A Diamond in the Rough — Ovide Doiron

Crédit photo : Don Simpson

La version française ici : https://360nitro.tv/articles/2019/02/11/un-diamant-a-letat-brut-ovide-doiron

For over 40 years, 78-year-old Ovide Doiron has walked across his laneway to his shop where he still performs his magic on engines passing throw his historic shop.

By now Ovide has built literally hundreds of engines in his classic old shop that is overflowing with years of memories.

This story began back in Shediac, New Brunswick, where Ovide was born and made the best of it until the age of 15. In the spring of 1955, Ovide then moved to Montreal where he quickly got involved at the local Riverside Speedway just north of the city. Early in 1959 Ovide moved to Hawkesbury, Ontario, but still remained working at Riverside Speedway.

Always mechanically inclined, Ovide soon took up the role of mechanic in maintaining the racecars for the Riverside Speedway, owned by Richard Folly. He was also elected by Folly to race one of his cars after watching the young Doiron doing laps in one of the cars he was maintaining.

In 1958, Ovide made his racing debut at the Riverside Speedway — a day which would set the road map for a lustrous career in motors sports.

During the early years, Ovide raced on asphalt in an affiliated NASCAR division primarily at the Riverside Speedway, and Quebec City and Sherbrook speedways.

When Ovide wasn’t racing or working at the track he worked his job at a local ESSO station as a mechanic in St Zotique Que. He also decided to move to Lancaster, Ontario, where he remained there until the early 70s.

In 1964, Ovide married Carole Décoste and the two started their family of three children — Joël, Brigitte, and Judith. For several more years, Ovide raced the asphalt circuit until the mid-60s when he switched over to Dirt Track racing as it was growing in popularity.

The class of choice for Ovide during those transition years was the Hobby stock and later moved into the late modal class, all the while building and maintaining his own motors.

In the early 70s, Doiron moved up to the Modified class — a big move — but this wasn’t the only change. During that same time, Ovide and Carole moved to Alexandria, Ontario, where they opened their family business Doiron Auto Inc.

The early years of the business were hard with Ovide doing all the general auto repairs, while Carole did the business books along with running the family household.

With the running the business and the family, Ovide took on help from Jacques Decoste, a decision which would last to this day.

By 1974, the business was going well and Ovide had his eyes on stepping up his race game after purchasing a car from Dexter Door. He would pick up 38 wins in that car throughout the area tracks at Kingston, Brockville, Cornwall, and Can-Am. But it was at the old track at Fort Covington where Ovide earned the name “The Flying Frenchman.”

Winning 18 out of the 20 races in the final season at the Fort Covington was quite a feat. During one of the last races held at that famed track Ovide after coming in contact with a fellow racer crossing the finish line upside down facing backward hence giving him the nickname to which he carries to this day “The Flying Frenchman.”

For the next three decades, Ovide would capture hundreds of wins along with many track championships. Edelweiss, Frogtown, Cornwall Can-Am along with Brockville Speedway all saw “The Flying Frenchman” race on their clay.

Always a fan favorite in his #40 racecar, Ovide was considered a pioneer of racing, always pushing the envelope of technology.

By 2003, Ovide could feel it was time to say farewell to racing and put all his energy into the family shop. In 2004, Ovide handed the torch over to his son, Joel, and retired from racing.

Ovide definitely left a mark in racing with 300 wins under his belt and an estimated 25 track championships. The then 63-year-old may have retired as a driver but Ovide would not be leaving the sport as he continued to build his high-performance engines.

In 2012, Ovide was inducted into the Dirt Hall of Fame for his dedication and for being a real pioneer of the sport.

Now 78 years old, Ovide, always a true gentleman, showed me around his shop and his latest masterpiece he was working on — a rare Oldsmobile for an individual who was restoring one of his vintage cars. It was definitely amazing to watch this master engine builder go through the steps of assembling this engine, which was completely redone in-house at Ovides shop.

Not only does Ovide restore vintage engines these days but still builds full racing prepared engines, which have produced in recent years: 3 track championships; 2-second place finishes in the Mr. DirtCar championship; Championship winner and a second place finish in the DIRTcar 358 Modified series; and, 23 feature wins. This was accomplished in the three years

In recent weeks, Ovide was presented with the Ron Morin award for his dedication and continuing involvement in the sport at the Cornwall Motor Speedway Awards Banquet,

Yes, Ovide has slowed somewhat in over the years as he deals but if you consider what he has achieved in recent times and his passion for engine building, I don’t think we will see Ovide Doiron retire fully anytime soon.

Don Simpson
Chroniqueur / Photographe
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