Archive | Exclusive Features

Another Active Season of Chasing Racing for Clarke Motorsports Communications

Another Active Season of Chasing Racing for Clarke Motorsports Communications

They say it’s always good to be busy and 2014 was certainly a lively campaign of following the world of weekly short track action for Clarke Motorsports Communications.

With another year of reporting on the Saturday night comings and goings at Peterborough Speedway as part of the regular agenda, it was nice to enjoy a DIRTcar Small Block Modified show at Brockville Speedway – Saturday, May 10th – to kick-off the year. My first exposure to the sport was watching dirt racing at Kingston Speedway and that form of competition remains near and dear to my heart. Being asked to spend time in the announcer’s booth, co-hosting with Tim Baltz was a lot of fun as well. We had a great time and shared a few laughs while providing the play-by-play.

The season for Canada’s Toughest 3rd of a Mile Paved Oval got rolling a week later and the tight, tricky bullring on Mount Pleasant Road, west of the Liftlock City provided some exciting shows throughout the spring, summer and fall. During the year, I put together pre-event and post-race media reports, while also documenting the progress of a number of different drivers in the track’s regular divisions who carry my stickers on their cars.

From the year’s opening green flag to the final checkered hanky of the 22nd Annual Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing, Peterborough Speedway fans witnessed some of the closest racing in the track’s illustrious history. Congratulations to this year’s point champions Willow Barberstock, Ryan Babin, Jack Dallin, Anthony DiBello and Ryan Kimball. Kimball etched his name in the history books, becoming the latest to claim a track championship and an Autumn Colours Classic main event win in the same year.

Writing and photography work kept me busy all through this season’s calendar, with promotional projects for the Ontario Modifieds Racing Series and short-lived Grassroots Racing Program crossing the desk. The former is a venture that continues to grow with increased crowd and driver support, while the latter – under the promotion of Andrew McFadden – saw regularly scheduled racing return to Kawartha Speedway. Sadly, the series lacked the commitment of drivers or fans and was cancelled after 3 of the scheduled 8 events had been completed.

For the first time in a number of years, I added a new venue to my track chasing totals with an inaugural visit to Flamboro Speedway. The OMRS teams were part of an event known as the Memorial Race Weekend and although it was a late, chilly evening the racing and hospitality of the night were both memorable experiences. While hardly a new venture, my season wrapped-up with the Northeast Fall Nationals at Brockville Speedway, where Rochester, New York’s Danny Johnson survived a cold, wet weekend to sweep both the Big Block and 358 DIRTcar Modified feature events.

2014’s racing brought with it a number of great stories. Willow Barberstock claiming Peterborough Speedway’s 4Fun division point championship, a month before her 15th birthday was a great place to start. It was also exciting to watch Danny Benedict’s mid-season hot streak, with Mini Stock wins at Peterborough, Sunset and Capital City Speedways. The talented teen from Orono, Ontario may have lacked consistency during the year, but his fellow competitors named the driver of the #54 Mustang the most sportsmanlike in the class. With every triumph comes tragedy. Perhaps the biggest motorsports headline of the year was the unfortunate incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, where Kevin Ward Jr. lost his life. I haven’t watched the video, so it’s best to not comment further; other to say it will likely change the future of short track auto racing forever. I was also deeply saddened by the passing of long-time friend and fellow motorsports writer and web designer Craig Revelle, who died suddenly in October.

Even with a few months of winter weather still on the horizon, I’ve already started to look ahead to the 2015 season. Headline events will start with the DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series at Brockville Speedway – Wednesday, May 27th. The next marquee events of the new season will be back-to-back World of Outlaws Late Model tour stops Saturday, June 20th and Sunday, June 21st at Brighton Speedway and Cornwall Motor Speedway. The winged warriors of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car circuit returns to Brockville Speedway Friday, July 31st.

In 2014, Clarke Motorsports Communications proudly represented Peterborough Speedway, Grassroots Racing, Ontario Modifieds Racing Series, Northeast Fall Nationals at Brockville Speedway. Craig & Brant Graham, Linc Brown Motorsports, Howie Crowe, Danny Benedict, Michel ‘Mike’ Beyore, Adam Turner, Adam Cuthbertson, Tim Kerr, Grant Fitzpatrick, Willow Barberstock, Charlie Sandercock and others.

Photo attachment: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications/First Draft Media

1). With a nickname earned by winning the final regularly scheduled main events at Kawartha Speedway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park/Mosport Speedway, the #54 Mini Stock of ‘The Show Stopper’ Danny Benedict scored feature wins at Peterborough, Sunset and Capital City Speedways during a 2014 mid-season hot streak.

2). NASCAR Canadian Tire Series standout J.R. Fitzpatrick takes a slide through the infield grass in an OSCAAR Outlaw Super Late Model during practice for the 22nd Annual Autumn Colours Classic at Peterborough Speedway.

3). Caley Weese powers her #77 Pro Late Model through the 3rd turn at Brighton Speedway during the 2014 edition of the Applefest Shootout Weekend.

4). It was déjà vu all over again for Kingston’s Danny O’Brien, who added yet another DIRTcar 358 Modified track championship at Brockville Speedway to his impressive resume.

Prepared by: Jim Clarke, Clarke Motorsports Communications/First Draft Media
clarkemotorsports@hotmail.com
613.968.6410

Posted in by Jim Clarke, Features0 Comments

Michael Williams Get Elusive CVM Feature Win At Sauble Speedway 

Michael Williams Get Elusive CVM Feature Win At Sauble Speedway 

By Randy Spencer – As many of you racers know, that elusive first feature win is sometimes very hard to get. No matter how talented you are, you need some good luck and help behind the scenes to get there. Well that is exactly what Michael Williams got this past Saturday as he finally got the monkey off his back and picked up his first feature win in the Lucas Oil Canadian Vintage Modified series. I’ve come to get to know Mike and his dad Dave over the past six years and want to say congratulations. There hard work and dedication has finally paid off.

The 33 year old electrician from Tottenham began his racing career running karts at Formula Kartways in Brampton. Mike had always dreamed about driving a real race car but never thought it could be possible. After a test in a car at Flamboro six years ago, Mike and the team were hooked. They bought a CVM and the rest is history. The car he drives now is the car formerly run by Arnold “Doc” Roper, former club president, sponsor and member of the Canadian Vintage Modified Hall of Fame. The past few seasons have been hit and miss for Williams. He took some time off and raced a partial schedule after his marriage to wife Andrea but is now spending some time behind the wheel of the race car again.

Although some of Williams best runs have been this year at Sauble, he told me Delaware Speedway is one of his favorites. “Some of my highlights racing are any time we race at Delaware Speedway. For some reason it doesn’t matter what we do with the setup, the car always seems to be fast there. Every lap around that track is the most fun I get racing especially when the car works on the outside. Our car was owned by the late Doc Roper and I know Delaware was his favourite track so I think that has something to do with it.”

The best Mike has finished to this point is second, several times. “Other than heat wins I haven’t been able to finish better than 2nd up until this past weekend. At the July race in Sauble earlier this summer we had the fastest car in practice but lost a cylinder in the heat race and was unable to start the feature. The closest I came to winning a race was also at Sauble in August 2011. I was leading with 5 laps to go when I developed a push and drove it in too deep and allowed the second place driver to get under me to steal the win.”

Two weeks ago at Flamboro Williams was running well but bad luck once again managed to hit again. “That last wreck at Flamboro was a tough one, probably the worst wreck I have been involved with in terms of damage to the car. We pretty much bent or broke everything in the front end. Fortunately Ron Easton at Oakville Trailers was able to set aside some time away from his Nascar commitments to work on getting our hot rod back together. We worked together with Oakville Trailers this past winter and Ron has helped us make big strides with our racing program. When we had the wreck at Flamboro we knew there was only one place to call to get us back out on the track just as fast as ever.”

