At last, race day has arrived. Drivers, start your engines. The eighth annual Thunder Bay Truck Centre Dirt Track Invitational is taking place today and Sunday at our new track Dairy Queen International Speedway.
The track is located just past Twin City Crossroads across from the O.P.P. station. Gates open at noon with racing starting at 2 p.m. Head out to Arthur street and keep going west and you will find it.
I have been given the honour of sharing some stories from drivers. They will grace the track today under extraordinary circumstances.
The first story comes from Reuben Thomas, whose No. 9 modified car will be driven today by his brother, Donny.
“Just an update on my journey with this cancer. we got the pathology reports back and it wasn’t the results we were looking for. The cancer has spread to my lymph nodes. Not sure what the plan of attack is next. We have to wait on the next appointment with surgeon in Toronto . I’m not giving up by no means I will fight this to the end.
“Just want to thank everyone for the well wishes over this past year my family and friends are truly amazing group of people can’t thank you all enough, from the bottom of my heart God Bless you all. (expletive) CANCER!”
Reuben Thomas is pumped for today.
“This is our 25th year of racing in Thunder Bay and surrounding tracks. My brother Donny Thomas is wheeling the #9 W Koval Contracting , Match-It Construction, DJ Truck &Trailer Repairs , Certified Lubricants MIdwest Modified (this weekend). I will be there for moral support and maybe some pointers for the brother being his first time in a Modified. If he drove it like the Super Stock we should be good. I also want to thank all my sponsors for without them this wouldn’t be possible so thanks to all. Please support these businesses without them this definitely wouldn’t be possible.
“Special thanks to Toby and Lori Matchett for the 25 years of sponsorship. What a ride it’s been. I can’t thank you enough for all the years of support. From my family to yours, thank you so much.
“nd to my partner in crime and my soul mate Vanessa Slaney this definitely wouldn’t have been possible without you. You sacrificed so much to see me full fill my dream of racing. I love you so much.
“And my pit crew over the years Donny Thomas, Keith LaPlante, Peter Dumoulin, Kyle German, Karlie Ann, Philip Macdonald, Steve Slaney and everyone else who’s helped me over the years I greatly appreciate it. We will see you at the races.”
There will be another driver with a heavy heart on the track. Sioux Lookout’s Pat Davis lost is dad, Phil Davis, in a recent industrial accident.
Phil was Pat’s crew chief. Pat took his car to his dad’s garage and worked on it there to get it ready for this weekend. He wrote this on Facebook and I was given permission to share this story as well.
“The decision has been made. We are racing this weekend in your memory at Dairy Queen Speedway.
“Right now I don’t have the strength but I know you’ll be here with me to fix the engine in your new shop and give the strength I will need to get in the car and race. Just like you always did when I was ready to give up.”
Pat’s home tracks are in Kenora and Emo. Phil, who lived in Thunder Bay, made it to most of his son’s races. Pat said the last race in the Emo Speedway was a tough one.
“I got in a wreck and I said to my dad put her on the trailer and let’s go home our night is done. My dad said no way. He worked on that car to get it back out there. I was putting my seat belt on and he was banging on the car. I went out started 16th and finished 12th only to see him high on the pit, standing while giving me the thumbs up. It was a victory of sorts.
“I am not going to lie to you; this will be a hard weekend without him. But my family supported this and they helped me get the car ready.”
If Pat needs a hand in the pits today I know every pit crew out there will have his back because that is how the racing family works. To the Davis family, we offer our sincere heartfelt condolences.
Dairy Queen Speedway founder Richard Schutte also left us before the races started but he left us a home for a race track for that we will all be forever grateful. My sincere thanks and condolences to the Schutte family.
Let’s go racing and have a good time because we are here for a good time . . . not a long time.
Johan Vass is a Thunder Bay-based writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.