Mathieu Fortin Cornwall Motor Speedway/360nitro.tv columnist – We are September 7th 2019. I am slowly walking toward the baseball field in my hometown of Casselman to watch the finals of the slow-pitch baseball season. To get there, I need to walk by the running track which is just next to it, and as soon as I get closer, I hear an engine noise. As I reach the track, I recognize Eric Jean-Louis, who I already know. We both gave our time as baseball coaches for the Casselman Voltigeurs for a few years. Eric’s sons were on our teams…
As I am getting to talk to him, the noise suddenly gets louder and a go-kart with a number 31 on it flies by the running track which, for the time of an evening, had become a racetrack. I ask Eric who is driving? “Benoît”. It’s his middle son, aged 8 at the time. Funny how we could know each other and live in the same town yet we never talked about our common passion for racing. After talking with Eric that day, I left knowing Benoit was driving his go-kart at Cornwall Speedway. Eric didn’t bother to add a detail. Benoit was actually following in his footsteps, as he too, was driving a car at Cornwall Speedway…
Eric Jean-Louis first started racing by driving in the Enduro races at Cornwall in 2010. This category, which reminds of demolition derbies, is very different from the usual races, but can give the spark to some, like Eric, who climbed the ladder by winning a V8 championship in Brockville and 2 V6 championships in Edelweiss while also driving in Enduros at Capital City (Ottawa) before moving to pro stock in 2017 to drive his number 9 car there ever since.
Justin Jodoin started his racing career in 2010 as a mini stock driver. He took a leave of absence on track in 2012 to become part of Dan Desnoyers’ pro stock pit crew in Cornwall. But this doesn’t mean he stopped competing. Justin will race lawn tractors on the Tuesday races in Cornwall (In case you are interested, this category still races today). In 2017, Justin traded in his tractor for a mini stock and resumed driving his number 22J car, which has been a fixture in Cornwall since. Last season, he led the championship until the last race, when Alexis Charbonneau passed him in the standings at the last race. Justin still finished 2nd.
I am on a conference call with Eric Jean-Louis and Justin Jodoin so they can tell me more about their new team, JLR Motorsports. When I asked why they introduced this new team in pro stock, both quickly answered the same thing: So Cornwall can get a bigger car count in pro stocks. Because even though Cornwall usually attracts many cars, pro stock grids had low numbers last year, and it’s drivers sure know it. That’s why Marc Lalonde agreed to sell his backup car to James Clarke last year, as it would add one more car in the class.
Eric had therefore started to try bringing Justin in pro stock. I must add they already knew each other as Eric sponsored Justin via his business JLB Heating & Cooling, which also sponsored the Weekend Warriors series in Cornwall. And since Justin tells me he always aimed at racing pro stocks, Eric’s offer was a perfect opportunity, with as an added bonus, the fact that Brandon MacMillan, his good buddy, has also announced his intention to race pro stocks next year after buying Dave Seguin’s championship winning car following the latter’s retirement.
I ask Eric and Justin if they feel being teammates will be an advantage, but I don’t feel any strong opinion on this, which proves they are sincere when they say this team was born for car count reasons. They admit they may gain something by sharing notes during race weekends, but that’s pretty much it!
For the 2022 season, both drivers will have Chevrolet Camaro bodies. Eric has bought himself a White Lightning chassis, while Justin will get Eric’s 2021 Cannizzaro chassis.
If right now, the Jean-Louis and Jodoin names automatically bring Eric and Justin to mind for racing fans, it is likely other first names will soon come to mind in the following years. Benoît and Jeremy Jean-Louis, aged 10 and 7 respectively, are already seasoned go-karts drivers in Cornwall with their #31 and #4 karts, driving under the guidance of their older brother Yanick, who acts as crew chief. A new rookie will add his name to the class this upcoming season. Jonathan Jodoin, better known as Johnny Boy, will make his debut at 5 years old.
You can’t escape it if you want to race. You need partners who will support you financially. JLR Motorsports hired PM Promotions, and I definitely see that Eric is open to racing at different tracks if many sponsors are willing to join the team. As of now, the plan for him is to enter all the Farnham series races as well as all the Cornwall races.
As of now, some deals have already been finalized and the team sponsor list for the upcoming season is the following at the time of publication: JLB Heating & Cooling, CF Curry Construction, JC Construction, Villeneuve Water Supply, FM 92.1, Rheem, PM Promotion, Countryside Adventures, Surprenant Truck Shop, Shawn’s Moving and Junk Removal, Ferme Laviolette, Dupuis Ford, Baker Design, Smart Local 285, NTP Plumbing, WO Stinson & Son Limited, La Binerie Plantagenet, Marlborough Place, Bayfield Welding, St.Lawrence Mobile Tint, PBR Precision Builders & Renovations, PCMS.
Ideally, a few races at Mohawk Speedway, Autodrome Drummond, Granby, St.Guillaume, and RPM would also be part of Eric’s schedule if more sponsors answer the call. As for Justin, he told me he will put all his energy in Cornwall with the hope of claiming the pro stock rookie of the year.
I think all the winning conditions are there for JLR Motorsports to become successful and a team that becomes a fixture in the front of the grid in the coming years. This will likely create on track competition, which will be a plus for fans as well as both drivers… The only drawback may be for Casselman’s slow-pitch league, which may lose a good pitcher with 3 quality pitches if ever racing ends up taking too much place…