Posted on 11 August 2010.
By Greg Calnan – The summer months are the most hectic of the racing season and this year has been no different. Although we’re already into the month of August, I’d like to rewind to late July, and a weekend where many miles were traveled and many friends were met.
Friday, July 23rd is when the fun all began. Heavy rain at my home track – Ohsweken Speedway – forced management to cancel the racing for that evening very early in the morning. Quickly, I made arrangements with Lisa Brandt at Delaware Speedway to attend their show that night. The forecast was not the greatest, but this was a chance to finally see one of their weekly shows, as my only previous visit was for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. In only a couple of visits I have truly taken a liking to this track. The setting, the atmosphere and the track’s configuration just makes it an enjoyable place to go see a race.
VIEW DELAWARE PHOTO GALLERY
A brief shower interrupted the show early, but officials moved the program along and all the scheduled races were completed. The top attraction on the night was a pair of features for the NASCAR Late Models. The top class put on a pair of good races with Steve Robblee returning from a back injury to record a win and a pair of top-three finishes. The second feature went to first-time winner Andrew Gresel of Hepworth, Ontario. There was plenty of passing and action on this night, and a few teams went home with bent up racecars.
This would also be my first chance to see the Powerade Modifieds. These machines are not only cool looking, but can get around the ½ mile oval in a hurry. Paul Shipway took the win over the ever-powerful Jamie Cox. I had the stopwatch on the pair during the closing laps. Cox was gaining a good tenth of a second each time by, however the lead built by Shipway was enough to capture the win.
The Demar Aggregate Trucks were the third division on the docket at Delaware and were again entertaining to watch. Truck divisions have sprouted up all across North America, but this one had to be the best one I have seen so far. Jeff Showler of Mt. Elgin took the win in the caution-free 25 lap feature.
With Friday night in the books, it was time to return to Brantford for some sleep and to pack for a weekend in Eastern Ontario. Part of my announcing duties in 2010 includes working with the Ontario Dirt Late Models (ODLM). Debbie Brush and Ron Piotrowski have done a fantastic job with this young series and I jumped at the chance to help out where I could.
The ODLM season opener at Autodrome Edelweiss was also cancelled on Friday night so it meant things would kick off at one of my old home tracks, Brockville Ontario Speedway. It’s always a pleasure to return to the ‘BOS’, as owner Paul Kirkland and his staff are friendly and great to work with. I also look forward to returning to Brockville because I get to work with fellow announcers Steve Young, Dave Murphy and Tim Baltz.
If there were ever a Larry, Curly and Moe of Ontario race announcers, these three would fit the bill. Although they aren’t stooges per say, they certainly do enjoy having a good laugh at each other’s expense. Next time you’re there, get ready for a rousing rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’ at intermission. There aren’t enough words to explain this halftime show, but it has to be the most entertaining I have seen at any track. The crowd participation made it all that more fun.
VIEW BROCKVILLE PHOTO GALLERY / ODLM GALLERY
The racing at Brockville was great as expected. Despite being a tight little track, there is always plenty of passing and action. A full crowd was again on hand for a packed night of racing. The ODLM brought 27 cars to do battle and in the end it was David Scott of Garland, Pennsylvania taking the win. A multi-car pileup in the opening laps meant the local hotels in Brockville would be littered with car parts and crewmembers rebuilding their rides. This is part of the true tour experience. The other big winner of the night at the BOS was Sheldon Hoogwerf who captured his first ever DIRTcar Sportsman victory.
On Sunday we took a one-hour car ride down the 401 to Cornwall Motor Speedway. Anyone who knows me knows that Cornwall is one of my absolute favourite places to go see a race. Ron Morin is the owner of the track and keeps the facility in top condition. I am ashamed to say the infield grass at Cornwall is in better shape then my own yard. For Ron it isn’t just about the racing, and it shows.
To return to Cornwall as tour announcer of the ODLM was a privilege in every way. Having grown up going to Cornwall on a semi-regular basis, it meant a lot for me to finally have a chance to be behind the microphone there. My ‘tip of the cap’ on this trip has to go to the Cornwall Motor Speedway staff. From the moment I arrived the staff was extremely helpful, informative and courteous. Everyone I met went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I can’t say I have ever had a bad experience at a track with staff, but the folks at Cornwall were really top notch.
VIEW CORNWALL PHOTO GALLERY / ODLM GALLERY
I would also like to thank the sponsor who brought the free poutine up for the announcing crew. I’d like to say thank you, but I was too busy filling my face that I didn’t take time to write the name down. All I can say is if you like poutine, Cornwall wins it hands down. When the cheese curds are so fresh that they squeak in your mouth, you know its good poutine.
