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The Bottom Line: Format Key To Success

The Bottom Line: Format Key To Success

By Clayton Johns

Among the many things that make short track racing exciting is the variety of ways an event can take place. There is no set format for racing. A race isn’t 60 minutes, nine innings, three periods, or four quarters. Part of the entertainment of showing up at the track can be to discover how the night will unfold, but only if the format is right.

There is no single format that has proven itself superior. An interesting night depends on the race, the class of car, and the event. There are several different formats, short track and otherwise, which stand out as unique.

Triple Threat

It’s hard to ignore the three-wide starts of the Indianapolis 500 and its less well-known, but often more exciting little brother the Little 500. The annual 500-lap Sprint Car race takes place at Anderson Speedway (IN). Three-wide at the drop of the green flag is enough excitement to last an entire race. The distance might be longer than the casual race fan can handle, but as a marquee event its well worth the extra time.

Dash to the Finish

One of the most professionally organized race nights comes courtesy of the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series. Time trials can be exciting because it allows the possibility of a new track record. But not everybody is a fan. However, the Outlaws have perfected the time trialing format. Single-car time trials always take place before the scheduled start time. So if you’re a fan of time trials, you only need to arrive at the track 45 minutes early. If not, the scheduled start time will suit you just fine.

The heat format places the fastest cars from time trials with starting positions in the middle of the pack. The top heat finishers qualify for a spot in the ‘dash’ and those results set the starting lineup for the main event of the evening. The short qualifying distances force drivers to make the most of their time on track. There’s no time to sit back and calculate which makes for some of the best racing anywhere. Several Sprint Car series follow similar formats that make for equally exciting action.

 Where it can go wrong

As much as these formats entertain, equally as noticeable are the formats which don’t work.

The NASCAR format that’s televised each week seems to have lost its luster. Declining track attendance was originally attributed to the world financial crisis in 2007-08 is clearly due to a bigger problem. The race format is too far removed from the local short track. Too many laps with no preliminary qualifying races (although one could argue the new qualifying format has changed that) leaves the excitement to the final laps of a 400- or 500-lap race. It is simply too long on a weekly basis, especially at the short tracks. If short tracks continue to emulate this format, it will become impossible to maintain a fan base beyond the die-hard supporter.

Double Down

One of the most frustrating formats to watch involves double heats. The preliminary qualifiers leading to the feature race need to be exciting. Double heats do not create interest. The first round offers the same level of entertainment as a single set. But the second set, with the same cars lining up simply in reverse positions is, quite frankly, boring. The second set of heats is predictable. The same drivers race and typically there are between two and four cars capable of winning. The latter round also offers drivers a chance to make up for mistakes and a reason to be reserved in the first round. It also allows an extra chance for drivers to wreck or break mechanically before the main event, resulting in fewer cars. Quite simply, it deteriorates the quality of racing.

The Bottom Line

Racing is a form of entertainment, so fans should leave feeling as though they were witness to a show. The format a track, series, or promoter chooses can determine whether or not a fan returns.  The right format can make or break a show.

Agree? Disagree? Do you have a topic suggestion for a future edition of The Bottom Line? Send your thoughts, questions, and comments to claytonjohns(at)hotmail.com. 

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The Bottom Line: Fan Experience Should Be Top Priority

The Bottom Line: Fan Experience Should Be Top Priority

Ontario Oval / ON DIRT Exclusive

By Clayton Johns (@cjohnsmedia) claytonjohns@hotmail.com 

Short track racing fans are harder to come by now then they were 40 years ago. Admittedly, that’s hearsay since I’ve only been around for 21 years. But you need only look back to a handful of statistics books and city records to see the history of former tracks that would be the envy of any die-hard fan. Quickly you come to the conclusion stock car racing was significantly more popular in Ontario nearly a half century ago.

The decline in the popularity of weekly racing doesn’t mean the sport is dying. It’s part of societal change. There is no single reason to account for the decline. There are environmental reasons, political reasons, social reasons and financial reasons. But the bottom line remains a little thinner for drivers and track owners today, regardless of the cause.

With this is mind, its all the more reason to make sure current fans leave the track satisfied every night. Whether it’s the annual fan, casual fan, or the weekly die-hard makes no difference. Track promoters can’t control the on-track action, but they can control just about everything that contributes to a fan feeling their entertainment dollars were well spent.

Basic needs are key 

It seems that because racetracks are only used between four and six months per year (at least in Canada and the northern United States), their core infrastructure is neglected. Washrooms and concession stands are often in mediocre condition. The racetrack takes top priority, and there is certainly a necessity to focus on the track.

However, it’s important that a family can go to the racetrack and enjoy the night without fear of being caught in an uncomfortable situation. A woman should be able to use the washroom without feeling like she is in a 1980s horror movie, and a parent should be able to change a baby without returning to the car or without worry of the table coming unscrewed from the wall.

Concession stands do not need to sell steak and lobster to appease fans, but appearance goes a long way. A new coat of paint affects a fans expectation. At a professional sports stadium, or even your local junior hockey arena, the paint doesn’t chip off the walls. And it shouldn’t at the racetrack either. If racing is to be taken as a serious form of entertainment, the facilities must be on a similar playing field in appearance and utility as its alternatives.

Make it interactive

There are many tools available that can help fans interact with the entertainment they choose. Nobody shows up at a short track looking for a jumbotron. That’s simply not feasible. But there are other ways to allow fans the opportunity to interact with drivers and more. Most tracks host a fan appreciation night where drivers are made available for autographs. Anybody can wander in to the pits at the end of the night to strike up a conversation. What about while the show is going on?

Just about everybody carries a cellphone to the track and its time more tracks took advantage of the opportunity to engage directly with fans. Twitter has existed since 2006, but its popularity has come in the last three years. It offers an excellent platform to convey short bits of information (140 characters or less) to fans immediately. Why did a driver unexpectedly pull off during a heat race? How come a fan favourite isn’t in attendance? Tell them and put the information in the palm of their hands.

Countless other sites (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) can effectively grab the attention of fans, particularly a younger generation that has grown with technology and information at its fingertips. It’s expected. They don’t just want to know what’s going on, they need to know. If they can’t find out, they’ll find another way to spend Saturday night.

The benefits are not exclusive to fans. The track, the promoter, the racers can benefit as well. A large online following can be sold to advertisers just the same as attendance figures and car counts. There is money to be made if the resources are used effectively.

Shorter is better

Several tracks throughout the province are changing their race formats to encourage a complete program in two-and-a-half to three hours. The average movie is two hours or less. An NHL games takes three hours to play with commercial breaks, and a baseball game sits around three hours as well. That’s the benchmark. That’s what people expect when they spend their money. Every weekly short track should be heading this way.

Racing is certainly less predictable to time, but setting a three-hour target helps to push a show along. Fans will sit through four hours of sudden-death overtime in the playoffs. But not a meaningless regular season game. The same principle applies at the track.

Die-hard race fans will sit through nine hours of racing in freezing temperatures for a season championship (see Autumn Colours Classic). But if a weekly show extends to four and five hours, half the audience is lost.

The bottom line

This isn’t to say that every track in the province is failing. The dirt side seems as healthy as ever with shows that rarely stretch past three hours. The asphalt side has gone through some transitional pains in the last few years as tracks have closed and the landscape has changed. It has rebounded reasonably well.

Promoters have shown a willingness to change and to adopt new ideas, which has sometimes been the sport’s biggest enemy. It’s now a case of hurry up and wait.

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Off The Wall: Where Do We Go From Here?

Off The Wall: Where Do We Go From Here?

Dirt is for Racing, Asphalt is how you get there. Asphalt is for racing, Dirt is for Planting Potatoes.

When I was a much younger version of myself I fell madly in love. It was a torrid affair that burned white hot for almost 40 years. Sadly, later on, we grew apart and when another entered the picture I tried balancing both – but it was hopeless. It was one of those sad partings like Dave Mason sang about – “There ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys, there’s only you and me and we just disagree”. Like in the song I bear no malice and after several years apart, I’ve gained a nostalgic fondness for my former partner, sadly that has now turned to fear and worry, because if something is not done soon, my former love may soon die and I do not want this for pavement racing. Yes, dirt and I get along extremely well – some nights we have our spats, eg. Eldora going away in hot laps, but that doesn’t mean pavement racing should not and can not prosper as well.

I fell in love with pavement watching the supermodifieds at Nilestown Speedway in 1966, that turned into a white hot affair when I went to Delaware a week or 2 later. As the years went by, I went to the macadam meccas, Indianapolis, Daytona, Michigan, Atlanta and along the way developed a belief that the real gems were short tracks like Oswego and Toledo with my favorite of them all being the very high banked 1/4 mile oval that is Anderson Speedway in Anderson Indiana. It is where my favorite pavement race is held each year – The Little 500. A race that features 500 laps of insanity and mayhem, starring 33 sprint cars their insane drivers and equally whacked crews and push truck drivers – push trucks on the track during green flag racing anyone????? Besides the American tracks I mentioned, we have some pretty cool pavement joints around here. My personal favorite being Delaware  – I love the different radii of the turns, the long back stretch and the bank off turn 2. Basically the characteristics of a track built not by a clean sheet design – but the characteristics of a track that has grown and evolved over the years.

As mentioned I fell in love with dirt track racing, that was in the late 90’s  – In hindsight that really steams my clams, because I had people whispering in my ear to go check out Eldora in the early 80’s. I’ll never forget busting my butt crewing on Graham Kells supermodified at Toledo in 1990 when this couple came up to Graham in the pits and said, “Graham, when are you going to get rid of that thing and get a sprint car and go run the dirt?” – I thought that was about the looniest thing I ever heard. Why give up big blocks and radical offsets and go back to uprights and small blocks – Hello, the 1950’s called they want their racecars back!!!!! By the way, the couple was Ken and Cheryl Pelkie who later played a major part in growing sprint cars in Southern Ontario.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago…..

