The fifth annual Mayor's Hospice Challenge at Brighton Speedway Park featured the mayors of Northumberland County pitted against each other on this year's choice vehicle, lawn tractors. Each Mayor, joined by MPP Lou Rinaldi, recruited a partner, raised pledges for Northumberland Lakeshore Hospice, and came to the Speedway on August 29th, unaware of what they would be racing.
As race car drivers proceeded to the starting line onboard lawn tractors to start the intermission entertainment, the crowd cheered, and a few of the participants broke a sweat as they had never driven one before. Piped onto the track by 14 year old Conor Cooper, who has been piping for 4 years with the Brighton Legion Highlanders, the teams were divided into two qualifying heats. The partners drove one length of the route switched places with the Mayors who returned to the finish. The top 2 finishers in each heat were pitted together for the final race.
Following qualifiers that saw Team Port Hope's Nancy Walsh, sister to Mayor Rick Austin, need a push from behind and a quick pull on the throttle to get through her leg, and Elaine Palmateer, Executive Assistant to MPP Lou Rinaldi, get a quick lesson in how a tractor gets moving, they along with Alnwick/Haldimnd Mayor Bill Finley with Councillor Ray Benns and Hamilton Township Mayor Forrest Rowden with Councillor Mark Loveshin were eliminated from the final race by their collegues.
Cobourg Mayor Peter Dellanty, with his Executive Assistant Petra Kennedy, Brighton Mayor Christine Herrington with Councillor Chuck Ward, Trent Hills Mayor Hector MacMillan, with son Peter and Cramahe Mayor Lee Dekeyser with Troy Brown, donned helmets for a feature that started out as fast and furious as your average tractor can go. Team Cobourg's experience on a tractor was evident during the first leg as Petra got out front fast and dismounted ahead of the others. The second leg wasn't as successful as Mayor (and Warden) Dellanty fumbled on the transfer, kicked the tractor from one gear to the next, popped a wheelie, and then ran into Trent Hills team member Peter MacMillan. Unharmed, it didn't stop his dad Hector who drove across the finish line to win the Mayor's Hospice Challenge for the second year in a row. Everyone walked away from the incident uninjured, and laughing with and at themselves, knowing that they did their part to not only entertain their constituents, but to also raise money for a worthwhile agency that assists Northumberland County residents at a time when they need support the most.
For more information about Northumberland Hospice, it's services and other events be sure to visit the website at www.lakeshorehospice.ca.