Photo by Dale Calnan/Image Factor Media
By Carin Sundin
OHSWEKEN, Ont. (June 12, 2019) – This week’s edition of “In the Driver’s Seat” features Kahati:ne Melissa “just call me Pete” Miller, from the Middleport Mechanical Thunder Stock division. Each week this segment showcases a driver from the Middleport Mechanical Thunder Stock or HRW Automotive Mini Stock divisions to share some insight on the drivers wearing the fire suit and behind the wheel of the cars that put on the show.
Melissa would like to thank the following sponsors for supporting their 2019 race season, Ohsweken Pharmasave, Icky’s Tobacco and Variety, and Miller Electric. She would also like to extend a special thank you to her partner and crew member, Mike Klazinga.
How old were you when you started racing? What division/class? How long have you been in this current division?
MM: “I started racing when I was 19 years old. My father purchased the car for me in the fall of 2012. In my family we have an affinity for the film Cool Hand Luke which is applicable to most of our life decisions. A particular line in that move is “Well we thought you could handle it. Was we wrong Luke? Was we wrong?”. With that being said I was thrown into the Thunder Stock division and have only run the Thunder Stock division. Sink or swim, it was up to me.”
How did you get involved in racing?
MM: “Prior to 2012 I hadn’t really noticed the track. That year was my brother, Derek’s, first year of racing. Late one Friday night at the heels of my waitressing shift my father called me and told me I should come check it out; watch Derek race and see what fun there was to be had, so I did. It only took one night and I was interested. Immediately I said I wanted to do this not thinking that I would have so much as a chance. That fall my Dad bought the Cutlass off of Derek and I was sunk.”
What was your scariest situation in a racecar?
MM: “In all honesty I forget the race as quick as I can react to a race. This makes set up changes a massive challenge. Though there are three instances that come to mind when I think of racing. The first being my second year of racing (2014) where in turn-1 and 2 I was spun, dislocated my shoulder, then spun again and shoulder relocated although ultimately the car was wrecked. I toughed it out until Monday on that one. Another incident occurred in my fourth season (2016) when a wreck that began behind me collected my car. Not knowing what was happening isn’t something that comforts the nerves. Lastly, and most unnerving is a wreck that did not directly involve me but rather involved my partner, Mike Klazinga, when he rolled through turn one in front of me. The red flag came out, I found myself driving as far into the wreck as I could in the hopes he was okay. Seconds feel much longer when you don’t know if someone is okay.”
Do you get “race nerves” before a race?
MM: “Not typically, no. Though I do tend to lose focus at work on race day as I mentally go through the checklist for the evening in the hopes that I haven’t forgotten to pack something.”
What is your favourite race moment to date (as a driver, fan, growing up, etc.)?
MM: “I can’t think of a particular moment, but rather a vague time. Each week there is two periods of time where there is this time of intermingling – before and after. As both drivers and enthusiasts, Mike and I move from pit to pit and catch up at the beginning of the night and at the end we find time to visit and compare. That time I find to be my favourite and most educational.”
If you could race in any other class, which would it be?
MM: “I must admit that I’m quite content in the Thunder Stock division though I have always been interested in the Modified/Sportsman class. Ultimately, I would try anything I was offered, the Sprint Car division being more realistic in that regard.”
What advice would you give anyone who is interested in getting into racing?
MM: “Know what you are capable of. Use your head and some common sense. Don’t back down/don’t stay down. Nut and bolt checks are a must. Tires become important, don’t neglect them.”
What driver do you most admire? Do they influence your driving style?
MM: “In 6 years I have made a significant effort to watch everyone’s driving styles and habits in the hopes that I would learn not only their behaviours but also some progressive skills. In my first seasons I was very thankful to receive help from any who offered. Some of which included Ryan Dinning, Lee Winger and Billy Bleich in the beginning. All of whom taught me plenty on and off the track and ultimately lead me to meet Mike Klazinga. Mike has been the driving force behind my racing career with help from close friends (who are far too modest to name), to keep me on the track often resulting in perfect attendance because of their countless-tireless nights. Ultimately the tradesman stand out in my eyes as that is my profession. When craftsmanship and persistence are met in equal parts there is little that can not be accomplished. Jon Lowenberg exemplifies both of those qualities in work, home, and racing. That is admirable.”
If you could compete in any race, what would it be? Which track?
MM: “At this time I am content with Ohsweken Speedway. However, I have practised at Merrillville twice now, would be nice to make an actual race. I would race at Humberstone Speedway and Ransomville Speedway as well should it become an option. I’ll try anything at least once!”
