By Sara Moulton
Rev-heads in Fernie had a reason to celebrate this month when Rick Mitchell from Red Rabbit Racing won the 2013 Don K Hobby Stock Car championship at the Montana Raceway Park.
Mitchell received his trophy at an awards banquet in Kalispell on October 12, and was not the only member of his team to be recognized. His son, Cliff Mitchell, finished in 7th place, while fellow Red Rabbit Racers Haylie Kons, Taylor Reed and Colby White participated in the Bandolero division. Kons was awarded Best Appearing in Class for her effort, and “Momma Bear” Jeri Mitchell was presented with a large teddy bear for her assistance and presence behind the scenes.
The Mitchell family have been involved in the sport since 1980, when Rick began racing in Cranbrook. After marrying Jeri a few years later, they took some time off racing to focus on other ventures and raise their family. By 2000, the lure was too much and Mitchell began racing again. It wasn’t long until his then-teenage son joined him.
“It’s all family,” says Mitchell, the team patriarch. “Even our grandchildren are racing now.”
With 17 cars in the division, the community is tight knit but also highly competitive. The Mitchells admit that, at times, the atmosphere during the events can get a little heated.
“I got along with just about all the drivers and never had any problems. My family, on the other hand…” laughs Mitchell.
Despite the occasional tense moments, the team remains passionate about racing and are keen to grow the profile of the sport. As several racetracks in the region have closed down due to insurance costs, traveling to Kalispell has become the most practical option.
“It’s too unaffordable to go anywhere in Canada anymore,” explains Mitchell. “We used to have a track in Lethbridge that closed; Cranbrook closed; Calgary closed…they’re just too expensive to run anymore.”
Nevertheless, Red Rabbit Racing appreciates the support of their sponsors and are happy to have local supporters who make the journey to Montana for race meets. Anyone who is interested is invited to see them race next season, with the schedule to be released early in the new year. The events provide a fun and entertaining night out for the whole family, including trampolines and other activities for young children.
“Every race, they give away a boy’s and a girl’s bike, and during two of the races this season, they gave around 20 bikes away,” says Mitchell.
Preparations for the next season will begin in January, when Mitchell will start to fix up his car and possibly one for his son. The Mitchells credit their pit crew for their success this season and acknowledges the importance of having a strong team behind them.
Further information, including details on race dates in 2014, will be available at www.montanaracewaypark.com in the upcoming months. To find out more about the team, search for the Red Rabbit Racing Facebook page.