Mohawk Race Car Driver Dexter Stacey
Dexter Stacey was going 162 miles on the track in the city of Trois-Rivieres (Three Rivers), between Montreal and Quebec City, in a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event when he encountered a small problem—a wall. Thankfully, the young Mohawk racer survived, and has gone on to become a promising contender to reach the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the WJS Motorsports company that sponsors him. “My dream is to drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the highest league,” Dexter told us. So far he’s off to a good start. The ultimate goal, however, isn’t just to qualify for NASCAR’s elite racing series, it’s to become the first aboriginal or Native driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
The Mohawk owned and operated company, located in Kahnawake, 9.3 mile south of Montreal, supports and promotes drivers in the Dirt Modified, Ice Racing, Karting and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. For the past 30-years, the company has sponsored and promoted drivers, but Stacey appears to be their best shot at getting to the highest level of NASCAR.
In 2009, Stacey, then only 16, competed in WJS Motorsport’s first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series behind his #55 car. In that first season, he finished 14th out of 43 drivers in total points, and was runner-up for the rookie-of-the-year award, which was given to Joey Hanssen, who drove a #40 Dodge Avenger for his sponsor, Prime Champ (the same make of car Dexter drives for oval track racing, he prefers a Chevy Monte Carlo for road coarses.) This proved Stacey was a rider that had serious potential, not a huge surprise considering the 18-year old had already been racing for 12-years.
“My dad was a racer for 20-years, he started teaching me at age 6 in a soap box derby on Mohawk Territory,” Stacey said. His dad, Wallace Stacey Jr. wanted Dexter to get an earlier start then he had, when he didn’t get around to racing until the ripe old age of 16. Wallace Stacey started his racing career on ice, taking his #66 car on the ice racing circuit. What’s ice racing you ask? Oh, you know, just taking your two-ton race car or truck onto a frozen river, lake or track for some friendly, hair-raising competition.
The younger Stacey was more determined then ever after his solid 2009 season, and decided to keep himself behind the wheel in the off-season. He took his #55 car to the Kilowatts Ice Races in Maple Grove, Quebec. The Kilowatts course is a frozen river near Beauharnois, Quebec, that Stacey rumbled over in the 8-cylinder studded division (meaning his car has 8 cylinders and his tires have studs), coming in second place in the race. Stacey also completed the Bob Bondurants High Performance Racing School in Arizona, in which internationally regarding driving technique authority Bondurant teaches his “Bondurant Method,” which over 250,000 people (including Paul Newman, training for his film Winning) have applied to their driving skills. Bondurant was quoted in 9 Magazine (a publication about Porsches, “by enthusiast for enthusiasts”), as saying, “presently, we train 90 percent of the NASCAR drivers for road racing.”
The following year, Stacey finished 10th overall out of 54 drivers and won the Driver Achievement Award at the age of 17 at the Driver Achievement Award banquet, held for all top-ten finishers. WJS Motorsports owner Kristin Hamelin earned an owner’s award for the top ten finish.
Stacey received accolades from other, even more important sectors. He was recognized by the Kahnawake Community as part of their “Honouring Our Own” calendar campaign, designed to celebrate and encourage members of the community who have excelled in their chosen fields. This honor was bestowed upon Stacey for continuing to be a part of the community while also pursuing his racing career. He volunteers within the community and showcases his Mohawk heritage in the designs on his car as well as on his driving suit.
WJS Motorsports goals for the year include building a sponsorship promotional package around Dexter Stacey and put him in the top five in the Canadian Tire Series while beginning the process of crossing over into other series: the Camping World Truck Series he qualified for (he’ll compete in five races) and the Nation Wide Series in Montreal (another he qualified for with last year’s performance). If Stacey does well in these two series, he will have a good shot at qualifying on the bigger tracks.
“To make it to the NASCAR Sprint Cup, I have to be approved by different tracks. The more races I do, the better shot I have at getting approved.”
The bigger tracks include the mile track, the mile and a half track (called a “speedway”) and the two and half mile track (a super speedway.) This is the path that leads to the Sprint Cup Series, which Carter hopes to not only get to, but to win.
WJS Sports is looking for financial and product sponsorships to help offset the high costs of racing. “Last season, the estimated expenses for the season were about $1.3 million,” the company said in a press release. The proceeds from financial sponsorship would go to increasing the pit crew from five to ten people and to develop the promotional campaign of Stacey, one of a very small number of Aboriginal or Native American drivers with a real shot at becoming the first aboriginal winner of a Sprint Cup Race.
Now back to that crash. When we pressed him on it, how it must have been terrifying, Stacey was nonchalant and laid back, which seems to be his default gear, so much so he had to think for a few seconds before remembering hitting a wall at 162 miles per hour in the first place. When we asked him if that was the fastest he’s ever gone, he said, “I’ve gone 170, but in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, they can go up to 200 miles per hour.”
We asked him if he had any NASCAR idols, anyone whose tire tracks he hoped to follow in, the answer came immediately this time.
“My dad’s my idol.”