When the #7 car found his way to victory lane at Sauble, I asked Mike what the best part of that experience was. “The best part about winning was to be able to celebrate with my dad and crew in victory lane. It was cool to have my buddy Pat there from my main sponsor (Race Mechanical) to enjoy the win with us as well.” Williams almost experienced a little deja vu however. “The race at Sauble felt a lot faster then most because there was only one caution. The last 5 laps did get a little sketchy because I was fighting a bad push into the corners similar to 2011. In the end I was able to hold off a hard charging #00 car who was literally wearing out the back bumper. Once I saw the checkered flag all I could think about was all the people that helped us along the way and how the win is for all of them. It felt great to finally shake the monkey off my back but at the same time I am hungry to do it again.”

Mike has so many people he wanted to thank. “My crew is my family who sacrifices a lot to be with us at the track and in the garage.  The Crew of Dave & Stephen Williams, Brian Henvey, Derek Therrien, Fred Zaffuto and John Donkers has all stuck together with me since the beginning.  For our motor program we take the inline Chevy 6 cylinder to Beatty & Woods in Brampton exclusively. So thanks to Chuck and the boys for filling the car up with all those ponies. We have always had the support of the #00 crew so thanks to Ron, Jeremy and Dave. I would also like to thank my wife Andrea and all off the wives/girlfriends/bosses of my crew who make sacrifices of their own to let us play with our car all summer. Finally I would like to thank all my family and friends for their continued support, especially the ones that were at Flamboro and witnessed that last wreck. As you can imagine I was about as happy as a one armed paper hanger after that wreck.”

In closing Mike wanted to thank all of his sponsors as well and tell me about his future plans in racing. “My main sponsors who have been with us as long as we have had the car is Race Mechanical Systems and Ironwood Construction & Millworking. Over the years we have been blessed with many great sponsors which include HollyParkes.com, Arena Pro Hockey, Burlington Krown & Line-X, Stag Automotive, Oakville Trailers, Terrier Excavating & Landscaping, Diplock Floors LTD, and Kevin Minaker Hutchison & Sons LTD. Without the support of these sponsors none of this would be possible so we are forever grateful. I can’t forget to mention Lucas Oil title sponsor of the Canadian Vintage Modifieds. Lucas Oil helps support the club that makes this all happen.”

And your future plans?  “I’d like to win more races and support the longest active racing organization in Canada, the Lucas Oil Canadian Vintage Modifieds!!” For more information check out http://www.vintagemods.com/

Photos courtesy of T.W. Robarts Photos

Posted in by Randy Spencer, Features0 Comments

Beyore Steals Top-Five at Barrie

Beyore Steals Top-Five at Barrie

WHITBY (June 18, 2014) – Mike Beyore evaded a last lap incident to earn a fifth-place finish at Barrie Speedway on Saturday night. It hasn’t taken Beyore long to regain success with the OSCAAR Super Late Model tour in 2014. The Whitby, Ont. native’s top-five finish comes just two weeks after he finished seventh in his season debut at Kawartha Speedway.

Beyore fought a tight racecar throughout the 50-lap main event at the Oro Station, Ont. track. The car handled less than perfect, Beyore said, but he is happy with the result.

“We brought the car home and it only had a couple of marks on it. Everything ran well,” explained Beyore. “We finished fifth and I can’t complain.”

The No.54 rolled from the eighth starting position and Beyore immediately began to battle for a top-five spot.

In the early laps, Beyore felt he had a car to contend for a podium finish. A caution just after the halfway point of the race changed the handling, Beyore said.

“At about halfway, I was starting to make up time, but then all of a sudden we had a caution,” he said. “After the caution, I had a bad push. I had a left front tire going soft. I fought it most of the time.”

In the final 20 laps, Beyore was engaged in a three-car battle with Jesse Kennedy (No.10) and Corey Jones (No.82) for fifth. Beyore settled in seventh as he watched Kennedy and Jones go wheel-to-wheel. His patience was rewarded in the end.

“They got in to each other on the last lap. When they got together, I went around on the outside coming off four to the checkers,” said Beyore of the minor incident.

“I thought I was going to get squeezed, but they all seemed to stay to the bottom. I came out of there like nothing.”

The last corner pass pushed Beyore in to the top-five for the first time this season. In addition to fighting the handling issue, Beyore was amazed at the difficulty Barrie Speedway presents, particularly in turn four.

“If you’re off a bit you’re done,” he said. “Coming off of four, I touched the wall a couple of times.”

After a pair of top-ten finishes, Beyore is happy with where his program is heading for the 2014 season. More importantly, Beyore has not dealt with the carbon monoxide poisoning he had in 2013.

“I haven’t felt sick in the car or anything,” said Beyore, following the Barrie event. “It’s a big change for me. Usually the next day I’ve felt like crap also, but I’ve been feeling really well.”

Beyore debuted a new paint scheme for his No.54 Stemac, Millenium Crane Chevrolet for the 2014 season at Kawartha. The new design features the same white car with much brighter numbers.

“I had to change it up. I went back to the all-white colour with the yellow interior and the fluorescent green numbers. I just did that for something to do,” he said.

Beyore will return to action with the OSCAAR Super Late Model tour for the two-day Don Biederman Memorial event at Sunset Speedway on June 28 and 29.

Follow Mike Beyore’s OSCAAR Super Late Model campaign online all season long on Twitter via @54buck and at www.beyoreracing.ca.

Mike Beyore’s 2014 OSCAAR tour is supported by Stemac, Millenium Crane, CNC Custom Machining, Praxair, MGS Performance, Mayhew Graphics, Vista Engineering Corp., Lesco Industrial Restoration Inc., and Metals Plus.

By Clayton Johns (@cjohnsmedia)

Photo Credit: Dan Little Jr.

Posted in By Clayton Johns, Team Releases0 Comments

Dale Wilson Finishes Fourth At Sauble

Dale Wilson Finishes Fourth At Sauble

WATERLOO (June 16, 2014) – Momentum continues to build for Dale Wilson as the 20 year-old pilot finished fourth with the Ontario Pro Challenge series Saturday night. Round three of the 2014 tour took Wilson and the AW Millwrights, Rite Way Mechanical team to the Grey-Bruce Peninsula and Sauble Speedway. Wilson earned his third consecutive top-five finish this year.

“It was nice to finish well at Sauble, especially because my longtime sponsor Riteway Mechanical just opened a new location near the track in Owen Sound,” said Wilson. “It was nice to race well for them.”

Wilson started the night off with a good run in his heat, finishing second to Josh Nicholson (No.66) after starting inside the second row.

The feature race invert placed Wilson eighth in the starting lineup. He did not waste any of the 30 laps at his disposal, quickly moving through the field.

“I had to make a few moves early on that got me to fifth,” said Wilson.

A trio of cautions in the middle of the race gave Wilson the opportunity to contend for the lead.

“The cautions definitely helped me work my way up to second,” explained Wilson. “On one restart, I almost went from fifth to first before the first corner.”

In the latter half of the race, Wilson advanced in to the top two. He ran second and began to track down eventual race winner Justin Billington (No.24). In the closing laps, Wilson looked to have sewn up his first podium finish of the year. However, a slight bobble with two laps to go saw him fall to fourth.

“I was running second for a few laps. With two laps to go, the experienced veterans got the better of me,” said Wilson.

Series mainstays Dennis Thomson (No.02) and Tim Norris (No.88) slipped beneath theNo.3 in the centre of the corner. The mistake is a learning experience for Wilson.

“I’ve definitely got to hold my line a little better going in to the corners,” he said. “I got in a little loose on the entrance and that let Tim Norris get underneath me.”

After a successful trip to ‘the Beach’, Wilson eagerly awaits a return visit to the Hepworth, Ont. track.

“I would love it if the Pro Challenge would go back to Sauble twice a year like we used to. I love going there, because no two corners are the same.”

Wilson’s AW Millwrights, Riteway Mechanical team, spearheaded by Dale’s father, Stephen, will have two weeks to prepare for their second trip to Sunset Speedway on June 28.

The June 28 event marks the beginning of a stretch of four races in four weeks, which includes two trips to Flamboro Speedway and a return trip to Sunset. Wilson has enjoyed the extra preparation time provided by a bi-weekly schedule to this point. He is looking forward though to the heart of the 2014 season.

“Racing every second week is nice, but sometimes it’s nice to race a few weeks in succession.”

