D.J. Kennington was the first Canadian driver in the race in 29 years.

D.J. Kennington was the first Canadian driver in the race in 29 years.

Maple Ridge connection to Daytona

Lordco sponsored Canadian car at race.

Maple Ridge-based Lordco Auto Parts made a bit of Canadian racing history, as a light blue Lordco car was entered into the prestigious Daytona 500.

The world’s biggest stock car race, it is promoted as “The Great American Race” and sometimes called the Superbowl of NASCAR racing.

“We’re excited about it, because we’re big time race fans,” said Lordco CEO Doug Coates.

Lordco sponsored an all-Canadian entry, with stock car racer D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas, Ont. behind the wheel in the Feb. 26th event.

Unfortunately, a crash ended his race.

On lap 127 of the 500, Kennington’s Toyota Camry got caught up in a 16-car pileup.

“Those crashes happen in NASCAR,” said Coates. “We were pretty proud of him.”

He placed 36th out of 40 entries, but just being in the race is an accomplishment. He was the first Canadian driver at the event in 29 years. And he almost didn’t get there – Kennington needed a last-lap pass to qualify in the final race before Daytona.

Castrol, or Wakefield Canada, and Lordco were co-sponsors of Kennington’s race, and his car was dedicated to the memory of Lordco founder Ed Coates.

The late Maple Ridge businessman was both a proud Canadian and a NASCAR fan. The Daytona 500 was his favourite motorsport event, and he had attended it since 1988.

Ed Coates passed away in 2014 at the age of 65.

“For me, it was just special to have a car on the track,” said Doug, noting that the car had two decals “in memory of my brother, who we lost three years ago. He loved Daytona.”

For 22 years, Lordco would offer customers a draw, and take the winners in a group to Daytona. If they weren’t NASCAR fans before the trip, they would be afterward, said Doug.

The cars hit speeds of 300 km/h as they jockey for position.

“There’s a lot more to see when you watch it live,” he said.

“It’s a fun experience. And these are industry guys. When they come back from Daytona, they’re sold.

Kennington has watched every Daytona 500 since the age of four, and is a racing veteran of 24 years.

The last time he saw a Canadian race was 1988.

He has made 56 career starts in NASCAR’s three national divisions.

Wakefield Canada gave Lordco the opportunity to co-sponsor the rare Canadian entry.

“We jumped at the opportunity,” said Coates. “We were very proud of the car. It looked great.”

It was a rare chance for Lordco to be involved in a special moment in Canadian racing, and Coates said the company will continue to sponsor local racers driving at Mission Raceway Park and other venues closer to home.