July 14th, 2013
Many American's may not be familiar with the name "Pete Shepherd", but in Canada, he's easily one of the most talented drivers to appear in a very long time. Shepherd, a current competitor in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, started in go-karts and moved onto the Thunder Car division at Flamboro Speedway when he was just a young kid. He progressed from there to Late Models, running in the ALSTAR Series and then into Super Late Models with OSCAAR. Shepherd eventually worked his way into Canada's top series CASCAR, running a season and a half winning races along the way as well as Rookie of the year. With the 2006 purchase of what is now called the Canadian Tire Series by NASCAR, the series has seen some of it's best competition ever the past few seasons, with drivers such as Jason Bowels, JR Fitzpatrick and Andrew Rangers climbing the ranks to higher levels of NASCAR. Shepherd is no stranger to success in the series, winning two of the first three races in the Canadian Tire Series this season, winning both of the races he has competed in so far with his part time schedule.
I would like to thank Pete for taking the time to answer a couple of questions for The Racing Experts.
1) Being from from Brampton, Ontario, racing is nowhere as big there
as it is in the states. I know very well being from just outside
Toronto. What got you interested in racing from the start?
My family raced for their entire lives. My Dad, Grandfather, Uncle, and even my Mom were born racers, so I'm continuing the family tradition. I even have 3 younger cousins involved in racing now too. They are also encountering a lot of success.
2) Who was your favorite driver growing up, and if you had the chance
to race against anybody from any level of racing ever, who would you
love to compete against?
My Dad is my racing idol. I think that if he was given the shot that I was early in his career he would be the guy that everyone would be dreaming about racing, and I was lucky enough to race him on a few occasions. My favorite NASCAR drivers of all time were Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Ernie Irvan. I would have loved to race against Dale Sr.
3) Your skill from a young age drew the attention of renowned NASCAR
owner Jack Roush, who invited you to Roush Racing: Driver X, the
audition that was held in 2005 and televised on the Discovery Channel.
You up as one of six finalists in the competition. How would you
describe your whole experience and was there anything you think you
could have done better?
It was an experience that changed my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I came out of that competition a better race car driver and it helped me become more of a professional off the track. There isn't one specific think that I would have changed. I do feel that I was too young at age 17-18 to really produce great results at the highest ranks of NASCAR. I feel that most racers are not physically or mentally mature enough to handle that kind of pressure at that age. I think now that I have matured and grown into man I could handle the pressure and generate results immediately.
4) You eventually got a ride in a couple of truck series and Arca
races with Jack. What would you say is the biggest difference between
driving a Canadian Tire series car and a Arca car?
The two cars are much different. ARCA cars are essentially old cup cars so they are much heavier and much more powerful than a Canadian Tire Series car. They use truck arms so they do not turn as well as our cars do. You have to be patient in getting to the throttle in an ARCA car, but when you do step on it it's quite fast! They run on many mile plus sized race tracks, so they are very different to drive in many cases.
5) You've been a part timer in NCATS since joining the series a few
years back. For people who don't know you, what are you plans beside
racing part time in the series? Would your two wins this season change
your mindset and possibly race the rest of the season?
No it didn't really change our plans. The only thing that would get us in more events would be sponsorship. National Exhaust and Tom Baker have supported me since day one in stock cars, but we are a part time team with limited funds, so we can only run what we can afford. Our team is very strong and we have a solid foundation but we need corporate sponsorship to take it to the next level. However it was cool to be 20 points out of the lead after race 3 and missing race 1
6) What does an average week look like at the shop for a Canadian Tire
I live in London now and our shop is in Brampton. Being that I work a regular 9-5 work week it's tough to get to the shop as much as I'd like. My dad puts a lot of hours, along with the team, into the car. But they also have full time jobs. Maintenance usually occurs between 6-10pm throughout the week so it's a long day to say the least.
7) I do know you are a hockey fan, which awesome considering I also
cover hockey. Who do you cheer for, and were your thoughts on
Chicago's amazing comeback in the dying minutes of game six to win the
Stanley Cup? I know Andrew Ranger is a big Canadiens fan from talking
to him, so please be as cool as him and say you like Montreal.
I consider myself a hockey encyclopedia! Unfortunately being a LEAFS fan I can't say that I like Montreal all that much, but I do like some pieces they have on their team. I was one of the few that were surprised they beat Boston. The Bruins looked really strong against Pittsburgh, but Chicago proved why they were the best team in the NHL this season. It was typical to see an ex London Knight and now a LEAF score the Stanley Cup winning goal...That being Dave Bolland of course.
8) Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
It's tough to say what I will be doing in 5 years. I think that if the economy becomes strong I may get another shot to show that I belong at the top level again. I am content doing what I do because I love racing cars, and I am thankful every time I get to strap up my belts no matter what division I am racing in!