This is part 2 of our interview with legendary harness racing driver John Campbell:
John Campbell recalled three Hambletonian victories as most important to him; his first in 1987 with superstar Mack Lobell, who was trained by Campbell’s good friend Chuck Sylvester. After that was his 1995 win with Tagliablue was truly special for the whole Campbell clan as the horse was trained by his brother Jim Campbell. He also felt the importance of his last to date Hambletonian win with Glidemaster in 2006. He was coming back to the sport after an injury and winning trotting’s biggest jewel with Glidemaster was the triumphant win that reinvigorated his career after the layoff.
Campbell’s time outside of harness racing is spent in great part with his family, though often the two intersect. His brother Jim is one of harness racing’s winningest trainers. While his daughters never got involved directly in harness racing they still show their support to their father and follow his races, making harness racing a big part of their lives too. Campbell’s wife Paula also came from a racing background and showed her dedication to the athletes by founding the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, which works to find homes for retired racehorses.
Campbell is a devoted grandfather to his three grandchildren who are a big part of his life and he often enjoys driving them to school and spending quality time with them. He also enjoys golf and is very committed to physical fitness and stretching. His devotion to family and health have certainly helped to give his career such unprecedented longevity.
Campbell continues to be a world class harness driver and has continues his winning ways with horses like world champion Sunshine Beach and 2013 standout freshman trotter Nuncio. Even after such an illustrious career, he says he still gets nervous when he takes the lines. “There’s a lot of pressure because you’re the one guiding the horse and there’s so many people that put in time, energy and money. It’s how you channel that nervous energy that makes you successful,” Campbell explained. His philosophy of channeling his energy is certainly one of the secrets of his success.
This interview kicks off our new weekly features of faces in the sport, from fans to owners, trainers to grooms.