SCOTIA SPEEDWORLD: It was something I dreamt of doing—and on May 31 I got the opportunity to do it. I had always wanted to do a real race in the weekly racing series at Scotia Speedworld, but knew I didn’t have the means to do so.

The interest was stoked some four years ago when I did a few media races at the track as part of their yearly promotion.

Now, friends of mine at Ken-Etic Auto have a race team made up of three cars in the TOURSEC Lightning division. They are the 141 of Rational Richard Drake, his wife 114 Paige Drake, and the 142 of Bruce Larter.

Paige was away at a conference in P.E.I. so the team needed a fill-in driver on May 31. That’s where I was tabbed about a month ago as that fill-in driver. Me, a guy who didn’t know how to drive a stick shift and had only raced a Lightning car some years ago and that time ended with the 158 of Jamie Dillman’s car transmission going kaput (the transmission was on the way out anyway I was told at the time, so it wasn’t because of me).

Well race night arrived. I got out for the second and third practice sessions. I liked the speed I had in the second session; the third one I just didn’t feel as comfortable. Might have been that I was trying to push it more after getting comfortable. I also moved up the track a bit from just being low in all of the second practice.

Travis Keefe in the 145 passes Pat Healey on the outside. (Mike McCarthy Photo)

Heat race time came and I began fifth on the grid, which was just fine with me. It was the inside line, right where I wanted to be all race long. We got the green flag and off we went.

A few laps in, the 199 of Ashley Stevens got squirrley and I quickly braked as it looked like she was going to turn it in front of me. I almost closed my eyes. Soon after I made it safely past and pulled away.

A few laps later I caught Marshall Bezanson in the 106—which was an automatic I found out afterwards. I kept closing the gap, and got inside of him as he had kept going wide out of the corners, then down (sliding in front of me, a couple very close calls). One of those wide moves then came into the corner and I was there. And I got door slammed on the passenger side.

It kind of shook me up. I knew I was inside of him and was sure he would have known. He didn’t. I couldn’t regain my momentum after that. Marshall came to me in the pits and apologized for that, so that was very nice of him to do that.

After the heat race, I pulled in to our pit stall and the car stalled and wouldn’t refire. “OH NO I broke the car” I thought.

Turns out it was a grounded wire, but teammate Bruce Larter and owner/crew chief Ken Zwicker went to work and fixed it up. And alas, “Sandy” the car’s nickname was alive again.

Pat Healey heads in to turn three and four. (Morgan Fitz Photography)

In the feature, the green flag waved and off we went for 25 laps of action. I was battling with 142, 181, 199, and 106 at the back. My kindness may have shown as the 199 was coming down in front of me a few times, and I let off not wanting to cause any issue.

I was reeling in a couple of the cars 181 and 106, but got caught mirror racing as I was trying to line up so the leaders would not catch me at a bad spot. And I spun in turn three on lap 17, bringing out the caution.

All I remember saying as I spun and the leaders, came by was “come on start how do I get this restarted now.” My eyes were wide.

I finished the full race and got seat time, so the position really didn’t matter. I finished P13.

From a guy usually in the tower tweeting out the results, to being in the car it was cool to hear the chatter from new race director Jason Morash. He even had encouragement for us at the back of the pack when we got out of the way nice for the leaders and didn’t hold them up. I know I appreciated those words.

One of the best parts for me was able to know what Richard and Bruce were talking about during our post-race debrief from experiencing and seeing it from in the car.

All I can say is I’m hooked. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel again. Oh and one more thing—racing is much more than just going in circles. There’s a lot to it, and I had a great time experiencing that first-hand.