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Jeff's Hard Drivin' 80's

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My Enduro and Thunder Car Division Racing Years 1985-1988

Enduro Stock Cars are old wrecks with all the glass except the windshield removed, all the inside upholstery except the drivers seat removed, a bit of a roll cage put in, the doors welded shut, the gas tank put in the trunk and then the car gets a paint job and numbers put on. The cars are then raced for 200 laps or more on a short track oval, sometimes up to 80 or 90 cars at a time.

I raced Enduro Cars from the start of the 1985 season to around the middle of the 1988 season, mostly at Sunset Speedway and Varney Speedway (now called Full Throttle Motor Speedway). Both tracks are north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. My best race was in 1986 when I finished 11th out of 84 cars at Sunset Speedway, I won 30 dollars.

I also raced my Enduro Cars a bunch of times in the Thunder Car Division at Sunset Speedway. We would come on to the track after the Late Model Feature Race on Saturday nights. The Thunder Car Division has allowed many more modifications over the years, and it is no longer an entry level at most tracks.

Thunder Car (Enduro) Sunset Speedway, 1987, Innisfil, Ontario

The pictures above are of my cars. In 1985 I drove a 1973 Pontiac Lemans (not shown), in 1986 and 87 I drove a 1976 Plmouth Fury and in 1988 I drove a 1970 Mercury Cougar.

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My Last Enduro Car

This is my my last enduro car, a 1970 Mercury Cougar. The photo is from an ad I put in Auto Trader Magazine in 1988 in order to sell the car. I wish I had even more photos of the car from after my last race, it was pretty bashed up.

Thunder Car (Enduro) Sunset Speedway, 1987, Innisfil, Ontario

My last race was at Varney Speedway (now called Full Throttle Motor Speedway), it was pouring rain. We didn't race in the rain at Sunset Speedway, therefore almost all of us Sunset Speedway regulars who made our way up to Varney had taken our windsheild wipers off. The visibility was horrible, but they still let us race, this form of racing could be kind of crazy back then. I smashed into a car that wiped out on the slippery track, I didn't even see them through my soaked windshield. I had a broken tie rod from the collision, my front wheels were facing in two different directions. I was creeping down the straightaway just about to pull off the track when a driver who couldn't see my car slammed into the back of me at about 100 km/h (60 mph). It's hard to see in the above photo, but the trunk was almost pushed right up to the back wheels. At this point the Cougar was so badly damaged I would have had to get another car, and I also needed back surgery in order to fix the wear and tear on my back. So I just gave up racing, I missed it, but my body didn't.

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One of My Races in 1987

The video clip below is from one of my races at Sunset Speedway in 1987. I added the 2013 picture of my head so people know which car is mine.

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An Enduro Race at Sunset Speedway on Rogers Cable 10 in 1988

This video clip below is an enduro race at Sunset Speedway in 1988, it was filmed by Rogers Cable 10 in Toronto. Unfortunately I was not in this race, my third and last car, a 1970 Mecury Cougar was very badly damaged in a pretty hard crash a month earlier at Varney Speedway (now called Full Throttle Motor Speedway) and I decided to give up racing. I was very disappointed that an enduro race was shown on television a month after I gave up racing.

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A Video I Saw on YouTube

I was reminiscing a bit about my racing days and I started watching some YouTube videos. I found this in car hi def video of an enduro race at Riverhead Raceway in Long Island, New York from 2014. They are still driving old 8 cylinder cars that are very similar to what we drove back in the 1980's, it's like a blast from the past. This video really shows what it looked like out on the track, it really brings me back to my racing days. It shows how being in the car, at close quarters with the other cars, plus the loud engines, and squealing tires makes it seem so much faster than it seems when watching from the stands. This video helps me feel like I'm on the track again, and I thank the person that uploaded it to YouTube.

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HELL RUNS ON GASOLINE! (2015) (7 min.)

Hell Runs on Gasoline is a 7 minute documentary by director Martin Bureau, made in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada, and Spira Films. It's an impactful, or maybe I should say impact full, interpretation of an enduro stock car race that takes place at Autodrome Saint-Félicien in Bureau's home town of Saint-Félicien, Quebec, Canada.

For enduro stock car drivers it's all about the driving, the racing. It's about being the first car past the checkered flag at the end of races, which can run 200 or 300 laps or more. This movie is not about that though. It's about the more aggressive side of the sport that the rules not only allow, but encourage. It's the side of the sport which caused me to total three cars in my four years of racing.

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Craig Fisher (1936-2018), Race Driver, Advanced Driving Coach, and Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Inductee

In 1984 I received two full days of in car performance driving instruction from Craig Fisher. I told him I was going to start racing in the Thunder Car Division at Sunset Speedway the following year. As I was sliding a car around on the skid pad he gave me tons of pointers that I know made me faster. He said in order to go fast you need to visually track well down the race track, while still being aware of your surroundings. You need consistent, smooth, precise movements, but you also must have the discipline to maintain all this while pushing the car to the max, without getting reckless, you can't cheat the laws of physics.

Craig made me look at driving differently, especially when it came to driving on the streets. He said in order to be fast on the track, I have to always use the proper techniques, even on the street, and must practice discipline to achieve this. Plus, the best way to practice the discipline of not cheating the laws of physics on the track is to practice the discipline of not cheating the rules of the road on the streets, including the speed limit.

At that time I knew he was an ex-race driver, but I didn't realize that he drove for the legendary Roger Penske. Craig Fisher and Mark Donahue co-drove the #15 Penske-Godsall Sunoco Z/28 Camaro in the 1968 12 Hours of Sebring. They finished first in the Trans-Am category, and third overall. It turns out there is quite a legendary history to this Z/28 Camaro, so much so that Hot Wheels has even made a replica of their car.

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Links

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