Dale Wilson’s 2014 racing season is supported by Warren Leis of AW Millwrights and Greg Toneguzzo of Rite Way Mechanical. The entire Wilson Motorsports team would like to thank the sponsors for their continued support.

Follow Dale Wilson’s 2014 season with the Ontario Pro Challenge tour on Twitter, @dale_wilson3.

Media Contact: Clayton Johns (@cjohnsmedia)
claytonjohns@hotmail.com

Posted in By Clayton Johns, Team Releases0 Comments

A Cool Saturday Night Produces Some Hot Action at Peterborough Speedway

A Cool Saturday Night Produces Some Hot Action at Peterborough Speedway

With summer set to arrive in just a week’s time, it was the final fling for spring Saturday, June 14th at Canada’s Toughest 3rd of a Mile Paved Oval. The TQ/Can-Am Midgets joined the hometown favourite Battlefield Equipment Rental 4Fun, Peterborough Hyundai Mini Stock, Paul Davis Systems Thunder Car and Parry Spring Service Renegade Truck teams for the 5th event on this year’s schedule.

The first heat race action on the night belonged to the Battlefield Equipment Rental 4Fun squad, with Ray Schroer, Griffen Powell, Matthew Vanderbelt and Brandon Feeney taking the checkered flags. Tyler Junkin, “The Show Stopper” Danny Benedict, James Townsend and last week’s feature winner Ryan Babin took the Peterborough Hyundai Mini Stock qualifying rounds.

Former CASCAR Super Series driver Rob Neely and Adrian Stahle took the TQ/Can-Am Midget heat races. Paul Smith won the ‘B’ main last chance qualifier.

Jack Dallin – the division’s only feature winner this year – took both Parry Spring Service Renegade Truck heat wins, with Anthony DiBello, Dan Price, Andrew Swindells and Howie Crowe claiming the Paul Davis Systems Thunder Car qualifiers.

Willow Barberstock and Brandon Feeney followed the Sound Off Signal pace truck to the green flag for Battlefield Equipment Rental 4Fun main event. Barberstock jumped out to an early, with Ray Schroer chasing her back bumper. With as much as a half a track length’s advantage, the popular teenager from Stirling, Ontario claimed her second win of the season over Schroer, Tiffany Vanderbelt, Matthew Vanderbelt and Griffen Powell.

Dan Demers and Henk Mulders occupied the front row starting spots for the 20 lap Peterborough Hyundai Mini Stock feature tilt. It didn’t take long for James Townsend to move to the front of the field and with a dozen laps in the books, he was working through lapped traffic when the #45 of Henk Mulders was sent spinning through the infield grass after being hit by Ryan Oosterholt. Mulders made hard contact with the pit lane wall, but exited the car on his own. After an extensive yellow flag to put a displaced safety block back into position, the field set off for an 8 lap shootout to settle the score. Tyler Junkin got a jump on Townsend on the re-start, with Townsend facing a challenge from Ryan Babin, but it was the #41 who earned a trip to Dart Heating and Air Conditioning victory lane. Townsend, Babin, Brandt Graham and Kevin Strutt completed the fast 5.

Josh Milwain and Andy McCann brought the Parry Spring Service Renegade Truck pack to the stripe for their 15 lap feature. Coming from deep in the field, Jack Dallin pushed his #07 to the runner-up spot and ran side-by-side with defending track champion Bill O’Hara for a number of laps. The pair waged a tight battle, with Dallin taking the lead with a dozen circuits complete. Dallin claimed his 4th consecutive win, over O’Hara, Jeff Vanderbelt, McCann and Stephen Bierworth.

With 20 laps on the agenda, Brad Lavalle and Tom Podd filled the front row positions for the Paul Davis Systems Thunder Car ‘A’ main. With a handful of laps complete, Anthony DiBello was in control of the field, with Stu Robinson Jr. and Andrew Swindells giving chase. Working through lapped traffic allowed Robinson and new 3rd place runner Howie Crowe to close on the leader, but there wasn’t enough time to take the win from DiBello, who became the first repeat winner in the Thunder Car division. Robinson, Crowe, Dan Price and Craig Scott followed the leader across the line.

A 25 lap feature event for the TQ/Can-Am Midgets wrapped-up the night’s action, with 15 starters taking the green flag. The ultra-quick winged rockets delighted the crowd with some excellent action and after a couple of early yellow flags and a red flag with 9 laps complete for a spin and single car rollover by Ryan Fraser on the backstretch that also involved Tyler Turnbull and Daniel Bois, the race ran green until a spin with 17 circuits complete by Adrian Stahle, who was running in second position. Lucas Smith brought the field back to green flag racing and took the win, over Rob Neely, Mack DeMan, Todd Cresswell and Darren McLennan.

Bullring Bullet Points: The Peterborough Shrine Club 50/50 draw paid close to $400 to the father of TQ/Can-Am Midget driver Chris Holman. Ironically, the driver of the #16 crashed out of the ‘B’ Main…Omemee, Ontario’s Craig Scott made his first start of the season in a re-tooled #69 Thunder Car. Stu Robinson Jr. – a former OSCAAR Super Late Model and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series runner – took over the controls of Donny Beatty’s #40 Thunder Car. With the Earl Ireland Auto Sales Late Model teams enjoying a week off, 2013 track champion Craig Graham climbed behind the wheel of his son Brandt’s #12 Mini Stock for some laps during practice…Willow Barberstock and Anthony DiBello joined Jack Dallin in becoming Peterborough Speedway’s only 2014 multiple feature race winners…At intermission, the kids bicycle races were won by Brody Kyle in the 9 and under age group. Darien Kyle, in the 9 to 11 grouping and Brandon Adams in the class for 11 to 13 year olds.

Saturday, June 21st action returns to the tight, tricky bullring on Mount Pleasant Road, west of the Liftlock City, with the Parry Spring Service Renegade Truck, Paul Davis Systems Thunder Car, Earl Ireland Auto Sales Late Model divisions, the second 2014 appearance by the Hurricane Midgets and a 100 lap endurance event. Pit gates open at 3:00, grandstands at 5:00 and the first green flag at 6:00.

Fans can always find the latest news at www.peterboroughspeedway.com or by following the track on Facebook or Twitter. You can also download the free Peterborough Speedway app on your Smartphone.

Photo attachment: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications/First Draft Media
1) The taste of winning is sweet. Willow Barberstock made her second trip to Dart Heating and Air Conditioning victory lane after claiming the Battlefield Equipment Rental 4Fun win – Saturday, June 14th – at Peterborough Speedway.
2) Ennismore, Ontario’s Tyler Junkin made a strong effort pay off with a Peterborough Hyundai Mini Stock feature win – Saturday, June 14th – at Peterborough Speedway.

Prepared by: Jim Clarke, Clarke Motorsports Communications/First Draft Media
clarkemotorsports@hotmail.com
613.968.6410

Posted in by Jim Clarke, Peterborough Speedway0 Comments

Baker Wins 100 Lap Pro Late Model Special at Sunset Speedway

Baker Wins 100 Lap Pro Late Model Special at Sunset Speedway

By Eric Uprichard / OntarioOval.com  STROUD ON – Dwayne Baker collected his first checkered flag of the season, and a huge payout in the highly anticipated APC 100 Pro Late Model Invitational at Sunset Speedway on Saturday night.

Time trials kick started the evening, as Sean Cronan, a Sunset Speedway Limited Late Model regular, was quickest of the 21 competitors clocking in at a 14.541, a fraction faster than Taylor Holdaway. Cronan would start mid pack after being relegated to tenth after the invert, placing Nick Goetz on pole for the start of the 100 lapper.

The field did run a B-Main, although all cars did make the field. 2013 NASCAR Modified Rookie of the Year, Cole Powell, was first across the line while Paul Maltese had an issue with his engine letting go heading into turn three on the final lap. Unfortunately Maltese backed it had into the wall ending his night pre-maturely.

The feature race was a spectacle; long green flag runs, lots of side by side battles that lasted several laps, and of course, the odd caution to keep things interesting. Nick Goetz, Chris Morrow and Steve Laking all had their crack at the front of the field early on, but Dwayne Baker was able to preserve his equipment and hold the lead for the better part of the race to capture his first feature win of the year, and a five-thousand dollar payday.

