By their nature, racecar drivers lack the ability to sit still. They’re used to the high speeds, thrills and close competition of their chosen vocation. Things become problematic once they’ve achieved a certain level of success. Drive and desire take over. The need to take that next step makes them restless and necessitates change.
With 13 years behind the wheel and success in the street stock, pro stock and Canadian modified divisions at Brighton Speedway, Doug O’Blenis felt the urge to break-away and explore different arenas. In 2009, he acquired a Bicknell chassis racer and set-off in pursuit of new challenges in the DIRTcar sportsman modified class at Brockville Ontario Speedway. The 29 year-old from Napanee, Ontario admits it was a pretty big step.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,” said O’Blenis. “There were some sleepless nights before that first show in the sportsman car. I had practically grown-up around Brighton Speedway, but after winning the Canadian modified championship in 2007, I started to get a little antsy. The urge to step outside the comfort zone and try something new became a little too much to handle and it was time to move on.”
The transition from one track to another can always be a big step, but O’Blenis was also making the move to different type and style of racecar. Anyone who’ll tell you that one car is the same as another obviously hasn’t strapped-in behind the wheel. A crate engine powered DIRTcar sportsman machine rides on wider rubber than anything the driver had wheeled before and track conditions between Brighton and Brockville are also quite different. Even though both speedways are clay ovals, O’Blenis rolled into his rookie campaign with a notebook filled with blank pages. A 15th place effort in the final standings during his freshman campaign gave the second generation runner something solid to build on.
Race by race, O’Blenis learned more about how the new car would handle and how it would respond to the changes his team of crew chief and father Don O’Blenis, Rob Pickstock and Jim Cole – with special help from wife Amanda O’Blenis, mother Donna O’Blenis and daughters Kaitlyn and Ashley – made to compensate for the varying track conditions.
Step by step, the puzzle pieces began to fit together and Doug’s #32 John’s Car Care/JC Cleaning Services/Drain-All Plumbing/Rez Boyz/Napanee Tree Service/Grant & Lola Clark/Hometown Accounting/O’Blenis Racing Products/Onguard Security/ www.imagefactor.ca Bicknell became a consistent runner. Fast forward to the end of the 2011 season with 6 heat race wins and a 9th place points showing in 16 Brockville starts and the team was ready to move another rung up the ladder. O’Blenis says he feels he has what it takes to make the team a regular top five finisher and eventual race winner.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what we’ll do this year,” said O’Blenis. “It’ll be our 4th season at Brockville and I think we’ve accomplished quite a bit along the way. We’re still chasing that first main event win, but so are a number of other drivers. Every week gets us closer to finding our way to victory lane and it’ll be a great celebration when it happens.”
The O’Blenis Racing Team will campaign a freshly minted 2012 Bicknell chassis – owned by Doug O’Blenis and Nan Sweet – in DIRTcar sportsman modified action and plans to focus on Saturday night shows at Brockville Speedway, with occasional forays to other tracks as time and finances permit. The team will also return to the familiar turf of Brighton Speedway Park for the annual Applefest Weekend’s Super DIRTcar Series event Friday, September 21st.
Fans can track Doug’s performance at www.oblenisracing.com or www.facebook.com/oblenisracing. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Amanda O’Blenis, email@example.com.
Prepared by: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications