A major change for Vanderwyst Motorsports in 2003.
LONDON, ON - Pete Vanderwyst recently turned the page on one chapter of his racing career, and started another. Beginning with the 2003 racing season, the St. Thomas, ON racer will participate in the newly-formed International Stockcar Alliance (ISA). In its first season, the new tour will consist of 10 announced races at major venues across Canada. At the recent unveiling of the ISA - at the Molson Amphitheater in Toronto, ON - Vanderwyst was announced as one of the series' first committed drivers.
Combining live television, major international racing figures in several events, huge race purses and a vision to add an international flavour to the series in future years, Vanderwyst is looking forward to the start of the 2003 ISA racing season.
"We're moving forward," said Vanderwyst, following the conclusion of the 2002 racing season, at Delaware Speedway. "There are a lot of exciting new programs that the ISA has in the works for becoming the future of stock car racing in this country and beyond. There were a lot of rumours going around but the picture is a whole lot clearer now and the program is winning a lot of supporters."
Asked what he saw in the ISA's plans that caused him to make such a major change, Vanderwyst said, "I've decided to jump on board with this because of the things I've seen-- I'm going ISA racing because it's a whole lot better program than what CASCAR's ever had to offer. I have to go out and solicit sponsors and it's very difficult to justify CASCAR as a worthwhile investment. Once they look at what the ISA has to offer, it's a 'no-brainer' that the ISA is on a whole different level."
As an individual who has been close to the creation of the ISA, Vanderwyst has high hopes for the future of the new series. Asked to discuss the impact it will have on Canadian racing, he replied, "It's the different between NASCAR and CASCAR. The ISA will compare to NASCAR. ISA will be a prominent sports property in Canada and beyond. To say that CASCAR will even compare to what the ISA has to offer, there's no question in my mind that ISA will rule next year, in Canadian motorsports, as the premier sports figure in Canada. It's that simple... We've got it. It's there, it's signed, it's a go. The effort that the MMC Group has put behind this program is second to none."
Looking back on his season just completed, Vanderwyst is proud of the performance his Exide Pontiac team put forward, but was somewhat frustrated not to have made a better showing in the final points. Vanderwyst came home 10th in the overall standings.
"Where we finished in the points wasn't a good indication of our season," continued Vanderwyst. "We qualified well at almost every race, which was something we put a lot of attention on this year. We weren't out of the top 10 anywhere. We just had some tough luck with tires a few times, during races. Cayuga and the 100 lapper at Race City killed us. Without those events, we were probably in line for a fourth or fifth-place finish in the points. But we were there."
The last race of the season, at Delaware Speedway, saw Vanderwyst finish fifth in the field of 38. The Exide Pontiac led from lap 61 to 101, before being punted from the lead. After losing a lap, Vanderwyst composed himself and fought his way back through the field. Running in the top three with a handful of laps remaining, the tires on the #99 Exide car fell off drastically at the end, and Pete dropped to fifth.
"When we got spun by Donnie [Thomson], we were leading the darn thing. I was pretty worked up, but the guys got me calmed down and we got our stuff back together. We recovered pretty well, but just coming through all that lapped traffic took a toll on the car and the tires. But it was a good deal today. I'm proud of my guys. And to come home with a fifth after all of that is a big accomplishment for us. We had a stellar car, led a lot of laps, recovered from adversity, and posted a solid finish."
Recognizing the support of his sponsors and team, Pete Vanderwyst said, "I can't say enough about the support of my sponsor, Exide, and all of the people who have supported Vanderwyst Motorsports throughout the years. We're looking forward to 2003 and all of the new developments that are happening on that front. I just want to say that the guys we race against here are the best." And of course, Vanderwyst wants to recognize the effort and contributions of his team members, without whom he could not race. "The work they do at the track is just a small percentage of the effort that goes into making this team work. I want the guys to know how much I appreciate them and what they do for Vanderwyst Motorsports."