TRURO – Nobody ever told Dylan Blenkhorn about a sophomore slump.
The 19-year-old driver is in his second year on the Parts for Trucks Maritime Pro Stock Tour, and is hot as a pistol to start the season.
In his first four races, Blenkhorn has clinched pole position in three, and won back-to-back races heading into next weekend.
“I was feeling really confident that we were going to do good this season,” Blenkhorn said. “I was thinking maybe a few top fives, and towards the end of the season maybe winning a race. I couldn’t imagine this.”
Beyond his wildest dreams, Blenkhorn captured pole position in his very first race of the season. While he finished outside a podium spot, he bounced back a month later at Scotia Speedworld in Halifax. Leaving his competitors in the dust, Blenkhorn came out of the 150th and final lap in the lead.
Last weekend, he’d top the podium again, this time at Petty International Speedway in River Glade, N.B.
Now at home in Bible Hill, Blenkhorn is busy in the garage, gearing up for the next race.
“I’d put the hood on the car to show you, but it’s still sticky from the champagne last weekend,” he laughed.
“I couldn’t believe I won my first race this early in the season. Then to back it up and win another one, it’s crazy.”
Racing is in Blenkhorn’s blood. His father, Paul, was a prominent figure on the racing scene – a former Maritime League of Legends champ.
After starting out in bandolero racing at age 12, the younger Blenkhorn won the tour championship in his second season.
“It was hard at first and I wrecked a lot of stuff,” he laughed. “But I had my father there to coach me through and support me and I got a lot better.”
Two years later, he’d move up to legends and race with his father.
“There was a lot of friendly competition, and after a while I started beating him a lot,” he said, laughing. “I think he started to get frustrated, but in a good way.”
The Blenkhorns finished third and fourth after the 2012 season, with Dylan ahead of his father. That would be it for Paul – it was now time to hang ‘em up and go all-in with his son on a bigger stage.
After moving to the Pro Stock Tour last season, Blenkhorn managed a podium position late in the year and took home Rookie of the Year honours.
But what a difference one year can make.
Blenkhorn currently sits fifth in points standings, only 21 points back of leader John Flemming. With back-to-back wins, he’s been grabbing him some extra attention around the track.
“I think people are kind of looking at me differently now,” he said. “I’m pretty humble, though. I act the same and don’t let any of that get to me.”
In his ear this season has been Craig Langille, the former spotter for Maritime racing legend Scott Fraser. Blenkhorn has been drawing comparisons around the racing community to Fraser, who passed away in 2004 following a snowmobile accident.
“I can’t get my head around it really yet,” Blenkhorn said of the comparison. “I could never even dream of that. It’s pretty cool.”
Up next for Blenkhorn will be a race in Fredericton next weekend, before the IWK 250 in Antigonish the following week – a grueling race that put his fitness to the test last season.
“We didn’t know all the tricks at the time and it got so hot inside the car,” he said with an embarrassed grin. “I got out after and just threw up and passed out.”
It’s all just extra motivation for the kid, who says he grips the wheel a little less tightly this season. Whether wrecking bandoleros, racing legends with his old man or stretching veterans on the Pro Stock Tour, he’s just happy to be racing.
“It’s a lesson every time I go to the track. I always learn something and come away happy.”