There are a number of drivers that own their own programs in the Canadian Tire Series and a majority, like Kerry Micks and John Fitzpatrick (before he retired from competition), were independently wealthy or have been successful enough in business to be able to race out of their own pockets and can arrange the necessary time off from their day jobs to go racing.
There are also drivers like Scott Steckly and D.J. Kennington – true racers at heart - who have developed their own programs over time, creating a model to be a successful team driver/owner while compiling the resources to be able to rent or lease out cars to drivers that can deliver sponsorship cheques.
For Joey McColm of Ajax, Ontario, the situation is much different. McColm, fresh out of college, comes from a middle class background and has been forced to make everything happen almost by himself to keep his racing dreams alive.
McColm’s young CM2C Racing Team will run almost the entire 2010 season, and have added a pair of new marketing partners to the fold. The companies are brand new to the Canadian Motorsports landscape: Ultimate Drivers and Watch It. “We did a lot of pounding on doors and found a couple of companies that believed in our program in Ultimate Drivers, and Watch It. Ultimate Drivers is a franchise of driving schools and are now starting a race car driving school, while Watch It is a national watch boutique made for the young hip Canadian. Their customers are used to life in the fast lane. We found a couple of great companies that saw the same vision that we saw and they were both looking to get into the demographic that we race in front of. ATTO Insurance is still on board and like the other two companies is a tremendous fit for our program this year. ”
McColm recently graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto with a degree in Civil Engineering and, in addition to operating the race team, has also started his own company called Time Energy, which is involved in the fields of solar technology and geothermal power. “It’s been a whirlwind since I started, but I’m hoping to get the company to the point where it can be part of the team, and a major sponsor.”
Joey continued to explain his future plans for making his team as ‘green’ as possible. “NASCAR is always taking hits for their environmental impact, so we’re trying to take steps to bury that stereotype. We want to be the first team that is totally reliant on green energy at the race track. We already have our hauler running on bio diesel, but by the start of next season we want to have our pit box create no carbon footprint while we’re at the racetrack. We are going to develop a solar panel system that we can use to power our entire pit cart. We don’t want to have to have to rely on a generator in our pit stall, or use any fossil fuel other than the racing gas in the car.”
McColm started his racing career at the age of 15 in go-karts and moved up to larger cars the next year, competing in a Mini-Stock at Peterborough Speedway. He continued to compete in the Mini-Stock class for several seasons on a part-time schedule, and spent many nights and weekends as a crew member for Mark Dilley’s CASCAR Super Series team.
It was that involvement that gave him the ability to run his own race team. “Mark is someone that I’ve always looked up to for both his driving ability and his marketing ability. I sure did learn a lot of things from him, and hopefully by the time my career is done, I can be the Mark Dilley of my generation. I don’t do everything the exact same way that he does it, but I’ve taken a lot of ideas and approaches from him.”
After a few seasons with Dilley, McColm left the team to pursue his own dreams of racing glory. After a season of getting his feet went on the CASCAR Sportsman trail, McColm received the call that expedited his racing career. “John Atto called me and wanted me to drive his car. The chance showed up and I took it.”
McColm drove for Atto on a limited basis for a number of seasons before realizing that he wanted his own team so that he would be able to control his future. “I have to thank John for everything that he did for me, but there was always that pressure in the background. We made a deal with John to use the equipment, and he stayed on as a sponsor, as we created CM2C Motorsports, which includes myself and a group of investors.”
As for what NASCAR can add to the program going forward, McColm would love to see more car owners. “I don’t know how long I would like to drive for, maybe another 10 years, but I would love to continue in the role of a car owner down the line, and give some young people the kind of opportunity that I was given.”
With drivers like Peter Gibbons and David Whitlock now retired, and Dilley, Don Thomson Jr., and Kerry Micks getting closer to retirement, McColm is confident that there are more drivers coming. “There is a next generation of drivers out there. Brandon Watson and Steven Mathews are proof of that.”
Time will tell as to what sort of role model McColm will become, but judging by his work ethic and the forward thinking he employs to operate his race team, odds are good that the impact will be a positive one.