By Greg Calnan – While the temperatures in Ontario continue to be frigid outside, the racing season was just getting heated up indoors at the Canadian Motorsports Expo. Competitors, industry insiders, and fans converged in Toronto for the 5th annual edition of Canada’s ulitmate racing show.
On Saturday, January 22nd my father – and Ontario Oval photographer – Dale made the trip to the International Centre to kick off our 2011 racing season. Our goal was to meet and talk to the many promoters, drivers, and companies in attendance. The CME has become a great place to get together and meet with several people who we haven’t seen since the final checkered flag flew in the fall.
The first stop was to the Kawartha Speedway booth were we met with our friend Jim Clarke. Jim has been a mainstay in the sport for many years through his announcing and writing. This past year was a rough one for him as an unknown illness kept him from being at the track as much as he would have liked. It was great to see him feeling better, and to have the chance to chat for a while.
While we were at the Kawartha booth, we had a chance to interview Jason White, driver of the #21 A&W NASCAR Canadian Tire Series car. Jason announced at the CME that he is combining efforts with DJK Racing and the Kawartha Speedway Group to compete for the 2011 title. The move allows Jason to focus on the driving and marketing aspects of the team, while making the logistics in getting the car from race to race easier. The move has him feeling excited about the team’s potential, especially having Doug Kennington engines under the hood, and an experienced veteran like Derek Lynch serving as his crew chief.
Throughout the afternoon we interviewed a number of people from around the province. We spoke with Mark Dilley of Sunset Speedway about their $50,000 Shootout that is taking place this summer and the ongoing upgrades that are taking place at the track. We also sat and chatted with Ken Pelkie of Ohsweken Speedway about the upcoming season of sprint car racing at the 3/8 mile clay oval located on the Six Nations reserve just west of Hamilton. We were also able to talk with a number of track promoters and officials including Derek Lynch of Kawartha Speedway, Jason Thom from Sauble Speedway, JP Josiasse of Peterborough and Ron Sheridan of Delaware. Unfortunately, due to some microphone gremlins a few of those interviews didn’t turn out. Time to head to the local audio store for some new equipment!
A number of drivers were on hand including Sauble Speedway regulars Marvin Freiburger and Roy Wilkie. We caught up with both drivers as they displayed their attractive looking 2011 rides. The ‘Pocket Rocket’ Danny O’Brien and his newly lettered Global Warranty small block dirt modified were also on hand. Danny will be competing again at the Brockville Ontario Speedway this year, but with a new number as he switches from the #7* to the #1*. At the end of the day we also managed to catch up with Dave Dykstra – the 2010 Corr/Pak Sprint Car Champion – at Ohsweken Speedway booth. Our microphone completely died at this point and ruined what was a great interview with the driver from Port Colborne, Ontario.
One of the most interesting interviews of the day came with Paxton Waters, designer of the Canadian Motor Speedway. Paxton announced that the approval process is complete in Fort Erie, and that the next step will be the official ground-breaking ceremony this coming spring. We spoke about what goes into the design of a track, and how instrumental Jeff Gordon was in developing this facility. Probably the most intriguing tidbit of news in speaking with Paxton came off camera when he made us aware of a new short track possibly in the works for Sudbury, Ontario. He was apparently under consideration to be the designer for this new facility as well, but the investing group went in another direction. Needless to say the news of a new short track in the province piqued our interest, and we will be doing some digging to see what further information we can find.
The 5th Annual Canadian Motorsports Expo was covered well from all angles. In addition to running into numerous track photographers, both Race Time Radio and Raceline Radio were in attendance, and we managed to spend some time talking to Joe and Sue Chisholm from RTR. Our microphone decided not to work for this interview, however Joe announced exciting news that he and Speed51.com’s Bob Dilner – also of SPEED TV – will be combining efforts during Speedweeks in Florida to offer fans in-depth coverage from the sunny south. For more information on their broadcast schedule, visit www.racetimeradio.com.
Once again it was a great time at the CME, as we had the chance to see many of our friends from around the province. The show continues to grow every year and has something for both the race fan and industry insider. We would like to thank our friends from the Canadian Motorsports Expo and Inside Track Motorsport News for their support, and allowing us to be at the show. We look forward to returning in 2012, and hope to have a bigger presence over the entire weekend.
The 2011 racing season is now officially underway for OntarioOval.com and we are excited about what the new year will bring. After just six months in existence, our following continues to grow every day and we look forward to traveling across the province to help spread the word. So until our next stop along the way, we will see you “On The Road”.