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Local auto racing: Gill has had thrills, spills at area tracks

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Bill Gill of Plessis still enjoys being a weekend warrior when it comes to auto racing. Gill has been competing at area speedways since he was 16 years old.

This season Gill, 46, has been racing at the Evans Mills Speedway, competing in the 358-modified division.

“I haven’t competed every week at the speedway this year, but I plan not to miss any of the remaining races,’’ Gill said.

Gill has won many races over the course of his 30-year career. He started going to races as a young boy to watch his father, Harry, who competed while driving a stock car for many years.

“I guess we kind of started going to Evans Mills because my father raced there and he liked the small track,’’ Gill said.

Over the past few years, Gill has competed at Can-Am Speedway in LaFargeville and Brockville, Ontario, before choosing Evans Mills for his weekly racing.

He was a regular weekend driver at Can-Am for numerous seasons. In 1999, Gill won the track championship — on the final night of the points racing.

Like many of the drivers that have been competing for several decades, Gill and his crew could put together their own race cars.

“Ten or 15 years ago, you could just about build your own car from scratch,’’ Gill said. Now you pick up the phone and order just about anything, and they’ll send you all the parts you need.’’

Accidents are part of the game when it comes to auto racing.

Gill has had his share of mishaps and more serious ones, too.

In an earlier interview, Gill recounted his most costly accident.

“I was leading the Skoal small-block modified race at Can-Am, when on lap 60, my car spun out on the fourth turn and struck a track tire,’’ Gill said.

There was also the 1999 accident at Can-Am, where he broke the right-front spindle and ran over the wheel. The car flipped over 11 times before coming to rest. While the car was destroyed, Gill received only some bumps, bruises and a few cuts.

“I went back to the speedway the following week,’’ Gill said.

His main pit crew consists of his father and brother Harry Jr. They all enjoy the competition and the opportunity to carry on the Gill racing tradition.

Gill was once competing in about 70 races in a season with more than half at Can-Am.

Even if he wanted to race more, it is quite difficult now with a growing business. He is still lettering race cars and he is a commercial sign painter, developing into a full-time business.

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