Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/9/2015 (1525 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 11/9/2015 (1525 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If you were hanging out with Mark Chipman Thursday afternoon and he seemed a little distracted, cut him some slack.
The co-owner of the Winnipeg Jets was well aware two of his key players, centre Mark Scheifele and goalie Michael Hutchinson, were channeling their inner Ricky Bobby at the Gimli Motorsports Park.
That's not typically the kind of cross-training owners recommend to their athletes.
Scheifele said he doesn't watch NASCAR on television, but that didn't mean he wasn't totally pumped to be there.
"I'm a fast-driving fan," he said with a smile. "I don't know if (Chipman) knows that. I think we'll be pretty safe today."
The two Jets were given some driving tips by professional race car driver David Richert and then got behind the wheel themselves of an Audi TT sports car for a little "shake and bake." Scheifele, one of the fastest skaters on the Jets, pushed the needle up to 165 km/h. That was just a few kilometres slower than when he was a passenger with Richert.
"That was really fast, it was crazy. I got sucked back into the back of the seat," he said. "You feel like you're going to take off and go flying. I was just hoping I wouldn't throw up. That was my main focus. I've never gone that fast before. (I've gone) almost that fast," he said, keeping a straight face for less than a second before breaking out into laughter. "Just kidding."
Thursday's racing came out of Scheifele's golf tournament in June as a couple of the auction prizes were racing a few laps around the Gimli track.
The event raised more than $80,000 for KidSport Winnipeg. Ray Bateman and Paul Scharf each bid $1,000 to get some pointers from Richert. They each got to sit in the passenger seat while he introduced them to the track and then sat in the driver's seat themselves.
"It was a great experience," Bateman said. "One of the best is turn nine, you can go so fast. We were doing more than 190 km/h down the stretch. The brakes were just smoked right off the car."
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Scharf said the thought of perishing in a fiery crash never entered his mind.
"It felt very safe and in control. Dave was pushing you lap by lap. 'You can go a little faster.' He taught us control," he said.
KidSport is a national charity administered in the province by Sport Manitoba. It aims to remove financial barriers that prevent children from participating in sports.
Hutchinson said when he heard that was Scheifele's charity of choice, he jumped on board.
"It really hits home for any athlete. You never know where your life would be if you didn't have the opportunity to play sports. Your life would be totally different," he said.
MICHAEL Hutchinson has no desire to follow in the footsteps of Andy Brown.
The long-retired goaltender with the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins will forever be known as the last professional tender to play without a mask during a game in 1977.
He jumped to the WHA's Indianapolis Racers in the fall 1974. While Wayne Gretzky may have started his professional career with the Racers, it's safe to say most players weren't clamouring to be traded to Indiana.
Brown, however, was different in more ways than one. He felt he could pursue his two loves there -- hockey and race-car driving. He hoped when he wasn't stopping pucks he could drive a car in the Indianapolis 500, the world's most famous car race.
"I was driving sprint cars. As a kid, I worked on race cars, built them and drove them. I thought I might have a shot of getting an Indy ride. I thought I could pursue both hockey and racing," Brown says.
Hutchinson jokingly questioned the sanity of anybody who would willingly stand in front of flying rubber without facial protection. (During his career, Brown, whose nickname was "Fearless," received more than 400 stitches and had all of his teeth knocked out.)
"I know for a fact if I couldn't wear a mask I wouldn't be a goalie," he said.
He also didn't see himself pursuing a dual career on the track.
"I'm pretty laid back. I like taking my time with things. I'm not in a rush to get anywhere," he said.