OVIDE DOIRON INDUCTED INTO THE DIRT MOTORSPORTS HALL OF FAME AS A PIONEER IN RACING
By Gary Spaid & Joel Doiron
Ovide Doiron was born in Shediac, New Brunswick on the 22nd of September 1940. It is from this date as to where the #40 originated. He will turn 72 years of age this year.
He started his racing career on asphalt at the Riverside Speedway (Montreal area) in 1958, in a NASCAR affiliated division. During this time he worked on the cars owned by the track owners. One incident he recollects is having the throttle stick (probably because of the seven carburetors linked together!!) and flew off the first turn. When the safety officials got to the car, it was broken in half and Ovide was suffering from a few broken bones.
After a few years passed and he found his love for dirt track racing and ran the Hobby/Late Model class at the Quebec tracks of Granby, Drummondville, Sherbrooke, Farnham and in Ontario at Maxville and Alexandria.
In the early 70’s, he got his start in the modified type cars driving for Eugene Lamarche, a candy apple red car at track such as Cornwall, Brockville, Kingston and Fort Covington. One of the cars was a former Pat O’Brien Sr. car. He competed against past greats such as Pat O’Brien Sr., Walt Pennock, Tony Blake and Denzil Billings.
In 1974, he purchased a Dexter Door car and picked up 38 feature wins at a combination of tracks; Kingston, Brockville, Cornwall, Watertown, Can-Am and Fort Covington. It was Fort Covington’s final year of operation and he won 18 of the 20 shows. In one of the feature events, he was approaching the finish line and was clipped by a lap car, sending him into the guard rail, then up and backward across the line, tearing down the flag stand landing wheels down on the track and declared the winner. It was from this incident that he received the nick name of “The Flying Frenchman”.
He has garnered around 25 track championships and 300 wins over the years but he is unsure of how many of those were under the DIRT banner. To set the record straight, Ovide has won 37 DIRT sanctioned features at Can Am, Cornwall, Edelweiss and Mohawk speedways. One of his most notable DIRT experiences is winning four features in a row at Mohawk in 1989. It was in this year he finished second in overall small block victories to Pat O’Brien.
His expertise in engine building led him to prepare powerplants for several drivers over the years, including Dave Heaslip, Mark Hitchcock, Pierre Dagenais (of which Bob & Tim McCreadie drove his cars), Pat O’Brien’s first years as a driver/owner, the late Sheldon Legue (Doug Carlyle), Tony Corcoran (Mr. DIRT Champion) and Eric & Denis Gauvreau to name a few. To this day, he continues to build motors and offers advice and support to many local drivers that he mentored into the sport.
In 1998, he celebrated his 40th anniversary in racing by saluting the fans with an appreciation message on the car. The racing fans were one of his most important assets. He was voted the “Most gentlemanly” driver on several occasions by the fans and cherishes these awards the most. In 2001, he was inducted in the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame
Bill Colton Earns Northeast Modified Hall Of Fame Mechanic Award In 2012
Veteran chassis designer and crewman Bill Colton has been named to receive the annual 'Mechanic of the Year Award' and will be formally honored during the 21st Northeast Modified Hall of Fame induction and special award ceremonies scheduled for Sunday, May 27 on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds in conjunction with the annual Memorial Day Weekend holiday show at neighboring Rolling Wheels Raceway Park.
This special award was created in 1998 to recognize one of stock car racing's modern day heroes during a customary time of tribute to the legendary drivers in our sport. Colton will be rewarded for his outstanding contributions as a car-builder for some of the biggest stars in Modified racing --- those competing on both dirt and asphalt-surfaced tracks and winning many of the most prestigious events in existence today.
The Northeast has been blessed with a rare breed of machine that has commonly emerged as the headline class for over a half-century. And just as technology has driven construction of the mighty Big-Block Modified to its most recognizable appearance across the region, the Troyer brand has been at the head of the game for the past 35 years.
