British Columbia’s Jason Beaulieu Makes the Long Haul in Search of a Gator
by Clayton Johns
Jason Beaulieu will log the most miles of any competitor at the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park next month. Just as he has each of the past six seasons. Since 2011, the 47-year-old Campbell River, British Columbia native has travelled over 3,300 miles each year to compete with the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds at the Barberville, FL half-mile.
Beaulieu, who operates a tugboat company in Campbell River on Vancouver Island off the Canadian west coast, has over 30 years of racing experience. His first recollection of racing is watching as a young boy at Skagit Speedway in Alger, WA.
Most of his driving experience came on local asphalt tracks until he began the transition to dirt in 2003. Since then, he’s made his home in the Modified division and has improved with each trip to Volusia.
“You get to run eight nights and if you’re not doing well one, two or three nights, you still have four or five nights to go. I really look forward to it because I really do love the racing,” Beaulieu says.
In 2011 he made his way to Volusia for the first time with his wife, Tammy, and recorded a best finish of ninth for the week. The annual pilgrimage to Florida for Beaulieu is a racing-focused, all-business approach, he says. Rarely is there time for any sightseeing. Beaulieu is there to compete and race at the front.
That was apparent at the 2015 DIRTcar Nationals when Beaulieu, frustrated by a lack of speed, bought David Stremme’s race-winning car the morning after he set fast time and parked in victory lane on night three. Two nights later, Beaulieu drove the car to his first career Volusia top-five with a fourth-place finish.
“We were running about 1.2 seconds off the pace and I said to my crew chief ‘how are we going to make up 1.2 seconds?’ He said ‘we ain’t’,” Beaulieu recounted.
“I sat there and thought about it for a while and I said to Richie ‘I think I found a way to gain 1.2 seconds. Go down and buy his car.’ That’s how I met David Stremme.”
It led to an exciting new partnership with Stremme, the owner and builder of Lethal Chassis. Stremme is now responsible for preparing and delivering Beaulieu’s cars from his North Carolina shop to Volusia for the DIRTcar Nationals and various other events throughout the year.
Due to the demands of his tugboat business, Beaulieu is only able to race about 15 nights per year and uses Stremme’s expertise to make the most of them. Beaulieu makes the cross-continent trip each winter because of the high-quality racing with world-class drivers. Eight consecutive nights of action on one of the fastest tracks around makes for a thrilling week, Beaulieu says.
“I really love going to Florida. You get to race against the best drivers around and, unless there’s a freak accident, your car comes home in one piece,” Beaulieu says. “You get a lot of professional racers in that area. A lot more guys do it for a living.”
Last year’s trip to Volusia was the most successful for Beaulieu. He recorded four top-five finishes, including two career-best third-place finishes, as well as a pair of qualifier wins and a heat race win. He finished third in the overall points standings. In 2017, his goal is to capture one of the unique and elusive trophies awarded at Volusia.
“I want to win one of those damn Gators,” Beaulieu says with a laugh. “We should have won one last year, but we blew a motor while leading. It really didn’t help me in the points either. I think I would have been really close to Nick (Hoffman) at the top.”
Beaulieu will travel to the 2017 DIRTcar Nationals with his wife Tammy and will have the help of crew chief Mike Abner, crewmember Zachary Bass and truck driver Tommy Richardson once he arrives.
The historic DIRTcar Nationals is the most accessible motorsports event during the Florida in February jaunt. Every ticket is a hot pass, so fans can get up close and personal to all the action. Fans will be able to meet their favorite drivers from each of the competing series below.
Tickets for DIRTcar Nationals start at just $20 and are on sale now by calling 844-DIRT-TIX (347-8849), or by visiting www.DIRTcarNationals.com.