By: Ashley McCubbin
Wight Motorsports recently announced Raphael Lessard would be replacing Donald Theetge for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series season opener at Sunset Speedway due to injury.
A couple weeks ago, though, NEWS FROM THE PITS caught up with Theetge to get his thoughts entering the upcoming season with a focus on the oval events.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What track are you most excited for?
DONALD THEETGE: First of all, we have to win at Valley Junction as I’ve won a lot of races there, and it’s right near my house. So I’ve got to be very ready for that race, especially that Valley Junction race. We’re going to race two races up there so we have to be ready. We didn’t have a really good success last year at Sunset because we struggled at the beginning of race, because we hit the wall. But the car was so quick as we qualified on the pole. If we can get up there, I think we’re going to be very hard to beat up there. I like the track – its like Valley Junction so can’t wait to be there.
Delaware – that’s going to be a good challenge for me. I’ve never been there since long time ago, so we’re going to try to race up there. That’s kind of track that I like – it’s fast, you got to brake very hard, very tight corners. So I think we’ll have good results up there.
ASHLEY: A lot of the events this year are double headers, twin 125 lap races. What is it like preparing for those versus a single 250-lap event?
DONALD: I prefer the long races, like 250 laps or 200 laps. I think the way they did that to get more points for the championship so that’s a good idea also. Though for me, if you ask what I prefer, I prefer a long run laps. We’re going to do well on those 125 laps, especially at Valley Junction. If we can be have a really good car that day, we’re going to have a really good result.
ASHLEY: What are your thoughts as you reflect back on last year, and what do you need to do better in 2021?
DONALD: Last year was the first time with this team so I have a lot of things and finally, we find good team spirit together. We tested every track that we raced and were fast everywhere, but we struggled on the results especially at Sunset and Flamboro. But the chemistry is there after three races last year with the team.
I think the team is going to be ready. They can’t wait to be at the track. David, he’s a good guy, and we’re going to have a teammate to talk set-up together. I see the future very good on our team.
ASHLEY: You mentioned having a teammate, as the team brings in Mark Dilley and TJ Rinomato. What are your thoughts in having them to lean on, specifically Mark?
DONALD: I was really proud when David told me that Mark was coming with us. Mark has a lot of experience, won a lot of races in the Pinty’s Series, so that’s going to help our team in talking set-up. I know he can be on the podium and win some races also. He’s a fast guy, knows the game and I’m very proud to work with him, and to work with David. I think we’re going to be fast this year on all those tracks that we’re going to do for sure.
ASHLEY: How did you get started in racing?
DONALD: I started in 1986 in a four cylinder in Quebec. That was my first time I raced a stock car and a few years later, i got some money and got a pro late and super late and got good results there also. We did some NASCAR Pinty’s races a long time ago, but not with a good budget to be competitive like now to be a front runner.
But then I got with Scott Steckly, good equipment and we proved that we can race in the series, and I think we’re going to win a race with David this year because he has good equipment, good stuff, everything this year. I think we’ll be on the podium for a couple races this year, at least.
ASHLEY: What’s been your most memorable career moment?
DONALD: I got a lot, but we raced on the ACT Tour with Tom Curry and won twice in Quebec City; that was huge for me. I won four championships in my career so I think that’s good results for us. I won everywhere in Quebec City. I’ve been in this for 35 years and have good memories, but especially my championships in 2009 with ACT car was a very great moment for me.
That was my last year in competing all the races on the schedule for ACT and we won the championship. We won the championship, and won half of the races on the schedule – seven out of 14 – so we dominant that year.
ASHLEY: I didn’t realize you had a good bit of history with ACT.
DONALD: I spent a lot of my career in ACT on the north side of the border in Quebec City and some races in Ontario, too. But mostly my career, I raced ACT with Tom Curry. I worked a lot with Tom to bring ACT to Quebec City a long time ago and that’s what we did. Since then, we’re still running the ACT rules in Quebec and what Tom and I did together, that was huge and bringing all the rulebooks on that side of the border. I spent most of my career on that tour.
ASHLEY: You mentioned the years of experience. What’s your advice to someone getting started?
DONALD: That’s different from when I begin from the kids that are beginning right now. Right now, they’re young, start at 12 and 13 years old, they do simulator race every night on the web and get a lot of laps on the track. But you have to be ready with a good team for sure, find some money also to be competitive, and I would say that you better start with a good very car that you are going to spend more money than an old car where you’ll spend more money and your time on the track.
But if you get money and you can buy a very good car to start, I think you’ll be competitive early in your career. Sometimes it’s hard because the most hardest thing is money on race time, so you need money. If you don’t have sponsorship, it will be hard, and if you want to be up front, you need sponsorship also.