Kinloss teen lighting up the stock car track at Varney



By Barb McKay


At 15 years old, Dawson Urbanek is already a stock car racing veteran.


In his fourth season at Varney Speedway, Dawson has more experience on the track than racers many years his senior and he is currently leading his class in points this season with nearly 20 wins under his belt.


“This year has been the best year so far in my career,” Dawson said from his home in Kinloss on Friday. “I’m far more improved from last year.”


Stock car racing runs in the family – Dawson’s sister Leandra raced for two years and is the reason he took up the sport.


“My sister got a car and I was pretty jealous,” he said. “So, my dad and I built one and I was racing it the next year.”


Dawson was just 12 when he entered his first race at Full Throttle Motor Speedway in Varney.


“I only had one night of practice,” he said. “I went out and thought, well, I might as well just go.”


For his mom, Isabelle Archambault, watching the races was difficult at first.


“We had both cars on the track (Dawson’s and Leandra’s) and it was nerve-wracking, but you get used to it,” she said. “All the moms feel the same at the track, but they are so safe in those cars.”


Dawson races a four-cylinder Chevy Cavalier that is modified for his Fun Stock racing class. Like all stock cars his car features a solid roll cage and a racing seat with a five-point harness. He wears fire retardant clothing and keeps a fire extinguisher in the car. On the track, he feels safe.


“People think racing is a reckless sport but the amount of finesse is incredible,” he said. “You need to know every inch of your car.”


Stock car racing takes a great deal of dedication, on and off the track.


“There’s a lot of work that goes into it,” Dawson said. “You are in the garage all week to prepare for the weekend.”


Archambault said her son has learned valuable skills through his sport. He’s a pretty decent mechanic now and has gotten comfortable speaking in public by getting up on the podium to introduce his sponsors. Dawson said his sponsors, Coldwell Banker, Go Glass, MD Auto Clinic, Cool Smokers, AJ’s Automotive and Performance, Jackson Construction and Clinton Urbanek Plumbing, are a huge help in racing.


Racing season begins at the end of April and runs until mid-September. Dawson does most of his racing at Varney, where owner Gord Bennett taught him how to race, but occasionally he takes his car to Grand Bend Speedway to compete. Both tracks are classified as quarter mile tracks, but they are very different, Dawson said. Grand Bend’s track is D-shaped so there are more turns, while there are more straightaways at Varney.


Last year, Dawson raced a full season at Grand Bend and finished second in points. This year, he plans to mainly stick to the Varney track.


“There’s a bigger count of cars and good racing,” he said.


Dawson’s class is open to all ages, which means he competes against beginners and veteran racers. Four years into his career, he is still the youngest driver. As well as leading his class, Dawson is also currently the King of the Stock at Varney, which means he holds the most points for all the classes combined.


While winning is a rush, Dawson admits losing isn’t so bad when it’s a close race.


“I’d rather race side by side with someone or come from the back rather than win. It’s more competitive.”


Win or lose, at the end of the race there is great comradery.


“It’s like a huge racing family,” Dawson said. “We all come off the track and talk about the race. It’s very friendly.”


In September, Dawson is eligible to get his G1 drivers licence.


“I’ll be able to turn left well,” he joked.


To see Dawson in action, visit the Full Throttle Motor Speedway website for the racing schedule.