Longtime readers-and certainly any Canadian quarter-mile fans in the crowd-may well remember Joe DaSilva's cross-border exploits back in the formative years of Pro 5.0 racing. The immensely likeable, high-energy racer from the Toronto area originally campaigned under the J&P Performance banner (together with brother Paul) before branching off onto his own with DaSilva Racing, a speed shop that is going strong to this day.
What you may not know or remember is that Joe was just as good a race promoter as he was a driver. Back in the day, he organized and put on many a hotly contested drag race, mainly at St. Thomas Raceway Park (albeit back when it was variously known as St. Thomas Dragway, or London Motorsports Park) in southwestern Ontario.
Recently, Joe was back at the St. Thomas strip again, now promoting the Canadian Ford Challenge, which he hopes to make an annual affair. This was the start-up year for the deal, which first and foremost seemed a relaxed and friendly gathering of Mustang-centric racers of all experience levels, many of whom are loyal customers of Joe's. Which is not to say that the challenge wasn't competitive.
Race classes included both bracket and heads-up competition, and the two-day gathering also boasted a Saturday morning 212-hour cruise to the track from Toronto, a show area for those who preferred not to rubber up their rides, and even overnight camping-a good thing given its relative isolation amongst the corn and soybean fields just a few concessions north of the Lake Erie shoreline.
Was this a high-dollar affair dominated by six-figure motorhomes dragging 53-foot trailers loaded with uniformed crewmen? Absolutely not. But it's exactly the sort of gathering needed to attract and welcome new players into the sport of Mustang drag racing. The strip veterans in attendance seemed pretty happy, too.
Keep your eyes online for word about the 2013 Canadian Ford Challenge.