For over 60 years dirt-track racing has been a Manitoba pastime.
The first race took place in 1953 at Whittier Park in St. Boniface, and since then tens of thousands of people have watched drivers test the limits of themselves and the cars they drive to reach the finish line.
Since 1973 dirt racing has been taking held at the Red River Co-op Speedway (formerly known as Victory Lane Speedway and Winnipeg Speedway) located just south of the city on Highway 75. Twice a week drivers take to the track to compete for a coveted checkered flag.
For the last 14 years, area resident Derek Pollock has been racing in a variety of classes, including Street Stock, Super Stock, Enduro and now Super Truck.
"I constantly like to challenge myself and as my racing skill has improved, I have moved up to a more competitive class level." Derek says.
Racing is truly a family affair for Pollock.
"My Dad was a drag racer back in the day and my brother races. My wife’s grandfather was also a racer, which makes her very understanding of the long hours and the costs," he says with a slight chuckle.
Racing is not a hobby for the faint of heart. Each season can cost between $5,000 to $10,000 per year and more if a driver blows out an engine or gets into a crash.
"Beyond the thrill of racing and the occasional checkered flag, the best part of racing is spending time with my family and friends," Derek says.
Most weekends his entire family, daughters Taylor 17, Camryn 11, and wife Shannon can be found at the track.
"Taylor and Camryn help out in the pits with changing tires and maintaining the car while my wife counts laps from the stands."
Although winning is nice, Derek feels that the opportunity to teach his girls about cars and racing are the biggest rewards.
Recognizing that there is a race car driver in everyone and wanting to share the rush of flying around a dirt track at 65 miles per hour, Derek started Rental Race Car.
"I purchased a few cars, made them race ready and then rent them out to wannabe drivers!" Derek says.
Rental cars include two 1974 Chevrolet Chevelles, a 1979 Chevrolet Malibu and a 1983 Buick Regal. All have a small block Chevy 355 cubic inch specially prepared race engine and compete in the Pure and Street Stock division(s).
Individuals are suited up in a fire suit, given instructions and racing tips and test the car with some hot laps (when drivers simply drive around the track to warm-up without actually competing for a position).
Next they line-up with other drivers in their class and participate in an actual race.
"There is nothing like feeling the sweat drip down your brow while waiting for the green flag to wave to signal the start of the race," Derek says.
For more information on Rental Race Car visit rentalracecar.com
Racing season is set to begin in the next few weeks, so visit redrivercoopspeedway.com for details.
Carolyne Braid is a community correspondent for Crescentwood. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org