You could drive four hours from Hamilton, Ont., to Watkins Glen International Speedway, southeast of Rochester, N.Y., and watch the NASCAR elite drive around the 11-turn, 3.78 kilometre track. You could go the other way from The Hammer, head west to Sarnia and make a five-hour trek to Michigan International Speedway, a 3.22 km D-shaped superspeedway.
I’ve been to both tracks and then a few others in the U.S.
Or you could take 25 minutes from downtown Hamilton and visit Flamboro Speedway, a 1/3 mile banked oval operating for the past 51 years west of Highway 6 on Millgrove Road. The benefit of Flamboro is you can also access the pit road and rub shoulders with the local weekend racers.
And if you happen to work with someone who actually straps on a helmet, pulls those seatbelts tight, and speeds his way around the track, then the experience can be that much more exciting.
Brad Corcoran, a 41-year-old from Milton, Ontario, participates weekly in the Grisdale Late Model series at the Flamboro track.
Corcoran competes consistently in the top finishers and most recently took the checkered flag on June 30, a night I followed the driver around the raceway.
He lacks major sponsorship and a pit crew team, but family members and others help out – with invaluable racing experience from Canadian stock car racing legend Junior Hanley, shown below.
It’s a low-budget affair compared to the millions of dollars spent to field a car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but for someone who works full-time during the week, the expense of fuel, tires, repairs and travel can be daunting.
And even though it’s local track racing, the competition is fierce. Corcoran is an approachable, mild-mannered, and humble person outside the cockpit of his #05 Chevrolet. But when the helmet goes on, his need for speed and the checkered flag turns him into a tenacious competitor.
So, if you go to Flamboro and find yourself suddenly in the shade, it’s not cloud cover – it’s just Brad Corcoran, The Shadow.