Becoming first exposed to the Canadian Vintage Modifieds by helping Murdoch Motorsports after success in go-karting, it sparked an interest an interest in the division for Jae Pepin.
“Unfortunately, my mom passed away that summer,” Pepin told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “I thought life is too short; she always told me to be happy and do what I love to do and I said you know what, let’s do it. One of the cars came up for sale and bought it and that’s how I got into the club.”
Pepin’s decision to get involved behind the wheel proved to be successful, as he completed the 2022 campaign ranked fifth in the standings.
“It was certainly a learning curve for my first full-time season in the Vintage Modifieds,” he commented. “Those vehicles they’re not easy to drive and I knew that going in, that there would be a lot to learn and I thought our team made a lot of progress through the year and finished pretty strong. We just wanted to log a lot of laps, stay out of everybody’s way and learn, and if we learned a bit of confidence and traction on the year, you would just keep moving forward. I think everyone saw that I just started to take my positions, not scratch anymore, so it ended up being a good learning curve and good season.”
Through the year, he was able to score 22 top-10’s, including a season-best fourth on August 13 as his talent and speed began to shine through. Pepin recalled mid-year seeing his confidence grow after being able to lead a couple laps after starting on the pole.
“To have guys like TJ Marshall and Quintin Murdoch and (Ricky) Willigar and all these guys that are quick and stay ahead of them for a little while, that was pretty good,” he commented. “That was a pretty good moment for our team for sure.”
The respect spoken about his competitors is one of the biggest lessons he took from 2022, in learning how to be aggressive on-track, but maintain a level of mutual respect with everyone.
“I think that goes a long way,” he explained. “We’re all here to have a great time and race hard but I think that’s the biggest thing. If you treat everyone well on and off the track, I think overall it was a better experience.”
As he looks ahead to his sophomore campaign in 2023, he said it will be critical to be open-minded, listen, and continue absorbing knowledge from all angles, whether other drivers or anyone willing to help out. Combined with an extra layer of confidence in knowing what the car is capable of, he feels the improvements they are making this off-season “should help us get to the next level.”
It’s why looking five years down the road, he hopes to have captured a checkered flag of his own, and possibly be racing against his daughter who is currently involved in go-karts and looking to move to cars soon.