One of Canada’s longest running and most respected race teams is entering a near era for 2017….

Guided by Western Canadian Top Alcohol drag racing patriarch Kenny Gilmour, Calgary-based Kenny Gilmour Motorsports is back with some vengeance this season and including a new team driver.

This race team which has over many seasons helped to nurture along careers of some other very talented drivers (including Ray Martin, Ashley Bart & Greg Hunter) has now tasked John Leach with cockpit controls. John, who was a former and very experienced crewman for the race team did complete his licensing process last year and then made some limited appearances, is now focused on his first year as a full time driver.

“Six years again I was doing the clutches on Kenny’s race cars,” revealed John Leach. “I’ve wanted to drive one (a TAD) for a long time but I took the time to learn all about how these cars worked first before undertaking that.”

Prior to his opportunity to jump into the Top Alcohol car, John did drive a 10-secs ET bracket car.

“I’ll admit that going from 10 secs to 5 secs was a very major step,” he exclaimed. “But once I got over the initial shock of just how fast these cars can move and the G-forces involved — I got to work on being confident with it. We’ve tried the walk before run route. But in fact it’s been a relatively short journey. I’m now in a pretty comfortable spot and sure enough we’ve started to go pretty fast.”

John is driving a very proven Brad Hadman-chassied race car. For 2017 the team has upped their engine program to a BAE 490 CID and expectations for future performance are promising.

The Gilmour Motorsports team did make their season debut recently during the NHRA national event held earlier in March at Las Vegas. That was the first time John had ever driven at a NHRA national event level. The team ran pretty decent there – qualifying #11 with a 5.677 secs and then running another consistent 5.678 secs while losing out in round one to eventual event winner Garrett Bateman.

NHRA Las Vegas was John Leach’s very first national event experience.

“Our goal is to get the car consistently in the 5.2-5.3 secs range,” John stated. “We have everything we need including good parts and pieces to do that. My goal too is to exceed the 270 mph mark this season.”

Going forward the team is planning an aggressive schedule for 2017. In addition to doing as many NHRA Pacific Northwest Lucas Oil regional races as possible they are too targeting some more NHRA national events – with both Seattle and Brainerd being on that radar.

“After Brainerd – I’m hoping we can be in a position to enter the U.S. Nationals,” John added. “I have not been to Indy before and it has been a lifetime personal goal for me to race at and qualify for the biggest drag race there is. After that we would like to go back to Las Vegas and then race at Pomona later in the year.”

With support from Alberta-based sponsor Omega 2000 – the Kenny Gilmour Motorsports team – are planning a solid season tour this summer.

As with most any drag racing team out there – the actuality of their season schedule is very dependent on sponsorship support. Kenny Gilmour Motorsports is benefiting from both the interest and investment from Winnipeg native Dell Lloyd who’s Omega 2000 company is providing the team’s race car with it’s primary backing.

Dell’s Omega 2000 is a concrete foundation company specializing in housing and condominium building complexes.

Kenny Gilmour Motorsports is comprised of Kenny and Darlene Gilmore, primary sponsor Dell Lloyd (centre) and John and Jane Willis Leach

For more information on Kenny Gilmore Motorsports visit their team website: HERE

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler