Peterborough filmmaker Jeremy Kelly and his car-racing pals give new life to writer’s 33-year-old Chevy

Watch the beater-to-race journey on 'Cease & Desist Episode 5: The Covilier', premiering on Facebook and YouTube February 7

In June 2020, kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger sold his 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier to Peterborough car-racing driver and filmmaker Jeremy Kelly for $150. Kelly and his three vehicle restoration and racing buff friends fixed up the car for a rally. They document the journey in episode five of "Cease & Desist", premiering on Facebook and YouTube on February 7, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Larry and Ben Strung / StrungFoto)
In June 2020, kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger sold his 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier to Peterborough car-racing driver and filmmaker Jeremy Kelly for $150. Kelly and his three vehicle restoration and racing buff friends fixed up the car for a rally. They document the journey in episode five of "Cease & Desist", premiering on Facebook and YouTube on February 7, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Larry and Ben Strung / StrungFoto)

It poured buckets early on the evening of June 23, 2020 but that was fitting, equating perfectly with my sadness as I said goodbye to my 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier.

That car and I had been through a lot since the spring of 2007, when Mom gifted me Dad’s beloved ride shortly after his passing in late April of that same year. For $80 — the cost of changing the ownership — the Rellingers had a second vehicle, which sure made our family’s life a whole lot easier.

But come last summer, it had sat in the driveway for more than a year, strong of body but weak of pretty much everything else. Vehicle maintenance was never my thing, limited for the most part to emptying the overflowing dashboard ashtray every couple of months and paper clipping the drooping interior roof fabric back in place.

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And so a call to the wrecker was made, the promise of $150 coming my way if I could get it there.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the car crusher. I remembered a conversation I had with car-racing driver and filmmaker Jeremy Kelly in 2017 during which I related my ownership of said car and he related his desire to one day buy it should I decide to sell it.

“It’s not every day you hear about a car that has lasted that long and has had such a journeyed kind of life,” Kelly says of his initial interest.

So it was that Kelly, joined by his pals and vehicle restoration and racing buffs Tyler Junkin, Nate Mitchell, and Andy McCann, came by the house that rainy June evening, poured over the car front to back, and then took it away to work their magic.

Jeremy Kelly (second from right) and Tyler Junkin, Nate Mitchell, and Andy McCann with kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger's former 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier. (Photo courtesy of Ellisha Tryon)
Jeremy Kelly (second from right) and Tyler Junkin, Nate Mitchell, and Andy McCann with kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger’s former 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier. (Photo courtesy of Ellisha Tryon)

This Sunday (February 7) at 6 p.m., the fruits of their labour will be evident as “Cease & Desist Episode 5: The Covilier” — a witty take on COVID and Cavalier — premieres on Facebook at facebook.com/dontsayhoon and on the FilmKELLY YouTube channel.

The 43-minute production shot by Kelly, a Sheridan College-trained filmmaker who has worked on numerous projects over the years, chronicles the boys’ initial driveway introduction to the beater, their modifying it to get it car rally-ready, and the events of race day at the Free Flow MX Park and Campground near Belleville.

What’s abundantly clear in the documentary is it wasn’t love at first sight for Junkin, Mitchell, and McCann when they first laid eyes on the four-cylinder subject of Kelly’s desire.

VIDEO: “Cease & Desist Episode 5: The Covilier” teaser (graphic language)

“That style of car is considered cool and classic now,” says Kelly, making me somewhat regret my not taking care of it.

“I saw some promise they didn’t see. That was out of my own naiveté. Those guys have been around the block many times with this car in particular and many others of that era. They kind of knew what was coming, but I saw the potential.”

“It’s not about being the fastest or the most luxurious. It’s about taking a turd and polishing it up and making it something that’s a little more cooler than it is.”

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Despite their initial misgivings — I haven’t heard that many f-bombs dropped since I last dusted off Scarface — Kelly says his pals warmed up to the project once they got busy making the necessary modifications.

“We did all the stuff we did to it and it kind of grew on us. You form a kind of attachment. You put some love into it and you have the experience of driving it in that context, racing around the track. It’s like ‘Holy crap, this is actually fun.'”

Post-rally, the Cavalier’s transmission shot all to hell, discussion turned to scrapping it but Kelly says the group consensus was “No, we can’t get rid of it.” And so it’s now in a most familiar position: parked with nowhere to go.

