Wild Night At Flamboro Speedway On Saturday

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By Randy Spencer – Was there a full moon last night? It sure seemed that way as a very interesting night of racing took place at Flamboro Speedway. Beautiful weather and a full night of racing with the Mini Stocks, Late Models, Thunder Cars and F4 Modifieds was on tap as well as a concert by the award winning group Archer, filled the stands and they didn’t go home disappointed.

Mini Stock action was first and a battle between the #66 Sheldon Bossom and #86 Dave Hagedorn started in the heat and ended in strong words after the feature in the pits. Bossom took the lead in the heat but after several warnings from the starter to pick a lane, the Awesome one was black flagged for blocking. In the feature, the bad luck continued for #15 Matt Dean as he got into an lap 1 mix up and his racing was done for the night. The action between Hagedorn and Bossom continued in the feature and it eventually led to the disqualification of Hagedorn for the night. On lap 4, the Rabbit, #37 Rob Hoskins, took the lead and wouldn’t look back leading the rest of the way for the feature win. From what I understand, the hard feelings continued in the pits after wards with words exchanged between the #66 and 86 and members of the crew. Top 3 in the feature: #37 Rob Hoskins, #71 Russ Aicken, #28 Dale Shaw. Heat winners: #55 Brian Watson, #88 Mark Dennis, #37 Rob Hoskins.

The Thunder Car feature provided the most excitement of the night. Gary Slama and Bobby Mercer led the pack of cars to start the feature and the it didn’t take long for the action to begin. On lap 4, the #02 of Erinn Bailey was sent spinning into the infield after a bump by the #73 of Nick Troback. Bailey attempting to re-enter the fray at the start finish line and when the caution flew two cars, #71 of Bobby Mercer and the #37 Jeff Bean dropped to the apron at full speed and broad sided the Bailey ending the night for all three and the red flag came out to clean up the mess. This story would continue later. Racing continued at #53 Matt Schneider was the new leader until lap 12 when the #10 of Dennis Cybalski lost a right rear tire bringing a caution once again. Schneider had to go pit side to change a flat tire putting him a few laps down and the #72 of Randy Rusnell spun to avoid Cybalski and was sent to the back as an involved car. Cars were dropping like flies and half way through the race 9 cars were out of the race. The final half was fairly clean and the #27 Kevin Albers who took the lead on the restart at lap 13, led the rest of the way for the win. As the cars exited the track a long 45 minute wait since the Bailey Troback mix up allowed the Bailey crew to come to a boil. Troback took several punches to the head as he sat in his car. From what I heard another person leapt over the car with a flying drop kick and its amazing nobody was seriously hurt. After the race the battle scars were easy to see on Trobacks face. Top 3 in feature: #27 Kevin Albers, #13 Brad Collison, #2 Rick Burbridge. Heat winners: #73 Nick Troback, #13 Brad Collison.

The Late Model feature got under way with #86 Kenny Forth leading the way. The first half of the race was pretty tame but by lap 15, Kenny Forth tagged the wall on the back stretch and going into turn 3 and 4 spun and seemed accelerate in the spin and went head first into the wall very hard. This in turn caused some more hard feelings and arguing in the pits after the race. On the restart the #36 of Gary Elliott and #49 of Mark Burbridge tangled in turn 2 after Elliott and the #29 of Mike Bentley traded the lead for several laps. The race ended on a lap 23 caution when the race reached a pre-determined time limit with the leader Shawn Chenoweth taking the checkers. Top 5 in the feature: #89 Shawn Chenoweth, #8 Paul Howse, #29 Mike Bentley, #56 Jeff Stewart, #37 David Elliott.  Heat winners: #36 Gary Elliott, #8 Paul Howse

The F4 Modified feature started with a great turn out of 11 cars and the open wheel modifieds put on a great show. I always hold my breath as these open wheeled cars enter the corners! The #9 of Brian Nanticoke and #17 of Stan Pokupec took the cars into turn 1 and Pokupec took the lead and held on to the lead until late in the race when the founding father of F4 racing got tied up with the #99 in lapped traffic and the #43 of John Verney took advantage of it and took the lead and held on for the victory.  Top 3 in the feature: #43 John Verney, #17 Stan Pokupec, #63 Mark Lucas.  Heat winner: #8 Craig Shaver.

Racers will be doing double duty this Labour Day weekend, with racing events
scheduled for Saturday and Monday. Saturday’s event will feature Late Models, Thunder Cars, Mini Stocks and they will be joined by the Canadian Vintage Modifieds.  It’s Double Points Night and Meet the Drivers night, with a special full roster autograph session for the fans on the front straightaway during intermission. It’s also the annual free Corn Roast night after the races in the pitsand everyone is invited.
On Monday afternoon, a special 2pm start time, the Late Models, Thunder Cars, Mini Stocks and F4 Modifieds return for another round of racing excitement. This was the race rained out on August 21st and rain checks from that race can be used on the Monday only.

