Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Gary McDonald

“Digging Deep With Denise” is a semi-regular question and answer feature with local racers and racing personalities produced by RaceDayCT’s Denise DuPont

Gary McDonald (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Gary McDonald – Racing is what I enjoy most in life!

Gary McDonald has been around racing all his life. Growing up on Long Island in New York he was a part of the racing community that competed in the many racing events on the island.  With the strong presence of racing starting in the early 1900’s, Long Island was considered one of the hotbeds of U.S. racing. McDonald started working on cars and when the opportunity became available, he jumped into the driver’s seat.  Racing is definitely a big part of McDonald’s life and a sport he supports. 

How did you get interested in racing?

“My neighbors and family raced and I enjoyed working on their cars. One neighbor had a Sportsman. My father and uncle also had a Sportsman or a jalopy back in the day. I worked for Herbie Hulse for quite a while on his Modified. And I just wanted to do it myself. We ran down there for quite a few years at Islip, Riverhead and Freeport – all three tracks.  And then we started moving around. Bobby Parks was a good friend and he used to travel all over   Charlie Jarzombek and he both traveled. They said: ‘Hey what are you doing Saturday or Sunday? Come on let’s go.’  And that was how we started.”

Would you say racing is your hobby?

“Racing is probably what I enjoy most in life. I love racing and I enjoy the people involved in it. Race people are really good. I have made a lot of good friends along the way. Charlie Jarzombek was a good friend along with Bob and Steve Park. It was enjoyable to be with your friends and you enjoyed what you were doing.  It is something that I still enjoy doing. I tried boating and golf and neither of those sports did it for me. I enjoy racing and I enjoy NASCAR.” 

What is your goal for 2022?

“Try to make all the shows. I want to make sure that every track that I have not been to, I want to knock it off my bucket list. And I have been to a lot of them. The guys are really good. I do not run as fast as I used to, but I still enjoy it. They give me room and run me clean. So I cannot complain. They are a good group of people.”

What racing accomplishment is most memorable to date?

“I enjoyed running at Pocono Speedway, a 2-1/2 mile track. I had a bad qualifying race where we started way back. We went from the rear of the field all the way up to second. We broke the tranny and still finished fourth. I have enjoyed all the speedways. I did enjoy running a Dover. It was a lot of fun. Those two were my best tracks and I enjoyed them most.”

What are the challenges as a driver you have?

“The big one is financial. Getting enough money to race. Back when I started everyone used to build their own cars. So everyone had to be a fabricator, a driver and an engineer. Nowadays getting the best team together is harder. You can get people that want to travel with you. But a group of people, is hard to find these days.”

Have you always driven your own car?

“I drive my own car and I own everything. The car is built by a local guy John Meade. He and I raced for Rookie of the Year at Riverhead. I beat him and got the title. Now he builds my cars. It is a small world.”

If you had to do it all over again, would you?

“Definitely. I had to lay off for a while back in the 80’s. I got married and had two young kids and they were both very ill. So we laid off of it for 15 years. I still had a new car built by Eddie Flemke in the garage with a new motor. One day the kids said: ‘Dad what is that thing?’ So it started back up as a father and son project and I enjoyed that more than racing very hard. It was a lot of fun.

“Like I said my car is built by a local guy, John Meade, a really nice guy. Bob Brunell does my motors. They are great people. I am blessed to be surrounded by great people. Ed Flemke, Jr. now helps me a lot. A lot of the old guys that are around are why I still race. It all has been very enjoyable. “ 

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing