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Northrup Launches New Team, Racing To Raise Awareness for Mental Illness

Cole Tanner to drive #3 Legend car for team, to make debut on Friday night at Scotia Speedworld

One of the most recognizable names in the sport of stock car racing in Nova Scotia is returning to the track.

Brian Northrup has been successful in every venture he has had in racing within the region. He has had success at the wheel as a driver and was instrumental in the infant years of the Bandolero division when it came to Canada in the mid 2000’s.

For the past few years though, following a non-racing accident, the sport has been on the back burner.

“I’ve suffered through chronic pain since my accident,” said Northrup. “It has taken a toll, which has led to a stress on my personal life. The pain and the stress leads to depression. It’s tough.”

Enter the sport of stock car racing back into the picture, a sport which Northrup has dedicated a big part of his life to.

“The idea hit me to look at starting a race team dedicated to raising awareness to chronic pain and mental illness in Atlantic Canada,” explained Northrup. “We would put a young driver in the car, similar to Mark’s (Whynot) Overall Experience program, and give that kid a chance to hone their skills in a race car that might be in a transitional period in their racing career.”

As for the driver, the team will hand the wheel of their Legend car to Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia’s Cole Tanner.

“Cole has been out of the seat since the end of last season and I want to give him the chance to get some seat time. This will be Cole’s car for the rest of the season. He has a prior commitment right now on July 30th, but I would like to take the car to Oyster Bed Speedway (PE) for the Upper Clements Parks Maritime League of Legends race, so we will cross that bridge next week.”

As for the program and the selection of Tanner, Northrup said it was a great fit.

“Cole is a great young man. I raced with his father Jack for many years. Cole has got a great head on his shoulders to be able to balance racing, school work and his job working on the farm. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Tanner is a former Canadian Bandolero champion who owns track championships at Speedway 660 and Petty International Raceway. In 2015, Tanner drove the Overall Experience Legend car for Mark Whynot in their first season, taking home a win in the season finale at Scotia Speedworld in September. Tanner also has Late Model Sportsman experience on the NAPA Sportsman Series driving for Sydney’s Robby Reid.

The team is taking a “no expectations” attitude towards the program, which will see its debut this Friday during Canadian National Autism Foundation Night at Enfield’s Scotia Speedworld.

“We’re going in to have fun,” said Northrup. “We have no expectations as to on track results, there is no pressure in this program. If we can go to the track, enjoy the camaraderie of being able to go racing with friends, tell stories in the pits and have a good time – to get back to basics of racing, it will be a win for us.”

Northrup says the program has already caught some eyes with those within the fight of battling mental illness.

“I have received overwhelming support so far and we’re not even on the track yet. We have a good group of guys, including fellow Legend competitor Craig MacDonald, who have stepped up to help wrench on the car to get it ready. Not to mention the support from outside of the garage and within the community at large has been wonderful thus far.

“The goal is to remind those living with chronic pain and mental illness that they are not alone and there is help out there to deal with what they are going through.”

This new opportunity to be a team owner and a mentor has given Northrup some light at the end of the tunnel.

“For me, this is a focus, a reason to get up every day. A chance to work on a race car, to work with some great young talent in Atlantic Canada and to go to the track on the weekend to watch the car go around in circles.”

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Cole Tanner was the winner of the Strictly Hydraulics Legends finale at Scotia Speedworld in 2015. He will return to the seat of a Legend car this Friday at his home track racing for Brian Northrup in the #3 car. (Photo by McCarthy Photographic)

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