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There was hardly time to tuck it under the Christmas tree, but no one could forgive Napanee, Ontario’s Chris Raabe for tearing into a gift that’ll have him tearing around the speedways of the nation. Just over a month after collecting the hardware from his history-making 2008 season – including the Mr. DIRTcar sportsman championship – the 12th grader from Napanee and District Secondary School has been tabbed by veteran driver/team owner Peter Gibbons for a 5 race deal in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
After a career that spanned more than 20 years – including starts in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Tour, the ARCA Re/Max Series and the former NASCAR Sportsman Series, Gibbons – of Stouffville, Ontario – ran his final event as driver of the #1 Canadian Tire/Mobil Oil Chevrolet Saturday, September 27th at Kawartha Speedway. Still looking to be involved in the sport, Gibbons says his team wanted to put someone young and fast in the seat of his championship winning ride.
“It was time to give up driving – but not racing – and concentrate on some of the other business ventures Dennise and I had been working on over the past few years,” says Gibbons. “I think it’ll be great to mentor someone I feel has the ability to take the program we started to the next level”.
At just 17, Chris Raabe has turned-in championship winning performances at every level of competition, since his days behind the wheel of a go-kart at the age of 7. In 2008, he established a DIRTcar record 22 wins in 45 feature race starts for a batting average of 49%. His Mr. DIRTcar championship series title made him the youngest driver to wear the crown in the sanctioning body’s 33 year history.
“I’m very honoured to be given this opportunity and I’m thrilled that Peter and Dennise have asked me to take the wheel of their equipment,” says Raabe. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Peter Gibbons as a driver and a first-class team owner. I hope to make the most of this chance I’m being given and be able to bring some marketing support to the program that will turn our 5 race deal into a long and healthy relationship”.
With headquarters in Stouffville, Ontario and Mooresville, North Carolina, Gibbons Motorsports will continue to field Chevrolet Monte Carlos, with GMS powerplants in their deal with Raabe. Gibbons says he’s confident the young hot-shoe will adjust well to the different racing environment.
“We plan to give Chris plenty of seat time and I’m sure his natural talent and ability will make the transition very smooth. He’s already done so much in his young career; it just makes sense to move him to the next level”.
Chris Raabe classifies this as the chance of a lifetime. He is also looking forward to securing an education and was recently named to receive an honours scholarship at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where he will pursue a Mechanical Engineering degree.
The Gibbons Motorsports/Chris Raabe Chevrolet team is looking to secure sponsorship for the entire 2009 campaign, but will start with a 5-race deal. To learn more, please contact Peter Gibbons at (905) 640-2209 or Garry McColman at (613) 536-8093.