NDC Contender: Doug McNair

Grace Hill
Published: November 8, 2022 11:00 am EST

The 2022 National Driving Championship (NDC), presented by Standardbred Canada, is inching closer and the field of eight drivers who will compete for the chance to represent Canada is set. Each of the drivers were top performers in their regional event and will compete against the top drivers from across Canada on Nov. 24 at Century Mile in Edmonton, Alta. Trot Insider spoke with each of the contenders about a variety of topics leading up to the big event.  

Another past National Driving Championship winner is looking for a second chance to represent Canada on the world stage and his name is Doug McNair. McNair won the 2018 NDC and had the opportunity to travel to Sweden to compete in the 2019 World Driving Championship (WDC). Now he sits in a similar position and only has seven other drivers standing in his way to have the chance again to wear the Canadian colours.

Doug McNair

*All stats as of Nov. 8, 2022.

The other seven competitors are as follows: Gilles Barrieau (Atlantic Canada), Marc Campbell (Atlantic Canada), Pascal Berube (Quebec / Eastern Ontario), Samuel Fillion (Quebec / Eastern Ontario), Louis-Philippe Roy (Ontario), Mike Hennessy (Western Canada) and Dave Kelly (Western Canada).

McNair was in a position to win the 2018 WDC, but unfortunately, fell just short. Despite the result, he does have some positive memories about his time racing in Sweden with some of his comrades. 

“We had a lot of fun," recalled McNair. "James MacDonald was there, Todd McCarthy and Yannick Gingras, so I kind of knew some of the guys. It was fun but also disappointing at the same time. I was close to the lead throughout the tournament. It came down to the last race. I had a bad day and I thought I was out of it. Turns out, if I was second in the last race, I would have won it.”

Although McNair has more experience on the world stage than some of the other drivers in the 2022 NDC, he has never raced at Century Mile. He does have more experience racing on larger tracks than others and it should give him some sort of edge.

“I’m used to the mile. I drive on the big tracks a lot," he noted. "It’s going to be different for the other guys who are used to the smaller tracks.”

McNair describes the chance to go to Europe for the WDC as something on his bucket list.

Like most of the other drivers, McNair can see the weather playing a factor in the event. He is used to racing in the winter months in Southern Ontario but the weather out in Edmonton at that time of year could be different for him and some of the other competitors.

“Yeah, big time. I’ve watched racing and heard about the weather reports out there. I know the weather isn’t that good some days. It’s going to be different for some guys.”

Over McNair’s driving career, he has made more than 24,000 starts and has won more than 4,100 times, sporting a UDRS just shy of 0.300. Horses he has driven have earned more than $74 million in purses. McNair has had consistent numbers over the years, but one of his best years came back in 2010 when he won 518 races. The best year he had with respect to earnings was in 2017 when he earned more than $6.5 million and was named Canada's Driver of the Year. He is on pace to passing that career-best money mark this season.

Doug McNair

McNair hopes he will be the one moving on at the conclusion of the national tournament, but he offers one piece of advice to whoever it is that wins and has the chance to compete at the WDC next year.

“We were in Sweden so I couldn’t always understand the language," said McNair. "I did have a translator and she was really good but there was so much going on, we didn’t know the score. My one piece of advice is to pay attention more to the points than I did. Also, to just go out and have fun.”

Harness racing fans can follow McNair driving at Woodbine Mohawk Park and other tracks located in Southern Ontario as he prepares for another chance to represent Canada on the big stage.

(A Trot Insider exclusive by Trey Colbeck)

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