Other than terrible car counts, and “crowds” that are sometimes greater than the car count all is well in pavement world. So what can be done??? At the Canadian Motorsports Expo I spoke to a couple of pavement folk and asked where does pavement racing go from here? Off the hop there were 3 suggestions that the tracks could do, that would both save the tracks and competitors time and money. The first is cut warm-ups to one session per division and limit the session to 3-5 laps. Pavement warm-ups are a waste of time and equipment. I used to be livid when we raced pavement, if we did not get at least 3 warm-up sessions. Go to an Outlaw show, they will go to a track they have never seen,do 5 warm-up laps come in, adjust, and set a new track record in qualifying. The second is cut the intermission (singular) to a reasonable duration (under 15 minutes).This is one area where asphalt could have it all over dirt tracks – Other than a post rain drying session, they never require ‘grooming” through the night – nobody likes to watch a grader doing hot laps.Pavement track operators have a much greater ability to run a clean, tidy show that most dirt track promoters would envy. Finally, It floored me when I heard Raceceivers are not fully implemented at every pavement track, that is the height of lunacy. For crying out loud it is 2014. Stop screwing around with blackboard line-ups!!! Ask almost anyone that has run a Raceceiver and they will tell you at one time or other it probably saved on a ton of repairs (or worse) – everybody wins with these things!

The last comment I will make is regarding the quality of racing itself – in short – it sucks. I don’t know what the answer is – but I do know this – when I go to a race their better be a ton of cars on the track by feature time. I will tolerate crappy heats and even no B main, BUT a 9 car feature is embarrassing and pathetic. I know only one easy answer in this regard – and it seems to be the most difficult to do. HAVE THE TRACKS WORK TOGETHER AND COMMONISE RULES. Right now pretty much any dirt track sprint car in North America can be loaded onto a trailer and run at any other dirt sprint car track in North America. That has to be the goal of every track operator in North America. For example get the late model chassis rules in line and separate the divisions cost wise, through motor and tire rules. Maybe they are close on this, I don’t know – but if I can’t tow a Delaware “late model” to a California “late model” show and race there – then somebody is doing something wrong. FYI – I have Stock Car Racing Magazines from the early 70’s where this was a predominant issue.

I am concerned that I am coming off as arrogant – that is not my intention. Dirt racing has its share of issues and problems, the difference is, that it seems to be healthier crowd wise and car count wise and thus has a little more “wiggle room” to make mistakes. In all honesty I believe that the pavement situation is becoming increasingly dire and if things are not corrected real soon, there will be nothing to correct. Please prove me wrong pavement guys!!!!!

The opinions reflected herein are solely those of the above commentator and are not necessarily those of OntarioOval.com. Please direct comments or concerns to Peter Turford at peterturford@yahoo.ca.

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Randy Ritskes Joins Locke Racing for Oswego Speedway Championship Bid

Randy Ritskes Joins Locke Racing for Oswego Speedway Championship Bid

OSWEGO, NY (November 25, 2013) – Randy Ritskes announced last week that he has finalized plans to drive the Locke Crane Services No. 37 Novelis Supermodified at Oswego Speedway full-time in 2014.

Ritskes, a winner of nine Supermodified main events at Oswego Speedway, most recently piloted the Daratt Racing No. 88 to two consecutive top five finishes in championship points in 2011 and 2012.

Out of a weekly ride in 2013, Ritskes drove the Locke Crane Services No. 37 Hawk Supermodified in two main events last season at Oswego with finishes of 17th and 8th, setting the stage for a full-time move to the team in 2014.

“I wanted one more competitive year in a good car, and I’d love that (Oswego Speedway) championship,” said Ritskes, in a statement provided last week.  “The rumors have been flying, but the deal was actually finalized on Sunday.  This is going to be my retirement year.”

The Locke Crane Services No. 37 team is owned by Ken Locke and typically driven by his son Jeff Locke, a multiple feature winner on the ISMA Supermodified trail.

The machine Ritskes will pilot is a former Nicotra Racing Supermodified, purchased in 2012 and driven sparingly by Locke the last two seasons.  With original intentions of competing weekly with Oswego and ISMA in 2013, Locke decided to turn his focus to their wing program and the ISMA trail weekly, with one feature victory and a finish of 9th in the season-long driver standings.

That frame of mind will continue to be the model this coming season, with Ritskes manning the non-wing racecar weekly at Oswego and Locke behind the wheel of the winged racer on the traveling series.

The team will be housed jointly in the Locke Racing shop in Raymond, NH as well as at Ritskes’ home in Oswego.

“If we have a good night, we’ll just keep the car here (in Oswego) and I will do the maintenance, clean the filters, etc. with some help,” said Ritskes.  “This way Ken (Locke) doesn’t have to haul the car back to New Hampshire.  If the car needs repairs or major changes it will go back to New Hampshire where Brian Allegresso will handle a lot of the repairs.”

Known forever as an Oswego hard charger, 48-year old Ritskes has five career top five finishes in the Budweiser International Classic with main event victories in both wing and non-wing competition at the ‘Steel Palace.’

The Canadian transplant will no doubt be a welcome addition to the Novelis Supermodified field at Oswego joining recent additions Joey Payne and Jessica Zemken as weekly competitors in search of Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane.

For more information on Oswego Speedway be sure to visit www.oswegospeedway.com. You can also LIKE the (Official) Oswego Speedway page on facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway, or FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway. To purchase tickets or to order merchandise please call the Speedway box office at (315) 342-0646.

About Oswego Speedway: Oswego Speedway, a sports entertainment company, is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego, NY. Oswego Speedway has been a continuously run weekly racing venue since August, 1951. The premier open-wheel pavement short track cars in the world, Supermodifieds, run weekly at Oswego Speedway making Oswego the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds accompany the full blown Supers on a weekly Saturday night schedule which runs from May through September. Oswego Speedway is mentioned in racing circles as the “Indy of the East,” as no fewer than a dozen past and present competitors have competed at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Mario Andretti, arguably the greatest driver of all time, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, along with former International Classic Champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.

Contact: Oswego Speedway

Danny Kapuscinski

315-342-0646 | dkapuscinski@oswegospeedway.com

Posted in Open Wheel Report, Team Releases0 Comments

Late Model Report: May Month In Review

Late Model Report: May Month In Review

By Clayton Johns (@cjohnsmedia)

Parity has been the tone of the opening month throughout the province in Ontario Late Model action. Only three tracks have seen repeat winners to date, making it nearly impossible to determine any early season favourites. Most drivers have not competed outside their home tracks as the invitational portion of the Late Model schedule has yet to begin.

Everything changes over the next month as four different tracks will host the province’s top Late Model drivers. It all starts this Saturday, June 8 with round one of Flamboro Speedway’s coveted Grisdale Triple Crown. A week later, Sunset Speedway hosts a rare Sunday matinee 75-lap Open Late Model feature.

The next set of invitationals comes on back-to-back nights leading to Canada Day. Delaware Speedway will be home to a 100-lap Canada Day spectacular for its top class on Friday, June 28, while Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) Speedway’s Late Models will see 50 laps around the Bowmanville, Ont. half-mile.

The invitational schedule allows for the province’s top drivers to measure against one another at varying tracks. Often, they are a precursor to Ontario’s post-season which includes Sunset’s Velocity Weekend, Flamboro’s Oktoberfest, and the 21st edition of Peterborough Speedway’s famed Autumn Colours Classic.

With tons of racing on tap for June, here’s how the Late Model’s shook out at each of the province’s tracks throughout the month of May.

Barrie Speedway – Wahta Springs Late Models

Barrie’s unique double-feature format has produced five different winners in eight races. As part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Barrie runs double 30-lap features rather than heat races leading to a single feature.

Gord Shepherd (No. 10) has been the most dominant driver after four nights, winning on three separate occasions and nearly pulling out his fourth on May 25. Thayne Hallyburton (No.14) has gotten off to a solid start of his own as the tracks only other repeat winner, including wins on May 11 and May 25.

Former champion Ron Quesnelle (No.57) earned the first feature win of the season on May 4, while sophomore Shawn Murray (No.02) inked his first victory of the campaign on May 18. Former OSCAAR Super Late Model competitor Ian Bourque (No. 83) finally got in to the winner’s circle on May 25 in his first full season back at the Oro Station, Ont. tri-oval.

Shepherd currently leads Quesnelle in the championship standings by 13 points. Hallyburton sits third, long-time Barrie regular Al Inglis (No.69) is fourth, and Murray rounds out the top-five. Nineteen drivers have earned points so far in 2013.

Shepherd

Gord Shepherd captured three wins in the month of May at Barrie Speedway.

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Speedway

With a later start date, CTMP Late Models have only taken to the track twice thus far. Mark Gordon (No.52) kicked his season with a victory on opening night (May 18). Gordon didn’t have any free passes to the winner’s circle as he outdueled Darren Kearnan (No. 55), Kyle Donaldson (No. 53) and Linc Brown (No. 99).

Kearnan earned the victory on the second night of action (May 25) as he beat Brown and Bryan Mercer (No. 81), who was making his first start on Canadian soil in 2013, to the line. Mercer previously made one start in 2013 with the ACT Tour at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, NY.

Brown’s finishes of third and second have him atop the standings by a single point  over Donaldson and just two points over Gordon and Kearnan. The championship battle is sure to come down to the wire. Twelve drivers have earned points thus far in 2013.

Kearnan

Darren Kearnan was the winner at CTMP Speedway on Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Capital City Speedway – Drummond’s Gas Late Models

The only asphalt speedway in Eastern Ontario has fallen victim to rain on both of its attempts at a season opener. The Stittsville, Ont. facility, about 30 minutes West of the Nation’s Capital, runs on Wednesday nights and will try again this week, June 5, with a full card of Late Models, Thunder Cars, Mini Stocks, 4-Fun, and the track’s own Legend division.

When the Late Models do finally hit the track, Steve Munro (No. 00) will attempt to unseed Justin Holtom (No. 17) for the track championship after being defeated by just four points in 2012.

Delaware Speedway – FT Garage Pro Late Models

Delaware also had a later start to their season withthe track’s top-tier Pro Late Models in action twice so far. Jamie Cox (No. 22) has been dominant right out of the box, winning both races. Matt Pritiko (No. 21) has also been strong, finishing seventh and second respectively. Pritiko likely would have been on the podium to start the season as well if not for a late race spin. He currently sits second in the standings, five markers back of Cox.

