Hometown: Derby, VT
Division: Allen Lumber Street Stocks
Car: North Country Campers #93 Ford Mustang
2018 Season: Finished T-3rd in Street Stock points; 1 feature win and 14 top-10s
What are your favorite hobbies outside of racing?
I snowmobile and I enjoy camping. I try to camp as much as I can outside of work. I park my camper just a few miles away from my shop at Char-Bo Campground in Derby. I leave it there seasonally other than a few times a year that I might pull it out to go on vacation with my kids somewhere. It’s close to work, and that’s part of what I do for work is working on campers.
That leads right into my next question. What do you do for work?
I have a few different jobs. I own North Country Campers – I’m very busy with that job during the summer. In the wintertime, I’m not open as much. I do rebuilds in the winter, but I’m not here full-time. For 19 years during the wintertime, I’ve worked at North Country Hospital in Newport as an occupational therapy assistant. I also plow a couple businesses here in town during the early mornings and nights whenever it’s needed – a fairly decent-sized gas station and a bank as well as a few residential places. I keep busy.
Can you tell us more about what you do as an occupational therapy assistant?
That’s what I went to college for. With occupational therapy, we do a lot of work with kids in the local school systems. We travel around to different schools working with kids that have fine motor deficits, from someone that might just be delayed to someone that has a diagnosed disorder – something on the autism spectrum, Downs syndrome, or anything like that. We do fine motor work, activities to help them focus in class, and just basically manage their everyday lifestyles. Sometimes it might be teaching kids that have deficits to put on their jacket and just basic stuff like that. At our outpatient clinic, we specialize with patients that have hand and arm injuries. That ranges from building strength back up to severe injuries where they might have an amputation and we teach them how to do different things. Which is appropriate, being that I only have one arm – I’ve been down that road.
What are your racing plans for 2019? Do you have any goals?
I’ll be racing the full year at Thunder Road in the Street Stocks. I don’t know if I’ll venture to other tracks or not. Truthfully, it’s all about time for me. I’ve always loved Thunder Road – that’s why I chose to race there. Also, it’s on Thursday nights; I have 8-year-old twins, so I don’t miss any weekend time with the kiddos racing at Thunder Road. As for goals for the year, I’d obviously love to end up in the top-5 in points again. I think everyone would love to win a championship, but I’m happy if we can consistently stay in the top-5 at the end of the year.
What was the highlight of the 2018 season for you?
I had only raced five times before in my life before this year, so definitely the highlight was winning my first race in my first true full year racing. I never expected it would happen. It was a coincidence, really – Jamie Davis was leading and happened to get into a lapped car, and I happened to inherit the lead at that point. But I just never expected it would happen.
Was there any part of you that thought you could be so competitive this soon?
I knew the car I had two years ago that I did the five races in was an older car. I was just going to continue to do a part-time schedule racing a little bit here and there. But then the car I bought for last year became available. I knew it was a good car. It had a decent amount of history with two different drivers who had done well – Marcel Gravel and Brandon Lanphear had both run that same car. So, I decided to take the plunge and buy it. Then from that point, I decided, “Okay, here we go. Let’s just try it for a full year.” Obviously, we did fairly well. We learned a lot – I think I learned a lot as a driver. It’s pretty easy sitting in the stands, but it’s a whole lot different when you’re sitting behind the seat.
What did it mean to you to receive the Ed Carroll Memorial Sportsmanship Award at the banquet?
It was more of a surprise than anything. I definitely appreciated it. I tried to be very fair with the guys I was racing with last year. As a matter of fact, everybody would always joke with me that the body we took off at the end of year – even though we’re putting a new body on it for this year – had very few scratches or dents in it, just because I tend to not be as aggressive as I maybe should be once in a while. But I guess I want that same respect back. I wasn’t out there to just be running into people and banging people around.
How did you get started in racing?
