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Ryan Cooke
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Truro and Charlottetown racers face off in Friday night racing

TRURO – Ryan Ellis whooped and waved as he came around the track for a cool-down spin, after riding to victory.

 

Despite the muck and mud, Ellis was one of four Truro Raceway drivers to take part in Friday night’s Driver’s Challenge – a competition between Truro and P.E.I. horsemen, seeing eight racers go up against each other in a series of eight races.

“It’s a great chance to showcase the talent we have here in Truro,” Ellis said. “As well as a chance to get people to come out to the raceway.”

People piled into the grandstand to avoid the rain, while a couple dozen braved the elements for a front row seat.

“I’ve heard talk around the track and from people I know that there’s going to be a lot of new faces here tonight,” Ellis said. “There’s a few who haven’t been around before saying they might come out to take this in.”

The races showcased Truro’s Ellis, Darren Crowe, Paul Langille and Adam Merner. For Charlottetown, racers included O’Brien award-winner Marc Campbell, Steven Shepherd, Jack Panting and Jason Hughes.

Helping out a fellow racing community means a lot to the Island racers, Hughes said.

“It’s important to try and help out wherever you can. It’s a tight-knit community and we want to help put more fans in the seats.”

That doesn’t mean it’s all friendship on the track, however.

“It gets serious out there,” Ellis said. “We all race a lot against each other, and a lot of us are friends away from the track. But once we get out there, we’re there to win.”

Winning is something Ellis has done a lot of. The 2013 Truro Driving Champion is currently second on the leaderboard, just three points behind Crowe for first.

In a similar situation, Hughes sits two races back of Campbell in Charlottetown. Despite this event being Truro versus Charlottetown, Hughes had it in the back of his mind.

“Once I’m on the track, I’m gunning for (Campbell) too,” he said. “I want to win, it doesn’t matter who I beat.”

While the races were still ongoing as of press time, Ellis had notched one win through four races. A guy who never seems to stop smiling, Ellis drew cheers and hollers from both local and Island spectators.

A pilot by his day job, Ellis is an admitted thrill seeker.

“Sometimes you wish driving a horse was as fast as driving a plane,” laughed. “But it’s all about the thrill of it. I guess that’s what I’m in it for.”

A former bush pilot in the territories, Ellis came home to Truro after a few years to fly for Air Canada Jazz.

“It’s certainly a lot better here than up North,” he said. “I was glad to be able to come here, fly planes and drive horses.”

In an industry with a lot of uncertainty in this area, Ellis knows where he wants to be.

“In the future? I’ll be here racing horses. I’m just in it for the fun of it, and I’m having fun.”

 

Organizations: Air Canada Jazz

Geographic location: Truro, Charlottetown

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