MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Thus far in his career, Connor James has been proving himself behind the wheel of a racecar, with a Ontario Sportsman Series Championship and a couple Ontario Modified Racing Series victories. He also made a splash on the big stage, scoring a 10th-place finish in his NASCAR Pinty’s Series debut at Jukasa Motor Speedway in 2018.
His success has continued to catch the attention of several people, including Jason Hathaway.
“He was actually someone that I thought of that wasn’t racing with us that needed to be,” Hathaway said. “I actually reached out to him, truthfully. I just felt that talking to a few people that I know and respect that he was a nice guy, good family, can drive a racecar, can promote himself, so it’s someone that I reached out to see if they had any interest.”
The conversation has resulted in James being given the chance to get behind the wheel of a third Ed Hakonson Racing entry for three NASCAR Pinty’s Series events this year – both Jukasa events and the series’ return to Sunset Speedway.
“I am super excited,” James said. “EHR is one of the top teams in the series, so to be able to cut a deal with Jason, Ed and everybody at Choko Motorsports and Fast Eddie (Racecar), it’s surreal. Once the write-up came out, I was pretty pumped about it, probably one of the bigger days in my life because Jason is a guy that I was a little star struck. Now after meeting him and hanging out with him, he’s just a normal guy and a boss to me now. It’ll be cool running for him, Ed, and everybody at EHR.”
The opportunity will not only give James the chance to work with Hathaway, but as well as Brett Taylor. The Alberta native has been continuing to get stronger behind the wheel each season, capping off 2019 with his first series victory in the finale at Jukasa.
“Brett and I are really good friends, as we talk a lot on-and-off the track,” James commented. “But Jason is going to be a guy defiantly to look up to. I haven’t raced these cars at Sunset (Speedway). My Sportsman is a very similar type of the car, but he’s going to be a guy that I look up pretty much in everything this year. He’s going to be there as the boss off the track and I kind of go and ask where’s this, where’s that, and we can figure it out quickly together.”
Entering the season, James says that he is aiming for the top-10 in each of the events he runs, as he believes they can do “really good things in the series” with the “awesome equipment” that EHR has.
When he is not racing the Pinty’s Series, James will be busy as he intends to full, or close to, schedule for the Ontario Legends Series, driving the No. 8 for Kevin Foisy at Canadian Legend Cars.
The goals are simple behind the wheel of the Legend with a focus on the championship.
“We are running for a championship; Kevin has said that,” he stated. “It’s super exciting because in the limited amount of experience that we have in them last year, we did very well; I think we came out of (Autumn) Colours with a top-five in my first time there. I think we can do a lot better this year. We’re going to have a new car, and I think it’ll be pretty exciting.”
As previously noted, James is no stranger to having success as he was able to capture the Ontario Sportsman Series Championship this past season in a battle that came down to the finale at Flamboro Speedway.
“It was a dream that we did dream of at some point,” he commented. “The Sportsman Series was a lot of fun, but it was time to move on to bigger and better things. When we got the experience in the Legend car, that was something that we wanted to shift towards this year. And the Pinty’s stuff came up fairly quick.
“But the Sportsman, I can’t thank everybody enough at our team – Stu, Willie, Johnny, my spotter Jordan, mom and dad obviously. My sponsors – SSG Gloves, which we’ll be carrying with us this year again which is awesome. So it was an awesome season last year. I can’t wait to get back in the seat this year.”