Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Drive it like you rented it

Local company offers aspiring racers the chance to rent a race car

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If you've always dreamed of becoming the next big NASCAR star, but haven't got a clue where to start, you need to call Derek Pollock.

Back in 2009 Pollock -- who is a veteran stock car racer -- built a spare stock car his daughter Taylor and members of his pit crew could bomb around the track in for a few practice laps. Before long, the car started getting attention from other race teams.

"A guy who was working the pits for a fellow racer asked me if he could rent the car and race it for a night and a light went on in my head," recalled Pollock of the day he realized renting race cars could become a profitable business.

Nowadays, Pollock's company, Rental Racecar, offers four rental racers. He estimates to date more than 100 locals have rented the cars and raced at both Red River Co-Op Speedway and ALH Speedway in Morden.

"The response has been terrific," Pollock said. "Sharing the thrill of racing with people who may not have otherwise had an opportunity to race makes all the hard work we've done totally worthwhile."

In addition to Monday and Thursday night races, this year Pollock has been hosting corporate events on Saturday afternoons at Red River Co-Op Speedway for groups as large as 20.

Pollock has seen a variety of folks rent and race his fleet of cars, ranging from seasoned former racers who want to relive their glory days to pure racing rookies who always dreamed of getting behind the wheel of a stock car, but couldn't afford the considerable initial investment required.

Many of his renters receive race packages -- which start at $100.00 -- as gifts. The cars can cost as much as $10,000 to build and Pollock received loads of help from his friend and veteran fabricator Jeff Copp of MRC Customs.

No corners were cut when building the cars and Copp and Pollack drove them on the track to ensure they are not only safe but also competitive.

Pollock also transports the cars to the track, fills them with fuel, provides the necessary safety gear and outlines the track rules.

For Darcy Basaraba, a City of Winnipeg employee who turns 30 on Sunday, racing a stock car has been a lifelong dream.

"I was born to race," said Basaraba with a mile wide grin on his face, "I have done some drag racing out at Gimli with my Mustang but this is a totally different experience, it really gets the adrenaline flowing."

Basaraba enjoys the rental racing experience so much he's booked one of Pollock's cars for the entire season and plans to build and race his own car next year.

"It's less of a financial burden for someone just getting started and really allows for an opportunity to see if racing is for you," he said.

On Monday Basaraba finished a respectable fifth place out of 15 cars and is in the points hunt for rookie of the year.

"It's good healthy fun, if you respect the car, respect the speed and respect the track you can have a great time," he said.

John Ford, 48, is one of the owners of Winnipeg's three Montana's Cookhouse restaurants.

"Derek actually used to live across the street from us and we began sponsoring his rental racers last season," said Ford, who has driven the rental cars on a few occasions, including last Monday night.

He offered the experience is a total riot, "Derek has a great saying, when people get behind the wheel for the first time they get 'The Joker' smile."

That permanent grin made infamous by Batman's favourite villain typically remains on their faces for the remainder of the night.

"Derek is literally the hardest working man in racing, I've watched this guy work around the clock," said Ford. "He has such a passion for this sport and he does what he does because he wants to share that passion with everyone else."

For more information, or to book a race date, you can call Derek Pollock at 204-781-8837

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 26, 2013 F2

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