“The focus of Troyer Race Cars has been and will continue to be on our customers and the race cars we build for them,” said Colton, 51, who retired from racing Modifieds on the pavement in 1987 to make a career commitment to building open-wheel cars adept to both dirt and asphalt race tracks. “Every builder always wants to sell more cars, we’re no different. However, we’re content to grow at a steady rate, fast enough to keep busy and slow enough to allow time for personal attention as 100% service is what we’re really all about.”
Troyer Inc. was founded in 1977 by legendary driver Maynard Troyer and during the past four decades has grown into one of the most successful race car manufacturing businesses in the country. Both Troyer and Colton enjoyed successful racing careers, allowing them to develop first-hand setup techniques that continue to complement any race team’s personal approach.
“I was always into fabrication with my own cars and built the aluminum roof for the first Mud Buss. Maynard saw what I did and liked it, hired me right away and together we moved fast forward after that,” recalled Colton, who officially joined the Troyer staff in the summer of 1981, worked his way up the chain of command and assumed control of the shop’s main affairs as a managing partner in '89 before emerging as sole owner of the prolific company 10 years later. The production site was initially located on Dewey Avenue in the north end of Rochester, near Lake Ontario before the move to Lyell Road, in Gates, New York, just west of the Flower City. “I also did body work for the original Mud Busses and made the move to Rochester when the third or fourth car was being built. We've been going at it just as strong ever since.”
Legendary asphalt driver Troyer and fledgling fabricator Colton wasted little time when the first Mud Buss came off the line in 1981, dusting the field with DIRTcar star Alan Johnson behind the wheel in its maiden voyage. The domination continued into autumn as Merv Treichler buckled in behind the wheel of Mud Buss V and passed Johnson to capture the 'Schaefer 200' on the famed Syracuse Mile to close out Super DIRT Week in October. Johnson did earn the overall Mr. DIRT title in '81, keeping Troyer personnel busy filling orders during the ensuing winter months as office phones rang non-stop.
“It was a great time working right along with Merv, Jack (Johnson) and Doug (Hoffman) when they won Syracuse driving our cars,” said Colton, who traveled more regularly around the dirt circuit with current star Danny Johnson beginning in the 1980s. In the asphalt arena in which the Troyer name is as prominent as Kleenex in the tissue paper trade, Colton personally helped spearhead the pitside efforts of such successful drivers as Doug Heveron and Jan Leaty. “There have been so many Troyer drivers that have won just about every important race at the best tracks around. That says a lot about the product and service that we continue to provide. I'm proud of the quality of our cars and even more the follow-up to every sale we make.”
“We’ve always focused on using the highest quality materials and staying consistent with every chassis we put out. Every driver leaves Troyer with the assurance that the new car will be better than the last one. Durability, easy parts replacement and ability to work on the cars combine with our hands-on technical support to give race teams one of the best programs possible. We also guarantee that any team that brings a wrecked race car to us in the morning will be on its way back home that same afternoon to race again at night. It’s a promise we live by and our customers have come to expect nothing less when they buy a Troyer car,” stated Colton, who retains an ‘Open Door’ policy for customers new and old as the HBR Motorsports no. 98H team car driven by Jimmy Phelps on the Super DIRTcar Series is maintained on premises throughout the season.
Like many life-long race fans, Colton first tagged along with his dad, Bill Colton Jr. And growing up in the Buffalo suburb of Tonawanda, N.Y. it was Lancaster National Speedway (Dunn Tire Raceway Park today) that offered a wide-eyed six year-old his first smell of burning fuel and worn rubber. Yet unlike the majority of spectators that filled the bleachers on Saturday night, his father was a highly respected car owner and sponsor and Billy became entrenched in the Modified mainstream from day one.
