By Greg Calnan – For the second instalment of “On The Road” I’ll once again go back to the first weekend of June. As documented in my first column, I made the trip to Kawartha Speedway on that Friday evening. The weather was threatening, but I managed to see the entire racing card to the finish.
The following day featured a trip to Delaware Speedway just outside of London, Ontario. The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series was set to open its season at the half mile oval, and the forecast was much worse than the previous day. The weatherman played nice though, and what I saw was yet another great night of racing.
This was my second trip to Delaware, but my first with cars actually doing laps. That first visit came at the beginning of the 2009 season. I made it to the track just in time for the races to be cancelled due to weather. The track staff was nice enough to let me go onto the racing surface and roam the pit area as teams packed up.
I took some time to take a few pictures and just take in the unique setting of this track. Delaware truly is a special place. It’s hard to describe, but when you get there you can almost feel the history and tradition from all the years gone past. The main grandstand sits on the side of a hill, which gives the crowd a fantastic view of the entire track and the skyline well beyond it. It was one of the few times I wasn’t totally disappointed leaving a wet racetrack. Just getting to see Delaware was worth the trip.
Fast forward to June 5th, 2010 and the forecast again looked dismal, but with the track only a little over an hour from my home base in Brantford, it was worth another try. When we got there, the atmosphere certainly was different from a traditional weekly show. You could tell immediately without seeing a race car that this was a NASCAR event. The concession area was filled with vendors of all sorts, and fans of all ages were filing in with their favourite driver’s t-shirts and hats on.
We signed in just in time to catch qualifying for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. With no time to get to the pit entrance, we took in the session from the main grandstand area and the view was terrific. Local favourite DJ Kennington won the pole (19.22 seconds), much to the approval of the crowd.
Qualifying wrapped up and we headed to the infield, where all the teams pit on a race night. With a brief break in the action we had the chance to get some photographs and wander the pit area. Joining the race card was a 50 lap Delaware Super Stock feature that was top notch. Steve “Pee Wee” Smith took the win in what was a clean race considering the much longer distance for a weekly division.
During the Super Stock race I got to see how truly treacherous turn two is at Delaware. Early race leader Jared Shields ran up the hill and out of room. He managed to ride his right side tires on the wall and back down to safety without missing a beat. For my first taste of racing action at Delaware, that was impressive.
When the Super Stock feature was complete and the NASCAR teams headed to the front-stretch for their pre-race autograph session, the skies opened up. Thankfully we only needed a brief moment of cover in the infield canteen before the rain ceased and the festivities continued.
I had been to a few CASCAR races in the past, but this was my first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race. I was thoroughly impressed by the entire evening. I have been to many Cup races all across the U.S. and this event definitely had that feeling of a professionally run show. The pre-race autograph session was a huge hit with the fans.
This week my ‘tip of the cap’ goes to Jason White and the #21 A&W team who not only had autograph cards to hand out, but cold cans of A&W Root Beer. That was a nice touch and well received by fans both young and old. When they start handing out A&W onion rings, my elbows will be clearing my way to the front of the line.
Due to the forecast and earlier sprinkle, the race officials wisely moved the event schedule up half an hour. This was a good move and proved to be a timely decision in the end. Only a couple of minor showers slowed the action, and the entire 200 laps were completed and full of action.
The first half of the race was clean, with the main stories being DJ Kennington’s domination, and rookie Steven Mathews contending up front. The second half of the race was heated on many fronts and there were more than a few torn up race cars in the garage by the end of the night.
On the whole, the racing was good. There was plenty of side-by-side racing and exchanges for the lead. The finish came down to the final corner with DJ Kennington beating out JR Fitzpatrick for the win. A home-track win always makes for a good story line in any race.
The timing of the race was near perfect as the skies again opened up on the way home. Somehow two races I thought I wouldn’t get to see were in the record books, and both left me impressed and wanting more.
Delaware Speedway truly is a unique and fun place to watch a race. I look forward to returning on Wednesday, July 7th when Kyle Busch, David Reutimann and Regan Smith invade Delaware for the first annual Summer Showdown. Sparks will surely fly that night.
THANK YOU: Thanks go out to Delaware’s Public and Media Relations Official Linda Brandt who took care of my requests to attend the show. She has been a pleasure to deal with, as we try to make a name for OntarioOval.com across the province. The entire track staff is first class and knows how to promote a race track. I thank them for their hospitality during the evening.
WHO I MET: This time around I got to meet another person I had heard much about, but had never spoken to – Jamie Maudsley. You name it and Jamie does it when it comes to motorsports in Ontario. His website www.maudsleymotorsports.com is loaded with tons of great racing photos and press releases from around the province. He also works as an announcer at the track and is the voice of the Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup Series.
I also had a chance to finally meet Joe Chisolm from Race Time Radio. In a very short time, Joe and Sue have turned their radio show and website into a huge success. For their broadcast schedules check out www.racetimeradio.com.
WHO WAS THERE: As is the case at every NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race, Adam Ross was on hand. I have known Adam quite well for a few years now, but this was my first chance to hear him announce in this type of setting. After listening for most of the night on the FM channel at the track I can say that the series picked the right man for the job. His knowledge of motorsports and professionalism on the microphone makes him the perfect fit… and he didn’t even pay me to say that.
I also met up with Inside Track Motorsport News Editor Greg MacPherson. It’s always good to see Greg as I don’t believe I have ever seen him without a smile on his face. You can check out his column and articles inside every issue of Inside Track. Log on to www.insidetracknews.com to learn how to subscribe.
WHO I MISSED: This week the person I missed was actually at the track, but didn’t compete in the Super Stock feature as I had hoped. After following the off-season Facebook updates of JR Fitzpatrick as he built his Super Stock I was anxious to see this hot rod in action. JR elected to leave the car at home for another day much to my dismay. Maybe I will catch it in action in the near future.
All in all, my first chance to take in a race at Delaware was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to go back. My first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race was also one that left me looking at the calendar to see when I could catch another round of action. Thankfully, it looks like the calendar will work into my favour, and I’ll be able to accomplish both again in 2010.
That does it for this weeks edition, so until next time I’ll see you “On The Road!”
Greg Calnan – Editor / Columnist for OntarioOval.com. Contact Greg at email@example.com