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Gassien Gunning For Regional Crown

Published: June 25, 2018 2:24 pm ET

Last Comment: July 1, 2018 3:55 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Veteran reinsman Reg Gassien has made his mark over the last 50 years as a driver racing across the province, and has built up quite the resume along the way.

From his success on the Ontario Jockey Club circuit in the ‘80s to being a mainstay and a recurring top driver at Kawartha Downs since the track opened in 1972, the longtime favourite at the Peterborough-area oval will have his first chance to add the Eastern Ontario / Quebec Regional Driving Champion title to his long list of accolades this coming Saturday (June 30) on his hometown track.

With a racing career that dates back to 1977, the 69-year-old driver from Lindsay, Ont., has undoubtedly racked up more racing years then any of the other seven competitors. Over the course of his career, Gassien has steered his mounts to $28 million in purse earnings after more than 27,000 drives. Overall, Gassien has recorded 4,625 wins, 3,814 second-place finishes and 3,356 thirds – numbers which surely make him one of the top drivers in the province.

Although he’s closing in on 70, don’t let Gassien’s age fool you.

“It’s really nice to still be involved in this type of competition at my age,” said Gassien. “Peterborough has always been my home track, so I'm very comfortable there. I might even still have a few fans to cheer me on. I enjoy racing at Kawartha, so hopefully I can do well and have a little fun.”

Gassien’s career spans more than five decades, and the first time he ever sat behind a horse was at the Norwood Fair when he was 15 years old. “I had bought my own horse and had decided to get my license to drive. My father had racehorses and I guess I started by helping out and graduated to jogging. My first drive at Greenwood was one of my father's horses.”

To date, Gassien has boasted ten $1-million seasons, received numerous honours as a top driver, and has won several major stakes races that many other catch-drivers dream of capturing. If you take a look through Gassien’s book of career accomplishments, you can begin to understand the driving talent he has.

Some of the many achievements in Gassien’s distinguished career include winning the Molson Pace, the Canadian Breeders Championship, an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Final, the Acton Series Final (twice) and having been awarded OHHA’S prestigious Living Legend Award. Along with the aforementioned successes, Gassien reminisced on some of his best memories from back in the day. “One would be winning seven consecutive drives at Greenwood. I won the last race at Greenwood on a Friday night and won the first six the next day. The second would be that I am still the only driver to be involved in two triple dead heats; and last would be driving Treecoscious in the 1994 North America Cup.”

Triple Dead Heat at Greenwood Raceway (on August 22, 1981), with Gassien driving the crowd favourite, Happy Hoot. Blizzard Almahurst (driven by Jack Kopas) and Baron Reve (Jerry Duford) were the others in the triple dead heat.

When Gassien isn’t driving or working with the horses, he likes to spend time playing and watching hockey, and spending time with his spouse of 30 years, Sheila; his three daughters, Kara (38), Jenna (34) and Ashley (33); and two granddaughters, two-year-old Lilah and nine-month-old Paige.

Although he now considers himself to be semi-retired, Gassien explained, “I will drive as long as I'm fit, healthy, and able to do so. My goal is to keep having fun and to not get injured.”

Now, after many dedicated years in the race bike, he has not only been given his first opportunity to compete in the regional, he will also get to do it over the Fraserville track that he calls home. All in all, a spot in the National Driving Championship would be a great achievement for Gassien to add to his resume.

The Eastern Ontario / Quebec Regional Driving Championship will take place this Saturday (June 30) at Kawartha Downs, and racing will start at 7:00 p.m. In addition to Gassien, the field will include Nicholas Boyd, Stephane Brosseau, Guy Gagnon, Stephane Gendron, Jonathan Lachance, Brett MacDonald and Richard Simard.

Drivers will receive points based on their finishing position, and the top two drivers from the eight-race competition will join six other pilots at the 2018 National Driving Championship (NDC) at Grand River Raceway.

The winner of the 2018 NDC will have the opportunity to represent Canada in the WDC, and join 2017 World Driving Champion, James MacDonald, in the 2019 WDC in Sweden.

Trevor Henry and Louis-Philippe Roy finished first and second in the Ontario Regional Driving Championship, which was hosted on Wednesday, May 16 at The Raceway at Western Fair District, and have advanced to the NDC.

July 1, 2018 - 3:55 pmReg is "The Gass Man."

Reg is "The Gass Man."

June 25, 2018 - 5:40 pmRaced thousands of times with

Gord Brown SAID...

Raced thousands of times with Reg and believe it or not we never had a bad word. We actually brought out the best in each other. One of my favorite people. Gass and double GG exactor!

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