“Once I got to the track that was it, no other place I really wanted to be every weekend of every summer,” said Colton, who's father owned cars for such Western New York notables as Kenny Meahl and Bill Bitterman while supplying sponsorship support to Ron Martin and Dick Kluth. “My father probably enjoyed Lancaster more than any track, but I remember when Ransomville Speedway was up for sale in the early 70s he looked at putting in an offer. Dad was always helping out the racers, most importantly after Tony Jankowiak died in a crash he was the one that developed the soft foam walls that significantly reduce life-threatening injuries after impact.”
Although just 16 years old in 1977, young Colton jumped behind the wheel of his first race car at the end of the season and competed in the Bomber (stock) division on dirt at Ransomville and Merrittville (Ont.) speedways; numbered 22 after his first favorite driver Billy Rafter, who was successful on both surfaces. The following year he returned to his roots at Lancaster in a Street Stock entry and declared 1979 his rookie season in a Modified. He drove on to score feature wins at Lancaster, Holland (NY) Int'l Speedway and Spencer Speedway in Williamson before hanging up his helmet for good a half-dozen years later to devote the rest of his career to helping others reach victory lane.
“Its still the challenge of competition and sense of accomplishment that drives me today,” said Colton, who has averaged attending 75-100 races annually the past 30 years, with exactly 84 trackside appearances accounted for in 2011. “The equipment is similar today within the rules so trying to out-think everybody else is our biggest motivation. I respect the competition a lot so the adrenaline comes from trying to beat the best and getting ahead in some facet of the business at the end of the day. All our guys in the shop are totally dedicated and its nice to be able to see how all their hard work pays off.”
“Recognized as one of the first real manufacturing companies in motorsports gives us plenty of pride but growing into a factory support type of business and being able to maintain relevance in the car-building industry for so long is Troyer's biggest achievement. Providing customers with leading-edge information on the tech side and giving them an advantage over the competition remains a primary goal. We're all about assisting a team from start to finish, helping a driver finally get that first win or enabling more consistency in a championship program. Even when I'm not at the track there's constant cell phone communication every weekend and being able to talk one-on-one to many of our teams on raceday is what I enjoy most,” added Colton, who is assisted in daily operations at Troyer Race cars by his wife and office manager, Laurie, while daughter Brittany, who graduated this month from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Graphic Design, may come aboard as the reputed company rolls on in the newest millennium.
JACK JOHNSON MAKES BIGGEST JUMP INTO DIRT HALL OF FAME
By Tom Skibinski
WEEDSPORT,NY.....Jack Johnson has been selected as a 2012 inductee into the DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies are scheduled for Sunday, May 27 on the Hall of Fame and Classic Car Museum, locate just outside of Weedsport, NY.
Although Johnson remains semi-active on the modified scene today, his most familiar orange no. 12a entry has already assumed legendary status among the Fonda Speedway faithful as well as around the entire Northeastern racing circuit. And while in the cockpit of a dozen more open-wheel machines during the past 47 years, Jumpin' Jack continues to set the standard for those dreaming to match.
Since Johnson debuted at Fonda in 1966 he has scored over 400 career feature wins at 31 additional tracks, with a career-best 149 registered at the "Track of Champions" where he has captured 11 seasonal point championships. The popular pilot from Duanesburg, N.Y. won his first modified main at Fonda in 1971 and has scored at least one feature victory every year since, with 36 wins his biggest output in 1981.
In 1979, Johnson became the first New Yorker to capture the prestigious Schaefer 200 (Eckerd 200 today) during Super DIRT Week and was recognized as the first big-block driver to sweep Syracuse in 1984 with four straight victories on the Moody Mile. Major triumphs in the '200s' have also been repeated at Fonda, Rolling Wheels, Cayuga County, Lebanon Valley and Flemington speedways with the 1985 Eastern States Championship his biggest prize in Middletown.
Jack's first attempt on Fonda's famous pear-shaped half-miler came aboard the familiar no. 37 coupe owned by Tony Vilano and in 1969 he climbed into Tom Douglas' no. 91 machine for another two-year campaign. A heat win over Pete Corey in the Vilano mount and a top-five feature finish with Douglas were the only highlights before Johnson closed out the 1970 season driving the Bernie Maruski no. 71 and Jimmy Izzo no. 900 entries.
