Art Rodgers Hopes for a Warm Welcome to the Racing Neighbourhood
By Jim Clarke, Clarke Motorsports Communications/First Draft Media
Its difficult to not be friends with someone everyone refers to as 'Hot Dog'.
Art Rodgers has been part of the local weekly racing scene for over 15 years, running both dirt and asphalt surfaces at tracks like Brighton, Kawartha and Peterborough. The 48 year-old from Frankford, Ontario – who earns paycheque in the assembly shop at Wilson Engine & Machine in Belleville – will head into the new schedule as a regular in the Pro Stock field at Brighton Speedway with fresh, new look on his #38 machine, after the car was heavily damaged in a late season wreck during the 2015 campaign.
"I got caught-up in someone else's mess and there wasn't anywhere to go," said the driver, while recalling in the incident. "It tore almost the entire driver's side body panel off the car and although I was able to finish the night with the sheet metal held back in place with bungee cords and racer's tape, that was the end of my season. I'd hoped to go back to Peterborough Speedway for the Autumn Colours Classic, but the car needed too much work to be able to get to that next race and be able to run competitively."
Rodgers is the definitive low-buck racer, who runs for fun and a love of the sport. His carefree personality and likeable nature have earned him a solid base of support in both the spectator grandstand and pit area wherever he races. There are no big dollar sponsorship decals on the side of his car; just a few friends who've helped with a tire, some parts and mechanical work here and there. While other teams come to the track towing fancy enclosed haulers, Art Rodgers rolls into the speedway pulling a modest open trailer behind the same truck he drives back and forth to work every day of the week.
During the winter months, Rodgers and his team of friends and crew members including Danny, Dwayne, Devon, Andrew and Travis Pearce, along with Bill King and Bill Cartwright worked some long hours in the shop to put his ride back together for the 2016 campaign at the local 3rd of a mile clay oval. The fruits of the labour produced a restyled machine, wrapped in sheet metal to replicate a vintage 1975 Pontiac Ventura. Rodgers says he'll race this year as a tribute to the memory of some of the special people in his life.
"I've lost a number of loved ones to cancer over the past few years," said the driver. "There might not be a lot I can do for them now, but I'm happy to have the chance to honour their memories with some good friends while doing something that I really enjoy."
The car will hit the track with sponsorship support from Wilson Engine & Machine, Rob Vine Racing Engines, JustCo Landscaping & Construction, NAPA Auto Parts – Belleville, Lee's Starter & Alternator and Glenn Ellis Heating.
Photo attachment: Art Rodgers Racing collection
Opening night of the 2016 season will be a fresh start for Art Rodgers. The Frankford, Ontario racing veteran turned his first laps on the track more than 15 years ago and will run with the Pro Stock division at Brighton Speedway.
Prepared by: Jim Clarke, Clarke Motorsports Communications/First Draft Media