I went to a lot of tracks when I was very young. There were the smaller tracks around here like Catamount, and I went to Thunder Road many, many times with my parents, aunt, and uncle. Then as I got older, we started doing more of the NASCAR stuff. We went to the Oxford 250 quite a few times, and then we started going to New Hampshire (Motor Speedway) as soon as it was built. I just have always loved racing. My aunt and my uncle brought me to several tracks down south as well – I’ve been to Daytona a few times. I grew up watching racing and enjoyed being around racing.
Then when I was maybe in my early teens, my father, through the business I own now, sponsored Burger Blake. So I started following Burger – it seems like every time we went to the track, he was doing very well. This is when he was racing Late Models. To backtrack a bit, when I was a very young kid, I was rooting for Bobby and Beaver Dragon and I followed them. When they were getting done, Dad was sponsoring Burger, so I followed him up through. He would bring his up here to be on display when Dad had an Open House weekend for the campers, and I would just drool over the car the whole weekend, looking at it and looking at it. It was always a dream of mine to race. Then I started helping Jeff Oeschger race for a few years, who is a very good friend of mine. And I was basically hooked, and I said that I was going to do this someday. And here I am.
How did it come about that you were finally able to get behind the wheel?
I guess it’s not really a racing thing, but since I was 16 years old, I did demolition derbies. I ran 1-2 times per year here locally, so I’ve kind of been indirectly involved in the whole car realm. Obviously, it’s a little different sport, but I did well – I ran many times locally. That was my half race car–type thing that I could do in the summer. I finally got to a point where I was kind of done with that. I’m also good friends with Mike Martin, and I work on his camper, and Mike had been after me for years since I was done with demolition derbies saying I should just build a race car. And then, finally, I was sick of work one night, and I said, “Okay, let’s go buy a car.” Mike went with me, and we did.
Can you tell me about your family?
I have a girlfriend and 8-year-old twins – a boy and a girl. My parents and brother still live right here in town, and I’m very close to them.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?
Racing-wise, my biggest accomplishment was to finish tied for third in points this past year. I went into the year telling my crew chief, “You know what? I’d be very happy with a top-10 in points my first year racing.” Then things started to fall into place and we were doing better and better. So I started to think, okay, maybe we can get a top-5. I think that was a major accomplishment for me to end the year where we did knowing that I’d never really raced before other than a few times the previous year.
Do you look at racing in terms of doing it with one arm?
I lost my arm when I was 14 – July 21, 1991. I’m 42 now. I’ve spent so much my life with one arm that I don’t even think about it anymore. Truthfully – and I say this all the time – I’d be lost if I had two. I’m so one-armed that it’s the way my brain is trained to think. I would drive tractors for my father and drive standard vehicles, and I’d just jump right in it and go. When I was 16 years old, they made me retake my driver’s test with a standard vehicle because they had initially put a restriction on my license. I went back and retook the exam with a standard vehicle, and they couldn’t deduct enough points to put the restriction on. That’s kind of the way my life has been. I’ve proved myself, and I’m fine doing that – and in the end, it just makes me smile that I did. As far as driving a race car, I get in it, and I don’t have to shift other than coming off pit road and then onto pit road. But again, I don’t even think about what I’m doing. It’s just natural for me.
We’ve noticed that you always have a very positive attitude about everything. Have you always been like that, or was it a process you had to get to?
Initially after my accident, it was not great. But being in the hospital for the amount of time I was, seeing so many people that were worse off than I was, I guess was my eye-opener. It was where I said, “You know what? We’re only here one time.” It doesn’t take much to look around and see there are people in a lot worse shape than you are. I’m able to do what I need to do. I’m a workaholic – I actually like to work. I stay busy, and that’s just who I am. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. And I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I’m an everyday person just like them. The only difference is that I have one arm.
Do you have anybody that you consider a role model or that you look up to?
I would consider both my parents role models. They obviously went through a tremendous amount. My accident happened on my father’s birthday – it was devastating for our whole family. My parents missed months and months of work combined, and there was also the financial burden it put on them for everything I went through with my accident and years of surgeries afterwards. They have definitely been a role model for me to keep me positive and keep me going. And both my parents were hard workers. My brother and I are both very hard workers, and that came directly from my parents. That’s the way we were raised. My brother and I worked when we were young. We were expected to work in my father’s business when we were done school, so we always were working, and that’s kind of made us who we are. As far as a role model racing-wise, Jeff Oeschger was probably the determining factor of making me decide that I was going to do this sometime. He’s an awesome friend. He lives in Florida now and has a very successful business down there, but he’s just an awesome guy. I enjoyed helping him race when he was up here – he’s a humble, great guy and very successful.