Shawn Thomson (No. 72) has also performed well with two top-five finishes. Cole Powell (No. 25) has mirrored Thomson so far with third- and fifth-place results. Lifetime Delaware driver Stephen Richmond (No. 24) has also been consistent and sits tied with Thomson for the third spot in the standings. Powell is fifth. A total of 15 drivers have earned points.

DELMay2413

Jamie Cox won both features at Delaware Speedway in the month of May.

Flamboro Speedway – Grisdale Pro Late Models

Flamboro’s perennially competitive Late Models have seen three different winners in as many races. Former track champion Shawn Chenoweth (No. 89c) started the year off with a win on May 4. Two weeks later defending champ Jason Shaw (No. 82) found victory lane for the first time. Paul Howse would take the checkers on May 25.

Chenoweth was the track points leader as of May 18, leading Shaw by six points and eight points ahead of Howse and Steve Laking (No. 44).

Flamboro regulars are expected to make-up the bulk of the field for the Grisdale Triple Crown and should hold a solid advantage for at least the first event this Saturday.

Paul Howse went to Victory Lane at Flamboro on Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Peterborough Speedway – Vanguard Self Storage Late Models

After running a limited schedule in 2012 Chris Mitchell (No. 22) won the season opening feature at Peterborough Speedway on May 18, beating Craig Graham (No. 98), Jack Horner (No. 31), and defending champion Bryan Sudsbury (No. 29).

Graham fought his way to a victory on May 25 ahead of Sudsbury and part-time driver Kelly Balson (No. B10). Mitchell would finish fourth, while Jack Horner earned another top-five.

No driver standings are currently available. Late Models return on June 8.

Craig Graham was the winner at Peterborough on Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Sauble Speedway

Jason Parker (No. 8) has dominated ‘The Beach’ so far this season with three wins in as many starts. No other drivers have been able to solve the former track champion. Defending champ Scott McTeer (No. 49) and Nick Goetz (No. 24) have been on the door step of victory lane, but unable to win as of yet.

Marvin Freiburger (No.37) returned from an ugly wreck on opening night to finish fifth in week two.

Tom Gibbons (No. 10) has also been solid in the early going and sits second to Parker in the overall standings by just three points. McTeer sits third just a single marker back of Gibbons. Meanwhile the always competitive Josh Stade (No. 17) is fourth with Freiburger fifth.

Jason Parker swept the month of May at Sauble Speedway with three straight wins.

Sunset Speedway

Sunset Speedway has seen four different winners to start the season. Current points leader Mike Bentley (No. 51) took the victory on opening night (May 4) in dominant fashion.

Defending champion Tom Walters (No. 47) won on a frigid night two at the Innisfil, Ont. oval, narrowly edging Bentley.

Billy Zardo III (No. 46) won his first ever Late Model feature on May 18, holding off Bentley as well in an impressive dual at the end of the race.

Former NASCAR Canadian Tire Series regular Anthony Simone (No. 95) is the most recent winner on May 25, also beating Bentley to the line after a three-lap door-to-door battle to close the30-lap A-Main.

Yet to finish outside the top-two, Bentley has been the most dominant driver so far. However, it hasn’t been without heavy competition from a number of drivers. Taylor Holdaway (No. 41) finished third on May 25 after some early season hiccups. Andy Kamrath (No. 35) continues to improve after moving to Sunset from his former home at Sauble.

Last season’s Barrie Speedway champion Dwayne Baker (No. 48) has also been solid to start the season. Sean Grosman (No. 29), Scott Beatty (No. 88), Chris Morrow (No. 11) have all had success, but are all still searching for their first trip to victory lane in 2013. Each driver is more than capable of earning a victory, making it only a matter of time.

Rookies Herb Walters (No. 77) and Brian Wilson Jr. (No. 00) have been going through the growing pains of moving up to the track’s top division, but continue to improve as the season wears on.

Bentley currently leads Walters and Zardo in the championship standings. Baker and Grosman round out the top-five.

4 different drivers have won at Sunset Speedway including points leader Mike Bentley.

Varney Speedway Motorplex

Tim Schreinert (No. 88) won the opening Late Model event at Canada’s fastest ¼-mile event on May 18. Schreinert beat Dan Wright (No. 1), Justin McLellan (No. 12), and Tommy Robb (No. 89) to the checkered flag. Rookie Nick Roth (No. 17) earned a top-five in his first start.

Defending champ Cole Weber (No. 11) got his first win of 2013 a week later on May 25, also holding off Wright for the win in what was an ugly, contact-filled event. The race did, however, hand Roth his first late model podium finish at Varney.

With two second place finishes, Wright leads the championship chase. McLellan sits five points back in second, while Schreinert is seven back of the lead in third. Weber holds down the fourth spot and Roth currently sits fifth.

Late Models had the night off on June 1, but return to the high-banked ¼-mile on June 8.

Touring Series

Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup

Jake Ott (No. 60) won the series’ season opener on May 18 at Varney, surprising defending champ Shawn McGlynn (No. 81) with a pass on lap 70.

Amanda Connolly (No. 16) and Tim Tolton (No. 3) both left with sour grapes after the duo got tangled up together despite pacing the field for the first 15 laps.

Paul Fothergill (No. 33) was the top rookie with a seventh-place finish. Fourteen drivers started the 100-lap feature.

Round two of the eight race series goes Saturday, June 8 at Sauble Speedway.

Jake Ott won the Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup opener at Varney Speedway Motorplex.

Jake Ott won the Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup opener at Varney Speedway Motorplex.

OSCAAR Super Late Models

Brandon Watson (No. 9) began his championship defense with his second consecutive Lucie Aylwin Memorial victory at Sunset Speedway on May 19. Brandon took a commanding lead early in the race and never looked back, fending off Glenn Watson (No. 22) and Derrick Tiemersma (No.7) on multiple restarts.

Kevin Cornelius (No. 17) was the top rookie with a seventh-place result, while sophomore Rob Poole (No. 45) earned his first career top-five. Dwayne Baker (No. 48) finished fourth.

A sizeable 21 drivers started the 51-lap feature, while two drivers were unable to start.

The series second race at CTMP Speedway was rained out on June 1 and is without a make-up date.  The series next race in now on June 15 at Barrie Speedway. The schedule is now 12 races.

Brandon Watson kicked off his title defense with a win at Sunset on Sunday, May 19th, 2013

 

May Winners

Barrie Speedway

May 4 – Ron Quesnelle, Gord Shepherd
May 11 – Thayne Hallyburton, Gord Shepherd
May 18 – Shawn Murray, Gord Shepherd
May 25 – Ian Bourque, Thayne Hallyburton

 

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

May 18 – Mark Gordon
May 25 – Darren Kearnan

 

Capital City Speedway

May 22, May 29 – Rained Out

 

Delaware Speedway

May 17 – Jamie Cox
May 24 – Jamie Cox

 

Flamboro Speedway

May 4 – Shawn Chenoweth
May 18 – Jason Shaw
May 25 – Paul Howse

 

Peterborough Speedway

May 18 – Chris Mitchell
May 25 – Craig Graham

 

Sauble Speedway

May 18 – Jason Parker
May 19 – Jason Parker
May 25 – Jason Parker

 

Sunset Speedway

May 4 – Mike Bentley
May 11 – Tom Walters
May 18 – Bill Zardo
May 25 – Anthony Simone

 

Varney Speedway Motorplex

May 18 – Tim Schreinert
May 25 – Cole Weber

Posted in Columns, The Late Model Report0 Comments

Late Model Report: 2013 Ontario Late Model Preview

Late Model Report: 2013 Ontario Late Model Preview

Ontario Oval Exclusive
By Clayton Johns (@cjohnsmedia)

The Ontario Late Model season will open this weekend with three of eight tracks hosting their marquee divisions.

Barrie Speedway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) Speedway, Delaware Speedway, Flamboro Speedway, Peterborough Speedway, Sauble Speedway, Sunset International Speedway, and Varney Speedway Motorplex will all host late model racing in 2013.

Additionally, two Late Model touring series, the Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup and OSCAAR Super Late Models, will make stops throughout Southern Ontario for much of 2013.

We break down each track and series’ championship contenders in this Late Model season preview.

The top contenders at each facility are likely to do battle multiple times throughout the summer at various invitational events. Check out our master schedule below to see when the track nearest you will host the province’s best.

Most major Late Model events throughout the province will return once again in 2013. Those include Flamboro’s Grisdale Triple Crown and Gold Rush events, Sauble’s Beat the Heat 150 and Dash for Cash, Delaware’s Great Canadian Race, Sunset’s Velocity Weekend, and the famed Autumn Colours Classic at Peterborough Speedway.

There will be no shortage of action or cars around the province this summer, in what is largely considered to be one the most talent-laden asphalt racing division in the province.

 

Barrie Speedway – Wahta Springs Limited Late Models

First Race: Saturday May 4

Defending Champion: Dwayne Baker

Subtractions: Dwayne Baker (Sunset)

Additions: Leonard Johnston

Drivers to Watch: Ron Quesnell, Al Inglis, Gord Shepherd, Keith McLeod, Randy Bull

Barrie Speedway’s top division will crown a new champion in 2013 as the current crown holder, Dwayne Baker, has decided to make Sunset Speedway his home. There are no shortage of drivers waiting to take over in 2013.

After dominating at Barrie in 2011 to win the track championship and provincial NASCAR Whelen All-American Weekly Series championship, Ron Quesnelle struggled throughout the 2012 campaign. Quesnelle only managed two trips to victory lane, which were below the veteran’s expectations, despite a second place overall finish in the championship standings. Look for ‘RQ’ to be a more dominant force in 2013.

The division’s 2010 champion, Al Inglis, earned a trio of victories in 2012 which means the ‘Red Rocket’ will be hungry to take back the title come opening night.

Gord Shepherd earned four feature victories in 2012, but fell to fourth in the final standings. Shepherd, the 2009 track champion, ran well at the Autumn Colours Classic last October in a stacked field and will look to build on his success to retake the speedway’s highest honours.

