TALLADEGA, Ala. — When Randy MacDonald isn’t watching over his NASCAR Nationwide Series No. 81 Dodge team, he is glued to hockey happenings back in his native Oshawa.
And he isn’t happy with what he is seeing.
The Oshawa Generals have been eliminated in he second round of the OHA Major Junior playoffs and his childhood team, the Bowmanville Eagles Tier 2 squad has been disbanded.
MacDonald played centre on the Eagles Junior team that won a provincial championship in 1981 and again in 1982.
He was selected to the league all-star team in both of those seasons and is a member of the Bowmanville Sports Hall of Fame.
“I can’t believe that there is no more Bowmanville Eagles,” MacDonald said in the garage area at Talladega Superspeedway. “Where do kids go to play now after midget?”
He expressed shock when told that the remnants of the Eagles were moved to Cobourg where they melded with the Cobourg Cougars.
“That would never have been allowed to happened back in the day,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald said he was able to sustain both his hockey career and his racing career until his junior eligibility ran out.
Then he won the Canadian ACT stock car racing championship — which was one of the top stock car loops in Canada at the time.
The next season he moved with his family to North Carolina to pursue his dream of driving in the world’s top stock car racing series.
He began in the then Craftsman Truck Series where he finished sixth in his first race at Daytona International Speedway driving the No. 72 Chevrolet Silverado.
However, a crash early in the next season resulted in a neck injury that ended his NASCAR driving hopes.
“I decided right then I still wanted to be part of NASCAR so my dad (the late “Doc” MacDonald) and I formed our own team,” he said.
MacDonald Motorsports has been the only Canadian-owned team in NASCAR ever since, first putting a team in the Camping World Truck Series in 2000 before moving up to the Nationwide Series in 2003.
MacDonald operates one of the few one-car teams that fields a car for the full 34-race Nationwide Series.
And he does it on a shoe-string budget, but refuses to be part of the start-and-park brigade that shows up on race day only to run only a few laps then retire to collect the prize money.
“I am a racer,” MacDonald said. “I could never do that (start-and-park).”
His goal has always been to try top recruit Canadian-based corporate sponsorship and have a Canadian driver in the car.
MacDonald came close to that two seasons ago when NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion D.J. Kennington was driving the No. 81 Dodge for most of the season, but that funding ran out.
“I am still holding out hope that a company like Canadian Tire or The Bay will come along and want to get involved with a Canadian team in NASCAR,” he said.