Dillon, Gaughan bring NASCAR to Canada
August 29, 2013, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
OSHAWA, Ontario -- Richard Childress Racing drivers Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan stood in the pickup bed of a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, accompanied by Kevin Williams, the President and Managing Director of General Motors Canada.
As Williams greeted some of the approximately 5,000 employees from the automaker’s Canadian base, the drivers’ two team haulers rumbled behind them onto the back lot of the company’s Canadian Engineering Centre.
The grand entrance made it clear: NASCAR had come to town.
Dillon, Gaughan and a host of RCR crewmembers toured the carmaker’s facilities, signed autographs for employees and gave away race tickets Thursday ahead of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ inaugural international race, the first Chevrolet Silverado 250 (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
The drivers’ appearance not only gave the Ontario-based crowd a taste of what to expect this weekend at the road course just 30 minutes away, but also gave the drivers a special glimpse at what goes in to making the vehicles they drive on the street and race on the track.
“It’s awesome to see the people behind the scenes here at the GM plant and all the hard work and what it takes to make such a huge business run as well as it does and be so successful,” said Dillon, fourth in the series’ standings. “For us, we can’t thank them enough for working so hard for building the best car there is out there.”
The choice of RCR as special guests at a General Motors hub that specializes in producing the sporty Camaro was a natural fit. Childress, both as a driver and team owner, is in his fifth decade as a loyal NASCAR competitor in Chevrolets.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that continues to pay dividends for both sides.
“It’s synonymous,” Gaughan said. “I could never see Richard with another manufacturer -- it wouldn’t happen. The history he has with Chevy and how far back he goes with the General Motors brand, the GM Goodwrench cars forever with Dale Earnhardt Sr., himself back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It’s special to be part of a company that has such a history with a single brand because you don’t see that nowadays, in anything in life.”
Dillon agreed, in a slightly more direct manner: “I don’t know anything other than Chevrolet. Any other manufacturer is a bad word to me.”
The company’s ties to the truck tour’s first race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park are evident beyond their proximity. Chevy’s venerable pickup brand will serve as the inaugural race’s sponsor, and track co-owner and promotor Ron Fellows is a longtime Chevrolet loyalist in both NASCAR and sports-car racing.
Fellows said earlier in the week that he wouldn’t be able to breathe a sigh of relief until the checkered flag had flown to close a well-received event at his home track. In the meantime, the chief of GM Canada has already given his stamp of approval
“Quite frankly, Ron Fellows is one of the best of the best at what he does,” Williams said. “He’s been such a huge part of our success at General Motors. And to see this whole thing come together the way that Ron and the team have brought it together, it just makes us proud of a part of our family and a member of our team.”
Thursday’s afternoon of casually chatting with GM employees represented the calm before the storm for Dillon and Gaughan ahead of a Friday packed with 4 1/2 hours of practice for the truck series’ first road-course race since 2000.
The extra test day and Saturday’s Keystone Light Pole Qualifying will be a prelude to Sunday’s main event, which could mimic the rambunctious nature of the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ first go-round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course two weeks ago. Track officials have reported strong ticket and camping-lot sales in advance of the historic race -- news which came as no surprise to Dillon.
“Man, if I lived in Canada, I know I’d be at this race for sure,” Dillon said. “It’s the greatest facility around, and it’s NASCAR racing in Canada -- why would you miss it?”
Buy tickets for events at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.