Fairly new to the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship scene having raced just two full seasons, this week we feature Danby Crowder, who by friendly accounts raced straight into his midlife crisis! Long time enthusiast of the sport with a short time behind the wheel, the pilot of the #33 stands as a testament to why it’s never too late to go racing!
How long have you been racing?
Two and a half years and I’ve only ever raced in F1600. My interest in racing began at an early age as my parents cottage was located very close to race track in southern France called the Circuit de Ledenon. As a preteen I spent my summers sneaking into the course and watching touring car, open wheel and bike races. It was the sound of the engines that drew me in. I also have a very strong memory of one of the BRM cars in a static Marlboro display in the early 70’s… As a 10 year old I was fascinated by the car’s beautiful lines, gigantic tires and the wings – I was hooked.
Jump ahead 40 years and at 50 I decided I better get off my butt and do something about it…call it a mid life crisis if you will ( i know my friends do) but those early impressions never left me. After about 6 months of serious research – looking at a variety of cars, including a beautiful Mugen F3, I stumbled across Gord Lowe’s Reynard behind my sisters house in Guelph. I met his son Aaron who was very gracious and was clearly torn by the pending sale. I had no clue at that time about Gord’s imprint on the F1600 class and that his other on-track exploits were legendary; but is was a good omen. The more I dug into the 1600 class of racing it became obvious that it was the best value for your dollar, the most competitive field, and by far the most authentic class of racing and participants anywhere in North America…so I dove in the deep end.
How many cars have you owned?
I’ve owned 3 cars in my short 2 1/2 years – RF98 ( too small), RF05 ( should have kept it), 2013 Sprectrum comfy like a good chair.
What is your number and why did you choose it?
I have #33- because 3 is the magic number!
What other classes have you raced?
I haven’t raced any other classes- I dove in the deep end.
What track has been your favourite?
In terms of my favourite track to drive thus far it’s Mosport. Starting late as a racer has its challenges as i have a limited exposure to other road courses but Mosport’s combination of speed, sandpit topography and history make it a unique track to drive… we are extremely lucky that the F1600 Toyo Series is rooted at CTMP. Its a real privilege to drive in the shadows of so many great champions and i still am nowhere close to completing a perfect lap around the course so the technical side of the course is an ongoing challenge . It makes coming back for each race as exciting as the first one .
What track would you love to race around?
The track to race on my bucket list is Mount Panorama/Bathurst in Queensland – it really fascinates me. I guess its the combination of public roads, high speeds, and series of corners up and across the “mountain” , then down the “dipper” and onto “con-rod straight” that make the “mountain” so alluring. It combines elements of Laguna Seca’s corkscrew, Spa’s eau rouge, and corners like Crowthorne at Kyalami all wrapped into one place. There are several amazing F1600 race videos online from Bathurst that are worth watching as well as Tom Walkinshaw’s quallifying laps in an older TWR XJS. That jag v-12 still makes my hair stand on end. Besides, where else does the Ford Chevy ( Holden ) rivalry get so intense- its like going to world cup soccer game between rivals- beer and brawls- its so Australian. But back to reality and I would be thrilled to get a chance to drive Mont Tremblant, and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the future – both being closer to home and reality.
What is your greatest racing memory?
Starting next to Shane on the front Row and trying to go outside on him around turn 8- emphasis on trying
Who is your favourite driver from any generation?
That’s tough but Jim Clark or Gilles as he was my boyhood hero.
Do you plan to be on the grid in 2018?
Editor’s note: Danby finished 2nd overall in the F1600 2017 series.