Watch video: Left-turn lesson
It was Thursday afternoon around 3 p.m. I was sitting at my desk working away, and a co-worker, last year’s Scotia Speedworld media race winner, Calvin Clarke, approached me. He said the media race was coming up once again on Friday night, and he hadn’t had any luck finding a driver and wanted to see if I could do it.
Now, I remember being asked to do this last year, and I wasn’t available, and I sort of regretted not doing it. It’s a great chance to go up against metro media celebs, many of them from radio, and potentially win $1,000 for our corporate charity — Raise a Reader.
Keep in mind, my racing experience is definitely limited to things that go in both directions, having done road-racing at Atlantic Motorsport Park, auto slalom, and the occasional round of karting at Kartbahn. Understandably, I wasn’t sure about this oval racing thing. I’ve been to the Friday night races before; I have plenty of friends who do it. It’s definitely not the same “gentlemen’s racing” that takes place on a road course, where rubbing is, in fact, not racing.
I told Calvin I’d have to think about it, then took the debate to Facebook, where all of my racing friends responded with, “I can’t believe you even have to think about this.” One friend, Mark Campbell, someone I’ve known for more than a decade, told me his car would be one of the vehicles available for the race! I love it when a plan comes together. I gave my definite “YES”, and got on with preparations.
On Friday morning, Calvin brought me the trophy, and simply said “If you’re going to do this, you need to win.” — The Chronicle Herald has won this thing for the last two years.
|Jenn Harrie races Mark Campbell’s #150 Adesa Auctions Dodge Neon to victory in the Media Race on Friday night at Scotia Speed World. (Matt Jacques photo)|
When I arrived at the track, I went up to the VIP lounge, and my competitors started to arrive — radio personalities and another print reporter. We had a couple of hours to wait, which left lots of time for smack talk and laughs while we watched the other heat races and some feature races. Much to my delight, I was able to get my friend Mark’s #150 Dodge Neon (Sponsored by Adesa Auctions) as my ride for the race.
I put on my driving suit, which I use for road racing, and other gear to get ready to race, which raised a few eyebrows. My response: “Well, I can’t wear it out to dinner, so I need to wear it out somewhere.”
When the time came, we walked down across the track to the infield, where the announcer introduced us to the crowd. Mark gave me some last minute tips for getting the most out of his car, like where it likes to run on the track, braking/acceleration points, and any quirks to watch for.
We got in the cars and gridded up. I was starting in fourth position out of seven, behind Pat Healey from the Enfield Weekly Press. The pace car took us out for formation and warm-up laps. Pat’s car succumbed to mechanical issues during this time, putting me in third place.
When the green flag dropped, I sped past the car in second position and started to chase down the first place car. Once I got past them, I tried to get a little lead on the field. What I didn’t expect was that Caroline Parker from KOOL, who raced in last year’s event, not only had gotten over her nervousness, but had gotten a great car! Caroline passed me, and I chased her down for at least two whole laps. She was definitely a formidable opponent. I got my break when she spun out in turn three, and went past to retake the lead. After that, it was all about pushing hard enough to stay ahead, while being consistent and smooth in the steering, brake and gas. With a couple of laps to go, I came back around on the back of the field, and lapped two cars before the chequered flag dropped, allowing me to claim victory, for the third year in the row, for The Chronicle Herald! Caroline Parker followed in second place, making it a female one-two.
|Jenn Harrie accepts a cheque for $1,000 to Raise-a-Reader, joined by other drivers and car owners from the media race. Other drivers included personalities from Energy 1035, Q104, Live 105, KOOL and The Enfield Weekly Press. (Matt Jacques photo).|
I felt like a star as I got out of the car and the announcer got the crowd cheering and interviewed me on the infield. A few quick pictures from Matt Jacques, a cheque presentation, and Mark, thrilled to see his car piloted to victory, congratulated me on the win.
After I got over my nerves, and got a pattern going, oval track racing was fun, and I would definitely do it again next year.
Thanks to everyone who helped along the way, including my friends for encouragement, Mark Campbell for a great car and some great tips, and my partner, David, for carrying the gear bag (among other things).
Now here I sit, stiff and bruised from the experience (hey, I haven’t done this in a while!), but smiling.
Media folks of Metro – I hope to see you next year! Rematch?