Stewart Claims Win On Flamboro Memorial Night

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By Randy Spencer – Saturday Night at Flamboro Speedway was a special night, the annual Memorial Night. Racing heroes from the speedway’s near fifty year history are remembered and celebrated each year, with new additions to the memorial trophy at intermission.

The night of racing got under way with qualifying races for all classes. Steve Laking debuted a brand new Late Model and celebrated with a victory. Jeff Stewart, Paul Howse and Shawn Chenoweth also claimed heat wins.  In Mini Stock qualifying, Eric Yorke, “Flyin” Brian Watson and Matt Dean took the checkers. Thunder Car heat races went to the “Rocket” Randy Rusnell and Rick Burbridge.  The F4 modifieds heat win went to Craig Shaver.

During the intermission Flamboro P.A. announcer read off the names of the hundred or so names on the Flamboro Speedway Memorial trophy. The list included racers, pit crew members and many others that contributed to racing at Flamboro over the past half century. This year we have lost five more friends of Flamboro whose accomplishments and contributions were recognized, Arnold “Doc” Roper, John Nicholson, Jay Hughes, Tom Shingler and Paul McIlroy. Many tears were shed but it was nice to celebrate these great people and see them honored.

In Feature racing action, Glen Vandergeld and Jeff Dailey were on the poll for the 25 lap main event. The Mini’s always provide a lot of great action and on lap two four cars tangled in turn 2 bringing out the first caution. Brian Watson, Dale Shaw, Sarah Miskiewicz and Matt Dean. The lead changed three times over the next few laps with the #37 Rob Hoskins in the orange VW out in front by lap six. On lap 12 the #92 car dropped some fluid on the back stretch and it collected a few cars, one being Hoskins who hit the wall and couldn’t continue. That left the door open for Russ Aicken, Mike Taylor and Eric Yorke who battled for the remaining ten laps with Eric Yorke taking the checkered flag.

In the F4 modified feature, Stan Pokupec the founding father of the series and veteran of about 40 years of racing showed who is boss winning the feature.  Nice to see Stan in the victory circle after some hard luck recently.

The Thunder Car feature took to the track with a Late Model pacing the class. Ken McIlroy, father of Paul, took the #4x car of Craig Zurbrigg out in honor of his son and memorial night. The race got off to a roaring start but slowed on lap three with fluid on the track from an accident in turn three. As the clean up crew worked on cleaning up the mess, current defending champion and points leader, #72 The “Rocket” Randy Rusnell took off to the pits and was unable to make it out in time getting stuck at the track watching as the laps ticked off and by lap 18 was able to re-enter the fray.  By this time the #27 of Kevin Albers had built up a big lead on the rest of the field. On the re-start Albers was able to hold off the hard charging Steve Perry and Bobby Mercer for the victory. Albers was so happy to get the win and dedicated the win to his friend Paul McIlroy.

Late Models put on their usual great show and a on the start a little bump and grind took place and this may have contributed to a tire going flat on the #8 of Paul Howse in between turns three and four before one lap was complete. Howse was taken off on the hook but a great crew including his brother Chris, wife Tara and Canadian stock car legend Jr. Hanley.  Gary Elliott who returned this week after heavy damaged the the Quaker State #36 spun out. The engine didn’t sound to healthy and Gary wasn’t able to continue. The “Bull” Jeff Stewart who started on the pole in the Kubota/Bruce Bennett machine led flag to flag and took the victory. it was nice to see Stewart team back in victory circle after some tough luck this season.

Racing continues next Saturday August 21st with Late Models, Thunder Cars, Mini Stocks and the F4 Modifieds. Gates open at 5pm racing gets under way at 6:30 pm. In two weeks time, award winning Country artist Archer will be performing before and after racing, so don’t miss it!!

Changing Of The Guard At Flamboro Speedway

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From FlamboroSpeedway.itgo.com – The Grisdale Triple Crown tournament is one of the most anticipated and celebrated Late Model events in Ontario grass roots racing.  The 8th edition kicked off at Hamilton’s asphalt arena Flamboro Speedway on Saturday May 29th with a brand new twist, time trial qualifying.  It was a Flamboro first, setting the top half of the Grisdale Late Model starting field by lap times.  For many of the competitors this was their first time racing the stop watch, and for the fans it was their first time to gauge the ranks of the Late Model roster.

