BRAD (in the) PIT

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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