Clinton, ON — Jody Jamieson is throwing down the gauntlet for the 39th edition of Clinton Raceway’s annual Charity Drivers’ Challenge to be held Sunday (Sept. 1) in support of Royal Canadian Legion branches in Clinton, Wingham, Seaforth and Brussels.
The reigning Drivers’ Challenge champion two years running and the overall leader with six victories in the event said he’s fully intending to pad his lead.
“A couple of years ago. I was maybe not having the greatest year and I went into Clinton and beat up on all the top guys, which felt really good,” said Jamieson, who is ranked seventh in Canada this year in earnings. “Then last year, I did the same thing. So, why not do it three years in a row? I’m not sure if (four-time winner) Mr. (Dave) Wall ever won it three years in a row, but that’s my goal to go in there and beat up on the boys again; they’re in for an awful throttling if I have the best horses. If I have the best horse, I won’t lose.”
The event, being held on the track’s final card of 2019, will also feature Canada’s leading driver (by earnings), Sylvain Filion; the country’s third-ranked reinsman by money, Louis Philippe Roy, who is also the reigning national Driver of the Year; the sixth-ranked driver, Jonathan Drury; and Clinton Raceway’s top four dash winning drivers, Colin Kelly, Scott Wray, Natasha Day and Ryan Holliday.
Filion laughed when he heard Jamieson was vowing to win.
“Jody is all in all the time,” said Filion, who has been voted Canada’s Driver of the Year four times. “I’m going there to win it. I’m not going there to finish last, but if I don’t win, as long as I did the best I could, I’ll be happy with the outcome. I don’t hold grudges, but I’m there to win, that’s for sure.”
All bravado aside, Jamieson, a three-time Canadian Driver of the Year and two-time World Driving Champion, said the main point is the event is supporting the local legions, which is an important way to thank those that have served our country in the name of freedom.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Jamieson said, adding that grassroots tracks such as Clinton do “top-end charity work. Just to be part of that is huge.”
In its 38 previous years, Clinton Raceway’s Driver’s Challenge has raised C$310,000 for local charities.
Filion said giving to charity is “always something we like to do, it makes us feel good. It’s a win-win situation.”
Jamieson has been a regular competitor in the Drivers’ Challenge in the last 15 years or so.
“I think I’ve only missed one when I was racing elsewhere and that was one of the ones Doug McNair won. So, he’s lucky that I wasn’t there, clearly,” Jamieson said.
Filion has only been able to compete in the event a few times. He said he’s looking forward to getting to Clinton.
“It’s one of the places where the atmosphere is the best for drivers and the fans, too,” Filion said. “When you’re on the track you see the fans and you see the smiles on their faces. Everybody seems to enjoy themselves and it reflects on the drivers, too. They like to participate.”
The eight reinsmen participating in the Drivers’ Challenge have more than 21,000 career wins between them and combined career earnings of almost C$300 million.
Filion said he has others to thank for another terrific year. He has driven the winners of nearly C$3.9 million in 2019 and ranks fourth in Canada with 196 wins.
“I just turned 50,” Filion said, “And I feel as good as I ever did, physical, mentally. I enjoy myself even more than ever. So, that maybe reflects on the track. I’m lucky, I get a lot of good horses to drive. So, that’s the main thing as a driver. That helps very much. You cannot run for the horses, they run for you. You need power.”
Sunday’s race card will have a first-race post time of 1:30 p.m. and also feature Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots action for 2-year-old pacing colts.
For fans, there will also be a Drivers’ Challenge Challenge where patrons can select a driver and possibly win up to C$500. There will also be a silent auction, 50/50 draw and chicken BBQ following the live card. Tickets for the BBQ are C$20 and available at the Clinton, Wingham, Seaforth and Brussels legions — with half of the money going back to the branch where the tickets were purchased.
For more information, please visit www.clintonraceway.com.