The two-time Flamboro champion Jason Shaw was heavily favoured going into the trials, based on his history as a top performer and his experience in time trial events.  Defending tournament champion Paul Howse was also at the top of the picks, along with ‘The Bull’ Jeff Stewart who is known for having great power under the hood of the Bruce Bennett motorsports Kubota #56.  But after practice, the number one suspect became the ‘Iron Man’ Gary Elliott, whose sub 15.5 second lap times were shattering expectations.

Twenty-two cars participated in the time trial qualifying, and the results confirmed what fans had suspected of the Late Model field.  The top half of the teams were running between 15.5 and 16.00 second laps, and the rest would have a lot of work to keep pace.  The long standing pole sitters were Paul Howse and Jeff Stewart, sharing a 15.63 second lap time, with Howse edging Stewart for the top spot with a faster second time.  But both drivers were bumped when Gary Elliott took to the track.  A blistering 15.41 second lap time topped the charts and was untouchable for the remainder of the trials.  #29 Mike Bentley also posted a fast time to nab fourth, and Jason Shaw rounded out the top five.

The ‘Iron Man’ cooled his jets long enough to join the parade lap and quick interview on the front straightaway before the start of the race night.  Said Elliott, “I had no idea we were that good.  We hoped and we worked really hard to get this car ready today, and the Quaker State ride is awesome, but my team didn’t say anything to me on the radio.  I thought we were terrible and they just didn’t want to tell me.  I found out from an official over pit side who pointed at me and said “#1″.

Another chapter writes itself in the ongoing history of Gary Elliott’s racing career, and his next step was to role the dice.  The dice role turned up 8, determining the inversion of top qualifiers for the starting lineup.  With $500 bonus in hand for the fastest lap, Gary Elliott returned to the pits now knowing he would roll off the grid in 8th.

The dice roll would have put the Dark Knight Shane Maginnis and the Budd’s Collision #03 on the front row, but the defending race winner failed tech inspection after his qualifying run.  The downward spiral keeps getting deeper, as Maginnis was hoping to recover after a terrible opening night performance that saw his race car leap up and over the hood of the Paul Howse Truck Town #8, slide along the concrete wall and then crash hard back to the asphalt.  It was off to the consolation  round with the other non-qualifiers, to determine the rest of the starting lineup.

But Maginnis’ misfortune was new opportunity for former Canadian Nascar runner Kenny Forth.  The Midnight Sun Tanning Salon #86 would set the pace from the front row, alongside past rookie of the year Ted Horsfall and the Hearth & Home #49.  Shawn Chenoweth and Jason Shaw made up row two.

Brantford’s Mark Burbridge in the ProMar Electrical Services #27 earned the lucky 13th starting position with a win in the last chance race, with Sauble Beach’s #08 Jason Parker and Palmerston’s #4 Craig Zurbrigg on his tail.  Maginnis continued to find flaw with the #03 ride and pulled off back to the pits unable to finish the race.  He would start on the last row of the feature field.

After on-track race introductions and quick interviews with the starting field, the fans gave the command to the 22 weekend warriors set to do battle in the asphalt arena.  The mix of General Motors crates and home-built engines roared to life and the Grisdale Late Model rumble filled the racing stadium.  Fans cheered in anticipation of the green flag knowing what followed was to be 75 laps of racing history.

*Spoiler Alert* If you don’t want to know the details of what happened, stop reading now.  The TVCOGECO broadcast will air on Friday June 4th at 9pm, repeating Saturday June 5th at 4pm.  Schedule available at TVCOGECO.com*

The green flag dropped and Kenny Forth was away, taking the early lead from Ted Horsfall with the inside lane advantage, but it took two laps for Forth to clear the #49 as the outside lane was hanging in.  Shawn Chenoweth played a part in helping Forth to the front, pushing the Parkinson Bus Tours #86 until he was clear of the Horsfall Auto & Machine #49.  With mounting traffic behind Chenoweth and Forth tried to pull away and leaders duel began between former NASCAR and former OSCAAR.

A quick pause in the action came early at lap 8, when a corner one incident brought out the first caution flag of the race.  Viewed on the TVCOGECO replay, it appeared that Mark Burbridge started the chain of events when he was unable to keep off the bumper of the Jason Parker #08.  Parker was turned up the race track and made heavy contact with the concrete, collecting the AB Wass Security #3 of Chris Bochsler in his passenger side door.  The corner quickly plugged and several mid-pack cars were caught in the aftermath.  Among them was Shane Maginnis, who cringed and held his head in his hands as he surveyed the immense damage to the front end of the Budd’s Collision #03.  For the second week in a row the defending race winner was crippled early and carried off the speedway by Ray’s Towing.

