By: Denis Bourbonnais
Tommy Shannon just celebrated his 26th spring and his track record is already pretty impressive as a driver on the powerboating circuit.
On the eve of his 8th season in the Hydroplane Racing League, the son of ex-driver turned crew chief Norman Shannon has racked up half-a-dozen victories and a championship win in the 2.5-litre class. The title won aboard the “Pièces d’auto Valleyfield” S-4 in the overall ranking of the 2018 season allowed Tommy Shannon to graduate to Formula 2500 and the future is bright for the young man from Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.
His achievements even got a new team’s attention, which will debut in the Hydro 350 class during the HRL’s upcoming season, who put his trust in him. Tommy was given the wheel of the “Dognasty” H-306, a team led by Alexandre Abbott that was formed to pay tribute to the late driver Mathieu Daoust, who passed away during a race in Brockville (Ontario), in June of 2019.
Tommy Shannon will therefore be on double duty once hydroplane racing picks back up on the North American continent and he is eagerly awaiting to add new feats to an already well-garnished record.
On the foot steps of his father
Young Tommy was only 5 years old when his father Norman Shannon won the Canadian Championship in the 5-litre class at the Lake Hopatcong (New Jersey) event, in September 2000. The family setting devoted to hydroplane racing he grew up in lit an overflowing passion for regattas in him and his path was drawn.
After testing a 2.5-litre boat owned by his cousin Yan Lecompte, the “Récupération Mario Hart” S-28, Tommy Shannon jumped in the hydroplane racing adventure in 2013. “My father, my godfather and my cousin all competed. They encouraged me a lot. I loved it from the very first laps I took behind the wheel of the hydroplane owned by my godfather, Alain Haineault,” explains the accountant by trade, who now resides in Mirabel.
Tommy’s father, Norman Shannon had a great influence on his journey, and it is why the son has chosen number 4, to pay tribute. “It is the number he had for most of his years in the 5-litre class. My father now acts as my crew chief and communications officer. His experience and contribution are invaluable,” praises Tommy.
After driving two “Pigeon/Bergeron” hulls from 2014 to 2017, i.e., the old “CS-43” driven by David Métivier and the old “Go Fast CS-17/Akzo Nobel CS-51” led respectively by Tommy Bergeron, Guillaume Charette and Daniel Émond, Tommy then turned to a boat with which he had the best moments of his career in 2018.
The Valleyfield-born driver won the 2.5-litre class HRL Championship with the 2004 “Henderson” boat which previous iterations were the “Orange Rush” (Mike Monahan), “Miss Virgo” (Marc Théorêt), “Top Gun” (Sylvain Maheu), “Vegas” (Rémy Leblanc), “EMK” (Eric McKenna) and “Canada Girl” (Stéphanie Blain).
Tommy Shannon and his teammates were unlucky on their first season in Formula 2500 in 2019, as they fell victim to damage to the hull and mechanical issues. They believe they can return to the winning ways of the previous year with a refreshed boat, complete with other improvements.
The bottom of the boat was rebuilt at the HRL shop in Huntingdon, a new “Propulsion Motorsports” engine was built and the “Pièces d’auto Valleyfield” F-4 team has acquired two new propellers. “We believe that a top 3 in the overall championship and a victory in a final are achievable objectives,” hopes Tommy Shannon, who will once again count on the support of many members of his family in his team, including Hope Shannon, Bo Shannon, Norm Shannon, Alain Haineault, Chantal Haineault, Alyssa Digo, Yan Lecompte, Audrey Patenaude and Nathan Lecompte.
Moreover, Tommy Shannon will have a brand new challenge to take on in the competitive Hydro 350 class when action resumes in the Hydroplane Racing League. The young driver will be at the helm of the “Dognasty” H-306, the old “The Dog/L’Olympique” H-9 that the late Mathieu Daoust led to victory on many occasions in 2012 and 2013.
The new team led by Alexandre Abbott was created in remembrance of the driver who lost his life during a Grand Prix class event, on June 30, 2019, in Brockville (Ontario). Number 306 was chosen to commemorate the tragic day (30th day of the 6th month), which left a mark on the HRL organization, its drivers, their team and the fans.
The “Dognasty” is a collective project established by Mathieu’s friends, who were also his teammates, including his spouse, Jessica Stafford, and his father, Jacques Daoust. The group chose Tommy Shannon to drive the boat built at Jacques Daoust and Jean-Guy Leboeuf’s shop, before being successively driven by Mathieu Daoust, Eric Labelle (Do-it Racing H-19), Nathalye Campeau/Kevin Duchesne (HydroTherapy H-396) and Todd Liddycoat (Team Extreme H-97).
“Tommy Shannon was the best fit as a driver for the «Dognasty» H-306 for this project that has reignited our passion, and in memory of Mathieu,” explain Alexandre Abbott.