Unofficial Pro LM top five:

1)      48. Dwayne Baker

2)      19. Jason Witty

3)      9. Brandon Watson

4)       47. Tom Walters

5)      24H. Jason Hathaway

The Ontario Pro Challenge also ran an exciting feature to kick off their 2014 season. Patrick Freel was perfect on this night as he never looked back after starting on pole for the 30-lap affair. Freel was able to hold the point after a couple dicey restarts for the feature win.

Unofficial Ontario Pro Challenge top five:

1)      18. Patrick Freel

2)      66. Josh Nicholson

3)      02. Dennis Thompson

4)      38. Kyle Batty

5)      3. Dale Wilson

In the Mini Stock division, Warren Paxton was able to run the tables on the field and prove once again why he is the Sunset Speedway defending Mini Stock Champion. Paxton won his heat, with Miles Tyson and Andrew Kamrath also claiming trips to victory lane.

Samantha Shaw was able to cruise her way into victory lane in the B-Main, and Warren Paxton was able to find his way into victory lane in the dash-for-cash. Tyson, Kamrath, Swartzenburg and McFerran rounded out the top five.

Much like the dash-for-cash, the fast cars were front row centre for the feature. Myles Tyson started shotgun in front of a full field of Mini Stocks. Tyson was eventually passed just before a caution on lap 10, by the eventual race winner, Warren Paxton.

Unofficial Mini Stock top five:

1)      33. Warren Paxton

2)      49. Miles Tyson

3)      86. Billy Swartzenburg

4)      64. Brandon McFerran

5)      35. Andrew Kamrath

For official results and 2014 Sunset Speedway racing schedule, please visit www.sunsetspeedway.ca.

Posted in At The Track, by Eric Uprichard, Sunset Int'l Speedway0 Comments

Dale Wilson Equipped For New OPC Season

Dale Wilson Equipped For New OPC Season

By Clayton Johns – WATERLOO, Ont. – After four seasons of Ontario Pro Challenge competition, Dale Wilson is set to step in to a new ride for the 2014 season. Wilson acquired series veteran Ken Nicholson’s car over the off-season and will debut the new car in the series opener at Sunset Speedway on May 10.

The 19 year-old Wilson is one of the youngest competitors with the OPC, which forced him to earn the respect of his competitors in different ways. Now with four years experience to his name, mainstay drivers like Dennis Thomson, Kyle Batty, and Nicholson, still help the young driver off the track. But that all changes once the green flag drops.

“On the track, you have to race them clean, you have to race them smart, and you have to race them hard,” said Wilson, a second-year law student at Carleton University. “That is one of the ways to gain respect from the top guys in that series.”

Consistent top-five finishes is on Wilson’s 2014 checklist. After missing the second half of 2013 when his car was sold and to attend school, Wilson is anxious to get behind the wheel again.

But getting back to victory lane is the top priority. Wilson last took a heat win at Sauble Speedway last May and has not won a feature since July 2012 at Varney Speedway.

“I want to get some more feature wins than the one per season we’ve been able to establish,” said Wilson.

While the season starts on May 10, Wilson is also eyeing the series first trip of the season to Flamboro on May 24 for a victory.

“I can’t really put my finger on it,” explained Wilson. “Every time we’ve gone there everything seems to work and click.”

Wilson hopes his clean, consistent and economical driving style will help him win again. The Waterloo, Ont. native has a seriously superstitious routine he believes will help him achieve his goals.

“I’m a very superstitious person,” laughed Wilson. “I have to put my ear plugs in the same way, the tape has to be the right length, I have to put each belt on individually. And if it doesn’t work, you change it up.”

Longtime sponsors AW Millwrights and Rite Way Mechanical will support Wilson’s fifth season. Wilson says he likes the new look despite moving away from his retro Dale Earnhardt-esque paint.

“I actually really like the car, I think it looks great,” said Wilson. “Its more suited to the colours of AW Millwrights.”

The preparation of the new car and impressive paint scheme would not have been possible, Dale said, without hard work from Dennis Thomson, Ken Nicholson, and his father Stephen Wilson.  A full season is thanks to the support of AW Millwrights and Rite Way Mechanical’s Greg Toneguzzo.

Follow Dale Wilson and the 2014 Ontario Pro Challenge Series season at www.prochallengeracing.com.

Posted in By Clayton Johns, Exclusive Features, Features, Ontario Pro Challenge0 Comments

When The Unthinkable Happens: Hotchkiss Scores Varney Title On The First Shot

When The Unthinkable Happens: Hotchkiss Scores Varney Title On The First Shot

By Greg Calnan / OntarioOval.com – For Varney, Ontario’s Lance Hotchkiss the thought of capturing the 2013 Late Model Championship at Varney Speedway Motorplex never crossed his mind.  After all, what driver entering their first full year of competition in a division thinks they will be able to walk into a class and knock off the returning veterans? This 23 year old certainly didn’t however by the final night of the season the unthinkable had come true. It wasn’t easy, and he won by just a single point, but consistency and a short learning curve gave this youngster all he needed to take the crown.

Unlike many in the sport Lance does not come from a long line of racers, but he does come from a family that has been deeply involved in the sport for a number of years. His grandmother owns the property to the north and the east of the speedway and his late grandfather John Eden worked at the track for many years and owned Eden Automotive.  His uncle, Gerald Eden was the President of the Ontario Modified Association and did PR work for the track in the past. Winning is also in his family bloodlines. His cousin Chad Eden had much success at Varney over the years in the Thunder Car ranks before shifting gears to Sauble Speedway.

Growing up around the track Lance knew he wanted to drive. At the age of 14 he was given the opportunity to drive a 4 cylinder car for Don Tremble. Don’s son Jason also 14  was starting in this class as well .  Lance won 8 features during his time in the division along with multiple heat race wins. The experience both on the track and in the shop working with the Tremble Family proved invaluable and helped make the transition to Late Models that much easier.

Did he feel he would be a contender entering the 2013 season? “Not at all” says Hotchkiss. “I was more concerned about keeping the car in one piece and gaining experience”. That attitude was the right approach as his steadiness and patience started putting him into contention early in the season.

“By the third night of racing we were competing for the win, I was surprised. As the weeks wore on I realized we were a contender”. In fact he was the point leader heading into the final night of the season, and what a night it was.

Lance led the standings by 1 point over Dan Wright. Although he had not yet scored a feature win he knew that element wouldn’t come into play as Varney Speedway Motorplex only counts heat race points in the season finale. That meant all he had to do was keep pace with Wright. But that was easier said than done. Wright went out and won his qualifier and locked the pair in a tie atop the standings. That put all the pressure on Lance in heat two. He needed to win the heat to take the title, or finish second to at least remain tied. When all was said and done, Lance won the heat and clinched the championship by just 1 point. To add an exclamation mark to night he passed Wright late in the main event to capture his first ever feature win.

The championship season certainly caught this humble driver by surprise, but he never lost sight of those that helped get him to the top. “I want to thank Don Tremble of Candue Homes for his support and Crew Chief Todd Edwards for all his hard work, as well as his son TJ Edwards for spotting and helping . I also appreciate all the setup advice and tips that Jason Parker has given me over the years. Without all of these people I couldn’t be where I am today. We also have folks like 4 Wheels Performance, Merv Benders Carpentry, Durham Well Drilling,  MacGregor Imports, H.Bye Const. and Statefarm to thank.  Their support helps make it possible for us to compete at such a high level”.

Although no one expected the name Lance Hotchkiss to be on the championship trophy at Varney this season it definitely won’t be forgotten in the years to come. He proved that anyone with the right amount of talent, patience and passion can compete with the best and most importantly… make the unthinkable happen!

Posted in by Greg Calnan, Exclusive Features0 Comments

Special Feature: Has Grassroots Racing Lost Its Appeal?

Special Feature: Has Grassroots Racing Lost Its Appeal?