The Cougar Delivery clean-up crew worked fast to sweep up the debris and get the corners back to racing condition.  The new side-by-side Late Model restarts provided added excitement as Shawn Chenoweth lined up to the outside of Kenny Forth on the front row.  With the green lights aglow, the race was restarted.

Chenoweth and Forth battled at the front, but eventually it was the man in black who muscled out front in the Automotive Truck & Tire #89.  Now Chenoweth would set the pace, leaving the competition in his wake.  Kenny Forth fought to stay in the top five, eventually finding his way behind the Richie Bros. Auctions #8 of Paul Howse who was on a tear to the front.  Howse was clearly focused on running down the #89, who had left an impression on the #8 driver a week earlier when the two battled in qualifying.  But with his eyes on the prize, Howse missed the challenge of Kenny Forth.

Forth was not deterred after losing the lead, and seemed to find new resolve to reclaim the top spot.  Working to the tail of Howse’s #8, a slight tap in turn two opened up the inside lane down the back straightaway.  Kenny Forth race to the inside and had the nose of his Parkinson Bus Tours #86 to the edge of the number on the side of the #8 car.  Diving deep into corner three, Howse slammed down the track from the high side to the side and nearly sheared off the nose of the #86.  As a result the #8 was sent spinning wildly while the #86 drove through.  A caution flag followed as Paul Howse sat stalled in the middle of the racing lane.  Fortunately no further carnage followed.

A tough call came down from on high, as Starter Ding deLeeuw sent the message through the field: contact means involvement, means you share the penalty.  A black flag was thrown on the #86 and Kenny Forth was forced to join Howse at the rear of the field for the restart.  It was a tough pill to swallow for the #86 driver who had raced his way to the inside and was clearly cut-off, but with no point of reference yet painted on the track (referee line???) the penalty would stand.

The restart put the King of Speed Jason Shaw on the outside of the front row in the Del Metals #82 Ford, giving the two-time Flamboro Champion a shot at Shawn Chenoweth.  Not one to be intimidated, Chenoweth edged ahead of Shaw as they raced into turns one and two, and the side by side battle went to Chenoweth’s favour.  Jason Shaw pulled in behind and gave chase from second.  Behind him Jeff Stewart was propelling to the front of the action in the Jerico Industrial Maintenance #56, along with the Bentley Motorsports #29 Mike Bentley.  Also in the thick of things was the Quaker State #36 Gary Elliott, who was fiercely trying to keep his nose clean as he could see trouble brewing.

The mix at the front started to change when Jeff Stewart’s #56 suddenly dropped out of contention and headed pit side.  Mechanical failure retired the Ed Stewart’s Equipment race machine and opened a hole in the top five.  A couple of small spins gave Jason Shaw a number of attempts at Shawn Chenoweth but the National Fire Equipment Ford just couldn’t muster the magic to beat #89.  Maybe it was black magic that followed, as Shaw cut down a tire at lap 40 and limped off to his pit for a quick change under caution, removing him from the runner-up ranks.  A new crowd hero would rise to the front row, and Waterdown’s Iron Man Gary Elliott was now side by side with the man in black.

It was a ferocious restart as Elliott tested the metal of the #89, racing number to number for the leadership right.  Chenoweth smacked down the challenger early, but it was only just past the half-way marker in the 75-lap event and so there was still time for change.  Just outside the leader battle, the car to watch was #29 Mike Bentley.  The former pilot of #99 who took home a feature win late in 2009 came from nowhere to post a top-five lap time and was in the middle of the action doing all he could to steal some spotlight.  The #29 driver had pestered Gary Elliott and just barely lost the chance to start outside Shawn Chenoweth.  Bentley was in the midst of working on another run at the leader battle when he was caught in the second round of the Kenny Forth-Paul Howse battle.  Off the back straightaway the #29 lost control and tagged the concrete wall, ricocheting back down the track.  It’s unclear whether the failure came before the concrete contact or after, but it was clear that Bentley had no control over where the car was headed as he crashed back down the track into #8 Paul Howse and #86 Kenny Forth.  Forth was able to escape with relatively minor complications, but Howse was wrecked again, sharing the luck of Shane Magginis.  It was not the night of glory the defending champion and race winner had hoped for when the first green flag dropped.

With just 30 laps remaining the race was down to a Saturday night shootout.  Gary Elliott once again lined up alongside Shawn Chenoweth, now with some new supporting cast members.  #07 Todd Campbell was climbing to the top, along with #55 Junior Farrelly and #05 Brad Corcoran.