Keith McLeod is the only driver besides Baker to earn more than five feature wins in 2012, totalling seven at season’s end. McLeod, however, missed a few points nights and finish seventh overall. Should he return to full-time competition this season, he’s sure to be a championship threat.

 

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Speedway – Limited Late Models

First Race: Saturday May 18

Defending Champion: Kyle Donaldson

Drivers to Watch: Kyle Donaldson, Darren Kearnan, Dan Kimmerly, Mark Gordon, John Baker Jr.

Defending champion Kyle Donaldson dominated the Bowmanville, Ont. half-mile last season, earning six feature wins over the course of the summer. Donaldson’s #53 was routinely tested by Darren Kearnan, who also earned a feature win in 2012. Add Mark ‘Flash’ Gordon in to the mix as a weekly threat to win. Gordon, however, only ran a partial schedule last summer, but did have a solid showing at Peterborough’s Chase for the Colours (6th). Veteran Dan Kimmerly split time aboard his familiar #01 with daughter Shannon last summer. When the former ALSTAR veteran is in the field, he is sure to contend for a victory.

 

Delaware Speedway – FT Garage Pro Late Models

First Race: Friday May 17

Defending Champion: Mark Watson

Subtractions: Andrew Gresel (OSCAAR), Marc Jacobs (Jegs CRA), Jaxson Jacobs (Jegs CRA)

Additions: Justin Demelo

Drivers to Watch: Mark Watson, Matt Pritiko, David Elliott, Kirk Hooker, Matt Hendricks, Matt Box, Stephen Richmond

Delaware’s marquee division is often home to the most talented drivers anywhere in the province and this season is no exception. Defending track champion and 2012 Great Canadian Race winner Mark Watson will be back with a vengeance to defend his title in 2013.

Matt Pritiko fell just 25 points shy of the track championship last season and will be as hungry as ever. Pritiko also turned in an impressive performance at the Autumn Colours Classic and will look to ride that wave in to the May 18 season opener.

The ‘Waterdown Warrior’ David Elliott is always in contention for a win at the London, Ont. ½-mile.  Elliott turned in impressive results at Flamboro’s Grisdale Triple Crown as well as Sunset’s MRE Pro Series in 2012, so more of the same should put him in championship contention.

Former ALSTAR Series regular Kirk Hooker has flown under the radar for the past season, but should provide some flare to the dramatic again this season. Don’t be surprised if the #38H is in victory multiple times this year.

Matt Hendricks and Stephen Richmond will both be in their sophomore years in the speedway’s top division after graduating from the weekly modified division. A steady and consistent improvement on last year’s efforts will go a long way.

 

Flamboro Speedway – Grisdale Pro Late Models

First Race: Saturday May 4

Defending Champion: Jason Shaw

Subtractions: Brad Corcoran (Jegs CRA), Shane Gowan (OSCAAR)

Additions: Shawn Chenoweth

Drivers to Watch: Jason Shaw, Steve Laking, Paul Howse, Jeff Stewart, Dale Shaw

It’s become awfully tough not to select Jason Shaw as the championship favourite in Flamboro’s Pro Late Model division. Shaw has been Mr. Consistent for a number of seasons and has proven his talent and equipment against the province’s best talent at invitational shows as well. Preparing a second car for his son Dale doesn’t seem to have slowed the veteran down as he notched four victories last season.

Steve Laking finished second in the championship standings despite just one trip to victory lane. Laking has stepped up his game for 2013, and has already competed in a PASS South event on the other side of the 49th. This year could be Laking’s best chance for victory if all goes well.

Paul Howse seemingly dominated the Millgrove, Ont. speedway last year with five weekly victories as well as a victory in the 100-lap Gold Rush. He’ll need to bring a consistent program to earn a championship ring.

Dale Shaw earned 2012 rookie honours and will feature a new paint scheme on his #83 to start the season. With a season under his belt and father wrenching on the car, Dale is in good hands to improve again in his sophomore year.

Shawn Chenoweth returns to the division after a one-year hiatus with the OSCAAR Super Late Model tour.

 

Peterborough Speedway – Vanguard Self-Storage Limited Late Models

First Race: Saturday May 18

Defending Champion: Bryan Sudsbury

Subtractions: None Confirmed

Additions: Chris Mitchell

Drivers to Watch: Bryan Sudsbury, Chris Mitchell, Todd Delisle, Tyler Liscum

It will be no small task for Bryan Sudsbury to defend his title at Peterborough Speedway. In order to do so, Sudsbury will have to battle with Todd Delisle, Chris Mitchell, and Tyler Liscum on a weekly basis. And that list has yet to factor in Jack Horner. The track will host at least a half-dozen drivers who are capable of winning each week.

The hometown drivers may have an advantage for the track’s June 30th running of the Chase for the Colours. The 75-lap event will lock the top two finishers in to the Limited Late Model front row for the 21st Autumn Colours Classic on Thanksgiving weekend.

Chris Mitchell found himself in Autumn Colours victory lane two seasons ago and knows his way around the storied facility. If Mitchell can turn out a couple of victories and consistent top-five, he could be a champion come September.

Todd Delisle adds another layer of talent to the division. Having committed to a full-season, the 2011 Autumn Colours runner-up will have high expectations for the year.

 

Sauble Speedway – Limited Late Models

First Race: Saturday May 18

Defending Champion: Scott McTeer

Subtractions: Andy Kamrath

Additions: Brittney Gresel, Matt Mullholland

Drivers to Watch: Scott McTeer, Jason Parker, Marvin Freiburger, Tom Gibbons, Josh Stade, Matt Mullholland

The 2013 late model season at ‘The Beach’ is shaping up to be one of the most competitive yet. Defending champion Scott McTeer will have a tough time repeating in 2013 with a stout field in pursuit. The #49 team will need their weekly performance to resemble that which earned them a 2nd-place finish at Peterborough last October.

A rejuvenated Jason Parker will be intent on winning as many races as possible throughout the upcoming campaign. Parker had impressive showings away from Sauble, including Sunset, and Peterborough. Parker will have to find a balance for his aggressive style in order to remain at the top of the championship standings.

Veterans Marvin Freiburger and Tom Gibbons will be tough to beat once again. Freiburger had a successful 2012 campaign and the former thunder car wheelman will hope to take checkers again this year. The perennially competitive Gibbons will also be a weekly threat to take checkers.

Matt Mullholland will make his limited late model debut at Sauble after several seasons in the tracks tightly contested thunder car division. Mullholland will have help from teammate Parker and will compete against Brittney Gresel for the rookie-of-the-year title.

 

Sunset Speedway – Limited Late Models

First Race: Saturday May 4

Defending Champion: Tom Walters

Subtractions: Kevin Cornelius (OSCAAR), Sean Cronan (OSCAAR)

Additions: Dwayne Baker, Andy Kamrath, Herb Walters, Brian Wilson Jr., Anthony Simone

Drivers to Watch: Tom Walters, Mike Bentley, Andy Kamrath, Dwayne Baker, Taylor Holdaway, Gary Elliot, Jason Witty, Bruce Rankin, Chris Morrow, Sean Grosman, Anthony Simone

Sunset Speedway may be home to the province’s most competitive and talent-laden late model division in 2013. Defending and 30-time champion Tom Walters will be hard pressed to repeat his spectacular 2012 campaign with the influx of new drivers this year. Not to mention the Bradford, Ont. pilot’s weekly rivalry with Mike Bentley, who finished second in the championship standings.

The return of Dwayne Baker to the division, who had a career year at Barrie in 2012 with 13 feature wins, only increases the level of competition. Baker is joined by Andy Kamrath as late model veterans joining the series.

Sunset staples Taylor Holdaway, Chris Morrow, Jason Witty, Bruce Rankin, and Scott Beatty are also threats to win on any given week. Holdaway took the final feature of 2012 and brings one of the most complete programs on weekly basis. Morrow has yet to commit to a full season, but the seven-time Sunset champ is usually in the mix for a checkered flag.

Golden Beach, FL native Sean Grosman has improved his Tom Walters-prepared ride over the off-season. The #29 team will feature a new paint scheme for a new campaign and is determined to improve on his ninth-place points finish.

Former NASCAR Canadian Tire Series regular Anthony Simone is expected to compete at the Innisfil, Ont. oval on a regular basis this summer, adding yet another victory lane candidate.

Herb Walters and Brian Wilson Jr. have both graduated from the speedway’s thunder car division and will battle one another for rookie honours. Herb dominated the first-half of 2012 before a surge by Nick Roth knocked him from the top championship spot. Herb will not face the transition alone and will have support from a host of drivers, as will Wilson.

 

Varney Speedway Motorplex – Limited Late Models

First Race: Saturday May 18

Defending Champion: Cole Weber

Drivers to Watch: Cole Weber, Tommy Robb, Jeff Lotspeich, Dan Wright

The tight and high-bank confines of Varney Speedway will once again feature a competitive late model division. Cole Weber and Tommy Robb dueled side-by-side many nights with Weber eventually emerging as the 2012 track champion.

Robb, however, is one of the most competitive drivers in the province and will look to reclaim the track championship this season.

Jeff Lotspeich was also competitive last season, finishing third in the championship standings. Lotspeich’s #85 is capable of winning and should be considered a threat for the track title.

Former Sauble champion Dan Wright ran a partial schedule at Varney in 2012 and was increasingly dangerous throughout the year. When Wright does make appearances, look for him to challenge for the win.

 

Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup

First Race: Saturday May 18 (Varney Speedway Motorplex)

Defending Champion: Shawn McGlynn

Drivers to Watch: Shawn McGlynn, Josh Wood, Jay Doerr, Amanda Conolly, Tim Tolton, Jake Ott

The 2013 Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup tour will take the series to six different tracks for eight races. Each of the eight events will feature a 100-lap feature, including the series finale at Flamboro’s Oktoberfest Classic.

Shawn McGlynn dominated the 2012 edition of the Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup, but not without being tightly contested by Josh Wood and Jay Doerr. McGlynn and Wood each won twice, while Doerr took the checkers once.

Amanda Connolly stole the show and surprised many with an early season win at Delaware. If the sophomore driver can once again earn a spot in victory lane, she is likely to improve on her fourth place finish in the championship standings.