While at Cornwall there was also some racing to attend to. The ODLM feature was probably the best race I have seen in many years. No less than five drivers were in the hunt for the win, and the lead was seemingly up for grabs every time around in the closing laps. In the end, slower traffic worked to the benefit of Peter Mantha and he captured his first ever dirt late model victory. Hailing from Gatineau, Quebec, it was a home track victory of sorts for Mantha and the crowd was vocal in showing their support.
I don’t think three straight nights of racing at three different Ontario tracks could have been capped off much better than that feature. It was a lot of miles for both myself and my father / photographer Dale, but we had a great time at all three tracks.
THANK YOU: A big thank you goes out to both Debbie Brush and Ron Piotrowski of the Ontario Dirt Late Models. They have put an unbelievable amount of hours and effort into this traveling series and it shows. They treat all of their drivers, officials and volunteers in a first class way. I have never eaten so well, or seen a track or touring series put forth such a nice hospitality spread before a race. Between that and the track poutine I think I gained 20lbs that weekend. It was a really nice touch.
I would also like to thank each track for their hospitality. Delaware, Brockville and Cornwall are all great tracks to see a race, and their staff members are courteous and friendly.
WHO I MET: While at Brockville I met a fellow by the name of Bill Johnston. Bill is a crewmember on the #34 ODLM team of Jim Jones. Bill is in need of a new liver and is currently on a waiting list for a transplant. As part of becoming a solution to the problem, their car now carries the Gift of Life decals and they are spreading the word about the need to sign your organ donor card. For more information, you are encouraged to visit www.giftoflife.on.ca.
On Sunday at Cornwall I got a chance to meet one of my favourite drivers growing up, Stephane Lafrance. I was always a fan of his father, Marcel ‘The Hammer’, and I even have a photo of Stephane with his first street stock. I’ll pull that out for a feature article in the coming months. Stephane has been tearing it up this season in his own custom designed chassis. He has worked with many of the top chassis companies in the region, but the car he has this year seems to be some of his best work yet. It was a nice to meet one of the most unique innovators dirt racing has ever seen.
While at Cornwall I also had the opportunity to meet the folks from both Track Mart and Klotz Synthetic Lubricants. Both companies were on hand as part of their marketing partnerships with the ODLM. Jay from Track Mart gave away a DefNder Head & Neck Restraint System to the winner of the Track Mart Challenge. Gregg Haskell of Chatham was the winner of this terrific prize. Sam from Klotz was in attendance at both tracks and gave away a number of free t-shirts to the fans as well as a number of contingency prizes to the competitors. It was great to see companies being active in both promoting their products at the track and supporting local racing in Ontario. For more information on both companies visit www.trackmart.com and www.klotzcanada.com.
WHO WAS THERE: Upon arriving at Delaware Speedway both my father and I spotted Bill Oldroyd. Bill has been involved in many facets of racing and currently is the souvenir program designer at Ohsweken Speedway. With the races being cancelled earlier in the evening he too made the trip up the 401 to London. Shortly thereafter, our very own Open Wheel Columnist Tommy Goudge showed up turning the evening into an Ohsweken invasion.
While at Brockville the next evening I had a chance to catch up with both Craig Revelle and Henry Hannewyk. Craig is our Eastern Ontario Dirt Columnist, and also owns and operates Finish Line Designs (http://www.finishlinewebdesign.ca/). He has been a contributor to OntarioOval.com since day one and it was nice to finally meet up with him face to face.
Henry meanwhile is the track photographer at the BOS and is also the President of the Eastern Ontario Vintage Stock Car Club (http://www.easternontariovintagestockcarclub.com/). He has been a strong supporter of our efforts. A sample of his work can be seen at http://www.henryhannewykphotography.com/.
WHO I MISSED: It meant a lot for me to finally get the chance to announce at Cornwall Motor Speedway. Having gone there so many times as a youngster, it was special for me. However, I was disappointed that when my opportunity did come I wasn’t able to share the microphone with the voice of Cornwall, Brian Mulligan.
Brian recently underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour and has been recovering in hospital. I grew up listening to him call races at tracks all across the northeast and admired his work. It wasn’t the same announcing without him there, but it was great to hear he is making positive progress. Get well Brian, and I look forward to working with you next season.
This edition of “On The Road” took us from one end of the province to the other. Nearly 1800 kilometres were racked up on my father’s car, but it was worth the fun and laughs that we shared…easy for me to say as it wasn’t my car.
We look forward to returning to Brockville for the Fall Nationals in late October and encourage fans to visit www.brockvillespeedway.com and make plans to attend this huge weekend of racing.
That does it for this week’s edition, so until next time I’ll see you “On The Road!”
Greg Calnan – Editor / Columnist for OntarioOval.com. Contact Greg at email@example.com