Paul Howse attempted a return as the green flag fell, but a shower of sparks from the undercarriage of the #8 was evidence enough that the car was not ready to safely continue competition, and the defending champion retired to the pits.

Gary Elliott and Shawn Chenoweth continued their fight at the front as the Timber Green Landscape #36 consistently caught the bumper of the Automotive Truck & Tire #89, but couldn’t shake Chenoweth from his lane.  Elliott’s concentration was also being split late in the race as Brad Corcoran brought the #05 into contention.  A week earlier this had been a car struggling to keep pace, but suddenly Corcoran was in the hunt and working on a top three finish.

Still refusing to concede to the Chenoweth-Elliott monopoly of the leader battle, Jason Shaw brought the Spira Fire Protection #82 back through the field after a tire change and was working to the top five.  He got stuck when he met up with the original outside pole sitter #49 Ted Horsfall, and the two raced side by side for several laps, Shaw unable to overtake the young man from Paris on the outside lane.  But trouble brewed again for another former champion, as a slight bauble by Horsfall in corner three caught the wheel of the Shaw #82.  The sudden force broke the control Shaw had over the #82 and sent him sliding and spinning up the race track.  It was a clear racing incident and a tough break, but once more the black flag fell for contact involvement and Ted Horsfall joined Shaw at the tail of the restart lineup, with less than 10 laps remaining.

What followed will go into the Triple Crown history books along with great moments like the David Elliott-Peter Vanderwyst save of 2005, and the Stewart-Howse-Elliott battle to the finish of 2009.

With the green flag flying and little time remaining, the pressure was on the drivers at the front to make their move.  Out of corner two with tensions high, Gary Elliott looked to the high lane to move around Chenoweth.  The #89 driver exited half a lane higher, trying to break momentum, and forced the #36 within an inche of the concrete wall.  A slight bump with #05 Brad Corcoran, who dove to the inside to take second position, was enough to help Elliott get sucked in by treacherous walls of the asphalt arena.  In the blink of an eye the right side of the #36 was racing on top of the wall á la Herbie Fully Loaded.  You could see the roof numbers as Elliott sped along the back straightaway miraculously riding smoothly back to the asphalt – Hanging On after impact – and only losing the one position to the Brad Corcoran.

Unbelievably the race continued on without pause or hesitation, and while Chenoweth was able to sneak ahead by a couple car lengths the battle fell to second where Elliott hunted Corcoran to reclaim his position.  Working first to catch the #05, there was just 2 laps to go as #36 went to the inside and made the pass for runner up.  Narrowing the gap to be in striking distance the ‘Iron Man’ would chase the black bumper one last time before the checkered flag fell.  Another unpredictable and incredible conclusion for a Grisdale Triple Crown race.

On the back stretch on the cool down lap Elliott and Chenoweth shared congratulations on a hard fought race that both could be proud of.  Brad Corcoran was also smiling with a top three finish, and Millgrove driver Chris ‘PeeWee’ Bochsler was thankful to rebound from the early accident to finish fourth, with Junior Farrelly in the Bruce Bennett Motorsports #55 completing the top five.

In victory lane Shawn Chenoweth was riding an adrenaline rush as he climbed from the car to the cheers and jeers of an electrified audience.  His first comments praised the competition and sportsmanship of his challengers Jason Shaw and Gary Elliott for good clean racing.  He shared with the fans his excitement and the nerves of holding on to the lead, and sent out great thanks to Bill Grisdale and the Grisdale Racing team for all their support and sponsorship to make this great tournament possible.  And Chenoweth paid great tribute to his car builder, “I have to thank Jeff Hanley, he made this ride as fast as it is.  If you want a fast Late Model, you go see Jeff Hanley.”

Chenoweth then shared the winner’s circle celebration with his father Bob Chenoweth, who one race earlier had earned the checkered flag in the Thunder Car main event.  Two weeks earlier the senior Chenoweth had been involved in an accident that required lots of work and attention to get back to track.  Said Shawn, “We spent two weeks working on these cars and were thankful for the rain to give us the time to get back out and be competitive.  My credit card’s going to love this victory.”

The Grisdale Late Model home series continues next Saturday night at Flamboro Speedway.

The next round of the 2010 Grisdale Triple Crown tournament is set for Saturday July 3rd.  See schedule for details.

