Delaware Speedway

CATCHING UP WITH…… Pete Vanderwyst

With three top-five’s and five top-10’s including a victory at Delaware Speedway, Pete Vanderwyst was able to clinch the 2022 Qwick Wick Super Stock Series Championship by four points over Gerrit Tiemersma. The veteran recently shared his thoughts on the season with SHORT TRACK MUSINGS.

What are your thoughts on being the 2022 Qwick Wick Super Stock Series Champion?

It’s pretty cool. I mean at the end of the day, I had no envisions of coming back racing. I’d be out of it for the last couple 12, 13 years and getting my feet back wet last year was a lot of fun, competing in that series that Luke (Ramsay) and Frank (Wall) and the guys at Qwick Wick put together was pretty cool. Coming out this year with a brand new car and trying to get some things figured out with that with the metric program that McColl (Racing Enterprises) came up with a lot of ideas from Burt McColl himself, it was a pretty great accomplishment in my mind.

What was your favourite moment from the season?

Championship night, Friday night at Delaware (Speedway), winning at our home track, finishing second, having the track record, leading a bunch of laps – obviously clinching the championship was the highlight of the year.

The Qwick Wick Series has been a big deal since it debuted. What’s it like with the competition there going up against the likes of (Gerrit) Tiemersma and (Lane) Zardo?

Those guys are great competitors. I love the fact that they work on their cars all the time. That’s kind of how we grew up in the 2000s, working on your car every night to get it dialed in and ready for the race track. I really admire those guys for what they’ve been able to accomplish.

You mentioned stepping away from the sport for awhile. What made you want to get back involved?

That was just on a whim. I would stop at McColl’s shop once a month and get my racing fix, stop at Wight’s shop once a month and get my racing fix. I mean, they’re both local to me in St. Thomas with Wight just living down the road from me and Mike (McColl) not far, either. I would just stop in once a month and get my racing fix, catch up on what was going on, see the evolution on where the cars were going and how they were coming along from what we raced back in the day.

Then an opportunity came up with – Carson Nagy was supposed to be in late model and something happened there. Connor Pritiko was supposed to be in a super stock and he ended up in a late model and a car just ended up sitting there. Mike said, “Hey, why don’t you jump in it and see what it’s like and have some fun? Maybe it’s something that you can step down to your boy Peter (Vanderwyst) to get involved in racing.”

How much has things changed from the previous time that you were behind the wheel?

Massively. It’s a completely different ball game. These Pro Late Models are like an F1 (Formula 1) car in my mind with the bump stops and shock packages that they have on them – the packers, everything like that. It’s so beyond what we raced back then and quite frankly, the super stocks are pretty much – well, they’re actually a better racecar than what we had when we were running our CASCAR days.

What was in the plans for you in 2023?

Right now, my son Peter will be running the same car that I ran last year at Delaware (Speedway) in a Friday night program, and then I’ll run that car on the Qwick Wick Series.

Nice! It’s got to mean a lot for you as a father watching your son progress up the ranks especially after seeing him get his feet wet in the four cylinders.

Absolutely. That was kind of the goal that Mike had stepped out and took a little bit of a gamble sticking me in that car last year and it’s worked out and we’re really looking forward to it. Peter is looking forward to getting his feet wet in it. We had him in the car at the end of the year at a couple practice sessions and he did pretty good. It’s going to be a stepping stone, no doubt, the competition at Delaware is as tough as anywhere in Canada – for that matter North America. I think it’ll be good for him. Looking forward to getting the season going.

Absolutely, because you look at Delaware and you’ve got Trevor Collver, Andrew Ferriera – I mean, that’s one of the steepest divisions to watch.

I won’t disagree with that at all. You’ve also got Ryan Dyson, Carson Nagy, Chase Pinsonneault. It’s a lot of fun seeing these young guys come up. I never started racing until I was 23 so Peter jumped in it being 20-years-old, so he’s going to have a two-year head start than when I got started.

I was going to say. It’s got to neat for someone like you watching these second and third generation kids now go racing after battling against their fathers.

Absolutely. I can remember standing on the podium between Gerrit – and his uncle was Derek (Tiemersma) and Lane Zardo, obviously with the unfortunate passing of his grandfather, and Pete Shepherd and those guys. When I was standing between the two of them last year, their ages combined did not equal how old I was.

You mentioned you got started when you were 23. What made you want to get involved in racing to being with?

It’s a crazy story, too. My third youngest brother and his buddy decided they were going to build an Enduro car at the shop here at the farm and they never got it finished off. I was getting a little frustrated with them because they were taking shop space and said f*** it, I’m going to finish it with one of my buddies, and that’s how it started. I think that was in 1993.

Then in 1994 for Christmas, my mom and dad thought you know what, these cars aren’t as safe as we think they should be so we should get you a fuel cell. It was the same year that Burt McColl had moved his shop to St. Thomas so we went to the shop to order a fuel cell, and my dad and Burt got talking and Burt talked him into getting a street stock so we built a street stock that winter.

Given your long career and everything you have accomplished, what’s one piece of advice for the young kids coming in the sport now?

I think the biggest thing is you have to know what’s on the car. You have to be able to work on the car, you have to be able to head back to the shop and get all your Is dotted, and your Ts crossed, and just know what a car feels like when it’s loose – loose getting in or tight in the center, all that stuff in the feel of it.

Ironically when you say that, in the super stock last year, we struggled with the car at the beginning. It just wasn’t the feel at the beginning that I remembered I wanted in my butt getting into the corners and getting on the gas and waiting for it to sit on the right rear and what not. So we made a bunch of changes to the car and probably the last quarter of the season, we got it and the car got to be real fast –and that was the goal with this metric car, to be able to get the feel that I wanted and the feel I felt I needed to be competitive with the car. We were able to prove that every time that we went on the track with it.

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