Tim Tolton, Mike Nelson, and Jake Ott will also look to improve on their rookie seasons and move up the standings from their seventh, eighth, and ninth-place finishes in the championship standings.

 

OSCAAR Super Late Models

First Race: Sunday May 19 (Sunset Speedway)

Defending Champion: Brandon Watson

Subtractions: Shawn Chenoweth, George Wilson

Additions: Kevin Cornelius, Andrew Gresel, Sean Cronan, Rob Gibson, Shane Gowan, J.R. Ftizpatrick, Ethan Courneyea

Drivers to Watch: Glenn Watson, Brandon Watson, Rob Poole, Derrick Tiemersma, Mike Beyore, Rob Clark, Jesse Kennedy, Jeff Hanley.

The 2013 OSCAAR Super Late Model tour will be the most competitive edition of the tour in years. After Brandon Watson dueled ferociously with George Wilson last season, it seems neither will be in championship contention this season. Brandon has said he is likely to miss some races, while Wilson takes a hiatus to focus on his son’s racing career.

Glenn Watson failed to earn a win in 2012 after seven trips to victory lane in 2011. The ‘Red Rocket’ is beyond determined to win again this year and reclaim the championship crown.

Derrick Tiemersma had a successful season last year after a one-year hiatus, but the Newmarket, Ont. driver is more interested in winning than his third-place points finish.

After a pair on engine failures a year ago, Mike Beyore is preparing for a big season. Beyore has returned to a spec motor for 2013, which he feels will be more consistent.

Five-time series champion Rob Clark is expected to compete full-time in 2013. ‘Magic Shoes’ earned his only win of 2012 at his home track Delaware Speedway. With a chassis that is just one year old, Clark should be able to find victory lane again this year.

Sophomores Jesse Kennedy, Rob Poole, and Jim Bowman have all upgraded their Outlaws for the upcoming campaign. Kennedy won at Barrie last year, Poole has already been testing at Sunset, and Bowman is likely to benefit from a series return to his former home at Flamboro.

This year’s rookie class is definitively the most competitive of the millennium. Kevin Cornelius holds the 2011 Sunset Limited Late Model track championship to his name and will pilot the first ever Super Late Model from McColl Racing Enterprises. The talented Andrew Gresel has ARCA experience under his belt this season and a brand new ride under him. Meanwhile, Sean Cronan was the 2011 Sunset Shootout champion and Rob Gibson will fulfill a childhood dream driving a Super Late Model.

 

Master Schedule (Late Model Special Events)

Date – Track/Facility – Series/Event (Laps) (Start Time)

May

Sat. May 18 – Varney Speedway Motorplex – Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup (100) (7pm)

Sun. May 19 – Sunset Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (6pm)

June

Sat. June 1 – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (6pm)

Sat. June 8 – Flamboro Speedway – Grisdale Triple Crown Round #1 – (75) (6pm)

Sat. June 8 – Sauble Speedway – Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup (100) (TBA)

Sat. June 15 – Barrie Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (6:30pm)

Sun. June 16 – Sunset Speedway – Invitational Event (75) (3pm)

Fri. June 21 – Delaware Speedway – Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup (100) (7:30pm)

Fri. June 28 – Delaware Speedway – Canada Day 100 (100) (7:30pm)

Sat. June 29 – Sauble Speedway – Sauble to Sunset Home & Home – (TBA) (TBA)

Sat. June 29 – CTMP Speedway – Invitational Event (50) (6pm)

Sat. June 29 – Sunset Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (Don Biderman Memorial) (50) (6:30pm)

Sat. June 30 – Sunset Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (Don Biderman Memorial) (50) (6:30pm)

July

Sat. July 6 – Flamboro Speedway – Grisdale Triple Crown Round #2 (75) (6pm)

Sat. July 13 – Sauble Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (TBA)

Sat. July 13 – CTMP Speedway – Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup (100) (6pm)

Sat. July 13 – Sunset Speedway – Sauble to Sunset Home & Home – (TBA) (6:30pm)

Sat. July 20 – Flamboro Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (6pm)

Sat. July 27 – Sunset Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (6:45pm)

Wed. July 31 – Sauble Speedway – Dash for Cash Round 1 (TBA) (TBA)

August

Sat. Aug. 3 – Peterborough Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (6pm)

Sun. Aug. 4 – Sauble Speedway – Beat the Heat 150 (150) (TBA)

Sun. Aug. 4 – Sunset Speedway – Invitational Event (75) (6:30pm)

Sat. Aug. 10 – Peterborough Speedway – Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup (100) (6pm)

Sun. Aug. 11 – Kawartha Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (4pm)

Wed. Aug. 14 – Sauble Speedway – Dash for Cash Round 2 (TBA) (TBA)

Mon. Aug. 19 – Flamboro Speedway – Gold Rush ft. Kenny Wallace (100) (6pm)

Sat. Aug. 24 – Peterborough Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (6pm)

Sat. Aug. 24 – Flamboro Speedway – Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup (100) (6:30pm)

Sat. Aug. 31 – Delaware Speedway – Great Canadian 200 (200) (2pm)

September

Sat. Sept. 21 – Barrie Speedway – Garry Reynolds Memorial (100) (3pm)

Sat./Sun. Sept. 28-29 – Sunset Speedway – Velocity Weekend (75) (1:30pm)

Sun. Sept. 29 – Sunset Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (1:30pm)

October

Sat./Sun. Oct. 5-6 – Flamboro Speedway – Oktoberfest Classic (Triple 50s) (3pm)

Sat. Oct. 5 – Flamboro Speedway – Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup (100) (3pm)

Fri.-Sun. Oct. 11-13 – Peterborough Speedway – 21st Annual Autumn Colours Classic (TBA) (TBA)

Sat./Sun. Oct. 12-13 – Peterborough Speedway – OSCAAR Super Late Models (50) (TBA)

Posted in By Clayton Johns, Columns, The Late Model Report0 Comments

1000 Islands Report: The Spring Thaw

1000 Islands Report: The Spring Thaw

By Craig Revelle – March 25, 2013 – What a difference a year makes.  Just one year ago, we were all jacked up for racing season, warm temperatures and not a sign of snow on the ground.  This year, we are under snow, and the last major snowstorm of the year is hopefully behind us.  Although racing season for some is less than a week away, it just doesn’t feel like it when you step outside.  Nonetheless, hopefully all tracks will open on time, and the warm weather will soon be here.

A sure sign of racing season is the annual car shows.  It was the Gater Racing News show a couple weeks ago, and this past week is the annual Frontenac Mall car show in Kingston.  I love seeing the new cars, and catching up with everyone from the racing community.  Although the racing season doesn’t start up here for several weeks, many teams enjoy showing off their hard work at these events.  Just one more car show remains, as Chapman’s Can Am Motorsports Park hosts their annual racecar exhibit at the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown, New York beginning Sunday, March 31st and will last throughout the week.

The next order of business is the annual banquets to close out 2012.  Brockville Speedway will honor their 2012 top finishers on Saturday night, with Cornwall Speedway hosting their awards banquet on Saturday, April 6th and Mohawk International Raceway honors their champions on Saturday, April 13th.

Tentatively, my first race of 2013 will be at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, depending on the weather.  They open on April 5th and 6th with a Sportsman event on the Friday night, and the annual Jan Corcoran Memorial Race on the Saturday night.  If the weather does not co-operate I will be at the Cornwall Speedway awards banquet on that Saturday night.

Another big event that I am looking forward to is the 2nd annual Brockville Speedway Fan Fair.  It will be held at Walmart in Brockville on Saturday, April 13th from 10am to 1pm.  This will start off a very busy day, as Chapman’s Can Am Motorsports Park also opens that day for practice, and Mohawk Raceway Awards banquet that night.  Can Am also has practice the following day, leading up to their 2013 season opener on Friday, April 19th.

Fulton Speedway also opens up on April 13th with their Methanol Meltdown event.  Brewerton Speedway opens on Friday, April 19th as well.  Evans Mills Speedway opens for the 2013 season on Saturday, April 20th.  Brighton Speedway opens up on Saturday, May 4th, and Brockville Speedway opens for practice on May 4th as well, and will kick off their season on May 11th.  Mohawk Raceway opens on May 17th and Cornwall Speedway will open with a 100 lap Mr. DIRTcar 358 Modified/Canadian National Series event on Sunday, May 19th.

It wont be much longer now, and we will be back at the track on a regular basis, doing what we love to do.  Even with a little snow on the ground, I for one cant wait to see what the 2013 has in store.

As always, any comments or suggestions can be sent to crevelle@ripnet.com. You can also visit me online at www.finishlinewebdesign.ca, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/crevelle, and on twitter at www.twitter.com/finishlineweb17.

Posted in 1000 Islands Report0 Comments

The Northwestern View: IRacing Helps Me Through The Winter

The Northwestern View: IRacing Helps Me Through The Winter

By Anthony Leek – Ever since my fiancée purchased the G27 Logitech racing wheel for a Christmas gift, I have been racing almost every day on iracing.com. The simulator has been great at allowing me to forget that it is -40C outside and three feet of snow. After several weeks of the end of season 4 2012, I have been running for points in the B Class Impala fixed class. After the first week of the season, I was 14th of 75 drivers in my division (Division 6) after the first week at Homestead. I ran 18 races with 1 win, 8 top 5s and a couple did not finish from wrecking. Not bad for a first week!

The realism in terms of graphics is amazing (could be better, but remember the wide range of computers out there), and the sound is currently being upgraded on many car models. The realism of the track when steering while racing is top notch and improvements are always being made. I would have to admit very quickly that I am addicted to racing due to iracing.

But that doesn’t mean it is cheap to run on the simulator. It costs money to buy the cars, tracks, and you have to have a membership as well. Luckily, they have membership deals all the time to help you decide. When I purchased my membership in December, it was half price for a year! It is a pretty good price for an amazing product.

Not only that, but you have to earn your way up to the higher classes by racing clean and increasing your safety score to get a better license. It took me about 35 races to get to the A rating (the highest most will get to), and even that can be hard to maintain. A couple bad races can see it plummet. If it gets too low for more than a week, you can be demoted to the next class down. The system has some flaws, but overall it keeps everyone honest and trying their best not to wreck.

