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Winterton native living out racing dreams in Avondale Speedway

Ryan St. George has been racing the same car for the past four years in the Legends Racing series.
Ryan St. George has been racing the same car for the past four years in the Legends Racing series.

WINTERTON, NL — Ryan St. George is living out his passion for motorsports on the racetrack in Avondale.

St. George, who calls Winterton home, has been racing on the Eastbound International Speedway in Avondale for the past four years, but says his interest in the sport is something that’s been with him since childhood.

“I’ve always been interested in this kind of thing. Motorsports were always a big deal to me, even as a kid. It was something of a family thing,” said St. George. “When the speedway opened up a few years ago, we were all over it.”

St. George, 28, races in the Legends Racing series, and says that the competitive nature of racing, along with the fond memories he makes on the track are what keeps him going.

Despite his love of the sport, St. George said racing is not something someone can just pick up and master in a single day. He described the difference between driving a racecar and a road car as night and day, adding that the two are nearly incomparable.

Legends cars are 5/8-scale versions of NASCAR vehicles driven in the 1930s and 1940s. The cars are built with fiberglass bodies and powered by 1250cc Yamaha motorcycle engines, outputting approximately 120 horsepower. The 1100-pound vehicles are capable of reaching speeds of 130 miles per hour, which roughly translates to 210 kilometres per hour.

Alongside the skill required, racing can be a costly endeavor as well, St. George added.

Legends cars are 5/8-scale models of classic NASCAR vehicles driven in the 1930s and 1940s.

“It all depends on how much you can spend, or how much you’re willing to spend,” he explained. “Getting yourself a car suited for this kind of thing can be expensive on its own. A brand new car could cost you upwards of 15, 16, 17 grand. You could always get a used one for cheaper, but you never know how well it’s been treated in the past, you know?”

Initial costs are one thing, but maintaining the vehicle is another. St. George noted how often vehicles need even the slightest bit of maintenance, which can get costly quite quickly.

“You’re going to be changing the oil usually about once a week. Other than that, it all depends on how a race goes. You could come out of it with not even a knick on the car, or you might come out of it needing $1500 in repairs if something really went wrong.”

St. George noted a particular instance from earlier in the week where a fellow driver veered off the track, heavily damaging the front of their car. The driver in this case was uninjured, but the single accident resulted in over $1,000 in repairs.

Recent success

However, St. George does not let himself worry about costs involved. The Winterton native’s passion for the sport is what drives him, and his recent successes showcase just how much he loves to get behind the wheel.

Of the past five races, St. George and his team won four.

“It feels great, honestly,” he said. “We work really hard. Everyone does, not just us, but it’s great to see that hard work come through in the races.”

St. George’s team, similar to every racer’s, consists of a pit crew who work on the car, as well as a list of sponsors including A1 Glass, Home Hardware Building Center, and Dennis Porter, the owner of the car St. George has been racing for the past four years.

“Without a team, it’s not going to work. This isn’t a solo thing, even though I’m the one racing,” he said. “There’s a group of people who are really important in the grand scheme of things, and what they do is just as important as driving the car itself.”

St. George told The Compass one of the main reasons his passion for racing hasn’t dwindled over the years is the competition aspect of racing, stating that once a person is on the track, it’s them against everyone else. There are no teams, and so the level of competition rises with each car on the track.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun on the track. It’s a competition, but most of the guys are pretty good sports,” St. George said. “We’re all there to have a good time, and that’s exactly what we do. I love the competition, but it’s friendly competition, and I think that’s why everyone gets along so great over there.”

chris.lewis@cbncompass.ca

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