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Driver Interview

#8 Kent Vincent

Continuing with interviews we started in 2011, we are talking with drivers from the 2011 season. We sat down with Kent Vincent to talk about his racing career, his team and what racing is like for them.

Look for other chats with drivers throughout the year. We hope you enjoy these talks as much as we did doing them.

MPST: Thank you for taking the time to sit and talk with us.

Vincent: Oh youíre welcome. Thank you.

MPST: Your dad was a well-known racer and I suppose thatís where your interest in racing started. Tell us about your early introduction to racing.

Vincent: My first memories of racing were when dad raced down in Freetown. I remember him working on the car outside. Basically him and his buddies working outside. Didnít have garage then. Just the noise of it and interest of it and I donít know, just the fascination of the whole deal, I remember him racing at Freetown on the dirt. It was fast, great crop of cars and lots of action. He raced in stock for quite a few years and then Oyster Bed Speedway opened up as another dirt track. Then it went to pavement. That was something different altogether. We werenít used to anything like that at all. A few short years after that, dad purchased a car off of Dave Gorvette, a well-known racer around here and I got his old car, a 1973 Dodge Charger. I started racing in 1990 in the Modified class and I guess itís been history after that.

MPST: You started in Modified and then went to Pro Stock. You started at the top!

Vincent: Started at the top I guess. I learned a lot in a short period of time here at home. Like I said, racing against dad, the likes of Al MacPhail and Lowell Affleck. Lots of good guys. You learn a lot, thatís for sure.

MPST: Watching your dad race in the early years it was Freetown and Oyster Bed. Any other tracks that you remember?

Vincent: Freetown yeah, then they raced a bit in Sleepy Hollow, which is in Charlottetown. Then they went to Oyster Bed after that. During that time he was lugging the car over to River Glade every now and then to race. We were still dirt here at that time and trying to learn the asphalt over there was quite a learning curve. Sets ups were a little different. We were building then to be heavy and rugged for the dirt and these guys were building on the asphalt to be light and nimble. It was quite a contrast.

MPST: Back when your dad started racing it was family affair. Youíre a second-generation driver and itís still a family thing. Talk about your family and how they support the racing of the 8 car.

Vincent: They always back me. Kimís (Kentís wife) been a great supporter of mine ever since, well I met her at the racetrack, so sheís always been behind me and supported me. Maybe gritted her teeth now and then about it. The kids (Madison and Kennedy) like it a lot and they go when they can. When we are on the road itís always harder for them to get to the races. They always go to the races in PEI and now that we are racing over in Petitcodiac they flip over there and make a day out of it. Theyíve always been big supporters.

MPST: One of my favourite memories of you was at Oyster Bed. You finished third that night and Madison was on the track with you and she finished third in the lawnmower race at the Crapaud Fair earlier that night.

Vincent: Yeah, yeah! They have tractor pulls in Crapaud and it usually ends up landing on the same weekend. She had her lawnmower out that night. My brother-in-law is into that pretty big, he set her up for the tractor pull and the lawnmower part of it. She landed home with a third place trophy too.

MPST: I thought that was kind of neat because she came directly from the Crapaud Fair to the racetrack and had her trophy with her. We took pictures of the two of you.

Vincent: Yeah, she was covered in dust and dirt, and was pretty happy.

MPST: Not only does it take family support to race, it takes a crew as well. We all know it takes more that just the driver to be successful, so whoís the crew on the 8 car?

Vincent: I have a guy that has been with me since 1992 in the Modified class and heís been with me every weekend since. His name is John Mark Arsenault. Heís been a great help to me, a good fellow. We butt heads now and then over the stupid stuff, but heís been with me a long time. Another fellow that helps is Scott Johnson for the last three or four years. Heís amutual friend that I met through John Mark and heís one of the first guys to jump into the truck every weekend. I have a lot of help along the way. Peopleís lives change over the course of 20 years.

I have an uncle, Roger Paynter, who still helps me out. He doesnít travel with us, but he travels to all the races and if weíre short handed he always helps out. Heís my PR and ďsponsor go toĒ guy. If you own a business or know someone who owns a business, heís going to talk to you about sponsorships. Heís a great help that way.

Iíve had my uncles Dwayne and Dale help me along the way through Modified class. My cousin Walter as well. Stanford Paynter helped along the way too. Kevin Smith was a big help when I started pro stock, along with Matt Paynter. John Markís wife Joy was also a great help during both the modified and pro stock days. And of course Mom, one of my biggest fans and team photographer. It's a family kind of thing and friends helped out when they could. Time goes by and their lives change and they canít do it anymore.

Iíve had a lot of help along the way and a lot of good people for sure. We had a lot of fun over here. Raced 10 years in modifieds and lugged the car back home Saturday night. The evenings usually werenít too long and weíd sit around after we got home and had a few pops. Won more races after we got home than we did at the track. We had some fun.

MPST: You have has a number of long-term sponsors as well.

Vincent: Yes we have. Vector Aerospace has been a sponsor of ours for 15 years and H&P Glover has been with us 11 years. Reliable Motors has been on the car in some form since 1990. We couldnít race without their support.

MPST: Whatís a typical week in the shop for you? Typical week being one with no damage from a big wreck.