If you are an oval fan or a road racing fan, there is a separate safety rating license card for each. I personally run three times as many oval races as road course, so I have an A Oval License and still a Rookie Road license. Whichever you choose, there is a whole other set of cars waiting for you!

One of the coolest newer features for iracing is the ability to spot for your friends. You can really build friendships in this way and your iracing colleagues may be nice enough to return the favour. I find it makes the simulator a lot more engaging and the race goes by a lot quicker. Having two minds is better than one when on the track and if things get tense or you have problems on the track, the spotter can really help you calm down and focus on getting those laps back, or coming back up from the back. While the spotting program needs improvement and enhancements to allow the spotter more perspective in the race, it is definitely a positive addition to the simulator.

The biggest downside with the program is that it can take some getting used to, and patience and practice can eat up a lot of your time. As with any real life simulator, wouldn’t you want to practice? Otherwise, being on top is nearly impossible.

All in all, iracing provides entertainment and learning, friendships and even the odd rivalry. After spending the last few months on it, I don’t know if I could play any other type of racing outside of the real thing.

Posted in Columns, The Northwestern View0 Comments

1000 Islands Report: News From Speedweeks

1000 Islands Report: News From Speedweeks

By Craig Revelle – February 24, 2013 – Here we are at the end of February, another season of racing is fast approaching.  To many area race team’s, the countdown to the new season begins with the Daytona 500, which gets people back in the racing groove, and puts them in hurry up mode to get their own cars completed for the coming season.  I will have more on the Daytona 500 and the races at Daytona a little further down in this column.

My allegiance is with dirt track racing, and our Dirt Northeast style Modifieds.  They were on hand in Florida at Volusia Motorsports Park this past week with four action packed nights of racing.  A strong field of 38 cars were on hand this year.  Danny Johnson got the best of long time rival Brett Hearn, and went on to win the first feature event of the week for the Big Block Modifieds.  Mario Clair finished in third, with Australian racer Peter Britten in fourth and Jimmy Horton completing the top five.  Thursday night’s battle at Volusia was won by Stewart Friesen from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario Canada.  Justin Haers finished with a strong second place finish ahead of Peter Britten, Matt Sheppard and Danny Johnson.  It was a surprise winner on Friday night as Rich Laubach of Quakertown, Pennsylvania took home the win over Danny Johnson, Peter Britten, H.J. Bunting and Stewart Friesen.  Saturday night’s winner was the legendary Brett Hearn taking the 50 lap main event over Mario Clair, Justin Haers, Stewart Friesen and Matt Sheppard.  Johnson was the overall Big Block Modified champion, by 12 points over Friesen.  Peter Britten, Justin Haers and Rick Laubach were the top five overall for the four nights of racing.

There was plenty of other racing events held on area short tracks in Florida over the past couple weeks.  World of Outlaw Sprint Cars and Late Models, Lucas Oil Late Models, 360 Sprint cars and much more shared the spotlight.  Tim McCreadie of Watertown, New York was a winner at Volusia earlier in the week in his Late Model and had several other strong performances to start the year.  Steve Poirier and Michel Parent, both from Quebec finished 1st and 2nd in the same event at East Bay Speedway near Tampa, Florida as well.

At the beginning of the week, there were some exciting short track events covered live on SPEED TV.  They had the UNOH (University of Northern Ohio) Battle at the Beach, where they turned the backstretch and part of the infield into a short track for a few days early last week.  They had the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, NASCAR Whelen Modifieds and the K&N Pro Series in action.  All three main events produced caution filled races, but most people will remember the controversial finishes of all three events.  Kyle Larson, arguably the most talented up and coming star in this sport made an aggressive move to bump the leader C.E. Falk in the final corner of the final lap, and when the bump wasn’t quite enough to get the win, he pushed a little further and spun out Falk coming to the checkered flag.  Larson, of course went on to take the win, but the after effects had the social media world talking for the next 24 hours.  The next night had plenty of controversy again, as former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Steve Park used the front bumper to move multi-time Whelen Modified champion Mike Stefanik out of the way on the final lap to score the $20000 top prize and the prestige of winning at a place like Daytona, Park was also getting the bumper from the third place car at the same time, which ultimately caused the chain reaction spin of the race leader.  Cameron Haley of Calgary, Alberta won the final event of the Battle at the Beach, taking the checkered flag in the K&N Pro Series after becoming a benefactor of a bump and run gone bad by 15 year old racing phenomenon Gray Gaulding.  The racing on the makeshift track was tough, there were plenty of fireworks with the controversial finishes, and in my opinion, it couldn’t have gone any better for NASCAR.

Speaking of NASCAR, there has been so much hype behind Danica Patrick leading up to the Daytona 500.  That hype was ramped up into ridiculous proportions after she won the pole position for the Great America Race.  As a true race fan, that really loves the sport, gender shouldn’t even be an issue when a team owner is selecting a driver for their car.  It should be about getting the best available driver to help your team win.  NASCAR is….or used to be for the most elite of drivers, much like other sports.    I would welcome any female racer to step up and challenge to be a star in this sport, but I would hope they would do so by earning the spot coming up through the ranks.  Today, making NASCAR means you brought the most money to the table, and because of that I have a hard time accepting Danica as a racecar driver.  She is extremely marketable, with the deep pockets of GoDaddy.com along for the ride, among others, and has landed in a premier NASCAR ride with Stewart-Haas Racing.  She had a top ten finish at Daytona, but lets see how well she does when they tackle other tracks that require more skill.  By the way, it was Jimmie Johnson picking up the Daytona 500 win over Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman.

Saturday’s Nationwide Series race was won by Tony Stewart, but a wild finish at the end overshadowed the final results.  Kyle Larson’s car got airborne during a big crash coming to the checkered flag and the front end of the car was completely sheared off upon impact with the catch fence, sending debris, including a tire and the motor through the fence and into the grandstand area.  It was reported that 28 people were injured, with 14 of those being transported to area hospitals.  There were a couple of serious injuries that occurred, but both have since been upgraded to stable condition.  That was a disaster that could have been a whole lot worse.  I have never been a big fan of racing at these big tracks with restrictor plates slowing the cars down and keeping them in big groups, and its certainly not much fun for the drivers to be a part of the big wrecks.  It was very unfortunate that the fans were involved, and NASCAR can be thankful that the situation didn’t end up worse than it was.

Much like other columns over this off-season, I have to end it with sad news.  Ryan Baye, a former Sportsman and Modified competitor, lost his life in a tragic snowmobile accident over the weekend.  Baye was married to the daughter of Future DIRTcar Hall of Fame racer Alan Johnson, and had two young boys, aged four and six.  I send my deepest condolences to Ryan’s family and friends.  He was just 34 years old.

As always, any comments or suggestions can be sent to crevelle@ripnet.com. You can also visit me online at www.finishlinewebdesign.ca, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/crevelle, and on twitter at www.twitter.com/finishlineweb17.

Posted in 1000 Islands Report, Columns0 Comments

1000 Islands Report: Winter Race Season Is Upon Us

1000 Islands Report: Winter Race Season Is Upon Us

By Craig Revelle – February 10, 2013 – After digging out from the latest snowstorm and hopefully the last one of the winter, the 2013 racing season still feels like it is a long ways away, but with the calendar showing mid February local race teams are working hard in their race shop getting ready for a new season.  For some, that season will start later this month as a few DIRTcar teams will flock south to Florida for the annual UNOH (University of Northern Ohio) DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia County Speedway.  Other teams are getting ready for other events, such as car shows that take place in just a few weeks time before the season gets underway.

My first pre-season car show took place this past weekend at the Canadian Motorsports Expo in Toronto.  I always look forward to this event, and was fortunate enough to take part in a media conference with NASCAR driver and car owner Michael Waltrip.  It was nice to see some racecars, and visit with some racing friends, and certainly makes me even more anxious for the start of a new season.  Meeting Mr. Waltrip was a highlight of the weekend, and was very candid in describing his newfound love for our Tim Horton’s Restaurants.  He also discussed his views on his team’s chances in 2013 and the excellent season that his drivers Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex had in 2012.  The CME is a great event, and a must see for any race fan to break up the racing withdrawals of the winter months.

There are a few other pre-season events that I am looking forward too.  The annual Gater Racing News Motorsports Expo will take place on March 9th and 10th at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.  Finish Line Web Design will have a booth setup once again this year, and will have a car on display.  Who that will be has yet to be determined.  The Frontenac Mall car show in Kingston will take place March 21st to March 23rd as well.  The 2nd annual Brockville Speedway Fan Fair will take place on April 13th at Walmart in Brockville.  The Texas Tuxedos band will be playing, and a charity BBQ will also take place in addition to the car show/autograph session of the 2012 Brockville Speedway Modified and Sportsman top five drivers.

Before we get into the 2013 season, all local tracks will honor their champions and top finishers at the 2012 awards banquets.  Chapman’s Can Am Motorsports Park will have their banquet on March 16th.  Brockville Speedway banquet is tentatively set for March 30th, while Cornwall Speedway will host their annual banquet on April 6th.  Mohawk Raceway Banquet date has not been announced as of yet.

When the new season does get underway, there are several marquee events that are circled on my calendar.  Cornwall Speedway has the World of Outlaw Late Models on Sunday, June 23rd, and the World of Outlaw Sprints taking center stage at Cornwall on Sunday, July 28th.  Cornwall has not yet released their full 2013 schedule, but the three-race Canadian Nationals Series is expected to return bigger and better then ever.  I am also looking forward to the second annual St. Lawrence Seaway Sportsman Series, which will have one race each at Cornwall, Brockville, Mohawk, Autodrome Granby and Autodrome Drummond.

Brockville Speedway will host their own three-race series for both the 358 Modifieds and Sportsman cars with series sponsorship from Ogilvie’s Auto & Fleet Service.  The 4-cylinder Rookie division will also have a two race series of their own. The annual 1000 Islands RV DIRTcar Northeast Fall Nationals is also planned for October 18th to 20th.  Brockville will be bringing in a Novice Sportsman division in 2013 with the anticipated increase in cars for this class in this year.

