Sportsnet.ca -- Just when you thought there was no possible connection between the East Coast Hockey League and NASCAR, enter the name Shaun Peet.
Peet, who until recently was best known for his pugilistic prowess in backwater minor league hockey towns, turned a multi-game suspension for fighting into a new career as jackman for Chip-Gnassi Racing.
"It was a big opening night brawl, I was some how in the middle of it and the new league commissioner decided to come down on me so I took it and was sitting in the stands just watching the game and struck up a conversation with a guy," said Peet.
The guy was a local racing big wig, who figured Peet's size as a hockey player could translate into muscle in the pits. The chance encounter in the stands led to Peet attending and taking interest in professional car racing.
"One thing led to another and he asked me to jack one of the cars and I went ahead and tried it, just something came naturally and they asked me if I wanted a job in racing. I kind of blew it off, went out that season and played for New Mexico in the Central Hockey League, came back and they phoned me up again and wanted to know if I would be serious about it and I said sure and tried it and started in the Craftsman Truck series, went to the Bush series and the Winston Cup about a month later."
Peet quickly climbed the racing ranks from Trucks to the Busch Series. Now, he jacks for Reed Sorenson in the Nextel Cup. Besides being a hockey player in a mechanic world, Peet is also the only Canadian among the ranks.
"When we go to Michigan and New Hampshire they play the Canadian national anthem, so it's kind of nice and all the guys give me a hard time about that but it's cool, all the guys are really respectful. Most of them are generally interested in the igloo I live in back home and the dog sled team I have to take to school but they are good 'ol boys, New Hampshire is about as close as they get to Canada."
It is the adrenaline which keeps Peet going on the track; recognizing the thrill in pit lane as a link between his former and current careers.
"People ask me what its like, i'ts like penalty shot times ten, not that I had many penalty shots in my career but just the adrenaline rush of 3400-pound race car about eleven inches off your back heels it's something that will definitely get the blood going."
Peet's success has also found the silver screen, where he can be seen playing a jackman in Will Ferrell's latest comedy Talladega Nights.
Tune in to Sportsnetnews on Friday evening to see the full feature on Shaun Peet's journey from ECHL enforcer to NASCAR jackman.