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