Friday, September 4, 2009

Drivers and Jocks Are a Little Bit Nuts

I once heard from someone who played sports at a high level (not snooker or cross country skiiing, but contact sports) that to excel you have to be a little bit nuts. Not long ago at harnessdriver.com Randy Waples started a thread about the "good old days" where people could share some racing stories from the past. One poster shared a tale from when he was but 18 or 19. The story involved one of the leading drivers the sport of harness racing has ever seen, or possibly will see - Herve Filion:

The time was likely 1959 or 1960. The place was Montreal, specifically Richeliew Park. I was a raceoholic. Although I lived close to Blue Bonnets, my favorite track was Richelieu Park which was about an hour and a half away using public transportation.

On many evenings I could get a ride with friends who were going. If not, I would take three streetcars to get there. If this was the case, I would have to leave after the sixth race before the streetcars stopped running. If I'd had a good night betting, I might splurge on a taxi. Anyway one Saturday night, I was invited to go out after the races with a group of horse people. I remember a few Filions and Turcottes.

At the time Herve Filion, even though he was only 19 or 20 was undoubtedly the second best driver in Canada behind only Keith Waples. As was almost always the case, when Herve went out, he always picked up the check. On this evening, I lost track of time. I don't remember exactly what happened, but it was one o'clock in the morning and I had no means of transportation home. Herve said "C'mon kid(he always called me kid even though he was only a year older than me), I'll take you home" even though it was at least a half hour drive for him.

I believe he drove a 1957 Thunderbird at the time. We were driving down a virtually deserted Sherbrooke street at 120 miles per hour. I was terrified. The radio was blaring and it turned staticky(?sp). While we were driving at this speed, Herve opens the door and starts adjusting the antenna to get rid of the static. At this point I was so frightened that my pants were turning brown. I hollered to Herve "Herve we are going to get in an accident and end up in the hospital". He hollered back "Kid, if we get into an accident - no hospital!!"

For people who follow and chat a little bit with some of the best drivers in the sport, I think this tale should not surprise us at all, huh?

1 comment:

Pacingguy said...

I always thought Herve was badly treated in the States; specifically after his indictment and pleading guilty for income tax invasion. His indictment was for political gain and to make the case high profile. After two years the government still was unable to make a case.

People with serious racing offenses are still racing in states Herve is not allowed to participate. Let Herve finish his career in NY and NJ where he had is biggest success.