Dumoulin hoping for another career first
Dream season gives Quebec-born driver torque in Bowmanville this weekend
Louis-Philippe Dumoulin knows he’s one of the lucky ones.
He’s in his third year of making a full-time living in fast cars and is having a dream season in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, currently leading the point standings in his first year with a new team.
Dumoulin and the other stars of the Canadian Tire series — Canada’s only national racing series — are at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this weekend along with the headlining NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the Canadian Touring Car Championship and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge (Canada) by Michelin.
But the road to the top hasn’t always been free of potholes.
Dumoulin grew up in a racing town with a racing family. His father was a gym teacher but was also a very capable mechanic. As a boy in Trois-Rivières, Que., he tinkered with anything with wheels on it alongside his older brother Jean-François, now a very accomplished endurance racer and Canadian Tire Series competitor in his own right.
Together, they grew up fueling one another’s passion for everything to do with motorsport.
“It’s always been in our blood, racing and all-around motorsports and cars and bikes and whatever else we have to play with,” L.P. explains. “That really helped, to have a fast brother.
“We were not competing the wrong way but always bringing (ourselves) a notch above to be better and better.”
Dumoulin’s earliest competition experience was in ice racing on frozen Quebec lakes in his early teen years. From there he progressed into Formula Ford racing, where he won a national championship in 2002.
Back then, funding did not come easily. Finding ways to get to the track as often as possible turned him into a shrewd businessman.
“Growing up in Trois-Rivières helped a lot because we had our Grand Prix in our backyard,” he says. “I could find a little bit of sponsorship there, a little bit there, just for that one event. I was capable of selling the Grand Prix pretty well and doing it for a low cost and afterward doing Mosport and other races that I didn’t have any money to do.”
His family also came up with the idea of organizing fundraising benefits.
“We rented a kart track,” Dumoulin recalls. “People were buying a ticket to come karting with us, and that’s another way I was raising money.
“We worked really hard to make it up. But it’s all about having the right people around you.”
After winning the Formula Ford championship, Dumoulin progressed through the open-wheel racing ranks for a couple of years and then tried out sports car racing. He has competed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona three times and achieved a podium finish at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
He has also earned some side income over the years through driver coaching and instruction, both privately and through organized schools. Key among those is the Ferrari Driving Experience in Mont-Tremblant, Que., which is in its ninth year.
“We have people coming from all around the world,” Dumoulin explains. “We have brand new cars that come every year, and we teach people who own Ferraris or have ordered a Ferrari how to drive those cars.
“That’s what I do on the side as well, plus private coaching to teach people to drive the cars that we actually race. A guy can buy a Porsche that we race but doesn’t really know how to drive it properly, so we teach him and that’s how we do our living as well. But mainly it’s racing and focusing on the sport.”
When it came time to decide on where to establish his own racing career, Dumoulin felt that the Canadian Tire Series offered his best shot.
“It’s a big marketing machine, and they work really hard with the teams to help on finding sponsorship, to give a really good show, to give a good marketing plan, very good TV coverage and all that stuff,” he says. “The sponsorship gets really involved with the series as well as the show we give, which is big, mean machines.”
Dumoulin spent his last two years in the series working with Scott Steckly and his 22 Racing team out of Milverton, Ont. For this season, though, he made the move to join Quebec-based team King Autosport.
“Scott did a really good job,” Dumoulin says. “The whole team was great with me. It’s more that because I’ve always been hands on the car it was easier for me to go with a Quebec team that’s an hour drive from my place than dealing with nine-hour drives back and forth. That way, I can be closer to it and understand more stuff, work with the guys, and create more team spirit.”
The shift appears to have served him well. Dumoulin has claimed two wins so far this season — including one at his home race at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières — and currently holds a 26-point lead over Andrew Ranger and J.R. Fitzpatrick heading into this weekend’s event at CTMP.
As far as Dumoulin is concerned, the 2014 Canadian Tire Series championship is the next item that needs to be added to his list of accomplishments.
“I’ve won a championship in Formula Ford, won races in NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, had many podiums and poles,” he says.
“I’m working really hard to go and get the championship and get that one done.”