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Local race-car driver makes pro debut

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Winnipegger Damon Surzyshyn participated in his first pro race, a Pirelli World Challenge race at Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama on April 26.

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Winnipegger Damon Surzyshyn participated in his first pro race, a Pirelli World Challenge race at Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama on April 26. Photo Store

Making a film takes precision, accuracy, determination. Being a race-car driver requires many of the same attributes and Damon Surzyshyn engages them in both of his professions.

As a local filmmaker, Surzyshyn, who runs Nomad Productions — a Winnipeg-based, full-service production company specializing in commercial, corporate, TV and animated productions — "takes a fun, fresh and professional" approach to his work.

As a professional race-car driver, Surzyshyn — who made his pro debut in a Pirelli World Challenge touring car B-spec class race at Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama on April 26 — shows off his more competitive side; he is driven to win.

"There was a lot to learn in one race weekend, the series, the track, the car and the team were all new to me," Surzyshyn said after completing his first pro race, in which he finished 11th, driving a white Honda Fit, in a highly-competitive field.

"It was my first time racing a front wheel drive touring car, but I was able to put my open-wheel experience to good use and qualify ninth, only a few-tenths (of a second) out of the Top 5."

Surzyshyn’s first pro weekend was cut short due to horrific weather conditions, including tornados that touched down in the Birmingham area. But the experience of racing on the big stage that has given him the hunger to continue to pursue his driving dream.

"My goal for this year is to do a couple more races," Surzyshyn explained. "I want to work on sponsorships and try and do a full season next year in 2015.

"Long-term? I’d like to get into the Grand-Am series or Sebring and endurance racing would be really interesting, too."

It would seem that racing would affect his production as a filmmaker but Surzyshyn — who promotes Winnipeg group Beyond Borders, an anti-child exploitation advocacy organization, on his car —  insists it’s to the contrary.

"In some ways it is easier," he said. "You jump on a plane, you’re gone for four days, and then you come back and get back to work. It’s only eight or nine weekends a year."

With the summer racing scene just around the corner, Surzyshyn hopes to get to a couple more touring car races in Ohio and Wisconsin and perhaps one more in the fall. Meanwhile, he will hone his skills locally.

"I am going to race up in Gimli," Surzyshyn said. "I will be doing a combo of both. There are five weekends up in Gimli which will have six races over Saturday and Sunday. You spend a lot of time on the track."

All the practice will come in handy for Surzyshyn, who will be on a mission in his next TCB race after a certain British-made sports car initiated contact with him and bumped him out of a Top 10 finish.

"I have a score to settle with one guy who punted me off the road," Surzyshyn divulges. "A Mini Cooper, number 57."

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