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Kelly Spencer's Blog


Get aroused on Monday night

Published: October 16, 2008 5:41 pm ET

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It’s three days out from the Ontario Regional Driving Championship at Grand River Raceway and the pigsty that passes for the marketing office is in more disarray than usual.

Drivers’ suits, ballot boxes, balloons, black t-shirts, flags and dozens of goodie bags are strewn from one end to the other. My ultra-crafty helper Hilary is covered in tiny scraps of construction paper, as she weaves and winds her scissors around carefully engineered designs from the silks of the province’s top drivers. Itty-bitty diamonds, stars, checkerboards and maple leaves: If harness racing had a Martha Stewart of its own, her name would be Hilary (minus the jail-time, of course).

During the 2003 World Driving Championship, I traveled with the drivers and crew, serving as the event photographer. It was an incredible experience. Drivers from Sweden, Norway, France, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, U.S. and Ireland shared the stage with the hometown fave, Jody Jamieson. The harness racing conversations amongst us were enlightening, and the energy throughout the tour was nothing short of sensational. The crowds were enthralled with the drivers and their entourages.

It was like being on tour with a rock band, except there was less drinking and the girls swarmed two lead singers, not one (Jamieson, and Erik Adielsson from Sweden – how do you say ‘ooh-la-la’ in Swedish?)

Anyway, Adielsson-ogling aside, the tour was a great example of how to optimize star power. The tracks that made a huge effort to showcase the event, and the international driving talents, were big winners. Their fans lapped it up, and so did the drivers. The event was memorable — it was worthy of being one of those select few images that stick to people’s brains for a lifetime. That’s the standard our racing events should always aspire to.

So, kudos to Standardbred Canada for changing their format a few years ago to create a more comprehensive system to determine who represents this fine country in the World Driving Championship. Before, it was simply a matter of asking the top dog to attend the big dance. In 2007, they created regional championships leading to the national championship, leading to the world championship. More solid events to get more people aroused about harness racing (and not just Erik Adielsson).

Good luck to all nine of the fine reinsmen competing at Grand River this Monday night.

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