The racing community will pay tribute to a Quebec racer at the Cornwall Motor Speedway finale

CORNWALL, ONT. –

A popular Quebec racing driver who died suddenly this month is being honored at a local race track in October, thanks to an outpouring of support from the racing community.

Racing in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, mini-stock rider Alexis Charbonneau was a fan favorite wherever he competed.

“Alexis was really loved in the racing community and he was a rising star, 26,” said Cornwall Motor Speedway assistant promoter Martin Belanger.

“Alexis has been racing here for almost 10 years now, he was our track champion in 2021 during the pandemic year, and this year,” he added.

On September 11, Charbonneau was hit by a vehicle in a parking lot in St-Hubert, Quebec, and died of his injuries a week later.

Bélanger said he considered him a good friend.

“Me personally, I had tears in my eyes to be honest,” he said upon hearing the news. “We kind of bonded. I’ve known him for 10 years and whenever he was here on Sundays we always had a 5, 10, 15 minute conversation.”

“That he left like that, it was obviously a surprise for everyone,” Belanger said.

Martin Bélanger (left) chats with pilot Alexi Charbonneau after his feature film victory on August 28. . Charbonneau died earlier this month after being struck by a vehicle in Quebec. (Don Simpson/submitted)

When news of his passing spread through the racing community, they reacted. Belanger said calls to the freeway started right away.

“We were supposed to already have a stock mini-race planned for our Canadian Super Dirt Weekend, but Alexis passing, everything just blew up,” he noted.

“The phone calls and the messages on our Facebook page, the Lavergne family, myself, it all exploded.”

It was quickly decided that the stock mini-race would be held in his name and run 49 laps – the number on Charbonneau’s red car.

“Over 80 sponsors have called and donated money for this race and the winner will receive $2,049,” Belanger said.

A win on a regular night at the speedway nets $200, and 15–18 drivers typically compete in the division.

For this event, a record number of 72 drivers registered to compete, from across the region.

“I don’t think anyone in history has ever seen so much mini stock in a race and so many laps too. It’s awesome,” said fellow mini stock racer Pierre Picard.

On Friday, mini-stock driver Pierre Picard works on his car. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

Picard became competitive friends with Charbonneau after meeting at the racetrack, racing for wins every week.

“He was a good rider, a clean driver, he was really good. We fought for the points, I went ahead, he came back in front,” Picard said, adding that racing is like one big family, through the good times. and the bad.

“You race guys through the year and sometimes you know, you argue,” Picard smiled. “But when something happens, everyone comes together and everyone is there to support each other. It’s pretty awesome.”

A total of $12,000 will be given out on race day, with most being $49 bonuses – for categories including Ontario’s top finisher and even the furthest runner.

“We have a guy, a driver, who comes from Baie des Chaleurs, a 12-hour drive from Cornwall, who comes to support the race,” noted Bélanger.

“It will be different, cars from everywhere on tracks we’ve never seen and cars we’ve never seen,” added Picard.

Other speedways in Quebec and New York State have also included incentives, providing a guaranteed starting position at the Cornwall race if drivers win a race at their tracks.

Of the 72 registered drivers, only 32 will qualify for the main race on October 7.

“It’s good to see the mini stocks will focus a lot on them,” Belanger said, noting that the division is known as a starting class for runners.

“It will be a record night,” he added. “Alexis has also been an ambassador for the race, he is always positive, always professional with him and his dad always smiling, asking how everyone is doing so he will definitely be missed.”

“That’s what I really love about our racing community is that as soon as there’s an event like that, an overtake or something, the community comes together,” Bélanger said.

“I’m a bit overwhelmed with the amount of money and the amount of support and the people who want to help. It really shows how tight-knit the racing community is.”

Canadian Super Dirt Weekend begins October 7 and ends October 9. More information can be found on the Cornwall Motor Speedway website Where Facebook page.

On Friday, mini-stock driver Pierre Picard works on his car. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

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