Opinion By Eric Uprichard – Have you ever wondered what life would be like away from a local short track on a Saturday night? I’d be willing to bet my last nickel you are a diehard racing fanatic because you are reading this column; and there’s the rub, it ends with the diehards. Whether you are a driver, crew member, track official or a photographer like me, we have been left scratching our heads wondering where all the fans went.

When Kawartha Speedway announced at the end of last season that they would not be returning with a regular weekly program in 2013, the closing almost seemed inevitable. Current economic conditions would just not support three tracks within a short radius and a diminishing car count.  On Wednesday night, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park ( Mosport Oval ) announced in a driver meeting that they would be closing the front gate on regular weekly competition to make room for a driver development track. Politics? Maybe. But the truth remains that operating a racetrack is a business, period.

So, the question of the decade is: has grassroots racing lost its appeal? The grandstands are a clear indication that motorsports has lost its glitz and glamor amongst the general population here in Ontario. But why? In my opinion, there is nothing like experiencing a live motor race; the sights, the sounds, the smells and the excitement of driver personalities and skill make for an exciting night of entertainment. So again, has grassroots racing lost its appeal?

Of course there are many factors that drive an industry, and a poor economy certainly doesn’t help even a booming industry. But business is cyclical, and motorsport is clearly in a downturn. The recession as obviously hit the automotive industry hard, but most Canadians have seen the bottom of the downturn and are spending money freely once again. So who or what is the culprit? The information age! We are no longer operating in the industrial age. Today is a different era, and it has crept up on the motorsports world without us even knowing. Old ways of connecting with sponsors and fans does not work. Children at a young age are connected to the world in ways their parents could not have dreamed of only a few short years ago, and they are choosing much different forms of entertainment today.

As a youngster I recall doing the ‘Sauble Shuffle’ ( a move where everyone got a little closer to each other to accommodate more people in the stands at Sauble Speedway ). And while I don’t have the answer to getting fans back into the seats, I do know that we have been blind to the way young people view the world. We do not operate in the same world we once did. The way a company connects with its customers has changed, and it’s occurring at a rapid pace.  While discounting admission 50% may draw a few extra fans that night, what that says to me is, ‘the show being put on is only worth 50% of what I’m willing to pay’.

Until the racing community can figure out what it is the fans in the grandstands REALLY want from a racing show, grassroots racing will continue to lose its appeal… and tracks!

Below: A few shots around Ontario over the past few years. 

 

Posted in by Eric Uprichard, Features0 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

O’Brien Brothers Looking For A Slice Of Brighton Speedway’s Applefest Shootout Pie

O’Brien Brothers Looking For A Slice Of Brighton Speedway’s Applefest Shootout Pie

By Jim Clarke, Clarke Motorsports Communications

Pat and Danny O’Brien have a score to settle with their younger brother.  Since the 2005 inception of Brighton Speedway’s Applefest Shootout, featuring the DIRTcar 358 modifieds the name “O’Brien” appears on the championship trophy only once and it doesn’t belong to the 4 time Mr. DIRTcar title holder or the 10 time Brockville Speedway track champion.  In 2011, Tim O’Brien captured the prestigious win with a thrilling late race triumph over Danny O’Brien and Mike Bowman.  With the 2012 edition of the Benson Auto Parts 100 lap extravaganza, presented by VP Fuels and Imagefactor.ca taking the green flag Saturday, September 22nd the older O’Brien siblings have a chance to earn a trip to the winner’s circle.  Track promoter Mark Rinaldi says the brothers are crowd favourites wherever they race.

“There’s no disputing the numbers these guys have put up throughout their careers and the fact that only one of them has picked-up the checkered flag at this race speaks volumes about the level of competition at our race,” said Rinaldi.  “Pat, Danny and Tim race each other as hard as – or harder than any other car in the field.  All 3 finished in the top 10 in points atBrockvilleduring the 2012 season, so our fans are in for a great show.”

After another self-imposed hiatus, Pat O’Brien returned to Brockville Speedway’s weekly wars this year.  His 4th place point finish – on the strength of a pair of wins in 17 starts – proved there is no slowing down the driver of the #6 Gypsum Logistics/Milestone Protective Coating Systems Bicknell Racing Products machine.  The eldest O’Brien would like nothing better than being the second family member to walk away with the $4,000 winner’s cheque in his back pocket.

His uncharacteristic 7th place point finish, with 2 feature victories punctuated a frustrating year at Brockville for Danny O’Brien.  On the other side of the coin, the middle of the 3 racing brothers finished 5th at Mohawk International Raceway and enters Brighton Speedway’s Mr. DIRTcar championship trail event 6th in the standings.  A perennial top 5 finisher on the tight 3rd mile bullring, no one would be too shocked to see the #17D 1000 Islands RV Centre/Ponte Brothers Masonry/103.7 BOB-FM ride in victory lane after 100 laps.

A series of late season mechanical woes prevented Tim O’Brien from cracking the top 5 in Brockville’s final point standings, but as the defending Applefest Shootout champion, the pilot of the #88 Jim’s Performance Plus/S.G. Wells/Windmill Construction Ford powered TEO Pro Car heads into the fray as a marked man.  The youngest of the clan will be looking to put his bad luck in the past and earn a second trip to the winner’s circle.

The Benson Auto Parts Applefest Shootout, featuring the DIRTcar 358 modifieds – presented by VP Fuels and Imagefactor.ca – takes the green flag Saturday, September 22nd at 6:00 at Brighton Speedway.  For a complete schedule of events, see www.brightonspeedway.com, www.imagefactor.ca/applefestshootout or call 866.681.1102.

 

Photo attachment:  Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications

Kingston’s Pat O’Brien is looking to join younger brother Tim in having his name engraved on the winner’s trophy for the Applefest Shootout – Saturday, September 22nd – at Brighton Speedway.

 

Prepared by:  Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications

clarkemotorsports@hotmail.com

613.968.6410  /  613.922.0654

Posted in by Jim Clarke, Features0 Comments

DIRTcar Racing’s Rising Stars Get Ready For Brighton Speedway’s Applefest Shootout

DIRTcar Racing’s Rising Stars Get Ready For Brighton Speedway’s Applefest Shootout

By Jim Clarke, Clarke Motorsports Communications

At first glance, the youthful appearance of DIRTcar racing’s young lions may lead some to question their abilities but checking the resumes of these talent laden youngsters will paint an entirely different picture. Saturday, September 22nd, the sport’s brightest boyish stars will battle in the 100 lap Benson Auto Parts Applefest Shootout, featuring the DIRTcar 358 modifieds – presented by VP Fuels and Imagefactor.ca – at Brighton Speedway.

“Maybe its saying something about me, but these kids seem younger every year,” said track promoter Mark Rinaldi. “From the go karts, through street stocks, sportsman modifieds and eventually the 358’s, there are so many different outlets available to develop their talent and skills. It’s never a big shock to see the young lions battle the veterans and come out on top.”

While still carrying his ‘Teenage Tornado’ handle, Chris Raabe made headlines as the youngest Mr. DIRTcar sportsman modified champion in the sanctioning body’s long history. The Napanee, Ontario speedster – who currently attends Queen’s University – missed last year’s Applefest event while making a handful of starts in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. While finishing 2nd in points at Mohawk International Raceway and 3rd at Cornwall Motor Speedway, Raabe stunned the touring stars by capturing the Seaway Valley quarter-mile’s Super DIRTcar Big Block show in his small block powered TEO Pro Car.

Turning laps at race speed at the New York State Fairgrounds has been known to intimidate even the most experienced drivers, but no one told Brockville, Ontario’s Matt Billings. The year was 2009 and as a fresh faced youngster, Billings captured the Super Dirt Week sportsman modified event on the Moody Mile in his first ever attempt. Fast forward to 2012 and Billings’ 5th place point finish, highlighted by 2 wins at Brockville. There are plans to head back to Syracuse in a couple of weeks, but Matt Billings would love to find victory lane at Brighton with his #74 Bicknell Racing chassis ride.

