Power of love for racer

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

EDMONTON -- It became a bit of a story four years ago when Will Power won the pole here in the ChampCar Series.

And it became the storyline last year when Power won his first IZOD IndyCar Series race in the same place.

But Power’s fiancee Liz Cannon, whom the columnist met back in the ChampCar days when she worked as a media liaison for Walker Racing, was inspired this week to produce a study of his family history for his return trip here this year as defending champion. He is the series leader with a chance to win three consecutive races to put away the road-race points title and put himself in an almost uncatchable position in the overall series.

Not only did she come armed with the research, but she produced a picture taken of his grandparents.

Much was made of Will Power’s grandmother being a Canadian who met his Australian grandfather, stationed in the air force here during the Second World War. But if the story was a little hazy in the telling by the native of Toowoomba in Queensland, it isn’t now.

“I love him dearly but he gets the details a little mixed up sometimes,” she said. “And it’s a story that just intrigues me.

“I got to meet his mother before she died in 2007 and was in the house with all the pictures. It’s such an interesting story. And so romantic. It really is.

“We go over to Australia every year for the holidays, and in 2008, his dad and I had a long discussion. We sat for two hours and talked about it. He’d written it all down. This week I had him e-mail some of the missing details to bring to Edmonton.

“His grandmother’s maiden name was Jean Ella Buchan.

“She was born in Brandon, Manitoba, but grew up and worked in Lethbridge, Alberta,” she said.

“She worked for the Bank of Montreal, and after three years of working there was offered a job at the Dominion Experimental Station as a bookkeeper.

“It was here in Edmonton she met Doug Power in 1941. He was serving for the Australian air force doing flight training.

“Doug and Jean knew each other for six weeks before Doug had completed his flight training and was transferred to England for active duty in the Australian air force.

After she met Doug, she decided to join the Royal Canadian Air Force and served while Doug was in England for three years.

“At the end of his tour of duty, he requested permission to return home to Australia via Canada. When asked why, he replied he had hoped of marrying a Canadian girl he had met three years earlier. He said he had yet to pop the question but he was very confident she would say yes.

“They married on June 6, 1944 in Montreal.

“Doug went back to Australia and Jean joined him a year later. She had to travel by boat to get there and the war in the Pacific was still going on. They had to criss-cross around to avoid getting bombed.

“Her belongings were on another ship that had been bombed by the Japanese, so by the time she ended up in Australia, she only had the clothes on her back.”

Power says it probably sounds silly, but he feels such a strong pull toward this place because of that history.

While he says most drivers were probably pretty happy to hear the news that Edmonton will remain a series race, he was thrilled.

“I was just so happy to hear it. It’s fantastic. It’s always been one of my absolute most favourite places. I love it. It’s such a great track. It’s such a driver’s track. It’s fast and it’s physical,” said the Penske pilot, who indicated a couple months ago that he intended to come here early on in race week and run the river valley, which he did Wednesday.

“I went down those massive wooden stairs and everything,” said the defending Honda Indy Edmonton champion.

This year’s edition of the race presents a special opportunity for Power, with a chance to score a rare hat-trick in the sport.

“To have this opportunity on a track I really enjoy is outstanding. But the competition is so tough, it’s not easy to forecast the winner from week to week. And right now I am so focused on winning the series championship.

“And not just the road-racing events championship. I want to win the overall thing.”

Power leads Dario Franchitti 377 to 335 in the overall standings and leads Ryan Hunter-Reay 275-190 for the road-course title.

“I’ve never had this opportunity before. I’m hungry for it.”


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