Running a Big Block Modified and racing in the United States was only a dream to Felix Roy before the 2023 season.
But after a full year of racing the U.S., the 18-year-old, from Napierville, QC, is now a Super DIRTcar Series Rookie of the Year and one of the most talked about young talents in the northeast.
“It’s always been a dream for me to be a Super DIRTcar Series driver,” Roy said. “That’s pretty awesome.
“It’s a great title. Guys that have won it in the past years are all good. Super nice to win that in really my first year (of Big Block Modified racing).”
He ended his rookie year with one top five finish – a career-best second-place run at Albany-Saratoga Speedway – and five top 10s. Combined, he average a 16th-place finish for the season.
That earned him 13th in final the final championship standings and a 92-point advantage over fellow Rookie of the Year contender Steve Bernard – who was already a veteran of Modified racing.
“I think it was fun running with Stevie (Bernard, a fellow Canadian),” Roy said. “He runs clean, and we help each other off track and all of that.”
Along with 2023 being Roy’s first time in a Big Block Modified, every U.S. track on the Super DIRTcar Series tour was new to him. His only experience on American soil was a handful of 358 Modified races at Airborne Speedway and a start at Fulton Speedway during the 2022 Outlaw 200. Every lap was a learning curve. Learning the track. Learning the drivers. Learning the car.
“The track surface in USA was way different than what I was used to running in Quebec,” Roy said. “It’s a really aggressive track surface in Quebec. More tacky. More bit. More about running the cushion and all that. When we got to U.S. tracks where it is smooth right through the middle in the slick, you know, fighting for every inch. That was the most learning, the gas pedal and how to control it.”
His Series debut at Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals in February resulted in two missed Features and a 24th-place finish. But the more laps he made, the more he improved.
He earned his first top-15 finish at Lebanon Valley Speedway in the third race of the championship season and then followed it up with an 11th-place run at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
He had potential top-five runs going at Big Diamond Speedway and Weedsport Speedway before issues struck, but then found his biggest momentum boost of the year during the Series’ long-awaited return to Canada. Roy picked up back-to-back sixth-place finishes at Autodrome Drummond, charging from 29th to sixth the first night.
That propelled him to several strong runs during the summer months, including back-to-back ninth-place runs at Land of Legends Raceway and Ransomville Speedway. Then, he finished second behind Modified veteran Stewart Friesen at Albany-Saratoga in September – a moment he said felt like a win.
“The whole race I was like third, fourth,” Roy said. “On one of the restarts I was third and Matt Sheppard was fourth and I got back my third position. At one point I got to second behind Friesen. On restarts he was pulling me, but in a 15-20 lap run I was coming back to pass him.
“But second place at that race, honoring Kenny (Tremont), that was awesome. It felt like a win. Friesen is one of the best. He’s probably like a top-three top-five Big Block driver at the moment.”
Further helping his development this year, Roy ran the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series tour, finishing second in points. He also won two Big Block Modified track events at Canada’s Cornwall Motor Speedway and scored his first DIRTcar 358 Modified win at Airborne Speedway in June.
“Definitely helps us when we run the Big Block with the big names,” Roy said. “It helps me when I come back in the Small Block. It helps me get better.”
With a year under his belt and a notebook for every track on tour, Roy is already eager for the 2024 Super DIRTcar Series season, looking to build upon the success he’s earned with help from his crew chief Steve Morin, his father and his sponsors. He wants a top 10 finish in points and a top 10 at every race. But also dreams of a win.
“The notebook is there,” he said. “We know the gear. We know the set ups for the tracks and what to put. Especially, I know how to run it. It’s not like showing up for the first time and only getting two laps before qualifying… Like this year, we went to Land of Legends two times and Weedsport multiples and the second time we went back we did really good.
“It’s the best of the best. If I can get a win, that would be really huge. You know, you never know when your night is your night. You never know what can happen. Getting a win would be huge.”
The Super DIRTcar Series will commence its 2024 season at Volusia Speedway Park during Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 14-17. For tickets, visit DIRTcarNationals.com.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either with the DIRTVision App or at DIRTVision.com.