At the age of 15, Dan Rothwell got first chance behind the wheel of a racecar, competing at a dirt track.
While he took some time away from being a competitor, he never left cars alone – opening up a restoration shop with fellow current Knightswork Design OSCAAR Hot Rods presented by Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park competitor Jim Blackwell.
The pair would make the decision to visit the race track a few years ago together, getting their first taste of a current growing division – the Hot Rods.
“It was just like someone turned a light on when we saw the Hot Rods running,” Rothwell recalled. “We looked at each other and said, ‘Geez, these may be a series for us to get back into.’ I haven’t done exceptional or anything like that, but we’re having fun. It’s a hobby – and we’re still having fun.”
For Rothwell, the appeal of the series is simple – the ‘ol school body styles.
“I think people appreciate what people bring out and what they want to show off in the different body styles,” he commented. “There are so many different vehicles that can be put in the series, and they’re neat to see. The cars are much like the old late models of the late 60s, early 70s. It almost offers a rebirth with some of these guys, and a good example is Peter Schotanus.
“I work pretty closely with Peter – he gives me a lot of help and direction. He really, really enjoys the series, too. He’s always enjoyed the sport and been really creative, but I think this is kind of a showcase for him, as it is for a lot of other guys, too.”
Once involved in the series, the love has only grown from there, as Rothwell appreciates his competitors, noting there’s a camaraderie with everyone.
“ People don’t play their cards to the chest as much; they’ll help one another,” he commented. “You really seem to be able to strike up some sort of bond wherever you’re pitted that week. It’s a much more laid back situation I find.”
It’s why the veteran will be part of the tour once again this year, admittedly entering this year with optimism, thanks to a new engine program. With the power under the hood, it’s no surprise he’s looking forward to the biggest track on the tour – Jukasa Motor Speedway – as well as Kawartha Speedway and Delaware Speedway.
While the current love of the sport is huge for Rothwell, you’d be wrong to forget how far he has come from where he started – or the memories along the way. The fondest of those, though, comes from one of the roughest moments.
“Well, I’ve had lots of wrecks – you know, years ago at the old North Bay Speedway, I was hurt in a wreck and what was most memorable for me was people that might’ve been arch rivals really stepped up when I got hurt to really help me out,” he recalled. “It was one of those things that was kind of touching to think that you were very competitive, and when the chips were down, they were going to step up and help you.”
With all his experience under his belt, his advice to those looking to get started is enter with real enthusiasm, but keep your options open for other things, too.
“Over the years, I’ve ate, drank, and dreamed of racing and the automobile, and it’s a good way to do things, but do a few others things as well,” he shared. “Like the other day – I have a restoration shop with Jim Blackwell and build Hot Rods for people. Right now I’m doing a restoration job on a 1954 GMC Truck. The customer came over with a couple of friends and the one guy asked how I had been doing this. Without hesitation, I said 55 years – and then I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s longer than I’ve dreamed of,’ but the number just came to me.”
Be sure to keep up with OSCAAR by staying tuned to the series website at http://www.oscaar.ca. Also, make sure to “like” the official OSCAAR Racing Facebook page, while following both the Twitter and Instagram accounts (@OSCAARRacing) to keep up to date on everything you need to know.
OSCAAR’s 2020 racing season was supported by several dedicated partners including Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC, Knightworks Design, Living Lighting Canada, Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd., Touchwood Cabinets, Sauble Falls Campground, The Fyre Place & Patio Shop, Ohsweken Speedway, American Racer, and Grisdale Race Products.
By: Ashley McCubbin