The 1971 season was marked by the creation of Jack's first self-built no. 12a ride after adhering to the advice from weekly rivals Harry Peek and Pep Pepicelli. The opportunity to run all season with confidence in his own equipment resulted in his first trip to Fonda's checkered board victory lane on August 7; the same night his younger brother Joe claimed the companion late model main which afforded father Rolie Johnson, a former sprint car driver, two trips to the winner's circle without even turning a single lap!
The 1970s rolled on and continued to bear the growing influence of Jack Johnson. He racked up 11 more feature wins in 1972, further solidified his stature in New York State by capturing the Genesee Championship Trail and introduced his winning ways to outsiders as he copped the prestigious Flemington 200 in New Jersey.
Aside from a brief stint with Joe Leto and his no. 50 modified in 1975, Jack remained content to run for himself with major parts backing coming from his former employer Salisbury Chevrolet. It was during that same season that Johnson finally garnered his first points title at his trackside home along the Mohawk. Midway through the '76 season he moved his Saturday night racing effort to Lebanon Valley Speedway, the site of his original on-track venture in 1959.
Johnson closed out the decade with the memorable Super DIRT Week triumph to give him exactly 100 feature wins as his career began to peak. Ironically, the '79 Syracuse Schaefer Championship had been lengthened from 100 to 125 laps and Jack took his first lead on lap 101 en route to the dramatic victory.
The new decade kicked off with Fonda gaining membership into the four year-old DIRT Motorsports organization and Johnson wasted little time exploiting his superiority. In 1980 he seized his first overall Mr. DIRT Championship, earned the coveted Super DIRT Series title and led the sanctioning body with 25 big-block wins. From 1980-85 he averaged 26 victories annually, collected three more Mr. DIRT trophies and won his second Schaefer 200 in 1984. Winter Tour point championships in both Florida and Texas continued to spread the legend beyond his now established dirt domain in the Northeast.
"I've always been a traveler," Jack once said, "and I supported the DIRT organization because it helped standardize the rule book for a lot of tracks and gave drivers more chances to prove their worth. I always had great rivalries at Fonda but following the DIRT circuit offered new challenges against some great drivers at all the best tracks around."
Opening up his fourth decade of oval-track competition at the age of 45, Jack was hard-pressed to match the level of success achieved throughout the 80s; an era when he logged 217 feature wins up and down the coast and added 11 track titles to accompany more than a dozen major race and series championships. Still, the 1990s would have been a career for many drivers as he totaled another 74 victories and five track point trophies plus three Rolling Wheels 200 and a pair of Lebanon Valley 200 first-place checks.
When the new millennium arrived Jack had vowed that the year 2000 would be his last, maybe not at the track or in the garage, but at least behind the wheel of a race car. Fortunately for his legions of fans and thousands more acquaintances made over the years, that was one of the few promises that Jack failed to keep.
In 2002, the Hall of Fame Committee tried to induct Jack based on the 55 years and older rule and still active (Jack was 57 years old back then). But at that time he felt he still had work to do and wanted to wait until he felt his career was more complete. As the years past, he tended to stay at Fonda and Utica Rome more and cut back on the rest of the travel. On May 31, 2009, Jack, at age 64, picked up his 27th and final feature victory at Utica Rome Speedway. He also picked up the 30-lap feature win the night before at Fonda.
A low point of his career came in 2011 when his brother Joe passed away. Joe too competed at Fonda Speedway and accumulated 10 feature wins.
The year is now 2012 and while the trackside announcers don’t echo his name as they did in the past, his spirit lives on in his son Ronnie. Last season Ronnie picked up the track modified championship at Fonda. Ronnie has created a following of his own and has started to create his own records in modified racing. The family Legend lives on in eastern New York.