Episode five of "Cease & Desist", premiering on Facebook and YouTube on February 7, 2021, documents the transformation of kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger's former 33-year-old beater into a car rally competitor. (Photo courtesy of Cease & Desist)
Episode five of “Cease & Desist”, premiering on Facebook and YouTube on February 7, 2021, documents the transformation of kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger’s former 33-year-old beater into a car rally competitor. (Photo courtesy of Cease & Desist)

As a side story, there’s some drama around the series name of Cease & Desist.

In late April 2018, Velocity — part of the Discovery’s specialty cable channel network — aired Hoonin’ All Day, Kelly’s 22-minute production documenting how the foursome brought another beater back to life and took it for a spin at Shannonville Motorsport Park. It later competed very well at a King of the Hill event at Peterborough Speedway.

Hooning is a term used primarily in Australia and New Zealand to describe driving a vehicle in a reckless or dangerous manner, generally to provoke a reaction from onlookers.

“After we aired on Discovery, I got a five-page cease-and-desist order,” says Kelly, adding it came from Ken Block, a professional rally driver with the Hoonigan Racing Division, a U.S.-based motor racing team that competes worldwide.

“I was like ‘What is this?’ The billionaire car racing guy was threatened by four unknown dudes who virtually make no money on this. So we were like ‘OK, I guess we have to change the name.’ We had to take down episodes from Facebook and YouTube and kind of be quiet for a bit. We had a group chat and decided to call it Cease & Desist.”

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With a competitive racing background forged mostly at Peterborough Speedway events, Kelly has combined his two passions — auto racing and filmmaking — to keep himself busy. He comes by the former naturally, his grandfather having raced back in the day at Peterborough Speedway and Bell City in Selwyn.

On the film side of things, his credits include a canoe-related documentary he worked on with Tony Buell, a co-production with Rob Viscardis detailing The Weber Brothers’ musical journey, and a 14-part TV series in 2012 about two bad golfers scouring the world for unique golf courses.

COVID pandemic restrictions have limited the work Kelly can do now, but he has been quite busy producing PSAs for local organizations like Peterborough EMS and the OPP along with “tons of corporate videos.”

The past month, however, saw him devote most all of his time to editing this newest episode of Cease & Desist.

kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger's former 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier, modified by Jeremy Kelly, Tyler Junkin, Nate Mitchell, and Andy McCann, on race day at the Free Flow MX Park and Campground near Belleville. (Photo courtesy of Larry and Ben Strung / StrungFoto)
kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger’s former 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier, modified by Jeremy Kelly, Tyler Junkin, Nate Mitchell, and Andy McCann, on race day at the Free Flow MX Park and Campground near Belleville. (Photo courtesy of Larry and Ben Strung / StrungFoto)

“At this point everyone needs to see or hear something that’s not COVID-related and just kind of escape reality for a moment,” says Kelly of what he hopes the take-away will be for viewers.

“It’s a like precursor to things maybe opening up in the summer, and we can actually get together with friends and have some fun. As a filmmaker, I’d love to do this full-time with the boys. They’re so passionate about this stuff.”

In the meantime, the Cavalier that won’t die lives.

kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger (left) saying goodbye to his 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier, originally owned by his late father. Episode five of "Cease & Desist", premiering on Facebook and YouTube on February 7, 2021, documents the efforts of Jeremy Kelly, Tyler Junkin, Nate Mitchell, and Andy McCann to transform the car into rally condition. (Screenshot)
kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger (left) saying goodbye to his 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier, originally owned by his late father. Episode five of “Cease & Desist”, premiering on Facebook and YouTube on February 7, 2021, documents the efforts of Jeremy Kelly, Tyler Junkin, Nate Mitchell, and Andy McCann to transform the car into rally condition. (Screenshot)

On the sale price of $150, I made back what I paid close to 14 years ago plus $70. Not too shabby by any standards.

But more than that, it’ll be fun to watch the car my dad wouldn’t coax past 80 kilometres per hour on the highway being pushed to its limit on the rally track.

I’m not sure Dad would be happy I sold his pride-and-joy for that purpose, but he’d be thrilled I at least made a few bucks.

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As for Kelly, the purchase price was more than fair considering the return.

“That $150 has brought me so much joy, so much fun and camaraderie between my buddies and me. I don’t care if I ever get that $150 back.”

That said, he’s working on it, having pocketed $3 in change he found hiding in the car.

Damn.