The 2023 racing season has a diverse one for Daniel Demaras. He planned on contesting a second season of the Canadian F1200 Championship, but if you told him in May that he’d be racing stock cars on the banked oval at Sunset Speedway, he’d say you were dreaming.
Yet, here we are! The Back 2 School Bash was the third and final race weekend of Daniel’s partial season in oval racing. He was back behind the wheel of the No. 9 SKLD Acura Integra. Last time out, an alternator issue resulted in a dreaded DNS (Did Not Start) in the feature race. This weekend would be different.
The SKLD crew of Doug, Shiann, Karlie, Andrew and Austin had readied the cars for competition, but Austin took the No. 9 out to ‘shake it down’ during first practice, just to make sure all was good. He handed the keys (steering wheel?) over to Daniel for second practice. Everything ran smoothly.
A highly uncommon sight in the grandstands was Daniel’s grandmother Tina, aunt Mary and grandfather Bill. They made the trek up from Toronto to Innisfil for the first time to see Daniel compete in the ‘bullring’.
Daniel was a little concerned that the rough nature of short-oval racing would be a little too much for his family. Nobody wants to see their grandkid getting bashed around. But they were told that ‘rubbin is racin‘ and watched with great interest.
Demaras started mid-pack for first heat race, and jumped up to P2 in the opening lap. More confident than in previous weeks, Daniel was now able to run the high line. He slipped back to P3 after a couple laps, and a late-race restart potentially jeopardized that position. But Daniel defended his position for the rest of the race and earned his first ‘podium finish’ in oval racing, bringing the No.9 home in third place. A great result.
The second heat race didn’t go nearly as smoothly. In fact, Daniel didn’t even get to complete a lap, as the car was involved in a Turn 1 wreck right after the green flag.
The start was botched, as one of the drivers ahead of Daniel simply didn’t go on green. The accelerating pack accordioned together, then drivers scrambled left and right to avoid collision. Demaras made contact with the rear bumper of another racer, then got turned by the No. 31, setting off a chain reaction that took out several racers.
With the suspension mangled, Daniel was unable to steer the race car. He pulled in to the infield and was forced to watch the second heat race, much like he did in the Feature Race only a week earlier.
The team would have serious repairs to perform during intermission, and Daniel just prayed to the racing gods to be able to compete in one last race,