By Denis Bourbonnais
Marc Lecompte will be a very busy driver once operations pick back up full-time in the Hydroplane Racing League (HRL).
In addition to driving his own boat in the Hydro 350 class, the “Patbershp/Paysagement Desrochers” H-104, the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield driver will be amongst the competitors in the Grand Prix class. Following Rémy Leblanc’s decision to return behind the wheel of the “Allard Ménard” H-799 in H-350, Marc Lecompte was the man of the situation to take over the role aboard the “Miss Cléopâtre” GP-104, owned by Line Mayer.
Now a hydroplane racing veteran, the tanned driver will begin his 22nd season once the gun shoots to announce the end of the forced break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is indeed a cliché, but time does fly. Not long ago, as if it was yesterday, Marc Lecompte was doing his first laps behind the wheel of a hydroplane. It was in 1998 and the Valleyfield-born was 19 years old.
Over two decades after making his debut, his passion is still as strong for the fastest sport on the water. This excitement comes from his family, as Marc is the nephew of Norman Shannon and grew up watching his uncle feed his hunger for victory in the 5-litre class.
Now 42 years old, Marc Lecompte is still one of the most formidable drivers in the competitive Hydro 350 class. During his 21 years of racing, he has always been a serious threat on the racecourses.
After driving the Haineault family’s “Second Hope”, his mother Lise Haineault being the former president of the Fédération nautique du Canada, Marc was the driver/owner of 3 boats in the 5-litre/Hydro 350 class and another one in the Grand Prix class, in partnership with his uncle Norm Shannon.
An employee of “CB Marine”, owned by Claude Bergeron, Marc knows a lot about boats and even built two of his 5-litre/Hydro 350 hydroplanes. The first was called “Willy’s Pub” then “Primeau Performance”, the CE-104, a favourite number of the family. Marc has won two championships in the 5-litre class, including the Viau Cup, combining all Quebec events in the 5-litre class, in 2006, before the inception of the American Canadian Hydroplane Association (ACHA).
Marc Lecompte then won the high points championship in 2012 with the 2nd boat he built, the “NAPA Valleyfield”, which he led to victory in the final heat in Long Sault, Saint-Félicien and Beauharnois on the ACHA circuit. Since the past few seasons, he has been the driver-owner of the “Pigeon/Bergeron” boat built in 2000 for Maurice “Rocket” Richard that he acquired from François Campeau.
Trusted crew members
For the 2021 season, the hydroplane has been completely restored and Marc made some adjustments. He can count on the support of his main sponsors, “Patbershop” and “Paysagement Desrochers”, owned by Martin Desrochers, who is one of his crewmates. Josiane Patenaude remains his trusted person on communications and Luc Bolduc is still there to take care of the boat.
Marc Lecompte mentions that being able to count on the same people is a huge asset and one of the secrets of the longevity of a driver.
“I have the utmost trust in my crew and that means I can fully concentrate on the racing,” he specifies.
The driver characterized by his intensity did not only follow in the footsteps of his uncle Norm Shannon, he even teamed with him in the Grand Prix class for 5 seasons. They were the co-owners and co-drivers of the “Bergeron” hull that was the “Miss Dinomytes” GP-1001 before becoming the “Pièces d’auto Valleyfield” GP-104. Marc has also competed in the 2.5-litre and the Can-Am/Pro Stock classes with the “L’Illusion” 103.
Marc continues on his journey with the same passion for driving he has had since his childhood, but he admits he has less patience to spend on the time it takes to prepare and maintain the boat. He was missing driving a Grand Prix, but not the countless hours of work and the cost linked to it.
Marc Lecompte still immediately accepted Line Mayer’s invitation to drive the hull Mathieu Daoust was driving when he passed away. Taking nothing for granted, Marc Lecompte adds that each season is different and comes with its share of challenges. Despite everything, after over 20 years, he certifies that the feeling of excitement felt when he fights for a position remains the same.
“I have made a lot of sacrifices for the sport; I postponed buying a house to keep driving. Having my family following me during competitions, I get to relive this passion through the eyes of my daughter. This passion is my entire life,” concludes Marc Lecompte.
Photo credit: Rod Windover Photographer