Speedway promoters are a unique breed. They’re not just sitting back counting the money as the crowd comes through the gates. In most cases, they’re fans of the sport and in some instances, even competitors. Kawartha’s Derek Lynch is a race winner in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and has turned laps on some of North America’s most famous venues. Sunset Speedway’s Mark Dilley still campaigns a competitive Canadian Tire Series ride and at Brighton Speedway, Mark Rinaldi raced a street stock on a limited basis and even climbed behind the wheel of a DIRTcar sportsman modified. JP Josiasse – owner and promoter at Peterborough Speedway – is cut from the same cloth.
The 41 year-old – who arrived in Canada from his native Belgium at the age of 9 – loves the sport of stock car racing and the thrill that comes with running door-to-door with the best drivers around. To steer clear of any perceived favouritism he might encounter by racing at his own track, he hauls south on county road 28 and campaigns the #24 Old Smoke House Catering Company/Pepsi/Webb Transmissions/Refinishes Systems/Dupont/Linton’s Service Centre/ Leaf Racewear/JP Motorsports/Lucas Oil Chevrolet Impala in Kawartha Speedway’s NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model division. After starting his career in a thunder car in 1993, he moved through the ranks and even spent time as a crew chief in the former CASCAR Super Series.
“I was a hardcore racer, but hung-up my helmet when I purchased Peterborough Speedway in December of 1999,” said Josiasse. “I thought I was finished with driving until New Years Day in ’08. Winning the Hangover 150 on a dirt track in Ransomville, New York gave me the urge to get back in a racecar…first in a limited late model and eventually the headline class at Kawartha.”
Like most drivers who make the choice to step away from the driver’s seat, JP says he missed the challenge of the sport and the friendships he made at the track. He admits that competing on a regular basis can be extremely humbling. Finding the ideal combination and the ability to tweak your equipment plays such a huge role, it’s all worthwhile once everything comes together. Your goal is to run as fast as you can, but being patient is really the only way to get there.
“At the level we’re running, everyone in the field has such great equipment and hitting the spot where the car is perfect is hard to find,” said Josiasse. “It’s a double-edged sword because one of the things I dislike about racing is also one of the aspect that keeps me coming back week-after-week, year-after-year. We’ve struggled to find a set-up that works, but at the last couple of shows of 2011, the car actually became fun to drive. That made everything we’d done over the years worth the effort.”
As Josiasse gets more comfortable with the car, he finds it easier to communicate adjustments and provide valuable feedback to crew members Dave Sikma, Brent Kirkpatrick, Jenn Martin, Jeff Tyndal and Hans Josiasse. After making some extensive changes over the winter, the Ennismore, Ontario racer is confident that 2012 will be the season where everything comes together and he’s able to earn a long overdue main event win and a top 10 point finish.
“Like everyone else, we’re trying hard to make it to victory lane and when it happens, the long hours and sleepless nights will be a thing of the past.”
Kawartha klips: After an open practice session Friday, May 25th, Kawartha Speedway’s first night of action for 2012 is Friday, June 1st. The track will also host a testing day for NASCAR Canadian Tire Series teams Wednesday June 6th. For details and the latest news, see www.kawarthaspeedway.com.
Prepared by Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications