By Dave Vokey - Barrie Speedway would play host to several top notch drivers from around the province as the 3rd annual Garry Reynolds Memorial invitational took place on Sunday Sept 22, with cooler temperatures the order of the day setting the stage for a very racy track come feature time. Speaking of those features, it was former 2 time Barrie titlist #48 Dwayne Baker who went to victory lane in the featured 100 lap event for the Late Models, while division sophomore #39 Travis “The Enforcer” Hallyburton led flag to flag in the 60 lap Thunder Car main, with provincial heavyweight #10 Doug Butler of New Lowell turning the trick in the 30 lap Pure Stock feature.
In the Late Model division a strong 32 car contingent would align the pits to qualify for just 26 spots, as top qualifier and 2 time defending race champion #51 Mike Bentley of Guelph would draw the pole position for the crown jewel event. Bentley, would rocket out to the initial lead, with outside pole sitter and former Barrie competitor #88 Scott Beatty of Barrie alertly finding the inside line to land in 2nd, with 2013 Barrie track champ #10 Gord Shepherd of Oro Station powering past #24 Nick Goetz of Saugeen Shores on the outside line to claim third in the early stages. The best early battle forming was the race for 7th involving #41 Taylor Holdaway of Orillia and #34 Ron “The Dominator” Quesnelle of Penetang, as Holdaway would take the spot after a hard fought tooth and nail dice. Also on the move in the early going was the 48 of Baker, as the grizzled veteran would charge from his 11th place starting spot to land in 9th after working past #36 Gary “Iron Man” Elliott of Waterdown on lap 8. At the front of the field the action began to heat up on lap 13, as Shepherd would have a brief look to the inside of Beatty for 2nd, with Bentley setting sail and now clear of that battle be nearly a half straightaway while completing laps in the 15.1 second range while working and weaving his way through heavy lapped traffic. Shepherd, would eventually complete an inside pass of Beatty for runner up positioning with a clean inside move entering turn three, setting his sights on the dominant Bentley at the front of the field.
Nearing lap 30, the top five was comprised of Bentley, Shepherd, Beatty, Goetz, and 8 time Barrie feature winner #14 “Hurricane” Thayne Hallyburton of Hillsdale. At this point in the race the car to watch was the hard charging 48 of Baker who had worked his way to 7th position, using the outer groove to pick off one position at a time. Baker, would continue his charge towards the front, when on lap 33 he would power past Holdaway with an impressive move to the inside in turn 3. Nearing the midway mark, Bentley was still setting a torrid pace at the front of the field, holding a full straightaway lead on the 2nd place car of Shepherd as the duo were clicking off laps in the 15.3 second range, while still working heavy lapped traffic. Meanwhile Baker was continuing to pick off one position at a time, as the steady wheelman would complete a pass of Hallyburton to claim 4th, after Hallyburton had just worked around the 24 of Goetz a few laps prior to take that position. A mandatory caution period would come at lap 50, with the race surprisingly caution free up until that point, as 13 cars remained on the lead lap at this point in the race. The caution would not be a welcome sight for the 36 of Elliott, who seen a top 10 run end with over heating issues during his stop on pit road at this point in the race.
When the race went green again the duo of Bentley and Shepherd went wheel to wheel for the race lead, with Bentley finally clearing Shepherd after an impressive 2 lap dice. Shepherd, would remain trapped to the high side as Baker would charge to runner up positioning along the inside line between turns 1&2 on lap 54, this just after Baker had worked way by the 88 of Beatty after the restart. Also on the move towards the front was the 41 of Holdaway once again, as the promising upstart would pass Goetz for 6th, and then Hallyburton for fifth with a nifty low move in between turns 1&2, quite the impressive accomplishment for the young Holdaway who was making his first career Barrie appearance. On lap 62, attrition began to take its toll as #70 Tom Gibbons of Port Elgin would retire to pit road for the evening after a brush against the frontstretch wall, ending a strong run that had the Sauble Speedway veteran just outside of the top 10. On lap 65, the race for 5th place position was the one to watch, as Hallyburton and Goetz would exchange that spot on successive laps, with Holdaway now fast on the move from 4th and closing in on the lead trio of Bentley, Baker, and Shepherd, who were separated by about a half straightaway, with Bentley holding a 2 car length lead on Baker with equal distance back to the 10 of Shepherd. Baker, looked just as if he was about to wrestle the lead away from Bentley, when the first race condition caution flew on lap 72 as #6 Lane Zardo of Brampton spun in turn four.
With twelve cars remaining on the lead lap at this point the restart wouldn’t go well when a gaggle of cars collected while approaching the flagstand as #72 Jr Farelly of Guelph got crossways, as #89 Shawn Chenoweth of Plattsville, #17 Nick Roth of Baden, #74 Roy Manary of Gravenhurst, and #5 Mike “The Hulkamaniac” Langley of Orr Lake all got collected, with Roth being the only casualty and unable to continue. It was on the ensuing restart the only lead change would occur, as Baker would claim the lead on the outside after a tough two lap dice with the 51 of Bentley. Baker, would soon open up a two car length advantage at the front of the field, with a further three lengths back to the 10 of Shepherd, who was now coming under heavy fire from the 41 of Holdaway in the battle for third in the running order. Just outside of the top 5, the action was just as intense, as the 24 of Goetz would claim 6th place after passing #37 Marvin Freiburger of Walkerton with a clean inside move in turn 1 on lap 80. Just a short while later, Holdaway would pass Shepherd for third, as Hallyburton tried to fill the hole along the low side to move into 4th, but Shepherd would remain game on the high side and was able to maintain that position. Over the duration, Baker would quicken the pace at the front of the field, completing laps in the 14.9 second range while racing in clean air, thus increasing his lead over Bentley with each passing lap. Baker, would parade on to take the win by just over a 3 second margin over Bentley at the checkered, as Holdaway, Shepherd, and Hallyburton would comprise the remainder of the fast five. Goetz, would have an impressive run in his Barrie debut in finishing 6th, with Freiburger, Beatty, #43 Darin Malcolm of North Bay, and Quesnelle rounding out the top 10.
Heat wins were claimed by Bentley with a pair, Holdaway, Hallyburton, #34 Ron Quesnelle, and #88 Scott Beatty.
In the Thunder Car division, 27 cars would take to the track set to do battle as Barrie regular #39 Travis Hallyburton would draw the optimal pole position, from which he rocketed out to the early lead as #00 Darryl St. Onge would find the inside line on the opening lap under #37 Brian Murray as the two drivers went door to door for a couple laps with neither driver gaining the clear cut advantage. Further in back the duo of #10 Rick Walt and #44 Dave “The Deuce” Doucette were also lurking landing in 4th and 5th respectively after working past former 2 time track champ #12 Jim “Polish Prince” Belesky on lap four. Hallyburton, would build up a half straightaway lead at the front of the field early on, with St. Onge and Murray still locked side by side in behind when the race’s first caution came about on lap 7 as #8 Paul Bogensburger and #11 Kent Constable collided while racing into turn 1. At this point in the race, the staunch St. Onge ride would surprisingly hit pit road with mechanical issues, but the 2009 track champ was able to continue the race from the rear of the field as the green was set to fly. On the restart, Hallyburton would move out to a marginal lead, with the 10 of Walt moving to the inside line and passing Murray for 2nd on exit of turn two, leading the way for the 44 of Doucette to follow a short while later, leaving Murray locked in a wheel to wheel battle with the 12 of Belesky for 4th, in a duel eventually won by Belesky. On lap 16, the action near the front of the field began to heat up once again, as Doucette relieved Walt of 2nd with a clean pass to the low side of turn two.
At the front of the pack Hallyburton was still looking calm and collected, hitting all his marks with laps in the 16.3 second range while working lapped traffic, with Walt giving Doucette a knock out of turn 4 and pulling along the inside line as the two drivers waged an all out war for runner up positioning, in a battle very reminiscent of the week prior when the two drivers decided the Barrie title in a 1-2 finish. The second caution came about on lap 24, as #16 Bryan Penny would spin midway down the backstretch and tag the inside retaining wall along the way. Hitting pit road at this point in the race was #36 Ken Grubb of Sauble Speedway, relinquishing his top ten positioning as the race was set to go green once again. Hallyburton, would again move out to the race lead over Doucette on the restart, as Doucette used the outside line to maintain enough grip to eventually slot down in front of Walt in second. Approaching lap 30, the best battle on track was the race for 6th, as #30 Todd Davenport and #07 Dan Archibald waged an impressive dice for that position, with Davenport eventually coming out ahead. On lap 32, Davenport would continue his progression, passing Murray for 5th when the third caution appeared as #00x Joe Adams of Owen Sound slowed along the backstretch with transmission troubles, wiping out the 3 car length lead Hallyburton was holding over Doucette at the front of the pack.
When the race went green once again, Hallyburton continued to set a torrid pace, completing circuits of the one third mile tri oval in 15.7 seconds, holding Doucette at bay while further in back the battle for 7th was really heating up as St. Onge, Archibald, and #9 Kevin Reynolds were racing covered by a blanket for that position. St. Onge, would soon send Archibald around in turn 4, as Reynolds would hit the infield with what turned out to be terminal throttle issues. The next caution would fly on lap 46, when 2013 Peterborough Speedway champion #40 Donny Beatty went around entering turn one, after the field bunched up when #83 Rob Morrison hit the wall just underneath the flagstand. On the restart, Hallyburton remained poised, moving out to a single car length lead over Doucette, with St. Onge taking 6th from Murray inside of turn one. Murray, would soon find challenge to the outside from the 36 of Grubb, when the final caution flew as #21 “Flying” Bill Walt slowed along the frontstretch with motor troubles. Hallyburton, would once again move out front on the restart, this time Doucette wasn’t letting him get away inside of 5 laps remaining, as the wily veteran stayed pinned to Hallyburton’s bumper, while further in back St. Onge would execute a pass on Davenport to snatch away 5th in the running order. Over the duration, the top 5 positions would remain unchanged as it was a Barrie Speedway sweep of the top 5 at the line, with Hallyburton taking the breakthrough victory by a slender margin over Doucette at the line. The defending and current Barrie speedway champ Walt would continue his stellar season with a third place showing, while Belesky and St. Onge would round out the top 5.
Earlier heat wins went to Doucette, St. Onge, #36 Ken Grubb, and #9 Kevin Reynolds.. The win was especially significant for Reynolds, the brother of the man the race was being held in honor of 7 time Barrie champ Garry “The Gambler” Reynolds.
In Pure Stock action, 26 strong cars showed to do battle in the 30 lap feature as 2009 Barrie champ #26 Ben Melenhorst took the initial lead after getting the jump on 2013 Barrie titlist #77 Mike Gettliffe from the drop of the green. Soon following through under Gettliffe and into 2nd was 2013 Barrie runner up #10 Doug Butler, as the talented pilot soon set his sights on Melenhorst an a duel shaping up between Nissan 240s. Gettliffe, would soon find himself locked in a door to door duel with 2013 Varney Speedway champ #36 Cory Young for third, as a pair of Barrie cars #9 Charlie Smith and #400 Justin Holmes were running nip and tuck behind that duo. The first caution would appear when #11 Adam Misener would turn Smith on the exit of turn twoon lap 7, with #71x Chance Isherwood, #9 Dean Curry, and #17 Kevin Bridge also collected and piling into the prone Smith ride, as Curry, Misener, and Isherwood would all see their race’s end as a result of the contact. This turn of events would totally reshuffle up the positions nearing the front, as Melenhorst and Butler raced for two solid laps wheel to wheel at the front of the pack, with Bulter finally clearing his counterpart on lap 9, between turns 1&2, with Gettliffe taking 3rd from Young after a solid door to door battle of their own a little further in back of the leaders.
Nearing the midway mark, the man on the move was the 400 of Holmes, as the 3rd year driver landed in 4th, with Young and #64 Brandon McFerran exchanging 5th place positioning on successive laps a little further in behind. The 2nd and final caution flew on lap 13, when #73 Scott Schuelter spun on the exit of turn two, with Butler again taking control over Melenhorst on the restart, and a multi car battle shaping up just outside of the top 5 involving McFerran, #63 Jamie Cairns, Smith, and #88 Jeremy McLean. Smith, would take 7th from Cairns inside of turn one on lap 17, with Butler now holding a near half straightaway lead over Melenhorst at the front of the pack with solid laps in the 16.2 second range. Holmes, meanwhile would continue to make his mark, passing the 77 of Gettliffe for 3rd, with an inside move midway down the frontstretch, while further in back Smith would pass McFerran for 6th, while that duo raced out of turn 4. Over the duration, it was clear nobody had the power to find the back bumper of the impressive Butler Nissan, with Holmes having one last ditch look to the inside of Melenhorst while racing out of turn 4 on the final lap. Melenhorst, was able to fend off the Holmes challenge however, but Butler was already home and cooled as the silky smooth division veteran would easily record the win by 5 car lengths over Melenhorst at the checkered. Promising upstart Holmes would bring his Mustang home in 3rd, as Gettliffe and #36 Cory Young rounded out the fast five.
Earlier heat wins went to Smith with a pair, Butler, Holmes, Gettliffe, and #09 Dean Curry to complete a sweep of the heat races for the Barrie Speedway competitors.