As Daniel Demaras lined up at the NASCAR Driver’s Autograph session in advance of the Pinty’s Grand Prix, he was excited to see former IndyCar star Alex Tagliani. But really, Daniel was only there to support his friend, driver James Vance.
Over the past four months, Daniel has spent time with James under the PRO tent at the kart track. Sometimes as a driving coach, sometimes helping with the mechanical, and even sharing the track as fellow competitors in karting events. But Daniel had still never seen James behind the wheel of a racecar.
But this weekend, James would return to the driver’s seat of the #1 CBRT / Expo Systems NASCAR racing machine.
Karting team owners Darryl Timmers and Curtis Fox were right beside Vance before the race, sharing a laugh.
But once the race began, it was all business. Curtis was spotting for James this weekend, and a tough qualifying position meant Vance would need all the help he could get keeping track of the competition as he sought to move through the field.
For Daniel Demaras (and his young sister Michelle) it was a chance to see guys from the karting track at their ‘day jobs’.
Old teammates from VRS Karting, Keidon Fletcher and Scott Fletcher were working under the Legendary Motorcar Company paddock on the #59 Pioneer Family Pools of driver Gary Klutt. Despite being a only a teenager, Keidon manned-up and handled fueling duties on the racecar, while father Scott was spotted inside the engine bay.
Starting last, Vance lost all power steering on lap three, which made driving a nightmare. He came from the back up to 6th, then got ‘put into the wall’ and went back to last place. Coming through the field a second time, Vance clawed his way to P7. After the race, the exhaustion of having to pass half the field (twice) really showed.