Thunder Bay Based Animal Racing Snocross Team Is A Family Effort
By Scott A. Sumner
For many weekends of the year you can find a Thunder Bay family loading up their race sleds and gear into two trucks and trailers to travel to the Winnipeg area to race snocross.
Dale Hupe, mechanic, driver, dad, coach and team leader owns Animal Racing. "We support four children in snocross, three in motocross and two in drag racing as well as the horse racing." states Dale Hupe. Dale started racing in 1974 in ice ovals and cross country. They own a performance shop, D and L Performance, but the full effort snocross team has curtailed that a bit. Dale still builds engines but picks and chooses the jobs. His real job is a heavy duty mechanic on the road in Northwestern Ontario. For five years they have raced snocross as a family, while Dale and wife Lana have drag raced since 1996.
The Animal Race team follows the NWRA series with seven races this year in Manitoba and Kenora. They will also attend one WPSA National event in Winnipeg this year to will see how the riders place against the national riders. During the summer the team will participate in motocross with 8 races as well as 5 drag races on asphalt. The Animal Race Team has been all Arctic Cat since 1974 with 13 sleds in total. "We race 7 classes each weekend on each day. Each kid has two classes. There are about 100 entries each race weekend,' states Lana Hupe. "We cook all the food before we go so the kids eat only good food and we stay in 2 or 3 rooms. We have breakfast in the hotel, lunch in the enclosed race trailer and eat supper in the hotel at night. Everyone gets Friday and Monday off on race weekends to allow for travel."
Team member Jamie Clements, age 15, races the Junior 14, 15 and Junior 16, 17 classes. He started snowmobiling at age 6. "I like the jumps and bumps. I like racing period!,' laughed Jamie Clements who qualified 1st on his 03 440 Sno Pro the first race of the season. He practices every day on the team track which is complete with groomer. The track is 35 seconds but by next year it will be longer.
Jessie Pineault, who attends grade 7 is 12 years old and started riding at age 6. "I'm in Junior novice and Junior Fan classes. This is my third year racing. This year I've had two firsts and a second last, smiles Jessie Pineault. I have had injuries in motocross, breaking my leg, cracked my femur and broke my collarbone."
JC Hupe, age 16, races the Womens and Juniors 16, 17 classes and is in her third year racing. The women number 7 or 8 each weekend. "Last year I got second overall and this year I place 1st in our opening race on my 04 440 Sno Pro,' states JC Hupe. "I like everything about snocross racing. Its fun! I like jumping!" JC plays basketball and won the MVP award a few times at high school. She runs every day and is a fitness and food fanatic. "Her race times are very consistent and she races a against her sister so there is some sibling rivalry there." notes mother Lana Hupe.
Jenna Hupe is on the pit crew, cooks, is a photographer and is a summer horse racer. "I do anything they need me to do like food, laundry, wrench, go to the line, go back to get gloves,' says the 18 year old Jenna Hupe.
"It is difficult to race financially. It has to be a passion. We don't do anything else,' says Dale Hupe. "We have 9 sponsors, some monetary and some parts. It is about $2000 per week to run but we have three families helping. I'll go with these kids until they stop racing. We love this sport. Three of the racers want to go Pro and one wants to just have fun and that good. They are all healthy, there is no booze, no drugs so it is a real family activity."
Animal Racing will race the WPSA National circuit next year. "My goal is to watch the kids grow with what they want for a dream. Right now it is all about the kids.' smiles Dale Hupe.
Al Clements is Jamie's Dad. "Dale asked us if we wanted to join the team and this is our first year. Jamie races motocross and has been doing pretty well. We thought this year it would be good to try snocross,' notes Al Clements. "Jamie bought his sled with his own money and I paid the taxes and the paperwork. We bought it in the states at Haydays two years ago. Schooling is number one. He just came home with a 98 % in wood working and tech. Exams are in a week or so the marks will have to be up there."
"The children know how important we see education. Our oldest daughter, Shanna, who races as well, is a registered nurse. We expect the very best from our kids, to their abilities.' notes Lana Hupe.
The Animal Race Team also includes
- Carol Clements Pit Crew, Mom
- Michel Pineault Pit crew Dad
- Leena Hupe Racer Mom Drag racer on Asphalt- 1st & Original Asphalt racer 1999 Terrace Bay-Holds Track record Gimli, Manitoba1 at 132 MPH 9.88 second 1/4mile Riding a 2002 Pro Stock Arctic Cat designed and built by husband and mentor Dale Hupe Complete sled inc engine chassis, tunnel Etc. Her goal to be the fastest on sled in the 1/4 mile which cant happen with out her husband and kids. Lana and Dale Hupe have been Invited to the Gold Coast Australian F1 Race in October to race against a Formula One Car. Sponsors of Animal Racing: - Rudnicki, Arctic Cat, D & L Performance, M Pineault Timber Inc., HPE, Trans Import and Overhill Sports.