APD Member Spotlight Blog: Jason MacNeil
I know….I know…..Who is this guy and where the heck is Nova Scotia? My name is Jason MacNeil and if you want to drop by for a visit just head east until you get to Boston, hook a left and then drive another 700 miles. It’s certainly a bit out of the way, but overall it’s a great place to live and race. I’ll be the token Canadian in this year’s program and I’m really looking forward to taking you along for the ride as we follow the ups and downs of a racing season on the east coast. Our local tracks and programs are not unlike all the rest in North America, but we do have certain challenges to overcome and work with. As I write this first blog some of you are packing up for a weekend of racing, guess what, it’s snowing here and it’s as cold as a toilet seat in an igloo. Everyone loves that fluffy white stuff that falls from the sky during the winter…. don’t they?? Guess again; Mother Nature has pounded us with that white dirt for the last five months and now we’re all ready to get back to racing!
Here I am at the far end of the map over 4000 miles from Nick.
A mid-April day in Stellarton, NS.
But enough about the weather, let’s get back to introducing myself and letting you in on my plans for this season. I’m like most of you, a weekend bracket racer who spends countless hours working on his/her equipment, race car, tow vehicle, trailer, golf cart, jr.dragsters, strategies and sponsorships, just so we can have an edge on race day, or at least look good if we lose. This year will be my 18th racing season, and I haven’t missed one since I started this racket back when I turned sixteen. Since all of the TIBR readers can do math in their head’s at 140MPH, I bet you’ve already calculated how old I am, but remember “We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public”. As mentioned before, I live on the east coast of Canada and I graduated from Cape Breton University as a Mechanical Engineering Technologist as well as being a journeyman Millwright and apprentice Machinist. I work as an electrical/mechanical troubleshooter for Michelin Tire in one of their manufacturing facilities, which produces over 10,000 tires per day, and I’ve been with them for about twelve years. I’m also a level 1 firefighter, and volunteer for the local ground search & rescue team. Let me state for the record now that I am not a writer and I was probably daydreaming about drag racing during some of my high school English classes, so forgive me in advance for any grammar errors. I have a long-time girlfriend (Donna) who puts up with all this nonsense, and two kids who are twelve (Hannah) and three (Bryson). My partner in crime at the track is one of my cousins Tony, and we have clocked many miles together racing. I got my start in drag racing primarily from my father (Billy), but unfortunately he past away when I was 10. My uncle (Anthony) then campaigned our race car for us in the early 90’s, running in the Super Gas class here locally. We had some success at the track back in those days and it really gave Tony and me an appreciation of racing on a budget and getting the most out of your equipment by maintaining it properly. My mother (Rosita) is also very involved in drag racing and still frequents the track. Hannah has been driving a junior dragster for a couple of years now and Bryson has claimed the golf cart as his race car, and will not let it go anywhere without him being on board. Racing is truly a family affair for us, as it is with many folks in this area, and we attend most races together. Our family at the track also includes numerous friends that we met through racing and we look forward to spending the weekends with them. But I must warn you, some of these folks are quite the characters and we have lots of stories to tell, so I’ll keep it PG rated and introduce you to them as we go along.
Mom holding Bryson, Hannah, Me and Donna.
Tony and I in the Miramichi staging lanes.
My weapon of choice, or should I say circumstance, is a 1979 Chevrolet Monza. The car was built by A&J Automotive for my father in the early 1980’s and was intended for use in comp eliminator as a B/EA entry. The car was fairly high-tech for that era and even graced a small section of the National Dragster. Since I took over the operation in 1995, the car has seen a lot of changes including a chassis-up restoration in 2002. The car has had five different paint jobs, numerous engines and has been re-wired twice. I try to keep everything current and make all the necessary upgrades to stay competitive. The car in its present state, with the small motor, runs in the 9.60 to 9.90 range off the stop. Needless to say I have a long history with this car and have logged well over 2000 passes with it. The car was originally branded with the name “Stormbringer”, which is very suitable considering our area and climate. A few great sponsors help keep me on the track, my primary one being Geliget Gear which is a manufacturer of flame resistant work wear, as well as Rhyno’s Paint & Collision, Apple Auto Glass, Sketch-It Signs and Designs, Indy Images, G&C Concrete, and with the help of lots of great info from TIBR. I’ll go into more detail about the car, support vehicles and Hannah’s car in the May blog.
My car when it was built in the early 1980’s.
This is what it looks like now.
