Hennessy, Giesbrecht Eager For NDC Challenge

Mike Hennessy and Phil Giesbrecht
Published: June 23, 2024 12:03 pm EDT

The excitement continues to build as the 2024 National Driving Championship (NDC), presented by Standardbred Canada, approaches.

Eight of the nine drivers competing in the NDC earned their spot by being a top-two finisher in their regional event, and those drivers will face off on Friday, July 5 at Hippodrome 3R in Trois-Rivières, Que., for the opportunity to represent Canada at the World Driving Championship in 2025.

In the Western Regional Driving Championship (WRDC), which took place at Century Downs on Sunday, May 11, Phil Giesbrecht and Mike Hennessy emerged from that bracket, finishing first and second, respectively.

Hennessy wasn’t high on his lineup going into the competition, but the WRDC runner-up was very pleased with the end result. He looks forward to another opportunity to compete in the national spotlight after competing the 2022 NDC at Century Mile.

"It felt really good [to qualify],” said Hennessy. “Personally, I didn’t think I had the strongest hand going in… I actually thought I had the fifth or sixth best. It worked out, just like last time.” 

The Alberta reinsman is eager to compete against some of the top drivers in Canada next month in Quebec. He knows it’ll be a challenge, but it’s one that he’s going to embrace. When asked who he feels will be his biggest competition, Hennessy stated, “Doug [McNair] and James [MacDonald].”

Giesbrecht, who finished tops in the WRDC for the very first time in 2024, is looking forward to his upcoming NDC experience.

Mike Hennessy and Phil Giesbrecht

“I’m just excited,” said Giesbrecht with a smile. “I’m excited to experience the city as well as the opportunity to race at a new track.”

When asked about the competition, Giesbrecht didn't discount any of his eight NDC rivals.

“Anyone can win this, so I’m worried about everyone.”

For Giesbrecht, donning the red and white colours would be a huge thrill, something he’s hoping comes to fruition in 2025 at the World Driving Championship in New Zealand. 

“It’s a long-time dream come true,” said the Manitoba native. “It’d be a tremendous honour on top of it all.”

Hennessy echoed Giesbrecht’s sentiments, with praise for the competition structure as a whole.

"It would be a dream come true,” noted Hennessy. "It’s awesome the way Standardbred Canada does this, allowing an opportunity for a guy outside of Ontario to compete for the title and represent our country.”

With the bulk of their driving experience comprised of racing at tracks in western Canada, both drivers are ready for the change of scenery at Hippodrome 3R in two weeks time, with hopes of a memorable result. 

Rounding out the field of NDC competitors are Redmond Doucet (Atlantic Canada), David Dowling (Atlantic Canada), Stephane Brosseau (Quebec/Eastern Ontario), Robert Shepherd (Quebec/Eastern Ontario), Tyler Borth (Ontario), James MacDonald (Ontario) and Doug McNair (World Driving Championship representative).

Watch Phillip Giesbrecht and Mike Hennessy being interviewed live as part of the NDC Driver Showcase on Thursday, July 4, at 8:30 p.m., with additional details on that special live stream coming soon.

(Standardbred Canada)

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