While showing media members the nuances of the track on race-day morning, he kept his eye on the racing line that he knows like the back of his hand, but couldn't escape noticing the vast amounts of campers and fans already stationed around Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. "A bit overwhelming," he said later Sunday after the dust had settled on the series' first international race, the Chevrolet Silverado 250.
Fellows was beaming and at his sheepishly humorous best late Sunday afternoon, finally able to relax after months upon months of preparation and investment in the track's facilities.
"We're thrilled," Fellows said. "Not only did the weather cooperate, but we had a tremendous turnout. Wandering around the infield, the response from the fans, they were just incredibly thankful that we were able to get one of NASCAR's major series up here. Just really neat to hear, 'hey, thanks for making this happen and rejuvenating the place.' It's nice to hear."
Fellows and his home track were not only blessed with mild, sunny conditions after two fairly overcast days, but by an event that delivered on drama, with contact among the front-running four drivers in the final turn and a fresh-faced winner in the form of 17-year-old Chase Elliott.
Bill Elliott, his father and the 1988 champion of NASCAR's top series, said he felt the frenzy from the crowd from his vantage point, spotting for his son from the hillside overlooking the track's final three turns. For Chase Elliott, he noticed the same thing Fellows did on his pre-race drive.
"Obviously the crowd was unbelievable, and to race in front of a big crowd gives you a feeling like none other," Chase Elliott said after scoring his first win in his sixth career start. "Fortunately it was a good show I felt like for everybody, and that's the most important thing. If we don't have people there we're not going to have sponsors on the car, and none of us are going to be able to go racing."
Sunday's race drew parallels to this season's other inaugural truck race, July's MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, the half-mile dirt track in Ohio owned by three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart. In each case, Fellows and Stewart had deep ties to the facilities they owned. Both also traded their racing urges for ownership and promoter duties to make sure their first-time events went off without major issue.
"We were down right on the fence for the start," Fellows said, "and you know what, for this first one, I'm glad I was able to watch it as opposed to being in it because you just miss out on that ambiance, the feel, the excitement and seeing all the people around you, how excited they were to see the truck series. So you know what, maybe next year."
Near sundown in Bowmanville, many of the fans were still there on the long holiday weekend, taking advantage of one of the track's nice post-race touches and walking or riding bikes around the former grand prix layout. Fellows hopes they'll be back in massive amounts again as the track looks for bigger and better things.
"You know, this is Canada's home of motorsports, and we're going to continue to grow the place," Fellows said. "Hopefully our friends at NASCAR enjoyed the weekend, as well, and we'll go forward from here."
FULL SERIES COVERAGE
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Chase Elliott
- Bill Elliott