Chapman’s Can Am Motorsports Park also has some huge events planned in 2013, as they headline their weekly shows with the Sportsman division.  They will compete for a weekly prize of $750 to win, and will have several $1000 to win events, and a few $2000 to win shows and will end the season with a $2500 to win race on September 6th and a $3000 to win Sportsman race on September 13th.  The Street Stocks, Late Models and Thunder Cars will also race weekly at Can Am, as well as their own Novice Sportsman division for new Sportsman teams.

Mohawk International Raceway has not released their full schedule yet, but the Frenchie’s 358 Modified and Sportsman series events are expected to return in 2013.  Mohawk will close out their 2013 with the annual Mohawk Nationals on September 13th and 14th featuring all four major DIRTcar Series races.

Other races that I look forward to this season include the Applefest Weekend at Brighton Speedway in September, the Outlaw 200 at Fulton Speedway in October, Super DIRT Week in Syracuse in October, and the first ever Asphalt Assault at Evans Mills Speedway for the Empire Super Sprints in June, as they race on a paved track for the first time in the 30 year history of the club.

It may still be cold outside, and the snow is knee deep, but the 2013 racing season will be underway before long, and I can’t wait to get back to the regular summer routine of racing four nights a week or more.

As always, any comments or suggestions can be sent to crevelle@ripnet.com. You can also visit me online at www.finishlinewebdesign.ca, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/crevelle, and on twitter at www.twitter.com/finishlineweb17.

Photos by Rick Young / www.RickAtTheRaces.com

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Back In The Day: The Fireball 5 Earl Stroh

Back In The Day: The Fireball 5 Earl Stroh

By Randy Spencer / OntarioOval.com – Known as the Fireball 5 through the 1960’s and especially in the 70’s Earl Stroh was one of the most dominant racers in the sport in Southern Ontario. The great Don Biederman would drop everything and run up to the fence to watch Earl race. “We knew who was going to win, just wanted to see how long it would take for him to get there,” Biederman once said.

It wasn’t always that way however. When Earl turned 16, he got his license and wanted to race at Bridgeport but he couldn’t get his mom to sign him in. Earl got smart. His mom loved parades so he convinced his mother that if he took her to the parade that day, on the way home she would sign him into race. And the rest as they say is history. His first race car was a 1938 Dodge Coupe and it had a crude roll cage complete with a snow fence stake. In his first race at Bridgeport, Earl started at the back and as he came around to the start he drifted to the open space and almost took out flagman Bobby Anderson. Stroh received the black flag and was almost thrown out for good but Gene Karly and Ken Fisher saved his skin that day. After a few lean years of learning the ropes,  Earl won his first trophy at the 1961 Pinecrest Winter Woolies. In a fast car with a Buick V8 and big slicks, Earl lapped the entire field with that rocket but he and the rest of the field never got paid. During that time Earl’s wife Maryann was welcoming new daughter Janet into the world and she almost missed Earl’s first trophy win. This was Earl’s greatest moment, wiping guys that beat him everywhere else

Earl race for over 30 years all the while working part time at a garage, at Electrohome for 9 years and Canox Welding for 38-1/2 years. Earl even managed to find time to be a volunteer firefighter for 15 years in there somewhere while racing several nights a week while raising three kids (Janet, Michael & Le-ann) with wife Maryann. He raced in the Jalopy division at Bridgeport for a few years and when Flamboro opened in 1962 he race the hobby division until about 1973. That was back in the days when car counts were up to 125 and wasn’t uncommon to have 80 or 90 cars in the pits on any one night. His wife Maryann was terrified at the large car counts and refused to go to watch. Then along with guys like Joe Clayton, Pete Bennett and Ron Porter they started a Limited Sportsman division and that is when Earl’s career really took off. Teaming up with Ken Stenhouse Sr. his entire career proved to be a huge plus for Stroh. Ken never shared too much information with Earl but always built a competitive car. “He never told me what he was thinking. He was ahead of his time and knew how to make a car handle. ” Stroh said. The were turning 15.3 second laps and the 119″ wheel base, it was longer and more stable and soon proved to be the most dominant car on the circuit. Everyone thought they had big power but “Handling was the key,” Earl continued. Stroh showed how dominant he could be winning the Flamboro championship three consecutive years from 1973 to 1975, he won the crown at Grand River Speedway every year but one and at one point won an incredible 21 races in a row. One story Earl told me was back in the day when the Limited Sportsman and Late Models warmed up together and one night Andy Brown “stuffed” Stroh into the wall as he tried to pass. A grudge race was called, but later called off and the cars no longer practiced together.

By 1978, the Limited Sportsman club started running independent suspensions and guys were sinking too much money into their cars and it eventually ran the division to extinction. That year Stroh, who had already started racing a Late Model for Bruce Bennett Sr. did so for a couple of years and eventually ran in the Street Stock division until the early 1990’s when he decided to retire from active racing. He did split a season with John Karley in the Hobby division (Canadian Vintage Modifieds) in 1999 but that was it for Earl’s racing career. However from 1978 until 1982, Stroh not only raced he co-owned Sauble Speedway with partner Bruce Bennett Sr. The Stroh’s enjoyed it but the long drive every week, the financial tole and a track that was starting to need lots of work eventually made the decision of selling their share of the track to Bruce Bennett a good one. It also got to be too much for wife Maryann who one time was followed out of the track and for quite a while thereafter by a car. This wouldn’t have been so bad but Maryann had a box full of money from the night’s gate receipts in her possession. Just another reason that helped to make their decision a little easier. Today the Stroh’s still live in Maryhill and are enjoying their retirement, still enjoying the odd stock car race, their family, baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter. My thanks to the Stroh’s (as well as John Karley for the introduction) for their hospitality on my two visits and for their donations of programs, trophies and other items for the Flamboro Stadium and Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum. Congratulations to Earl on being being inducted to the inaugural class of drivers/builders for the 2012 Flamboro Speedway Hall of Fame.

Photos from the Earl Stroh Collection.

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Off The Wall: A Lack Of Respect

Off The Wall: A Lack Of Respect

By Peter Turford – I really believe with the lack of respect shown to the Southern Ontario Sprints by some teams and several speedways that they are the Rodney Dangerfield of Ontario motorsports. Here is why I love the Southern Ontario Sprints so much.

As far as being an open wheel racing fan goes, I grew up in the best of times and worst of times. When I was 6 years old there where 3 speedways running supermodifieds within an hour’s drive of my home in Stratford ON. When I was 9 there were none. There was a bounceback for almost 3 years when Jack Greedy first promoted Delaware. Unfortunately, by the time I was a teenager, supermodifieds were all but dead and buried in Ontario. There would be the odd “special” and even attempts to go weekly at Speedway Park and Delaware but it never “took’. In general if I wanted to see full size open wheel racing I had to travel to Oswego, NY or Sandusky, OH. The Late Models that replaced the supers locally, would turn the track at speeds closer to that of a hobby car than a supermodified. By a late model I mean a late 60’s early 70’s Camaro or Chevelle with more dents and bangs in it than you would see on a street stock today. They just never did it for me – I realize I am the exception and many people loved the Earl Ross, Norm Leliott, Biederman and Junior Hanley era – but I was and remain an open wheel guy. As I grew older I would drive by several late model tracks to get to Sandusky Ohio, or Oswego New York. I spent more hours and more dollars traveling to those tracks than I care or want to admit. Most times I felt I saw a good show and I believed that the time and money were worth it. I figured my race watching and participation was forever limited to this until 1996…….

That was when I first heard rumours about a new racing series being started by Jon Banas and others in Ontario. It was to be 360 sprint cars run on the dirt tracks in Ontario, two of which were to be new facilities allegedly being built, one on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford and one was to be part of the new Grand Bend Motoplex being built on the site of the old Grand Bend Dragway (never happened). The other track that was to be involved was South Buxton Raceway near Chatham (which up until that time I had never heard of). The thinking was to match the rules of the other nearby racing series in Michigan (SOD) and New York (ESS). The cars(chassis) would be available for minimal cost as used chassis and parts could be picked up at the Fremont (Ohio) and Silver Springs (PA) flea markets for pennies on the dollar. Another important key to success is that the series for all intents and purposes would be built around the small block Chevrolet (like all other sprint car series). In short a guy could go hard core racing with less than 10 grand in his car. We’re talking full up, fuel injected, open wheel racing where the motors were loud and the cars were fast. The very things that I loved about the supermodifieds and drew me into the sport all those years ago.

I attended that first ever SOS race at South Buxton as an official with the series – worked as the cone man (in those days the cone was on the backstretch) did safety tech and even wrote up a race report – which was never published and was lost long ago. But I do remember John Naida and Jerry Whitney putting on a spirited deal which I believe Whitney eventually won. The car count was 11 and the club was on its way. Over the years the club grew in fits and starts, but usually with the right trajectory. Like all racing organizations there were complaints about inadequate purse, handicapping rules/tech enforcement etc. But eventually the club was performing with full fields and in front of full houses.

As it grew, the club was seen by many as anochronistic, pay spread through the field, last to adopt cockpit adjustable wing sliders, last to allow titanium brake rotors, banning piggyback shocks, never getting off the very hard and unracy American Racer MC-3 (that would last forever). Most saw this as regressive – my belief is that these rules took some of the “money” factor out of racing. The thinking being if you can’t hook up the power , you don’t need the power. I will also believe that as the years went on, the teams that would most benefit from those rules, with few exceptions, never fully supported the club.

I will say this, 10 years ago when my son expressed a desire to go racing – I could not find a more viable nor cost effective option. I still believe that to this day. Like in all racing you will never make any money, but you will go broke later racing with the SOS than in any other form of racing. There where many nights when something dumb happened and we had a craptacular night – BUT – the SOS pay structure spread through the field like it is, allowed us to keep our show on the road. I believe that even today, SOS tow money pays better than 10th spot in a World of Outlaws B Main.

