By Clayton Johns
In less than three months time, the first green flag will wave on the inaugural season for the APC series presented by Grisdale Racing Products. The new Pro Late Model provincial touring series will run eight races at five tracks during its first season in 2015.
Auto Parts Centres (APC) manager Luke Ramsey started the tour after the 2014 season and will continue as coordinator for 2015. A long-time fan of late model racing, Ramsey had grown dissatisfied with the state of the division in Ontario.
“I’m a race fan at heart. I missed the days when we had full fields of late models,” said Ramsey. “There was an appetite and enough people that wanted to get involved.”
The series provides a much-needed boost to late model racing in Ontario. The division had suffered from low weekly car counts and fragmented rule packages across the province. Ramsey has attempted to create a more unified set of rules.
The APC Series has worked closely with the five tracks it will visit to ensure a successful start. Delaware Speedway is one of three tracks that will host two races along with Sunset and Flamboro. The series is a welcomed revitalization to late model racing in Ontario, said John Houghton, Delaware’s public relations director.
“I think it’s a really viable model,” said Houghton. “The drivers are able to race in high-quality events, and the fans are going to see the best drivers in the province. I think that’s a real gift.”
The goal is to please fans with exciting racing while keeping the on-track product affordable for drivers. Drivers will race on 10” tires during APC Series races instead of the 8” tires commonly seen at local tracks.
“Everybody has had to change something and they’ve all done it for the greater good,” said Ramsey.
A full field of cars should make for a busy grandstand and happy track promoters, said Ramsey.
“We want this to be a profitable night because they are in business. [The tracks] need to make money,” he added.
The inaugural season will culminate at Delaware with the track’s famed Great Canadian Race in September. The potential for the race to decide the first APC Series champion will make the event all the more interesting.
“Anything that adds to the intensity and the drama of the event is a plus for us,” said Houghton. “The Great Canadian Race is our most historic event that we run annually, so it’s always very special to our drivers and our fans.”
100-Lap Format Should Thrill
All eight races will be 100 laps and preceded by time trials. Ramsey believes the format will be successful because cars won’t be wrecked in heats. Time trial qualifying will take place before the start of the events so fans have the choice to watch them or not without missing the rest of the show.
“They tend to use up equipment for no reason,” said Ramsey, when asked about the possibility of heat races. “We want to have strict tire rules, which take away the chances of team’s doping tires. Going from time trials straight to a feature helps with that problem.”
The APC Series allows 21-year-old pilot Brandon Watson the chance to return home. Watson spent last summer racing with the Jegs CRA All-Star tour in the United States. He finished seventh overall on that tour, where each race is at least 100 laps. He will race the McColl Racing Enterprises car that won a McColl Pro Series event at Sunset in 2012.
“I’m definitely looking forward to racing back in Ontario,” said Watson. “We have a bit more experience then some guys with time trials and 100-lappers. We’re going to use whatever advantage we can from last year to help us along.”
The series currently has over 40 drivers registered to compete throughout the season. With an expected limit of 24 cars for most races, a B-main race will likely be necessary before the main event.
The 100-lap distance will require drivers to strategize, but won’t give them enough time to cruise at the back before making a run to the front.
“The safest place to be is out front. We want to qualify up front and then stay up front,” said Matt Pritiko, the defending Delaware late model champion.
The series’ inaugural race is scheduled for Sunset Speedway on May 23.