It was the biggest win of his young career and it just happened to come in front of a capacity crowd at his Saturday night home. St. Catharines, Ontario’s Mike Bowman – a Merrittville Speedway regular – was lucky enough to select a front row starting spot the pre-race draw and turned that good fortune into a thrilling flag-to-flag victory in the 100 lap Super DIRTcar Series big block modified tour event. What made Bowman’s triumph most noteworthy is the fact that he – like Raabe had done at Cornwall – accomplished the feat in a small block powered machine, against a field largely comprised of the more potent big blocks.

The Benson Auto Parts Applefest Shootout, featuring the DIRTcar 358 modifieds – presented by VP Fuels and Imagefactor.ca – takes the green flag Saturday, September 22nd at 6:00 at Brighton Speedway. For a complete schedule of events, see www.brightonspeedway.com, www.imagefactor.ca/applefestshootout
or call 866.681.1102.

Photo attachment: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications
Napanee, Ontario’s Chris Raabe would love to add an Applefest Shootout win to his already impressive resume. The event takes place Saturday, September 22nd at Brighton Speedway.

Prepared by: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications
clarkemotorsports@hotmail.com
613.968.6410 / 613.922.0654

Posted in by Jim Clarke, Features0 Comments

Canadian Vintage Modifieds: It All Comes Down To This

Canadian Vintage Modifieds: It All Comes Down To This

By Randy Spencer / OntarioOval.com – To put it plain and simple, this Saturday’s finale to the Lucas Oil Canadian Vintage Modified race season is the biggest race in the careers of the top three contenders. A mere 3 points separates first from third. You know all three will be gripping that wheel just a little bit tighter than normal comes feature time.

Steve Trendell sits in first place with 549 points, Shane Stickel has 548 while Corey Jones is in third with 547. This is undoubtedly is one of the closest point races, if not the closest in the club’s 46 year history. It could very well come down to the final lap in the feature to decide the outcome. In 1999 going into the final race of the season, Gary Elliott and son David were separated by just one point with Gary eventually winning the title. The only differences, that was a two car race and there were 24 races as opposed to just 11 this year. But that doesn’t diminish in any way the great season the three drivers have put together this year and the magnitude of the Season End Championship race.

Trendell, who is in his 10th year racing with the club is by far the veteran of the three. 2012 has been Steve’s most consistent year with just on DNF. In his rookie season in 2003, Trendell got close but finished about 50 points back of the eventual winner, T.J. Wollsey. Going into the final race at Flamboro, Steve tells me he doesn’t feel any pressure. He came from 15 points back in the last two races to take over the points lead and he’s just going to go out, race his race and whatever happens, happens. Flamboro hasn’t always been good to Steve but this year he admits, he’s become a fan of it. He’s got a lot of experience and dad Dave turning wrenches and setting up the car so Steve will be hard to beat. He’s really come on of late and is on a roll.

The next two racers are in their third seasons with the CVM and are good friends and came up through the go kart ranks together. Shane Stickel and Corey Jones both echoed similar comments regarding each other. Jones told Ontario Oval in an interview earlier this year, “Corey and I started out by racing Karts against each other, and then went on to race Vintage Modifieds at the same time. It was a learning curve for both of us so we definitely helped each other out. No matter where or what we are racing it always seems like we cannot get away from each other on the track. This has made for some great racing between the two of us, but also some quiet rides home.” Shane, who is second in points, feels the pressure is equal on all three drivers. “It’s the biggest race of my career.” He also told me he’ll likely be nervous but he’s confident and it’s anyone’s race. Stickel has been leading the points race most of the season but being in the wrong place at the wrong time in races at Sauble and Varney recently has made the race close. I asked if it comes down to a last lap push, especially against his good buddy Corey, what will he do. “I’m not a dirty driver, I’ll push my limits and throw everything at it.”

Corey Jones has had a break out year after a disastrous 2011 campaign. This year he has a couple of wins including a feature win at Flamboro. He admits he’ll be nervous as well. It would be his first championship of any kind in racing and would mean a lot but whether he finishes first, second or third, it’s still been a great season. Corey feels no pressure however as he sits in third and has nothing to lose. He says it looks like he’ll be starting ahead of Stickel and Trendell so as long as he can keep the two guys behind him, he should be ok.  All three drivers wanted to thank their families, crews and sponsors.

Steve Trendell’s sponsors- Ponderosa Nature Resort, Cambridge Truck and Auto, Oakville Automotive, Mark Simmons Primerica Financial Services and Flamboro Machine Shop.

Shane Stickels’s sponsors- MSD Machine Tools, Shelane Properties, Huron Fasteners, Abtech CAD/CAM, Paragon Collision Center, Creative Edge Signs & Graphics, BkReinhart.com and Speedway Photos.

Corey Jones sponsors- RBC, LaFleche Roofing, MSD Machine Tools, Sweers Custom Painting, 6speed design, Accountable Automotive, Perth Auto Dismantlers, and Creative Edge.

Be part of the action and don’t miss one of the most exciting finale’s in the Lucas Oil Canadian Vintage Modified racing club’s history this Saturday at Flamboro Speedway. Heat races begin at 6:30pm with Feature race action getting underway at 8:00pm. No matter who wins, it will be the first championship for one of these three drivers. Good luck to all and may the best man win!!!

Posted in by Randy Spencer, Exclusive Features, Features0 Comments

Over 60 Years Of Racing And Winning For Burbridge Family

Over 60 Years Of Racing And Winning For Burbridge Family

By Randy Spencer / OntarioOval.com – Like many racing families, racing passes down from generation to generation. Some are successful and others just fade away. But in the case of the Burbridge family, it just seems to get better and better. Several words come to mind on the type of season the Mark and Rick Burbridge are putting together in the Thunder Car division at Flamboro Speedway. Remarkable, amazing and astonishing are just a few. On one hand the year was off to a great start with Mark taking the first feature while brother Rick blew an engine the first week then returned only to experience some drive line issues. After his first night victory Mark broke the rear end in his car and missed a week. Since then however they’ve been superlative, between them they have five heat and six feature wins thus far in 2012.

To get a better idea of how these guys tick, I took a look back to see where it all began. Jack Burbridge began racing back in the late 1940’s. He started with backing from Modern Auto Parts in Brantford and raced the #67 “Orange Crate” Super Modified. Jack never owned his own car and was like a hired gun and would always drive for someone else. If nobody had a ride for him he didn’t race. He raced multiple nights every week at tracks like Mohawk Park, Pinecrest, Bridgeport, Ancaster, Guelph, Flamboro, Speedway Park, Merrittville and a number of other tracks. Where ever there was race, he would be there. Jack would give up racing about 1966 to raise his growing family but while his sons were still young they would all pile in the car on weekends and go where ever dad raced. Oldest son John told me he attended his first race before he even turned one in 1952, in his mother’s arms at Mohawk Park in Brantford. In 1957, Jack was the Modified champ at Pinecrest Speedway and always ran consistent no matter where. Rick Burbridge shared a story about his grandpa Jack that I found quite interesting. “There was a fella who was a huge name in racing around here by the name of Ted Hogan. He had a second car and he asked my grandpa Jack to be his driver, on the only condition that if he were first and Hogan were second, he would let him by for the win. Well the very first race my grandpa drove in that car, he said it was the best car he ever drove. He ran it to the front, passed Hogan and won the race. As you might guess, Hogan was none too pleased, and fired my grandpa after the race. They never spoke again…or so the story goes.” Today Jack is 85 and never misses a NASACR race on TV. A strong willed fellow, Jack has survived three bouts with cancer, survived a fall and broken neck and issuing blood infection that nearly took his life three years ago. Without a doubt one of the greatest names in the early history of racing in Ontario, a true pioneer of our sport.

The eldest of four, John was the first of Jack’s sons to get into a race car. He bought a used Super Late Model from Ken Silk in 1975/76 and wanted to race it at Flamboro. He was a rookie so they wouldn’t let him through the gates with it so he got his start at Speedway Park and eventually made his way to Flamboro where he raced until the end of the 1988 season. He won 3 features that first year, his best for sure and won at least one feature between 1983 and 88. He always ran on a shoestring budget, used older tires and if he couldn’t afford to race it he parked it until he could. Every year he took whatever money was left and would put it towards his house or something for his family. John loved to race at Flamboro. There’s been a Burbridge racing at Flamboro since it’s opened for the most part.  “Many drivers say there car got beat up there. The car looked like a bag of walnuts but it was the most profitable place I could race. Racing at Cayuga and Delaware the speeds were faster and the wrecks more often that not bent the frame and was more costly.  In 1983, John broke his arm in an accident but never missed a week of racing. He would bring the car out and put his own hired guns behind the wheel. When some of the Late Model drivers had a broken car he would set them up. Randy Slack, Bill Zardo and Ron Pearn all raced the car at one point that season until John was fit to race it again. He finished the year and actually won the heat, trophy dash and Season end championship feature. In appreciation for letting other drivers race his car he was named Sportsman of the Year that season. In appreciation Slack, Zardo and Pearn presented Burbridge with a trophy that stood almost as tall as he did. A bad wreck at Cayuga just about ended more that his racing career. “I still feel that one today…it was bad,” is how John described it to me. It was the last lap and he was running second down the straight and noticed trouble ahead, backed off on the outside and took a hard hit sending him right over the front end of another car and landed between the pit wall and track. That’s pretty much when his asphalt days came to an end. After some time to think things over he decided to go dirt racing and raced an old Mod. Stock and ran Don Turner’s old car for a few years winning a few heats and came second in the feature a couple of times. Once again he was close to hanging up the helmet but took Charlie McCann’s Sprint car out a few times, had some motor troubles and even went upside down the first night. But he continued on for the love of the sport and John still races occasionally at Ohsweken in the #21j Gales Auto Aftermarket Auto Sales sponsored Sprint car. He’s 60 now and he tells me he’s “Not having fun this year.” He retired from his job at Massey Ferguson and lived for this year. It’s beginning to be a money pit and it sounds like the end may not be too far off for this veteran driver.

John’s son John Jr. also races at Ohsweken in the #31 Gales Auto Aftermarket Auto Sales, RK Automotive sponsored Sprint car. Entering his tenth year of racing he got his start when his dad passed along the old Sportsman car, they put together a motor and has raced at Ohsweken, Merrittville and Humberstone. In 2003 he won the Most Improved driver and his best finish was third at Humberstone one night. He now races the Sprint car and has raced it at all the above tracks as well as South Buxton. He tells me one of his favorite moments was passing dad on the last lap for the Sprint car A main feature at Humberstone. He plans to keep racing as long as he can remain a low budget race team and has recently started a family. He wants to say thanks to all the Burbridge’s for their support as well to Charlie McCann and his sponsors Gales Auto Aftermarket Auto Sales and RK Automotive.

John Sr.’s other three brothers also have raced, but not for as long. Another brother, Rob, never got behind the wheel but was a big help in Dave’s success. After helping on the crew for brother John, Paul built a matching Street Stock with brother Dave and raced Street Stocks at Flamboro for about three years before giving it up. Glen raced for a short time as well, he filled in a few times in the Late Model for brother Dave and never raced on a regular basis. He married Sam Rounce’s daughter Susan. The Rounce name is legendary in these parts around Flamboro teaming up for years with Randy Slack and also in the CASCAR Super Series.

Perhaps the most successful racing brother was Dave. He worked on brother John’s car when still in high school soon got the itch to go racing and built his own Street Stock. His career got started in 1980 and he raced in several divisions at Flamboro including Street Stocks, Super Street Stocks, Sportsman, and late Models until 1995. he occasionally mixed in specials at Cayuga while running Flamboro full time. During the 1995 and 96 season he ran the Flex-Mor Siper Late Model series at Cayuga, Flamboro and Peterborough Speedways. In 1997 he moved into the highly competitive OSCAAR Super Late Model series and toured all around Ontario. That first year he was crowned Points Champion and remained with them until 2001. That championship was probably one of his greatest moments in racing as a driver along with numerous feature wins and multiple Top 5 Point finishes. For his final two years of racing he raced with the OSLR Super Late Models at Mosport, Kawartha and Peterborough. Today he owns Rick’s Thunder Car and helps both sons in whatever they choose to race and whatever it takes to get them out on the track every week. He wanted to thank his wife Debbie for all her support over the years, to brothers John, Paul, Rob and Glen, sons Mark and Rick as well as his longtime car owner Howard Robbins and his team of Floyd Robbins and Jamie Scott.

Mark is the oldest of the two brothers and told me, “We had a go kart when I was a kid and we played around with that a little bit but never gave it the focus we needed to run at the front. When I was 15 my dad got offered a great deal to buy a thunder car, so he jumped on it and my racing career took off from there.” He ran the first three years of his career in Thunder Car division at Flamboro, then eight years in Flamboro Late Models, and now is in his second year back in Thunder Cars. In 2006, he ran in the last race ever of the CASCAR Sportsman series at Cayuga in a car owned by Harold and Doug Brown. Mark said, “We finished 6th in that CASCAR race, which was cool because we had no experience working on or racing that type of car.” He also ran once in a mini stock at Ohsweken, and turned some laps in his Uncle John’s Sprint Car a couple of years ago. Some of his best career highlights, “Would have to be my two Oktoberfest wins in the Late Model. In 2005 we started pole and led about 97 or 98 of the 100 laps to win. In 2007 we qualified pole again, and eventually held off Gary Elliott to lead every lap and win it again. Winning those two races were huge, especially 2005 because the whole family was there with me and that was my first really big win.” He made sure he rubbed Uncle John’s nose in those wins! “I always wanted to win Oktoberfest,” John Sr. told me I always went crazy, blew the engine, hit the wall….” Mark won’t let him forget it.

Racing has kept the Burbridge’s close, especially working on two cars now. Asked who he wanted to thank Mark said, “My mom and dad have to be the two biggest influences. Without my dad I never would have started racing, and he has worked on my cars all through the years. My brother Rick helped out a lot at the track until he started racing himself. Jamie Scott has been an important part of our team too, doing body and paint work, as well as coming to the track almost every week too. In the last two years, I’ve met up with Stacey Fleming, who was my crew chief when I ran the Late Model owned by Robin Horsfall a couple of years ago, and came along with me when I switched over to Thunder Cars. Sponsor’s include Antler’s Services, Hearth and Home Heating and Cooling, Strodes BBQ and Deli and Scott’s Auto Body Repair. “Finally, my wife Erinn is really supportive and helps out at the track too.” Mark married Erinn Bailey this past winter and the racing family extended further. Erinn’s dad Donn and Uncle Brett raced in the Challenger division back in the 1980’s. Erinn was very successful racing karts with over 30 wins and winning several Points and Series championships. She moved into a Mini Stock at Flamboro in 2005 and to a Thunder Car the following year finishing with a win and 12th in points. A big year in 2008 as she won Most Improved and Sportsmanlike driver and won the Memorial Night feature race. After several more race wins and success over the next two years, Erinn stepped aside. She raced the car Paul McIlroy won the Thunder Car championship with in 2005 and now that’s the car husband Mark is having great success with this year.

And last, but certainly not least is Rick. He is fairly new to racing as a driver but like the rest of the family has been around it all his life. He raced a half season in 2009 until a bad wreck prematurely ended their season. He got started in racing when his mom bought dad Dave a partially built Thunder Car for his 50th birthday. At the time, Rick was away at University but Dave proposed they build it and split the driving duties. It took almost two years to build the car as he was away during the winter for school and they worked on Mark’s Late Model during the summers. “Eventually dad decided that he would rather just work on the car and suddenly I was the full time driver of the car.” With 4 heat wins over the first 2 and a half seasons he was still looking for that first feature win. Now with the two feature wins so far this year he finally has that monkey off his back. “My dad and brother are the two biggest influences on my racing. They built my car and my dad still does most of the work on it. Without those two and of course my mom Debbie who bought the car and supports our efforts, we wouldn’t be racing. Jamie Scott sponsors the car, does the paint and body work for us and has been working with my dad since the Late Model days of the mid ’90’s.” Sponsors include West Brant Window World of Brantford and Scott’s Auto Body Repair of Simcoe. In closing I asked Mark his plans for the future, “I think I will be running Thunder Cars at Flamboro for a while. Eventually I would like to move up to Late Models and run Flamboro while I get my feet under me in faster cars and then eventually move into a more selective schedule where we can run big special events at a bunch of different tracks each year.”

