But back at their north side Chatham home, it’s a family affair for the Van Hals.
“Everyone has a job. Jordan and me take care of the motor and under the hood … Corrina and Jessica look after the body,” Van Hal said.
“We all love racing. We’ve been coming out here every Saturday since Jordan was two.”
He has just one sponsor, Outhouse Image & Design, so expenses for the race car come out of the family budget. “We strictly do this as hobby, so household bills come first. Fortunately, we always have enough to go racing every Saturday,” said Van Hal, who works for Windsor Machine Group in Tilbury.
“We won’t be taking a family vacation this summer … our vacation is at the track,” he said.
Van Hal’s own love for racing began close to 30 years ago. ”My uncle Pete brought me out to South Buxton for my fifth or sixth birthday … and I was hooked,” said Van Hal, who’s now 34. His uncle Pete (infield), aunt Rita (pits) and cousin Pete Jr. (video) all work at the track.
Todd grew up watching racing at South Buxton, hoping some day he could afford to buy a race car. That chance came five years ago. “We used to be into boating, but with work and everything, that turned out to be just fishing on Sundays,” he said.
Since the whole family enjoyed racing, Corrina suggested they build their own car.
Instead, he found a Modified for sale online in Alabama, so they sold the boat and bought a race car.
That car, however, never made it to the track. ”We were slowly putting it together … but I never realized how expensive it was to build a Modified motor,” Van Hal said.
Early last summer, he put the Modified up for sale but wound up making a trade with Donald Douglas of Sarnia.
“I dropped off the Modified on a Sunday, and the next Saturday night, I was on the track in a Sport Stock,” he said.
He raced six times at the tail end of last season and four nights so far in 2009. Van Dyk drove on June 27 while the Van Hals attended a wedding.
Van Hal is still looking for his first career checkered flag. His best feature finish this year was seventh in Week 3. His best heat finishes were a pair of thirds. He has been sitting 12th in points for three straight weeks.
“It’s a rush being out on the track … it’s pure adrenalin,” he said. “I enjoy the technical side of racing, learning the set up, tires, stagger…
“Right now, I’m having fun and learning about racing … and I’m trying my best to stay out of the way!” he laughed.
“I know I can’t compete with guys like (Louis) Clements and (Gary) Vyse. Sometimes I can run with them on the straightaway, but they eat me alive in the corners.
”Hopefully someday, I’ll get to that level,” he said.
His modest goal is to simply win that first career checkered flag and add a Sun Parlour Trailers’ victory sticker to the side of his plain black race car. And when that day comes, you’ll have to forgive the Van Hal family if they treat a heat win like it was a feature.
“That’s the biggest thing we get out of racing, we get to do this as a family,” he said.