Getting Up To Speed With…Lawrence O’Connor
By Ben Deatherage
(Photo Courtesy of Jim Marshall)
One of the greatest guys you can ever meet in the sport of racing is who we are going to talk to today. This is a guy whose main focus is to just have a good time with all the friends he has met through the years. He is the one and only Lawrence O’Connor. The Canadian chauffer from Port Hardy, British Columbia has through his forty year racing career made a name for himself with success whether it be Dirt or Asphalt. O’Connor is a former Canadian National Flat Track Motorcycle champion and has to his credit well over two-hundred feature victories. At British Columbian ovals he has managed to win titles at both Vancouver Island venues the Tri-Port Speedway in Port Hardy and the Saratoga Speedway in Black Creek as well as the Sun Valley Speedway located near the mainland city of Vernon.
Driver: Lawrence O’Connor
Home Track: Grays Harbor Raceway/Tri-Port Speedway
Hometown: Port Hardy, British Columbia, Canada
Occupation: Land and Construction Businessman
Years Racing: 40
Classification: IMCA Modified
Chassis: Harris Race Cars
Sponsors: Q.I.D. Limited, Q.N.P.C. Limited, Integra Shocks, Harris Race Cars, Pacific Coastal Airlines
Special Thanks: Parr Racing Engines, all the friends at the racetrack
BD: Being that you live on Vancouver Island what attracts you to running Grays Harbor Raceway so much?
LO: For the last ten years I’ve moved around from track to track. When I came across GHR for the first time the staff was great and I really liked the track. It’s a long ways to get there but it makes it worth it when the staff is very welcoming and the racers are a great bunch of competitors. The racers there are great guys and Scott Miller and Craig Moore are two drivers that I have really a lot of respect for.
BD: In 2012 you didn’t race that much but when you did you won quite a few races at GHR. How did you feel the season went for you?
LO: Last year was good, the car was great right off of the bat. The car really liked to run up high and on the cushion and was very fast. We missed most of the Speedweek due to a wreck that destroyed the car a week before it was supposed to start.
But once we came back we either led a lot of laps or won. At the end of the year we went down to the Duel In The Desert in Vegas and I won the Legends feature. That was cool because we started in twelfth and ran up on the top and drove around everybody. We had the lead by lap two or so and didn’t look back.
BD: You once told me that Port Hardy is the northernmost part of Vancouver Island. In fact you said any farther north and you’re in the Pacific Ocean. Describe a typical commute to the race track?
LO: When I’m going to Elma I leave at 6:00 PM on Friday night and drive about four hours downs the island. From where I live up in the north it’s a long ways to the south where I take the ferry. In fact Vancouver Island is longer than the state of Washington in distance from north to south.
I usually take the last ferry at 11:00 PM to get on the mainland on the Canadian side. From there I drive to Bellingham and get there around 2:00 AM. I wake up in the morning and drive to Elma which is another three and a half hours on the road. I get there, I race, and I leave from the track. I typically drive back to the Canadian side and make it there around 3:00 AM and take the ferry in the morning.
When it’s all said and done I get home about dinner time on Sunday. Port Hardy only has around four-thousand people living there and it’s about two hours away from the nearest town with a stop light.
BD: You seem to be a guy you never know where you’re going to show up at. I’ve read your name in results from races in Florida, Vegas, Arizona, etc. You seem to do quite a bit of travelling?
LO: I try to. I did travel more a couple of years ago when Jason Beaulieu got his big hauler. Since then he’s been taken all his cars but I still travel a bit. I really like that Northwest Modified tour, going to Vegas in November, and the Speedweek in Florida they have in February.
A few years back I ran the Oval Nationals for a guy in a USAC Sprint Car for the first time and that was a blast. I really just like to go where I think I’m going to have a good time that’s what it’s all about for me.
BD: You have several nicknames if I’m not mistaken that you have gotten through the years. Examples that I know of being “The O-Show”, “Hollywood”, and “Sir Lawrence”. Which one do you prefer?
LO: I’ve kind of grown accustomed to “Sir Lawrence” and it’s become pretty popular even here in Port Hardy. The next round of t-shirts I run I’m going to have “Sir Lawrence” on them. “The O-Show” was from Bobby Valencia and was a takeoff of a motorcycle guy from El Cajon named Johnny O’Mara. “Hollywood” was when I ran in Alberta for some time.
When I was over there I would run Dirt Modifieds and Asphalt Modifieds a lot. I would leave my stuff there and fly out each weekend and run all over Alberta Province at places like Race City, High River, Castrol, and Lethbridge. I really don’t know where that nickname came from but they started calling me that when I would race over there.
BD: What are your plans for the 2013 campaign?
LO: More of the same. First and foremost have a good time with my race buddies. We’ll be getting back on the cushion at Elma and hopefully we can pick up from where we left off last year. I’m looking forward to continuing to rack up the wins there. I’m really excited to be doing the whole Northwest Modified Speedweek. The last few years I’ve had a blast running that thing and I can’t wait to get back to the Cottage Grove Speedway down in Oregon.
Grays Harbor Raceway will be back in action this Saturday May 4th for the second race of the season. Classes on hand include the 360 Sprints, Shipwreck Beads IMCA Modifieds, and USAC Ford Focus Midgets. To keep up with the latest information about GHR log on to www.graysharborraceway.com.