My racing career in a paragraph:
When I first started drag racing, there were (and still is) a lot of really good racers in the area and it took me a long time to do any consistent winning. It was hard being on the losing end more often than not, but we were having fun and hanging out with friends. Things started coming together in about 2002, it was then that I became more focused on the racing part of the weekend and less concerned about making fast passes or just partying. I decided that I wanted to take the show on the road and do some national/divisional racing and in 2003 I attended my first national event. I qualified in the top five of the Hot Rod class; not a great feat, but at the time it felt good. That year I was able to place in the top five of the ADRA points series and things really got rolling. For the next couple of seasons I concentrated on equipment upgrades and putting together good packages strictly being a version of the “dialer”. In 2005, things started to pay off as my car was voted as the “ADRA Competition Vehicle of the Year”. This award was special to me because your peers and mentors vote it on. In 2006 I won the Maritime Nationals (a large local bracket race), and claimed a track championship at Raceway Park, PEI. 2007 was a breakout year as I started winning regularly and claimed my first ADRA Super Pro Championship as well as claiming the “ADRA Competition Vehicle of the Year” again. Not a whole lot of excitement in 2008, but it was a fair year, with some more winning and a good payday from the “Greenfield Bracket Bash”. Most of my racing highlights came from the 2009 racing season. The year started off with the birth of my son, and just kept getting better. I landed my first major sponsor (Geliget Gear) and I also acquired a motorcycle to race in the bike/sled class, just to help pass some long days at the track. Well, that turned out to be a good idea as I used up all the strategy and luck available and won the ADRA Bike/Sled Championship on that beast. I also had a great year in the car and did a bit of travelling to some IHRA events. I did a couple of the IHRA Pro-am races and was able to get to the semi-finals in Pittsburgh before losing to Kenny Underwood. We then travelled to the Epping, NH Div.1 race in September where I earned the “Ironman” by winning in the Hot Rod class. This was certainly a real highlight, and then it was back to Canada to capture my second ADRA Super Pro Championship and the Cape Breton Dragway track championship in two classes. I received the “ADRA Competition Vehicle of the Year” for the third time and finished up a season that would be really hard to top. 2010 was an interesting year, one of those seasons that everyone has. I did a fair bit of winning, but just not the right races. I competed in a local Hot Rod Series and won two of the four races, made some money in gambler’s races and got down to the semi-finals at the IHRA National event in Epping. It was our first year campaigning a jr. dragster, which was certainly a learning curve and the end of my bike racing as the two classes run close together. This brings us into 2011, a year that was really good on most counts. I was able to win the track championship at Cape Breton Dragway, and had a runner-up finish in the ADRA Super Pro Championship. The races that I won were the right ones, and I was able to pay for most of the season with my winnings.
Receiving the ADRA Competition Vehicle of the Year Award in 2005. Look…. I still had hair!
A trip to Skyview Drags for an IHRA Division1 Race.
This season should be a good one as we plan on attending 13 races over a 20 week period. I’ll be chasing the ADRA points series championship and blowing the dust off of the old throttle stop to race in the newly formed Atlantic Pro Tree Series. Here is my list of goals:
1. Keep the family happy and have fun at the track.
2. Use my gold card from Cape Breton Dragway to defend the track championship.
3. Enter more “no box” races, and concentrate on cutting good lights in that realm.
4. Get my daughter set-up well in her new dragster and help guide her.
5. Give my great sponsors value for their investment.
6. Win the ADRA Super Pro Championship.
7. Win the Atlantic Pro Tree Series Championship.
8. Learn from my mistakes and become a better driver.
9. Win enough dough to pay for the racing season.
10. Win this spotlight challenge and a spot in the 2013 JEGS Bracket Championships.
Sounds easy right? We’ll have to see how things go, I know I have set these really high and the word “win” is used a lot there, but hopefully we can reach some of them. The main focus right now is to get everything ready for my first race, which will be toward the end of May. In the next couple of weeks I will be picking up my engine from A&J Automotive (road trip with “Big George”), getting the motorhome out of storage, and fitting my daughter’s new dragster in the trailer. This gives me an extra blog to write without any racing results, so I will try to fill it with some details on my operation, sponsors, and strategy for this season. I will also touch on why I didn’t win the championship last season and what I have learned from those mistakes.
Hopefully we can end up here again this year, “In the winners circle at Cape Breton Dragway with Gerard Bryden”
If you have made it this far…. thanks for reading. I know I’m not as funny as Willie or as pretty as Lindsey, but hopefully you will enjoy spending some time with me this summer as I try to juggle racing, work, family and fun, all while trying not to go broke. Thanks go out to APD, Nitro Plate, J&J Engine Diapers, K&N Filters, and of course TIBR for providing this cool program. I will really make good use of the prizes and hopefully keep that new engine diaper dry. Join me on Facebook and check out our new racing page at http://www.facebook.com/JNBRacing
. If you are dying for some more reading, you can check out an article by Gerard Bryden at http://canadiandragracer.ca/index.php/featured-driver/3099.html
and you can email me directly with any feedback or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org