Little-Z, Big Win at Flamboro Speedway

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Courtesy FlamboroSpeedway.itgo.com – It was a night of big emotion.  Ontario’s favourite Thunder Car drivers entered into qualifying obviously excited about the Twin 25-lap main events for their stock car racing class, that headlined the Saturday night show at Hamilton’s asphalt arena Flamboro Speedway.  From the drop of the first green flag the competition was fierce.  A mixed field of veteran racers and young runners, past champions and fresh rookies, lined up to fight in fifty laps of brutal and thrilling racing.
In the first round the qualified field was handicapped by the previous week’s driver performance, forcing race winner Bob Chenoweth to a twelfth place starting spot in the middle of the field, surrounded by top contender Kevin Albers and the defending three-time division champion Randy ‘the Rocket’ Rusnell.  At the front of the field ‘Speedy’ Kevin Heist would set the opening lap pace from pole position, alongside the black and gold #8 of Steve Perry, nicknamed the Killer Bee.

The fast cars in the middle started to make their way forward in the early laps, as complications in Kevin Heist’s #20 sent him through the field in the opposite direction.  Steve Perry took up the leadership mantle and started to pull away from the competition leaving battles raging on behind him.

Two drivers who mixed things up in traffic were Chenoweth and Dave Silverthorn Jr.  In his first night out, with new #97 number and paint scheme, Silverthorn brought an aggressive, bordering on reckless, driving style to the already wild and untamed Thunder Car class.  Earning a black flag for rough driving in his opening heat race Silverthorn missed the message and continued to move traffic aside with the force of his bumper.  Another penalty for his driving style put Silverthorn to the back of the field for a mid-race restart, joined by Bob Chenoweth.  Randy Rusnell was caught in the middle of the action and as an involved car also ended up at the back of the line in a late race restart.

A stroke of terrible luck struck the London Recreational #13 of Brad Collison, as the former championship winner broke a rear axle while racing for the lead.  A rear wheel flew off the race car and bounced around until becoming trapped beneath the front end of #73 Nick Troback.  Collison required the assistance of the Ray’s Towing team to get back to his pit, where the team went to work repairing the car for round 2.

At the front Steve Perry offered little chance for challenge keeping at least a car length ahead of his top pursuer.  But a slow reaction to the green flag on a late restart caused a change with only a few laps to go.  Second position #10 Dennis Cybalksi found himself surrounded by fluorescent green numbers as he picked up the pace on the front straightaway, as the brothers Zardo – #46 Lane and #48 Billy – flew by, one from the inside and the other in the higher lane.  Three wide towards corner one, the two Holmes on Homes race machines lined up in second and third on the back chute to track down Steve Perry.  Their efforts would fall just shy, running out of laps as they rushed to the rear bumper of the Holmar Plumbing #8.

Rabbit Runs to Checkers
The little cars are finding the big power in Flamboro Speedway’s Mini Stock class.  One week after Parker Holman drove to victory in the #20 Honda CRX, it was The Rabbit Rob Hoskins who found the get and go to put his orange #37 Volkswagen into the winner’s circle.
In the 25-lap feature race #84 Lisa de Leeuw started on pole position alongside #88 Mark Dennis, with 23 more competitors all stacked up behind them.  Hoskins started to the inside of row 2 and fast worked his way to the front of the field after the drop of the opening green flag.

Starting sixteenth was a race winner from the previous week, two-time past champion Dave Bailey.  Debuting the new version #31, a new Nissan racer built in the offseason, Bailey was hoping to match the performance of his famous Ford and make a second trip to victory lane.

Unfortunately missing-in-action from this week’s main event was the teenage driver from Woodstock, Parker Holman.  One week earlier Holman had a dynamite performance in the second of twin 25-lap races, outrunning Bailey for the checkered flag win.  The TanAtHome.ca #20 Honda did return this week, and looked strong in practice, until a mechanical failure forced the team back into their pit.  On site repairs were attempted by the failure was too much to fix on the dirt floor of the Mini Stock pit.  Holman was forced to retire for the night, even before qualifying.

Back in the race, Wade Watson in the Spira Fire Protection #22 put on a show as he came from eighth to take the lead for a short while in a break in concentration sent the #37 for a wild ride through the grass just past turn two.  Hoskins had been running mostly on his own out front but the car jumped away from his control in the middle of the corner.  The near-disastrous move lost ‘The Rabbit’ about six running positions and opened the door for a duel between Watson and Matthew Dean.

Dean’s Hamilton Engine #15 was again strong, over taking Watson, but proved not enough to out the VW Rabbit #37.  Rob Hoskins closed the gap from sixth and made passes until he was back in contention alongside Matt Dean.  It was a short battle between the two small cars.

Also in the top five was the Complete Rent-Alls #02 of Mike Taylor.  Taylor was racing very well from a fourteenth starting position and quietly hanging around the top five looking for an opening.  Behind him more strong performances came from the Can-Alignment #51 driver Eric Yorke, and the #71 Automotive Truck Tire driver Russ Aicken.  The two drivers came through traffic together, fighting with each other for position every inch of the way.  In in particular looked determined – and destined – for a feature win, though this night would not be his.

