing tonight night, as everyone was eager to get back to the warmth of the Hotel.
I had to be up early in the morning for the Sportsman test drive at the R.P.M Speedway, so it was arranged for Chanty to get a ride back to Gatineau later in the day with the 22C team.
St Marcel is only about 35 minutes away from Drummondville, so I was at the track by 8-45 am.
Don along with his wife, Lise , were already there when I arrived. They had left home in Russell (nr Ottawa) in the early hours to be there.
I think Lise had come along to make sure Don was safe 🙂
We both checked in with Dominic , Alex and the rest of the DRIVR team.
Like any good boss , Dominic wasn’t afraid to do some of the more mundane chores.
Also there to give us some moral support and useful coaching, were our good friends Steve and Francois Bernier who had made the trip from St Hyacinthe to share our special day .
DRIVR had two Sportsman cars on hand , one black and one white, both with # 33 on the sides. They were Bicknell Chassis and were powered by 350 GM Crate engines.
Lise and I watched as Don signed the Insurance waiver before donning his racing suit and strapping into his designated ‘white car’.
They run one car on the track at a time, so while Don was out there having fun, I’d be picture taking , and visa versa.
The driver is then pushed on to the track in neutral, and once out there, you stop while a staff member puts the car into racing gear. You are then given a push start (Sprint Car fashion).
Cones were placed in the middle of the corners which were not to be touched, and only there to help mark the correct racing line.
While Don was doing his thing , it was time for me to capture him driving .
Don emerged from his drive with a big smile on his face, and now it was my turn.
I was allocated the ‘black car’.
Once I’d climbed in, I had race-ceivers fitted to my ears, so I could be given instructions while on the track.
My main concern was the fact that my ‘beer belly’ was touching the steering wheel, but after a quick adjustment to the column , I was ready to go.
I must admit , I was a bit nervous, as it’s been over 30 years back in the UK that I last drove a race car . (not counting a media race in a mini-stock at the Airborne Speedway NY 15 years ago)
FLASHBACK TO 1975 in my BriSCA F1 Stock Car
Well, I was pushed out on the track, just like Don, and within a few minutes, I was on the move.
I took it easy at for the first few laps and then got a little quicker , as my nerves calmed down and I got a bit braver. I was really enjoying it !
When I was done, I parked the car on the back straight and shut it down, I was then met by the push truck, to return to the pits.
Well , what a great experience, the DRIVR thing is so cool.
It’s well organized , professionally done, and a big credit to Dominic, Alex and the team.
I recommend this to any dirt racing fan , who wants to get out and feel what it’s like for their favorite drivers they watch each week.
After my little drive it gave me so much more admiration for the guys and girls that do it , (many times faster than me) at the Speedways all over North America.
Finally, I must just say, that my day was so much nicer, to be able to do it with my good buddy Don Simpson, and be surrounded by friends.
BIG BIG THANKS TO ALL WHO MADE IT HAPPEN