I would like to thank all the Burbridge’s for their patience while I wrote this story. All of your information and stories were appreciated and very helpful. Thanks to John Burbridge Sr., great talking with you and to Chris Spencer for information about Mark’s wife Erinn. Make sure you head out to Ohsweken Speedway and watch John Sr. and Jr. race in the Corr/Pak Sprint car division. And don’t miss racing at Flamboro and watching Rick and Mark as they make their way up the points standings as the summer heats up. Follow Mark online at http://www.mb27racing.bravehost.com/ while you can follow Rick online at http://www.2dracing.bravehost.com/ and also at http://www.flamborospeedway.itgo.com/ You can follow John Sr. and John Jr. at the Ohsweken Speedway website, http://www.ohswekenspeedway.com/

Photo Descriptions (by Dave Franks unless otherwise noted)

-Blue Chevelle: Taken in 1985 Dave’s first Street Stock
-Red Nova: Dave’s second Street Stock 1988
-1997 OSCAAR Victory Lane: Dave’s first SLM win
-1997 OSCAAR: Bad wreck at Flamboro, manged to re-build car in 3 weeks and not miss a race and still go onto take the points title
-OSLR Kawartha 2002: #43 Late Model, Dave’s last full season of racing
-#27 Late Model: Victory lane at Flamboro, Mark’s final full season driving his own car.
-#67 Modern Auto Parts Super Modified: One of Jack’s first race cars (from Jim Dunham collection)
-#21j Sprint Car: John Burbridge Sr. 2012 photo by Dale Calnan, Ontario Oval
-#31 Sprint Car: John Burbridge Jr. 2012 photo by Dale Calnan, Ontario Oval
-#72 car driven by John Burbridge Sr. when he raced at Flamboro back in the early 1980’s
-close up photo of Jack Burbridge back in the day, likely late 1950’s or early 60’s (from Jim Dunham collection)
-picture of Mark and inset of his #27 Late Model from the 2007 Flamboro Speedway calendar
-B&W John Burbridge #21 Late Model Flamboro 1983
-Mark’s wife Erinn Bailey Burbridge driving the #02 to the 2008 Memorial Night Thunder Car feature race win
-Mark and Rick’s “hero cards” for the 2012 season

Posted in by Randy Spencer, Exclusive Features, Features0 Comments

The Memory Of Charlie Beck Lives On

The Memory Of Charlie Beck Lives On

By Randy Spencer / OntarioOval.com – A visit to Flamboro Speedway this summer may seem to some like you’re taking a trip back in time. The familiar color scheme of Serv-A-Station Maintenance/Claybar Contracting has made a return to the 1/3 mile asphalt oval for 2012. For many years back in the 1980’s and early ’90’s, Charlie Beck drove his 1932 Chevy Coupe sporting the beige and orange colors. This year Bobby Mercer has painted his #7 Thunder Car as a tribute to his good friend.

This past winter we lost Charlie and over 600 people attended his funeral. Mercer was hit hard by the loss as were so many and Bobby wanted to do something in honor of his friend and mentor. He talked to Charlie’s son, Charlie Jr. to get his thoughts and later spoke to Charlie’s wife Georgia to get her thoughts and blessing. The familiar beige color has been around racing scene for years. Back in the 1960’s, SAS and Claybar sponsored the hobby car of Bob Field and has been involved in some capacity ever since. With Field, Bill Grisdale, Mike Bosma, Rich Grady, Pete Shepherd Jr., Charlie and now Bobby, the colors have become familiar to fans and racers alike.

Charlie worked for SAS for 25 years. Mercer has been their for 12 now and said the guys all really respected Charlie a great deal. He was a company man and the young guys looked up to him and enjoyed his quiet and laid back demeanor. Charlie got his start in racing in 1975 in the Limited Sportsman division. In 1979, he put his career on hold and helped fellow SAS sponsored driver Rich Grady and his Late Model for four very successful years. In 1983, the hobby car of Bob Field became available so Charlie decided to jump back behind the wheel. In 1984, he dethroned Harry Nicholson from an 11 year reign as Best Appearing car in the hobby division. Over his career, Charlie was named hobby rookie of the year and won awards like Best Appearing Car, Best Pit Crew, 1986 Gold Cup Points Champion, Most Consistent Competitor, Most Popular Driver and won many features along the way. He also served the club on several committee’s along with wife Georgia. Beck had a successful career and decided to hang up his helmet in 1998 when the hobby club, now known as the Canadian Vintage Modifieds, left Flamboro Speedway to become a touring club. Charlie stayed away from the track for years and when Bobby became involved in 2005, Charlie sold or gave most of his parts and equipment to Bobby to use or trade for stuff he could use for his race car. He was always very supportive of Bobby and did whatever he could do to help.

Bobby wasn’t a stranger to racing from a young age. His mother Melanie wrote for the Flamboro Speedway program, Wheelspin News and Stock Car Racing News and various other outlets from the late 60’s until the mid 80’s. He got into go-karts at age 10 and never looked back. He helped Steve Cashmore and that would end up getting him a deal to take Cashmore’s Street Stock out for some hot laps in practice. In 2004, he teamed up with Rob Disher in the “blue” car and his racing career was underway. In 2005, with help and support from family and a few sponsors Mercer decided to go out on his own and drove the “red” car. It was voted Best Appearing car that year in the Thunder Car division at Flamboro and at the Performance World show in Toronto. He would eventually go back to the familiar blue until just a couple of years ago when he changed things up to look like the old “Smokey Unit” color scheme that his crew chief Dave Clark had liked. Clark as many of you may know was the crew chief on the #5 car of Ross May when he won the Points Championship back in the 70’s.

Three years ago at Oktoberfest, Bobby won the B feature and to that point was one of his greatest racing moments. Mom Melanie couldn’t be there but he made the phone call soon after to tell her the news and fortunately Debbie Jo Zardo got the race on video so Melanie could watch the exciting moment in her son’s career. He has won a feature or two since but the road hasn’t been smooth. Bobby holds a record he’s not at all proud of, winning the Hard Luck award for five straight years. He has has some bad luck and a few bad crashes along the way, one in particular when he had his bell rung in an accident that gave him a concussion and it folded the frame of the car all the way to the back wheels. Persistence and hard work though as seen Bobby finish in the Top 15 in points every year he has raced along with perfect attendance every year. That is a feat in itself.

This year saw Bobby get off to a slow start. Some technical and equipment issues slowed his efforts but the past few weeks the #7 has been climbing the ladder in the feature finishing order. His car wasn’t painted the first few weeks but now looks very similar to the Charlie Beck car. Dennis Thomson of Thomson Signs, who by the way is currently a top the Ontario Pro Challenge points chase, designed and lettered the car and Bobby wanted to say a great big thanks to him. The colors were harder to match than Bobby first thought. The beige is a little darker and the 79 Corvette orange that Charlie used was no longer available. The closest he could get was 79 Corvette flame so he went with that. Either way the car looks great and his year long tribute is under way. Bobby wanted to say thanks to his family and sponsors for support. He mentioned his boss Lou at Claybar and how after 10 years of service to a company many people get a watch in appreciation. Well Bobby doesn’t wear a watch so Lou told him to pick put a good racing helmet. Bobby did and wears it proudly today and it even has a commemorative decal on the back telling of Bobby’s service to the company.

Make sure to get out ot Flamboro Speedway this year and see the #7 Serv-A-Station Maintenance/Claybar Contracting Thunder Car and drop by the pits after the races to say hi to Bobby, a great guy to talk to. And if you want to be a part of the tribute to Charlie Beck, there are still a few spots available on the trunk lid and side panels I believe to have your company name displayed. The Thunder Cars are very popular and Bobby gets around to events in the Hamilton so your name will be seen by race fans and others all summer.  So be a part of this great venture and talk to Bobby to be a part of this great tribute. Thanks to Bobby and his mother Melanie and Georgia Beck for all their help in putting this story together.

Photo by Dave Franks of davefranksphotos.com

Posted in by Randy Spencer, Exclusive Features, Features0 Comments