At the checkered stripe for the final time it was Rob Hoskins taking the victory, followed by Matt Dean, Wade Watson, Mike Taylor and Eric Yorke.

When asked about what happened in corner two to cause the Rabbit to jump, Hoskins answered, “I have no idea.  We were running strong, and had a great lead but the car just got away from me.  I don’t know why.  But I managed to hold on and we came back.  It’s great to be back!”

Four-cylinder Mini Stock racing continues every Saturday night all summer long, see schedule for details.

When asked in victory lane about the Zardo challenge Perry answered with a smile, “I never saw them coming.  I never looked back.”  He was focused on staying out front and pushing the AirQuest Heating & Air race machine to the limit to win the first round of the night’s main event.  After the second round, it was clear that he – and all of us – need to an keep eye on the next generation Zardo racers.

A top three finish to each of their credit in the first round, Lane and Billy Zardo lined up the County Interiors #46 and #48 in eleventh and twelfth for the second round start.  Jeff Bean in the Krown Stoney Creek #37 earned the pole position, starting alongside a twice penalized Dave Silverthorn Jr.  Behind Silverthorn in fourth was ‘Big Bag’ Bob Chenoweth, and only a couple more cars behind was Randy Rusnell.  A wild start was expected the moment the lineup made its debut.

The Thunder Cars didn’t disappoint – or surprise – as the full field barreled into the first turns on the opening lap.  Already with an altercation to their credit, Chenoweth and Silverthorn tied up again this time in front of the accelerating field.  Chenoweth was spun around, Silverthorn narrowly escaped and fortunately further carnage was avoided.  With Chenoweth put the to the rear of the field the BDS Enterprises #97 was able to steal the lead away from Jeff Bean on the next attempted restart, and begin to build a dominant distance back to second place.

Erinn Bailey in the St. George OK Tire #02 was first to lead a challenge to chase down Silverthorn, but she was soon displaced by the rushing Rocket Rusnell and Kevin Albers.  The Spira #72 and Wasteco #27 hooked up and ran down the #97, seemingly creating panic in the cockpit.  With Rusnell flying in the high line, supremely strong in the outside lane, and with Albers constantly trying to take advantage of a growing gap to the inside, Dave Silverthorn Jr had no idea where he would be safe on the race track.  For three laps SIlverthorn would drift high in the corner to push Rusnell up against the concrete wall and then dive bomb to the inside as he approached the straightaway almost shearing off the nose of the Assante Financial Management #27.  Despite growing concern for blocking the officials made no effort to reprimand Silverthorn and clean up the leader battle.  Finally in turn four contact was made and an incident followed, but a caution flag had already been thrown for #37 who had popped a hose and dropped all kinds of fluid at the corner exit and back straightaway.  Details of the corner four altercation were forgotten, and as Randy Rusnell and Kevin Albers both limped off to make pit stops, Silverthorn rose to the front of the field again in #97.

Now with the brothers Zardo lining up in third and second, Silverthorn would have a whole new cast to contend with in the closing laps.  On the restart it was Billy Zardo in the Holmes on Homes #48 who lead the charge at #97.  Looking for a move down low, Zardo started to the inside in turn one.  Silverthorn tried another chop block but came across the nose of #48 who refused to make out of the throttle with an accelerating field of cars on his rear bumper.  Silverthorn was sent spinning through the dust on the back chute as Zardo sped away.  A caution flag followed, giving the #97 an opportunity to rejoin the line.  After chasing down the #48 a stiff shot in the back was given – under caution – to express his feelings of discontent toward to the turn two result.  An unsportsmanlike penalty was issued and Silverthorn was removed from the remainder of the competition.

With only four laps remaining there was a new leader at the front of the field, and his younger brother was starting second.  Billy Zardo – 17 years old – has won a number of Thunder Car races in his young career, and Lane Zardo – 15 years old – only one week earlier made his Thunder Car debut after campaigning a Mini Stock the previous year.  As the drivers watched the green flag wave to restart the race fans could have sworn that two grizzled veterans were at the front.

When I write that there was no give in their battle for the win, I mean it.  Into corner one the two Zardo racers went number to number through the turns, unaware of any challenges growing behind them.  Steve Perry, Randy Rusnell and Brad Colliosn were all lining up with ambitions of victory, but at the front it was a Z-team duel.  Lane worked the #46 down to the bottom of the track, hugging the yellow line as he raced the inside lane.  Billy Zardo fought to hold the momentum on the outside but the #48 was in a bad spot with no help.  The lineup got behind Lane and slowly over the closing laps the #48 was shuffled back.  In front of the previous race winner and two past champions, Lane Zardo drove on to the checkered flag – his first Thunder Car main event victory in just his second week in the division.

