In a sport where potential danger lies in every corner, learning to trust rival drivers can go a long way.
That’s precisely what happened during this year’s racing season at Thunder Mountain Speedway when Cole Byrd and Kane Fraser, in a battle for the top spot in the 2015 Street Stock Points Championship, earned each other’s respect.
Byrd would edge Fraser by four points to win the title but, in each other’s minds, they’re both winners.
“At the last race of the year I was by myself unloading my trailer and Cole came over with his crew member to help me unload and get my car ready for the race,” said Fraser in an emotional awards acceptance speech.
“Here is a guy that is in a points race with me, three points ahead, anyone’s race, and Cole is helping me get ready to possibly beat him. That is truly the heart of a champion and that is why my friend Cole Byrd is No. 1. I could not lose to a better man and am happy that we have raced together so well.”
Fraser, incidentally, is a paraplegic and on his days off for the past two years has traded in his wheelchair for the driver seat using hand controls instead of standard foot pedals.
Fraser was away in Virginia during TMS’s annual awards banquet in late October but received his season awards Wednesday: the second place street stock driver, the most improved driver for the second year in a row and the most supportive driver in all classes.
Fraser was inspired to try the sport by a friend, Derek Christianson, after watching him race in Quesnel.
Byrd, meanwhile, has been racing for three years.
“There was quite the friendly rivalry between us,” Fraser said. “Cole and I were so close it really wasn’t about beating each other and that made it interesting. We can trust each other when we’re side by side and I have no problem losing if they’re going to beat me legit. We could be at the back of the pack and it’s still fun.”
Cole echoed Fraser’s comments.
“I enjoyed it all season and I’m glad we had such a great run,” he said, and also thanked his wife, Monica Sellars, for being so supportive.
“This was the first year I made every race.”
On winning the most supportive driver, Fraser said it’s an honour.
“It makes you humble for your peers to think that,” he said. “I’m grateful for that award.”
While absent from the awards banquet, TMS past president Tim Westwick read Fraser’s acceptance speech. As Fraser’s penned letter was read there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
“I’m sure if I was here I would be choking on my words and [I’m] crying as I’m writing this,” his letter read.
“I just want to say thank you for a really great race season, lots of fun. I really appreciate all of you and am grateful for the contribution all of you make to our track, to each other, to our fans and to our community.”