Another season of racing is still months away, but that hasn’t stopped a number of teams from putting their plans into place. The #54 Mini Stock – piloted by Orono, Ontario’s Danny Benedict – will carry a new look and a fresh brand when the first green flag flies to launch the 2014 campaign. After years of running a front-wheel drive Honda (either Civic or Prelude) in the early stages of his career, the young hot-shoe will make the transition to a rear-wheel drive Ford Mustang for this year’s action.
“At first, I thought my father was just ‘horsing around’ when he suggested the Mustang,” said the talented youngster with a laugh. “Once we started to really look at things, I came around to his way of thinking. We had some decent outings with the other cars, but if you keep doing the same thing for too long, you’ll get stuck in a rut and never advance to where the rest of the pack is running.”
Like any new car project at the short track level, the change to the Mustang started with a search for a workable car. Their first choice, a car that had been raced at another track looked good, but a detailed inspection revealed too much damage to repair. Using the first car as a source for parts, the father and son team of Doug and Danny Benedict headed back to a wrecking yard near Brighton and after a few hours of crawling through discarded fenders, bumpers and hoods, the pair came away with a Mustang shell they hope will become a race-winning machine. Doug Benedict says that now, the long hours of transformation can begin.
“We’ll need to reinforce the stress points and upgrade the suspension components,” said the supportive father, car owner and crew chief. “The chassis and frame segments will require modification to accommodate the roll cage, with overall changes necessary to convert the machine began that its life as a suburban grocery getter to a durable racing machine, capable of withstanding the rigours of a schedule that could see it in action for 30 or more events.”
Danny Benedict is excited to debut his new piece and looks forward to his first laps. The 17 year-old, 12th grade student at Clarke Secondary School began his driving career in the Kawartha-Durham Kart Club and later served as an official with the same group. He says driving a Mustang means more than just the logo on the grill.
“My Mom and sister Julie have always loved horses while for Dad and me, it’s all about horsepower,” said the driver whose resume includes a feature with that closed an earlier era in Kawartha Speedway’s history and earned the final Mini Stock checkered flag at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park/Mosport Speedway oval. “Racing the Mustang this year is a perfect way to combine both of the family’s passions.”
Danny Benedict’s 2014 schedule will see the #54 Mini Stock run Saturday nights at Peterborough Speedway, where he finished 6th in points during 2013. The team will also run the Grass Roots Racing Series at Kawartha Speedway and the OSCAAR Mini Stock Nationals events, with pit crew support from Carl Thompson. Sponsorship this year will be from Don’s Auto Shop, Camsport Truck Caps, Wallace Auto Supply – Carquest, Mayhew Graphics, Irwin Tax – Kim Irwin, Roger Swan Auto Sales – Mark Rainford and Baudo Auto Service, with help under the hood from good friend and OSCAAR racer John Owen and promotional assistance from Clarke Motorsports Communications.
To receive a copy of the team’s marketing proposal, please contact Doug Benedict, [email protected]