Vincent: Iím a firm believer that you get out of it what you put into it. Usually, Sunday after we get up and get sorted away, the car comes out of the trailer. The trailer gets unloaded and radios are gone through to make sure everything is in working order. I work 40 hours a week, and when I get home Monday evening itís soccer night, so when I get back from that I go out and the cars goes up and it gets regular maintenance. Change the gears for the next track and check things out. Thursday night I like to have the car ready to go on the trailer. When I get off work on Friday clean up the car, wash the truck and trailer and load the car so weíre ready to go on Saturday morning. Itís usually four nights a week to work on the car, A couple of guys come down on Wednesday nights to help scale the car, bleed the brakes and anything that takes two guys. The other three nights itís usually me by myself.

MPST: Competing for as long as you have, what motivates Kent Vincent to race?

Vincent: Itís a passion to do it. You canít explain exactly what it is. You go to the racetrack and see the Wayne Smithís, the John Flemmingís, the Shawn Tuckerís and they have championships and thatís something you strive for. Thatís your goal. You want to eventually become a Tour champion. You keep working your butt off towards that goal. Some nights are better than others and some years are better than others. Itís something you set your sights for and keep working at it. Itís a tough hill to climb.

MPST: What is a typical race day like for you? Walk us through your race day.

Vincent: We leave Saturday morning and meet whoever is coming with me at the ESSO at Borden. Weíll fuel the truck and grab a couple of coffees and head out. Depending on the track weíre going to, youíre looking at 7:30 to 8:00 am. Hit the road to the track to get in the line-up to enter the pits. Get the car through tech and get your tires ready. Go out for practice, hopefully youíre fast enough to get into the dash and head off to the feature with hopes to win. Load up and drive home that night and drop the guys off at the ESSO which could be anywhere between 12 oíclock or 3 oíclock. Thatís our day.

Weíll drive there and drive home. Weíd just as soon come home. Some nights we argue the point of stopping, especially from Fredericton when they run the full card, weíre so late getting home from there. We usually get something at the Big Stop and head 'er back home.

MPST: Whatís the best thing to you about racing on the Parts For Trucks Tour?

Vincent: The competition. Itís well run, lots of fans, great car count, great looking cars and great guys to race against for the most part. Some of us lose our heads every now and then. I enjoy going, and the camaraderie with everybody. For the most part itís a well put on deal and youíre proud to part of the show thatís going on Saturday night.

MPST: When you were breaking in, what driver or team offered advice or help that sticks in your mind?

Vincent: There were many. Dad was a great help to me, especially in modified. Making sure you had the parts and making sure didnít sit home Saturday night, but not throw money hand or fist. John Flemming was a great help over the years. Youíd ask questions and heíd always tell you 95% of the truth and let you learn the other 5% yourself. He wasnít going to tell you everything, but he was a good help. Mackenzie (Mike) was a good help along the way. He helped me with a couple of racecars as far as building them. He built me a brand new modified for Oyster bed one year.

MPST: Current day on the Parts For Trucks Tour who do you admire and why?

Vincent: Tucker and Smith, youíve got to look up to and respect those guys. After being there you know hard it is to get to where you are and they are two or three positions higher than you. You know what it takes and how much more it must take to get to where they are. You have to look up to those guys; you have to respect them, thatís for sure. John Flemming as well, heís good. All the top runners you have to look up to for sure.

MPST: When you started on the Tour, which racetrack did you find the most difficult to get around.

Vincent: Fredericton and I still canít. There is something about Geary. I canít get it figured out and I donít know whether itís because PEI is a higher banked track. I donít know. Fredericton seems to be flat, I mean itís not completely flat but itís just a different beast to drive. I still canít get on to it and I cringe every time I go there. I canít seem to nail down what the track needs.

MPST: When the racing is finished for the season, what do you do in the off-season?

Vincent: I like to shut it down. By the time September rolls around, weíve had enough. Iíve got two kids and they both play hockey. By then itís hockey season time and weíre running to the rinks all the time. I enjoy that too, the kids and Kim enjoy it too. One is in Pee Wee, one is in Atom and both had great years. Itís a lot of fun.

Try to give the car a little blast in November. Get the trailer and truck put away before winter comes. Start tearing the car down to see what parts we need for the upcoming season. When March rolls around or the end of February we start to log the time on the car. Itís not much of an off-season I guess, if you look at it that way.

With the two kids going in two different directions, itís usually four nights a week. I play hockey myself a couple nights a week. Kim reminds me every now and then that we havenít done anything together for two or three months.

MPST: Whatís you best racing memory?

Vincent: Iíd have to say the IWK 250 a couple of years ago. That stands out tome, thatís our Daytona 500. It was great night. We didnít have a dominant car all night, but we were in the right spot at the right time and took it home. We were pretty pleased.

MPST: Your dad was pretty excited and proud that night.

Vincent: Yeah, we all were. Dadís helped me out all along. Itís too bad he had his stroke or heíd be helping with car. He still gets to the racetrack with his brother-in-law Lawson Dugay or my Mother. The odd time heíll get into the truck with us, so itís all good.

MPST: I want to ask you about the Cathy Ledwidge Memorial Award which is given to the most sportsman driver, as voted by your peers, which makes it a very prestigious award. You won it again in 2011 jointly with Tucker.

Vincent: It is very prestigious and Iím sorry I didnít mention that. Itís a great award, especially when itís voted upon by the other drivers. The old saying goes ďyou canít demand respect, you have to earn itĒ the award is a symbol of the other guysí respect. You get into the corners side by side and not have to worry being taken out. Itís great; Iím really proud of that award. There are a lot of good guys out there. We all have our nights where we lose our cool and make mistakes, but a lot of guys are deserving this award as well. Itís great to receive for sure. Shawnís a great driver. Not too many nights he has the fenders torn off his car. Heís a great guy to drive against.

MPST: Kent, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us.

Vincent: No trouble, thank you.