By DON SIMPSON
While Brian McDonald enjoyed a strong season in 2021, he and the K&B Motorsports team have been busy preparing for season 2022 over the past months. Brian was in the championship hunt at both Brockville and Cornwall Speedways last season and hopes to maintain that momentum into 2022.
The Cornwall Ontario’s driver will be celebrating 40 years of racing this season, something not many drivers can boast about. For Brian, this was an aspect of his career he had never thought about.
Brian said, “It’s something I’ve never considered. I’ve always been grateful, no matter what I’ve won, whether it was in my 358 Modified, Sportsman, or Sprint Car.
“Looking back, however, I’d have to say that winning the 125-lap race last season was one of my proudest achievements. Then there was the time in the Canadian Modified series when I drove the number 96 car from dead last to win the race. I was ecstatic both times to see my team win the game they deserved. Then there’s the fact that I won my track championship at Mohawk. But I’ll always be grateful to my parents, and the most memorable event for me was when my mother purchased my first Sportsman for me. I am just grateful for all the great memories.”
As a 40-year-veteran of racing with 18 seasons in the 358 Modified, McDonald knows what it takes to win and understands the level of competition. In fact, Brian began racing motocross bikes in Eastern Ontario in the early 1980s.
McDonald, who lives a short distance away from Cornwall Motor Speedway, got his first taste of dirt track racing in the Mini-Stock division in 1986. Brian quickly moved up in the Semi-Pro category at Cornwall in 1987, but would also venture over to Frog Town Speedway, later renamed Mohawk International Raceway.
For a young and ambitious driver, Brian quickly moved up into the Sportsman Modified ranks and was racing full-time in the Sportsman division by 1990. By 1995, Brian was at the top of his class in Frogtown’s Sportsman ranks, taking home the championship that year. McDonald turned his attention to the 358-Modified category soon after winning the championship, and before the end of the 1996 season, he was behind the wheel of a 358.
From that point, Brian was hooked. Among all the dirt track divisions, the 358 Modified offered everything Brian was looking for.
The year 2002 was fantastic for the already seasoned driver. Brian would win the 358-track championship at Frogtown Speedway, dominating the pack. McDonald also won the Canadian Nationals for 358s in the same year.
In 2006, Brian moved on to a new division, which would mean a change of scenery. While retaining a small presence in the Modified series, McDonald moved into the 360 Sprint Car series.
Brain and his team burned the candle at both ends for the next six years. To manage his family business, West Front Construction, https://westfrontconstruction.com/site/, and racing in the Sprint Car series, he spent a great deal of time traveling. He also continued to race his 358 Modified as well as wheeling the number 96 Car for Lasalle Motorsports at the Brockville Ontario Speedway.
In 2013, Brian returned to the 358 ranks full-time, and the spark for racing returned. That year he set a new track record at Cornwall Motor Speedway. In addition, he set the record at RPM Speedway and held it for five years. The Canadian Nationals series was also won by McDonald, who took home the championship.
Since then, Brian has stayed closer to home, racing weekly at his home tracks of Mohawk and Cornwall and sometimes going to a special race at the Brockville Ontario Speedway.
There was one special time in Brian’s racing career that will always hold a special place in his heart. Brian drove the M 96 Lasalle-owned Modified at select events for many years in between racing his 360 Sprint Car.
“I raced for the Lasalles in their M96 from 2005 to 2013, and we sure had some fantastic moments with good people. Something I will never forget,” Brian said.
For car owner Lori Lasalle, the feeling was much the same and reflects on some good times.
She stated, “Back in the beginning, Mike and I talked at length about a possible 358 driver for our car. I will never forget being in the grandstands at Cornwall and Mike asking who I would like for a driver. ‘If possible’ and instantly I said ‘McDonald.’ Mike asked why? it was easy for me. I liked his racing style and personality. He’s assertive and demands respect. ‘I really liked his driving style.’ (And Mike agreed!). Truthfully, I saw Brian at an autograph session one night when an adult basically overstepped a child for an autograph. Brian overlooked the person and instead pointed to the young lad that waited patiently and gave him his autograph. I really respected that. He is wonderful with kids and took his time with them. He worked hard and made it fun when he was part of the team. We loved his grit and determination. He never backed down and followed thru. He’s always been a man of his word.”
After 40 years in the sport, Brian has earned the respect of fellow drivers and is content in his racing, which he still loves. It’s finding the time.
Brian commented, “We are a small team and it’s tough to run three nights a week. Besides, I have to work most Saturdays which leaves the crew short one person to prepare the car for Sundays at Cornwall. I’m lucky to have such a great group of guys in my team that work well together to get the job done.”
Life-long friend and crew chief Shane Bourgon reinforces the aspect of the team.
“Slim and I have known each other since we were kids. It was a good fit when we started working together 10 years ago. There’s no lack of laughter when our team is together. Things are always pretty loose. I think that comes from experience. Our goal is to win every race. Obviously, we can’t do that but if you head to the track not feeling you have a good chance at winning, you don’t perform at your best. We don’t really chase points, if we perform well, the points will reflect that. Our team knows their job and does it well, allowing us to have a smaller team and still be able to compete. No lack of equipment or dedication here. We are fortunate to be in the situation we are in. A good mix of old age and experience with a little youth and exuberance to keep us going.”
In the course of his 40-year career Brian has seen highs and lows, but he has always tried to mentor his crew, along with team members who went on to drive there own car. Drivers such as current Cornwall Speedway’s 358 track champion Corey Wheeler and Sportsman Modified champion Ryan Stable along with Miguel Peterson, just to name a few.
Lori Lasalle sum’s it up best, “Brian is very humble and always gave credit first to his crew and with us to the car owner. He always said it was a team effort. He always made sure to thank the crew and made them know without their hard work we wouldn’t be able to race.”
But one of his best traits is Brian has always made the time for fans, especially with kids. It’s all these qualities that have made Brian what he is today. A great racer and mentor of the sport.