What’s the most memorable trip or vacation you ever went on?
Truthfully, I can’t think of just one. I think that any vacation I go on is memorable, because I’m that type of person. I don’t mind working, but if you work hard, you play hard. So any vacation, from family vacations to going away to islands or resorts, is memorable. You choose to make them memorable.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
That’s a good one. I guess it would be fitting for myself that, if I had a superpower, I’d be able to help people grow their limbs back after they had an accident or an injury.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve – and I can easily say this – is people asking if I need help because I only have one arm. People see me with one arm, and everybody always says, “Do you need a hand?” I get that all that time. I normally just have a quick phrase to reply. It’s not me being sarcastic, but people ask me all the time if I need a hand, and I just say, “No, actually I need the whole arm.” And usually they get my point as to what I’m trying to get across and just leave it at that. It’s not that I’m trying to disrespect anybody, it’s just that I hear it so many times. People look at me and just think that I need help doing everything – and I do not.
What are the top three items on your bucket list?
The first thing would be to go to Hawaii. I definitely want to make sure my kids get a very good education – that’s on my bucket list. I guess the last one is to be successful enough that, when I retire, I’m able to do a fair amount of traveling.
Finish this sentence: on a Friday night, you’ll typically find me…
At the end of the day, after a long day at work, you’ll typically find me enjoying a Corona. I don’t drink a lot, but at the end of each day, I definitely enjoy a Corona. If it’s a typical Friday night or Saturday night in the summertime, whether I’m with my kids or not, you’ll typically find me at the camper sitting around the fire and relaxing.
Who is your biggest fan at the track?
My parents go to a lot of races. They’re definitely on that list. I would also say my crew chief Reg Theroux. I would not be racing without him. He’s an amazing friend. He raced for quite a few years himself – he actually still races a little bit. Like, when I went away on vacation last summer, he raced my car. He brought it to Speedway 51 and raced it once as well. So he gets that whole part of sitting behind the wheel, and he’s just as passionate about racing and wanting to do well as I am. When I get out of the car, he’s smiling as much as I am if we had a great night. He pushes himself to make the car better for me, and it’s been a huge, huge help. I literally would not be racing without him. I’m very grateful to have him around.
Who or what has had the biggest influence on your racing career?
I think it goes back to just going everywhere when I was younger, from watching the Dragon Wagon’s to Burger Blake to Jeff Oeschger. There’s not one person in particular, I would say – it’s just that I’ve always enjoyed watching racing, being around racing, and helping Jeff race. When I was a little kid, my room had nothing but posters of racing all over, from the time I can first remember all the way through growing up. I have a racing poster right here in my shop now.
If you could give one piece of advice or a life lesson to your younger self, what would it be?
Live life for the day. That’s kind of my motto for what I do. I live for the moment and I don’t feel sorry for myself. Whatever life throws at you, hopefully you can take it in stride and go with it.
Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
I hopefully will still have a successful business as far as work. And I definitely hope to still be racing at Thunder Road. We’ll see how things go, but more than likely I’ll move up at least one class and go from there. So much of it is based on time right now. I’m so busy in the summer. Obviously, I know the Tigers will take more time; as for Late Models, I just don’t know if I could ever get there. You need so much more help crew-wise and so much more commitment to be at that level. It’s a whole different level money-wise as well.
What would you do with your life if you never had to worry about money again?
I would still work because that’s who I am as a person. Would I work the hours that I’m working now? No. But I would still work, and I’d probably have a couple houses. Definitely a house in a warmer climate, and a modest house in both places. And then about 15 bays of garages so I could have all the tools and toys at each place. That would be on my list. A modest house is fine, but I’d want to make sure I have lots of garage space.