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Carnochan Retires From Clinton Raceway

Published: March 1, 2021 3:21 pm ET

Last Comment: March 5, 2021 7:17 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

When Clinton Raceway opens its doors for the 2021 season fans will notice the absence of long-time marketing manager Jessica Carnochan.

After 17 seasons with the popular half-mile oval, Carnochan is hanging up her trackside microphone to spend more time with her family and on her other businesses, Marita’s Fashion Boutique in Clinton and Bend Photo and Design.

“The last maybe two seasons, it’s sort of been; was that it, was that the last one? It’s been a long time, so is that enough? But then I’d always think no, no, I still enjoy this. And I really still do enjoy it, but I think after last season when things were so, so different—and probably this season again would look extremely different—that was when I realised,” said Carnochan, whose favourite part of her work was the weekly interaction with fans. “That’s what I love the most, so when you take that away it’s kind of like well, what’s going on here, this is what I love. I know that’s maybe not the best thing to base it on because I am sure there will be a time when the people come back and everything looks somewhat the way it used to, but I think it was just time. Change is good.”

Over the course of her tenure as the marketing manager, Carnochan helped make Clinton Raceway’s signature events, the biennial Legends Day and annual Charity Driver’s Challenge, into can’t miss events on the Ontario harness racing calendar and fundraising machines for the local community. Legends Day has raised more than $225,000 for the Clinton Public Hospital Foundation in its 10 iterations while the Charity Driver’s Challenge has provided more than $325,000 to a variety of local organisations.

“Jess was around for I guess 18 or 19 driver challenges and would have been here for all the Legends Days—working for OLG for the first one, but was here for all of them—and that’s an event that really put us on the map for fundraising and branding our track for wagering,” said Ian Fleming, Clinton Raceway’s Director of Racing. “That helped us last year when we went to try and simulcast, especially in the States, people kind of remembered the place. So she was a big part of helping out with that.”

Carnochan also built Clinton Raceway’s “Day at the Races” fundraisers into a hot commodity in the local area. Each “Day at the Races” event offered non-profits and community groups a way to raise funds and awareness through barbecues, bake sales, silent auctions and more through the support of the raceway’s staff and fan base. There were more applications for the 2019 program than there were Sunday afternoons available.

“Every Sunday there’s a group interested and they bring people out and it raises some money for them and it raises awareness for the track,” said Fleming. “It’s helped attract horses to Clinton too. We’ve got over 80 horses training in Clinton here. There’s not many tracks that have 80 horses training at them anymore. It’s got local people involved with ownership and training.”

Once fans can safely return to the racetrack, Carnochan said she and her family will be trackside for their own day at the races, enjoying the fun-filled atmosphere she helped foster and reconnecting with long-time fans and colleagues.

“I’d love to go back as a fan. I think that would be so fun. I will definitely be there on some Sunday afternoons to take it in and just enjoy that side of it,” said the Seaforth, ON resident. “I met so many wonderful people through these 17 years that I am sure I will stay in touch with.”

Fleming said Clinton Raceway will not attempt to replace Carnochan for the 2021 season, given the uncertainty about fan attendance and the knowledge that her expertise is just a phone call away.

“Jess’s focus at work was to get as many people onto the property here as she could; and when’s the next time we’re going to encourage thousands of people to come to the races again? At some point, but certainly not in the next little bit, so we’ll just kind of play it by ear for this summer,” said Fleming. “She doesn’t live that far away so I am sure we’ll be calling on her for some advice on things from time to time.”

Carnochan said being at home during the May 23 season opener may feel a bit odd, but she will take the many lessons learned at Clinton Raceway — from Fleming, co-workers and fans—and put them to good use in the next stage of her work and family life.

(Clinton Raceway)

March 5, 2021 - 7:17 amClinton is such an amazing

Tim O'Connor SAID...

Clinton is such an amazing race track. Jessica and her team did such a great job of creating that family-friendly atmosphere. The Tarmac was always full of energy and Clinton has become such a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon. Jessica was a big part of that. The highlight of her years there - for me, anyways - was the Legends Day Trot a few summers ago when John Campbell celebrated the end of his magnificent driving career. She will certainly be missed.

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