Saskatoon father-daughter team debuts fast machine at Draggins car show
Daughter only person in province licenced to drive a car that fast
Carolann Houle and her father Omer are showing off a unique creation at the Draggins Rod and Custom Car Show this weekend in Saskatoon.
Omer Houle and his partner Keith Downie spent six years building the alcohol-fuelled car from scratch. Now, his 22-year-old daughter races the fuel roadster.
You can't just go out and go. You have to earn your right to be that fast.- Omer Houle
Last year she clocked the super fast machine at 158 miles per hour (253 kilometres per hour). She is the only person in the province licensed to drive a car that fast, with her C Class license in land speed racing.
"I have been around race cars my whole life," Carolann said. "But I have never been this hands-on with it."
Racing a family affair
For years, Omer Houle has been building cars in Saskatoon. Carolann was never far from his side.
"I used to be out there when I was just a wee, little two-year-old," Carolann Houle said. Now she says there is no turning back.
"Once my Dad got hooked on it and they started building the car, I became more and more hooked and I don't think I will ever turn back. I want to build my own car now!"
For the past two years the Houle and Downie team has been making the two-day drive to Wendover, Utah to put their roadster's power to the test and race on the state's legendary salt flats. This type of racing is known to car enthusiasts as land speed racing.
Carolann has been working on her safety licensing to be able to drive the car faster. Last year she clocked the roadster at 158 miles per hour.
"It's an experience I don't think you could get anywhere else ... it is like the coolest thing ever all this power is underneath you, it is limitless," Houle explained. "You could sit there and put the throttle down for eight miles and go as far and as fast as you can."
The Houles' fuel roadster is so fast that for the first two miles of the race in Utah, it is pushed with a truck, to get it 'wound up'.
"You shift from first to second gear at 125 miles an hour," Omer Houle explained.
Then, for the next five miles into the salty, flat terrain of the race, drivers see how fast they can go.
Because Carolann has safely achieved driving the race car at 158 miles per hour, she is now classified as a C Class driver.
"You can't just go out and go. You have to earn your right to be that fast," Omer Houle said.
Carolann said she is going to try to bring the car to 200 miles per hour when the Houle and Downie team heads back to Utah for another round of racing in August.
Addicted to racing
Carolann said everything about racing is contagious and she plans to go to the race every year for the rest of her life.
"Even just to go and listen to a car be at full throttle, full boar for five miles it is the coolest sound. Nothing beats it," she said.
Her father Omer, who humbly refers to himself as the team's 'tuner', designing, says building and racing the specialty cars and being around the people the sport attracts, are what he loves about the sport.
"This car started as absolutely nothing and we built it," Houle said. "The ingenuity of some of the guys is unbelievable ... last year we were pitted beside this one young fellow, and we were talking back and forth and he said 'well what do you do?' and I said 'I work for a trucking company in Saskatoon' and I said 'what do you do?' and he said 'I'm an aerospace engineer for Boeing'."
The fuel roadster is on display at the car show all weekend, in addition to the legendary North of 49, a roadster that holds two world records for speed and has been clocked at 241 miles per hour.
All proceeds to the car show are donated to Camp Easter Seal. The event has raised more than $1.5 million for the organization over its 54 year history in Saskatoon.