Do you have any race day or pre-race superstitions or rituals?
MM: “No, although, I do avoid wearing my own race shirt. There are too many broken parts when I wear my own shirt! Doesn’t seem to apply when friends wear my shirt. 100% in my head.”
Who picked your number and why?
MM: “I chose my own number – No.93. It’s my birth year. Originally, I had wanted to choose No.17, which was my Lacrosse and show number, except it was already taken.Ken Roczen (Supercross) was some what of an influence on me at that time and he used his birth year as his number. The year I started racing was the year of my 20th birthday so it all seemed fitting.”
What other activities do you enjoy besides race car driving?
MM: “Enjoy and making time for are unrelated concepts it would seem. Ultimately, I am an Electrician and spend a great deal of time growing my knowledge of my trade – I truly enjoy that. I have several four-legged friends that fill my vacant hours which include horses, cats, dogs and a donkey. When I’m not racing, or working I have the opportunity to enjoy my Monster. A Ducati monster to be exact. We try make time once a week to get out on the bikes and enjoy.”
Everybody at Ohsweken Speedway would like to wish Miller and the No. 93 Middleport Mechanical Thunder Stock team a safe and successful 2019 season. Thank you, Melissa for getting “In The Driver’s Seat” this week.
About MavTV Canada’s All North Racing Powered by Pinty’s
Ohsweken Speedway is excited to announce its Friday Night Excitement racing will be the centerpiece of a new international television broadcast on MavTV Canada called All North Racing powered by Pinty’s. All North Racing will visit Ohsweken for six live broadcasts that will be re-aired multiple times in Canada and the United States. The MavTV broadcasts are scheduled for May 31, June 21, July 22, July 23, August 30 and September 14. These broadcasts include both nights of the Northern Summer Nationals featuring Tony Stewart, Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu as well as the 15th annual Canadian Sprint Car Nationals. For more information on MavTV Canada, visit www.facebook.com/MAVTVCanada.
Northern Summer Nationals Tickets Available Now
Tony Stewart, Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu are coming to Ohsweken Speedway for two action-packed nights on July 22-23. All three Sprint Car stars will be in action both nights for two $5,000-to-win 360 Sprint Car shows. Tickets and camping for the Northern Summer Nationals are on sale online athttps://ohswekenspeedway.ticketforce.com/ or can be purchased by phone by calling (519) 717-0023.
Ohsweken Speedway Live Stream
Can’t make it to the track or don’t live within driving distance? No problem! Check out all of Ohsweken’s weekly Friday Night Excitement action live online for free via the Ohsweken Speedway Live Stream. The stream goes live at 7:30pm EST each race night at www.OhswekenSpeedway.ca and on our officialFacebook page.
Ohsweken Speedway’s 24th season of weekly Friday Night Excitement features four divisions of racing, including the Kool Kidz-Corr/Pak 360 Sprint Cars, Strickland’s GMC Crate Sprint Cars, Middleport Mechanical Thunder Stocks and HRW Automotive Mini Stocks. Visit www.OhswekenSpeedway.com or call (519) 717-0023 for more information.
About Ohsweken Speedway: Founded in 1996, Ohsweken Speedway is a motorsports complex which includes a 3/8 (0.375) mile clay oval track. The facility is owned by the Styres family, and located in the village of Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada. Ohsweken’s weekly Friday night racing program runs from May to September each year, featuring 360 Sprint Cars, Crate Sprint Cars, Thunder Stocks and Mini Stocks. The season finishes each year with the track’ annual Canadian Sprint Car Nationals. Ohsweken Speedway also hosts weekly Micro Sprint racing on Thursday nights.
OHSWEKEN SPEEDWAY MEDIA
Phone: (519) 717-0023
Ohsweken Speedway thanks the following partners for their support: Nitro 54 Variety, Ackland Insurance, Arrow Express, Auto Parts Centres, Bradshaw Brothers Fuels, Burger Barn, Case IH O’Neil’s Farm Equipment, Core-Mark International, Corr/Pak Merchandising Inc., Creative Edge Signs & Graphics, EPIC Racewear, Gale’s Auto Aftermarket, Hoosier Tire Canada, HRW Automotive, Insta-Insulation/Insta-Panels, Jibs Action Sports, Kool Kidz Ice & Water, McDonald’s Restaurants of Paris & Brantford, Middleport Mechanical, Club 54 Racing, Pinty’s Delicious Foods, Renway Energy, Rochester Knighthawks, Strickland’s GMC and Victory Gamez.