|The new race team purchased a 1969 Tobias modified, and because of a promise made to a worried mother about safety, welded 1/4" plate steel into the tub for protection. The body paint needed to be bright and a buddy of theirs worked for the state and rustled up a couple of cans of orange. The car was ready and off they headed to Norway Pines. "I was all fired up that first practice." Everything was going great for Dan until he hit a wooden railroad tie on the edge of the front stretch and folded up the front end. He recounted that his uncle turned to his father and said "Oh, it's going to be a long year." After the first wreck Dennis explained to his dejected son, "Don't worry about it, we can fix and rebuild cars, as long as you're alright we'll keep going." Three weeks later Dan won his first race. |
That first year Dan and the team finished around 20th in points and kept racing and learning. Dan Douville's racing career was launched and three years later, in 1990, they won the championship and followed that up with another in 1991.
In 1992 the team raced at Bear Ridge Speedway twice before Rumney opened and finished 5th and 3rd. That 3rd place finish paid around $300 and the biggest payout they had received for a win at the Norway Pines was around $175. So, it was off to Bear Ridge. They did well at the Ridge winning a championship and having top 3 seasons.
In 1998 they loaded up and headed for the 1/2 mile Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven, VT. Racing against high budget teams was a huge challenge and a top 5 finish there, for this low buget team, felt like a win. Sunday night racing was difficult on the team and they decided to do something different.
Out with the dirt and in with the asphalt? Yup, an asphalt modified was purchased and the Douville team competed at the Claremont, NH track. Dan said "that was OK, but it was boring". It was also hard on tires, "you had to finish 3rd or better to pay the $540 tire bill." Halfway through their second season they were about out of money and were not running well. Canaan had just opened their asphalt track and had a modified class and you could buy four McCreary tires for $500 and race them three or four weeks. Well, they bought four and won four $1000 to win races in a row!
In 2001 it was time to get back to the dirt. The asphalt car was sold and a 358 modified was purchased. They decided to travel and over the next several years raced at Frogtown, Cornwall, Granby, Drummonville, Malta, Middletown and Lebanon Valley. After that they settled into the fast-growing 358 division at Bear Ridge. In 2004 Dan earned a championship at Canaan. In 2007 Dan returned to the asphalt running in the Valenti modified racing series.
The constant demands of racing had taken a toll on Dan and in 2008 he sold everything, truck, trailor, motors, parts, everything. "I washed my hands of it, done! It was time to spend time with my family and in 2009, instead of going racing, I went camping."
In May of 2010, after a year away from everything racing, Dan went to Bear Ridge to help his good friend Blake Shepard and his Coastal 181.com modified. That night the sprint cars were there for a tour event, and just like many years before, Dan turned to his father and said "now that I can do!" Dan told his father the next time he saw racer and sprint car owner Mike Kondrat to tell him that he would be interested in driving one. In February Dan got a call from Kondrat saying he could race one of his cars.
This time it was different, the decision to go back racing had to be a family decision. Dan's wife Tammy said "if it's OK with the kids, it's OK with me." When he sat down and talked to his three daughters about it, 13 year old Courtney said "Dad, you haven't been happy since you stopped racing." So it was unanimous,the Douvilles were back in the business of racing. The sprint car would be kept at his residence which has worked out great. Dan has been able to be there for his wife and kids and they've gone racing as a family. Dan purchased the car from Kondrat and in 2011 won the Sprint Cars of New England championship and followed that up with two 2nd place finishes.
Dan Douville is a fierce competitor and searched out challenging competition wherever he found it, including traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2005 and 2006 to race in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. As Dan put it, "I'm not afraid of failing because you learn from it and it makes you better."
Thanks Dan, it was a pleasure to meet your family and spend a couple of quality hours talking racing with you.