Archive for MinCom New Choice

More Than The Need For Speed

Chris Cleaver drives an altered 1932 Dodge, but not to work. He turns the AA Fueler loose at the drag strip where its 3,000 HP hemi works to turn seven second ¼ miles reaching speeds approaching 200 miles per hour. The blown “supercharged” engine runs on methanol. It’s a different world…roaring engines, screaming tires and fire suits. Oh, and parachutes to slow you down at the end of the run.

It doesn’t matter how hot it is out, full fire gear is required!

For Chris, drag racing is more than just a hobby. He invests a lot of time, energy, money and skinned knuckles. “I’m not a mechanic”, he says. “The engine was built by Keith Black and I take care of maintenance and everything else but the machine shop work.”

Judy is in the pInk when working as pit crew – Photo Credit Darwin Kent

On event weekends in the summer, you’ll probably find Chris and his wife, Judy Stacee-Cleaver, at one of the province’s four major drag strips competing with members of the Ontario Nostalgic Drag Racing Club (ONDR). “There’s lots of traveling and many racers come from all over the USA and Canada to participate,” says Judy. “They bring Funny Cars and Jet Cars which are very fast, and motorcycles and snowmobiles too. “And it seems like everyone has a golf cart to tow their dragsters to and from the staging area and to scoot around and visit old friends.”

Chris lets everyone else do the driving…in the golf carts

Judy plays an active role in the racing operation and among her other duties gets Chris lined up in the groove (approaching the starting point), then tows the car and him back to the pit after the run. Family friend and sponsor Johnny Bergeron is quite often along and is a main part of the crew.

Life in the "pit"

Life in the “pit”

The dynamic duo race at Toronto Motorsports (the old Cayuga Dragstrip); Grand Bend Motorplex, on the shores of Lake Huron; St. Thomas Raceway Park, just outside of Port Stanley on Lake Erie; and at Shannonville Motorsport Park, near Belleville and have made many friends along the way. ONDR usually has their season finale at St. Thomas, which hosts a Thanksgiving event called the Turkey Nationals. It’s very much a family affair and along with many other clubs, there will be young kids racing their “Junior” dragsters, with their parents sending them off.

This puts a whole new meaning to the term “Kiddie Car”

Often you’ll even see dogs wearing ear muffs as they take in the races.

No chasing cars for this fellow, fully geared up to protect his hearing

There will also be many campers and RV’s as members enjoy a weekend of fun which winds up with a festive turkey dinner.

“It’s a sport that brings together people from all walks of life, with many different jobs and functions,” says Judy. “And I’m here to support my husband. “It’s very exciting, although the faster he goes the more nervous I get. “But, there are a lot of rules and many safety considerations.” For instance, racing on methanol is somewhat safer than gasoline. Methanol has a lower burn temperature and is easier to control in case of fire — and a methanol fire can be put out with water. On the other hand, it takes more methanol to generate the same energy as you would from gasoline. That means that the car gets lighter as the methanol burns off during the run and the dragster can become less stable as you near the finish. “It’s about learning, challenging yourself,” Judy points out and Chris adds, “It’s all trial and error.”

The nostalgia and camaraderie appeals to Chris, perhaps even more than the “need for speed”. “That’s what I really enjoy,” he says. In the Nostalgia Drag Racing world, friendships last longer than a few months of preparation and a blistering seven second rush on the strip.

 

Preserving Tradition

It’s that time of year when driving around the Durham Region is nothing but a delight to to the senses. The smells, the sounds and especially the colours are overwhelmingly gorgeous. Mother Nature was totally on board for driving and exploring this particular Thanksgiving long weekend. The temperature was warm and the skies were sunny (most of the time). It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived in the Durham Region, a leisurely drive on a beautiful fall day is sure to lead you to discover something you didn’t even know was there.

This weekend we discovered a little bit of history at Tyrone Mills, a traditional water-powered mill. Built in 1846 by James McFeeters and John Gray, it is one of Canada’s oldest water-powered grist mills.

For the past 38 years, the mill has been owned and operated by Robert (Bob) Shafer and his family. Bob is very hands-on at the mill. As he talks about it, you can hear in his voice how important it is that they preserve the traditions while maintaining a neighbourly atmosphere in an intimate setting. He explains, too, how the mill has managed to survive.

“In 1846 this was a flour mill, shipping flour as far as Great Britain and the US. As things changed in the late 1800s, the small country mill couldn’t afford new machinery to keep up with the times, so it became a feed mill. In the 1950s the saw mill was added. Since then, it has been an apple cider producer, a bakery, a historic landmark and a vital part of the community”.

Bob has tried to preserve as much as possible of the mill’s interior and as a result, when you step inside you are transported back in time. You will find the apple press, millstones and a woodworking shop.  You are Immediately enveloped with the smell of apple cider and fresh home made donuts.

If you’re lucky you can catch Bob baking bread in the outdoor wood-fired clay oven.  The oven itself is made of clay from the property and straw from a local farm.

Robert (Bob) Shafer Making Bread In The Wood Burning Clay Oven

A scenic walk along the dam will help you burn off some of calories from those delicious donuts.

The lumber yard can supply board and batten, tongue and groove flooring, V joint paneling, clap board and cedar for decks and fencing. They specialize in unique or unusual lumber—the kind of thing you won’t find at Home Depot. There is also a blacksmith shop to explore.

The wood shop is a wood worker’s paradise.

 

Bob was looking forward to a tradition he started when we spoke.  On the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend they host a dinner for family, staff, and friends. They even cook some of it on the wood stove. This was their 31st celebration dinner.

The Tyrone Mills is open year round, seven days a week with few exceptions. You will be sure to fall in love with this little bit of Canadian history and culture that has been so carefully preserved for you to enjoy.

Absolutely!

Traveling across the country to visit your Grandpa is quite an adventure for a seven-year-old. Of course our seven-year-old, Keianna, happens to have adventure in her blood—her Grandpa, Chris, drag races cars. Keianna knew that she and her mom, Toni-Marie, had a pretty exciting visit to look forward to. Well, Grandpa and Judy did not disappoint.

Toni-Marie, Chris and Keianna

Judy had done her homework and when she saw pictures of Keianna on facebook dressed in equestrian gear, high atop a horse, she knew exactly where to take her: Absolute Equestrian Centre, located right in Bowmanville.

Absolute Equestrian Centre has 100 acres, with two indoor arenas and three sand rings. It’s a very high end facility offering full indoor board, pasture boarding, and lessons in several disciplines of riding. There have been riding camps throughout the summer and they also host shows, clinics, pony clubs, birthday parties and fairs.

Keianna was thrilled, but then realized she didn’t have any riding gear with her. No worries. Absolute Equestrian had everything she needed. Never one to miss out on an adventure, even Mincom Jo was outfitted and given a quick riding lesson.

Keianna made it pretty clear she knew what she was doing and bonded with her ride immediately.

Mincom Jo may not ride much but she does have a way with the horses.

It wasn’t long before Keianna was showing Mincom Jo the ropes.

It was a wonderful day for everyone, creating memories to cherish.  Absolute Equestrian is the place to go for your riding needs, whether it’s your first time or if you’re well experienced.

The hardest part is always saying, “Good Bye”. To the horses… and to Keianna and her Mom. Absolutely!

 

Seeing Red

Canada has officially marked the sesquicentennial anniversary of Canadian Confederation. “What does that mean?” you might ask. Well, it means we are officially 150 years old and it’s time to party!  There was, of course, no lack of celebrating in the Durham Region. Everywhere you looked you could see red!

Mincom Jo chose to spend the afternoon at the festivities in Port Perry. Historic downtown Port Perry is one of Jo’s favourite parts of the Durham Region. She loves the quaint  shopping area with its unique boutiques, and can spend countless hours just watching the sparkling waters of Lake Scugog from Palmer Park or the Marina.

Downtown Port Perry

 

Mincom Jo celebrating with her Aunt Pat

There was music and dancing

and all kinds of treats, from Maple Leaf Cookies to Poutine.

Red shirts, red dresses, red hats, red jackets, red bags and even red pants were part of the dress code. Guitars and picnic tables wouldn’t be left out.

Canada is now officially 150 years old and although the partying may have started on July 1st you can count on there being celebrations well into the fall for everyone to enjoy. And what kind of celebration would it be without fireworks? Jo watch the fireworks closer to home in Pickering. Oh, yes, there were fireworks.

Destination Durham Region

Festival season is in full swing and not even an over abundance of rain can stop it in the Durham Region. You will find at least one festival, usually more, somewhere in the Durham Region every weekend right through until Labour Day. Durham Region has already had the first Ribfest in the area, in Pickering, Food Truck Frenzy in Whitby and the Spring Fair in Brooklin. We started the season with the Artfest in Pickering.

Actually the day included three great events: Discover Your city, which gave you the opportunity to meet city staff and learn more about how your municipal government works; How-To in 10 Festival, where there were 32 booths to learn how to do stuff in 10 minutes; and then of course, Artfest. This year the City of Pickering added a Youth Arts Showcase to the event which featured Pickering Youth ages 12-25 demonstrating the theme “I am Ontario”.

There were hands on activities,

 

live on stage entertainment, food trucks, the Doodle Trailer,

and artistic creations beyond your imagination.

With over 100 booths to choose from, the Esplanade was alive with creativity. Whether you wanted to browse, buy or learn, the choices seemed endless.  There was a fantastic variety of original art which included Paintings (Oil, Acrylic, Water Colour), Photography, Pottery, Wood Carvings, Jewellery, Hand Made Rugs, Stationary, Candles and more!

 

 

Alex Lazich was on hand to create a patriotic spray paint masterpiece right in front of our eyes that is destined to rest in the Youth Art Centre.

The Brooklin Wood Carvers demonstrated their work while encouraging onlookers to join their ranks.

It was a wonderful day celebrating all that is creative. The crowds couldn’t have been more impressed, many leaving with unique treasures. Some are already talking about their next festival destination in the Durham Region.