Robert Miller has met many racers in his lifetime, but few people as optimistic as fellow Spec Iron racer Cash Canada.
“I don’t know whether I’ve ever seen him down, to be honest with you,” Miller said. “Even if his car is broken, wrecked or whatever, we still cut up and act like fools.”
Racers in NASA Southeast have probably met Canada because he’s one of the region’s great ambassadors. Whether it’s giving a newcomer advice or stopping by all the parties in the paddock, Canada wants people to have fun.
“The way I look at it, if you’re lucky enough to be racing, you’re lucky enough,” Canada said. “A bad day at the racetrack is pretty good. How many people would be loving to do what I’m doing? Why am I going to complain about having a bad day? There are people out there with real problems.”
Bad days on the track are rare for Canada, who has been tough to beat in Spec Iron running his 2010 Ford Mustang. Canada has won three championships in the Southeast Region (two in AIX, one in Spec Iron) and has finished on the podium several times at the NASA Championships presented by Toyo Tires.
Canada is one of the more prolific racers in NASA, competing in about 10 events a year. Even if he isn’t racing, there’s a good chance he’ll show up at the track. “I can go help somebody else out. I don’t need to be racing,” he said. “I can go to the track and have a good time.”
The track has been a second home for the 54-year-old, whose father raced cars in the Sports Car Club of America and IMSA when he was growing up. Canada remembers changing tires in the third grade and using his red wagon to haul the tires back and forth to be installed on the rims.
“I would follow him around like a dog, and we just had the best time,” Canada said. “We didn’t play golf. We didn’t go to ballgames. We went racing.”
Canada raced go-karts and did some drag racing, but had largely stayed away from road racing. He was doing track days and instructing at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C., when NASA came to town for an event. Canada was running with NASA the next day.
Initially, Canada started in AIX because he owned a Chevrolet Camaro and wouldn’t have to buy a racecar. He quickly realized the class would cost more than he was willing to spend.
“It’s like somebody giving you a horse, you’ve got to feed it and pay vet bills,” Canada said. “Even if the horse was free, you still can’t afford it.”
It was Miller who convinced Canada to move into Spec Iron. The class offered better car counts and lower costs. The stock engine and suspension package meant Canada could spend less time tinkering on the car and more time hanging with his friends at the track.
Between contingencies paid by Ford, Toyo Tires and Hawk Performance, racers on the podium in Spec Iron can cover most of their costs for the weekend. If a racer sweeps the weekend, Ford alone will pay them $500.
“With car counts coming, it’s just getting better and better,” he said. “I don’t mean better to get a better payout, but the competition’s better. There are new faces coming in and there’s new blood, more camaraderie and more friends you’re making.”
The Spec Iron field in the Southeast usually has seven to 10 cars a race, and Canada is usually favored to win, Miller said.
“Everybody wants to beat him and if you’ve beat him, you’ve done something,” said Miller, who had Canada as his first track instructor. “You’re going to have to race him hard to beat him.”
Newer drivers might overlook Canada, especially when they see him working on his car in the paddock. Canada doesn’t have a garage at his home in Charlotte, N.C., so the track becomes his de facto shop to swap pads or change the oil. The tires go on the Mustang the morning of the race, depending on the weather conditions.
“I can change brake rotors about as quickly as some can change shoes,” said Canada, who is married to Kimberly and has a daughter, Katherine. “You just get into the habit of doing stuff, so it’s nothing to stress about.”
Canada’s Mustang has data and video, but says he rarely takes advantage of it. Instead, he’ll watch video from his best lap to see what worked and where he can improve.
“I’ve just never had repeatable conditions to make the data relevant to me,” said Canada, who works as a commercial banker. “I think the data would be more applicable if you’re running solo or Time Trial or something such as that where you don’t have so much wheel-to-wheel racing.”
Historically, Canada hasn’t been a strong qualifier, often sitting behind Miller or Cale Phillips to start the Spec Iron race. He is more interested in preserving the car instead of improving lap times in qualifying. When racing starts, the first lap is critical for Canada because the racing is so close. He tries to take the lead and keep it.
“If you lose time on the start, you never get it back,” Canada said. “You have to pretty well run hard the whole time. If you start pacing yourself or you’re going to make a move later, it’s over.”
Win or lose, Canada is going to be the same jovial person at the track.
“I wouldn’t race if there was drama,” Canada said. “I have drama at work and other places in my life, and I don’t need it at the racetrack. I’m doing this for relaxation.”
|Racing Class:||Spec Iron|
|Sponsors:||TWT Distributing, CRG, Trinity Motorsports|
|Day Job:||Commercial banker|
|Favorite Food:||Grilled gizzards|
|Favorite TV show:||“Columbo”|
|Favorite Movie:||The Treasure of… The Usual… Citizen… Josey Wales|
|Favorite Book:||“About Face”|
|Favorite Track:||Carolina Motorsports Park|
|Dream Racecar:||Ferrari F40|