The last few years have been tough for the SOS and yet SOS President Mike Ferrell and his team keep plugging along. Tracks continue to do well by the series, but for some reason the SOS is still on a bit of slippery ground. My personal belief is that the SOS does not have and has never really had a strong sales type guy pushing things along. At one time I tried to be that guy and it just wasn’t me – and I think Mike would say the say about himself. The club has always tried to be upfront and work with integrity with the teams and promoters and while I feel this is the right way to do things it is probably not the most advantageous. I believe the majority of promoters still would rather be sold a line of crap when booking a show than have someone undersell and over deliver. I can’t remember how many times the SOS would go in put on a solid show, the promoter would be pleased “promise” to book us for next year and by November have amnesia, or that promoter would be out, a new one in place and having to start all over again.

My final thought is this, right now we are overwhelmed with sprint car racing in Ontario – and that is all well and good. But don’t take it for granted – we used to be overwhelmed with supermodified racing and later super late models – things can change in a hurry. Support what we’ve got.

The opinions reflected herein are solely those of the above commentator and are not necessarily those of OntarioOval.com. Please direct comments or concerns to Peter Turford at peterturford@yahoo.ca.

TurfordJan1813

Posted in Columns, Off The Wall0 Comments

1000 Islands Report: Exciting Times Ahead

1000 Islands Report: Exciting Times Ahead

By Craig Revelle – January 13, 2013

Now that we are into the new year, everyone is anxious to get going with plans for the 2013 season. There are a lot of exciting things to look forward to at all my local tracks. None of the area track’s have released their schedule as of yet, but some have put out hints of what we will see once the new season gets underway.

Cornwall Speedway has an exciting schedule in store with the return of the World of Outlaw Late Models on Sunday, June 23rd, and the World of Outlaw Sprint Cars on Sunday, July 28th. It is expected that Cornwall will once again host Mr. DIRTcar series events for the Big Blocks, 358 Modifieds, Sportsman and Pro Stocks once again, as well as the three Canadian National Series events that we have seen in recent years.

Brockville Speedway has released some of their 2013 schedule, which will feature a new three race series of their own for the 358 Modifieds and Sportsman, as well as a two race series for the Rookie division. The 358 Modified series will have 50 lap features on Saturday, July 6th, Saturday August 10th and Saturday, August 31st. The Sportsman three race series will do battle on the same dates. The Rookie series will battle on June 15th and August 3rd.

Chapman’s Can Am Motorsports Park has not announced their plans for the upcoming season as of yet, but a switch from Saturday night back to Friday night will take place. I did attend the Hangover Enduro at Can Am this past Weekend with a field of 18 cars doing battle in twin 40 lap races. It was great to get back to the track, and a nice way to break up the winter with a little racing action.

Mohawk Raceway has been fairly quiet over the off-season. They had intentions to drop the Pro Stock class, but an overwhelming turnout of racers from that division changed the minds of track officials when they held a meeting late in 2012. Their schedule is not out yet, but more information should be out in the next couple months.

Evans Mills Speedway has also made a change in their program for 2013, dropping the collective “Open Wheel” class in favor of the more traditional Northeast Style Modified division. The class will be open for Big Block/358 Modified/Crate Sportsman with different weight classifications that can be found on the Evans Mills Website.

December was a tough month for the racing community with the loss of several people that have helped make what dirt racing in this area has become today. Just before Christmas, Stan Friesen passed away. Stan was the grandfather of Modified star Stewart Friesen and was a big part of Ransomville Speedway. Just days later DIRTcar Hall of Fame racer Doug Hoffman passed away on Christmas eve. Hoffman was a legend in Dirt Modified racing, winning hundreds of races throughout the Northeast. Milton Johnson, father of Danny and Alan Johnson, and great racer back in the day himself also passed away just after Christmas. The loss of these three guys will have a huge impact of the racing community and will be missed by everyone.

With the racing season still a few months away, the next thing we can look forward to is the start of the NASCAR season. I make no secret that I am not a fan of Daytona and restrictor plate racing in general. However, I am looking forward to seeing how the new style car will effect the racing, and will be following how well my favorite driver Matt Kenseth does making the transition from a Roush Racing Ford to a Joe Gibbs Toyota. My prediction is that he will repeat as champion the 500, and over the course of the season will provide some much needed leadership to the entire Joe Gibbs operation.

It wont be long now and we will be back racing. There are some Pennsylvania area tracks that open in March, and as we get into April, tracks in New York begin to open up. As usual, Brockville, Cornwall, and Mohawk will begin their season in May. In the meantime, I look forward to the Canadian Motorsports Expo in Toronto on February 8th to 10th, the Gater News Motorsports Expo in Syracuse on March 9th and 10th and the annual Frontenac Mall Car Show in Kingston on March 21st to March 23rd. The car shows tend to get everyone ready for the upcoming season, as they mark the unofficial kickoff to the new racing season. Also, the banquets for all of my local tracks are coming up soon as well.

As always, any comments or suggestions can be sent to crevelle@ripnet.com. You can also visit me online at www.finishlinewebdesign.ca , on Facebook at www.facebook.com/crevelle, and on twitter at www.twitter.com/finishlineweb17.

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1000 Islands Report: 2013 News & Notes

1000 Islands Report: 2013 News & Notes

By Craig Revelle – December 9, 2012

Although the 2012 racing season is now just a memory, there are still plenty of off-season news and information trickling in from area racetracks. We will discuss that throughout this column, as well as the sudden surge in the Sportsman division that will have car counts on the rise when the green flag waves to start the 2013 racing season.

Lets start off with Cornwall Motor Speedway who just announced this past week that the World of Outlaw Late Models and World of Outlaw Sprint Cars will both be back on the schedule in 2013. The Late Models will return to Cornwall Motor Speedway on Sunday, June 23rd and the World of Outlaw Sprint Cars will hit the track on Sunday, July 28th. The Canadian Nationals Series will return for another season at Cornwall with dates on May 19th, August 4th and September 1st, and the Big Block Modified Super DIRTcar Series will take centre stage on Sunday, June 30th. Other dates will be announced after the new year.

The World of Outlaw Late Models will also visit the Rinaldi Family owned Brighton Speedway on Thursday, June 20th for their inaugural appearance. This will be an event unlike any other at Brighton Speedway and will certainly be on my schedule in 2013.

Chapman’s Can Am Motorsports Park is in the news lately as well, announcing their plan to return to Friday night racing next season. What divisions will be racing weekly has yet to be determined. The track will open on Sunday, January 6th for the 2013 Hangover Enduro featuring a pair of 40 lap events paying $500 to win each.

Brockville Speedway has announced their date for the annual 1000 Islands RV DIRTcar Northeast Fall Nationals for 2013. It will take place on October 18th – 20th. They are currently working on their full schedule for the upcoming season, and may have some interesting changes in store in the New Year.

Throughout the years I have been a big proponent of the Sportsman division. The GM Crate Engine program may have some issues abroad, but since they have made that motor mandatory, the car counts have been on the rise. In 2013, the class will continue to have strong support with several new drivers coming into the division. Joey Ladouceur will move up from the Pro Stock division to Sportsman, Bill “Moon” Mulling will come out of racing retirement to compete with the newly formed Merpaw-Mullin Motorsports team. There are a couple graduates from the Brockville Karting that will move to Sportsman as well, plus several other racers from the area that will all be competing in this popular class.

This will be my last column for the 2012 season. I hope you have all enjoyed reading it, and I look forward to writing again in the New Year. Have a safe and Happy Holiday season and will see you in 2013.

As always, any comments or suggestions can be sent to crevelle@ripnet.com. You can also visit me online at www.finishlinewebdesign.ca, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/crevelle, and on twitter at www.twitter.com/finishlineweb17.

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The Northwestern View: 2012 Draws To A Close

The Northwestern View: 2012 Draws To A Close

By Anthony Leek – It has been a while since I have written a column on ontariooval.com and I felt it appropriate to do something for the end of the year season. 2012 was another year of interesting developments in racing and of course, plenty of fun to be had.

There were two repeat champions in the WISSOTA classes. The first one being #17 Christopher Leek in the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, claiming it over #14C Cody Ossachuk. In the WISSOTA Modifieds, #16 Gavin Paull dominated the majority of the season in wins and took home his fourth championship overall. In the Emo Street Stocks, a young #500 Libby Wilson claimed her first victory in 2012 and claimed her first track championship! She was quite elated at the Awards Banquet, taking home Best Appearing Car.

Only two rainouts this year, with the dates being back to back in June. After June 23rd however, the track never missed a night, although there were several close calls. August 4th comes to mind the most as myself and a couple others spent the majority of the afternoon packing the track in as it drizzled off and on. But we got the show on, and there was some very good racing.

The Emo Fall Fair weekend was an action packed affair with many different winners. International Falls, MN native and class rookie Don Scholler put on an amazing show with Devlin local, Jeff Davis for the feature win on Day 2 (Saturday). Coming to the last lap, Scholler made a last dive around Davis for the lead. It was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend. The WISSOTA Modified features for both nights were also great with very only two quick cautions on Friday and a few quick ones on Saturday. There was also a first time winner in the Street Stocks as Kyle Godin of Rainy River, ON bested eleven other drivers for a feature win on Friday.

Another notable event was the WISSOTA Super Stock special presented by SBA Engineering out of Orangville, ON. A total of thirteen Super Stocks attended from Manitoba, Thunder Bay, and Minnesota. The heat races had some great battles as well as the feature which was claimed by #70K Rick Simpsons from Thunder Bay. The win was his third in four appearances at the track in that class. The WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds had nineteen cars that night which was won by Winnipeg driver #88 Paul Veert, over local driver #17 Christopher Leek. The WISSOTA Modifieds was won by #16 Gavin Paull.

The new washrooms were installed this summer, and the new frontstretch lighting as also been installed. Just need to get the bulbs up in the spring time and take down the old poles. It should be exciting the first time they light up. Thank you to all the hard working volunteers for making that successful.

As we look ahead, there is some potentially exciting news that could be coming forward before the new year. There are some great ideas for 2013 and a discussion with the Association in the near future will give us a preview of what might be in store.

Be sure to check out www.borderlandracing.com or @emospeedway on twitter, or even the facebook page (emospeedway) for upcoming news and information!

I want to wish everyone a safe and happy holidays!

Posted in Columns, Emo Speedway, The Northwestern View0 Comments