Stunned as he climbed out of the car, Lane Zardo excitedly waved to the cheering and screaming crowd as he accepted accolades for his race win.  Billy Zardo was quick to join him in the winners’ circle, pouncing on his younger brother with ecstatic congratulations, repeating “I never gave it to you.  You earned it.  That was awesome!”

When asked about the emotion of winning that race Lane expressed, “I’m speechless.  I can’t believe it.  When we were chasing [Silverthorn] I thought it would be cool to finish second and third, and then we restarted I thought it would be great to be first and second.  I have to give huge thanks to my Grandpa and my Dad who helped me put this car together.  This is incredible.”

Ontario’s favourite Thunder Cars are back in action every Saturday night all summer long.  See schedule for details.

Opening Day Duels at Flamboro Speedway

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Courtesy FlamboroSpeedway.itgo.com – The four-cylinder Mini Stock class headlined opening day at Hamilton’s asphalt arena Flamboro Speedway, running in Twin 25-lap main events to kick-off the 2010 grass roots stock car racing season.  More than 30 teams attempted to qualify for the two feature races, and while a dozen performances combined to make a very entertaining show, two drivers topped the roster and shared the winner’s circle spotlight.

Woodstock’s Parker Holman, driver of the TanAtHome.ca #20 Honda CRX, enters into his junior year as a Mini Stock driver, still more than six months shy of his G1 driver’s license test.  Winning races at Flamboro Speedway since he was 13 years old, the full-time student earned the rank as top qualifier after winning his heat race, and started on the front row of the first feature alongside a former 2-time Mini Stock division champion, Matthew Dean.

The opening feature event was a great battle for the top spot between Dean and Holman, a couple of Honda racers who have worked together in the past.  Behind them, strong performances were put forth by Dave Haggedorn, Eric Yorke and Mike Taylor, all fighting for space inside the top five.

Hagersville’s Dave Bailey, driver of the Jay Hewer Racing #31 and another two-time division champion, qualified to eighth starting spot.  One week earlier Bailey had debuted a newly built Nissan to run in 2010 but was unsatisfied with the car’s performance in practice.  His tried and true Ford was brought out of retirement and dusted off for opening night, a decision he definitely did not regret.

Bailey, back in old form and old car, weaved through the traffic with grace until he was near the front to challenge the Honda battle between Dean and Holman.  The fast three stretched away from the competition, building a several car gap back to a four-car battle for fourth.  In the closing laps Bailey managed to work his way around the Hamilton Engine #15, and set his sites on Holman’s #20.  The younger driver fought furiously, but in the final lap drifted in corner two and opened the lane ever slightly for Bailey to make his move.  Down the back stretch the two cars went side by side and by corner three Bailey had a clear advantage.  Racing to the checkered flag, Dave Bailey stole the first win of the season from Parker Holman, while Matt Dean chased them both across the finish from third.  Dave Haggedorn and Eric Yorke completed the top five.

Round 2
The second feature lineup was an inversion of lead-lap cars from the finish of the first race.  As a result, Bailey started in 14th.  The new pole sitters were #01 Mark DaSilva of Burlington and Millgrove’s #66 Sheldon Bossom.

The opening laps were tense as drivers piled hard into the turns, three and four wide in the middle of the 30 car starting field.  One driver who was unable to make the call was #38 Rodney Rutherford, after a  corner-two altercation with #2 Brittani ‘Bash’ Myers that sent Rutherford hard into the concrete wall and broke up the right front corner earlier in the night.

DaSilva lead the way in the Complete Rent-Alls #01 in the early going, holding back the advance of the Gene Jones Excavating #66.  A couple of caution flags for spins kept the field tightly packed and created a couple of exciting restarts as drivers on the outside dashed out of corner four trying to catch the leaders off guard.  Russ Aicken proved the best at this action.  Quick to the throttle was the driver of the Automotive Truck & Tire #71, gaining about four positions in a single effort.  By the half-way mark Dave Bailey was making his way back to the front, with Parker Holman and Matthew Dean in tow.

Unfortunately for Dean, his Hamilton Engine #15 got caught up with slower traffic in the corner and the kiss off the concrete caused body damage that would earn him a black flag for debris and retire him to the pits.  With only 5 laps remaining.

The final restart was all the opportunity that Parker Holman needed to repay the courtesy of Dave Bailey in this second round main event.  When the green flag dropped Holman dove alongside Bailey, and the hard working Honda found new strength.  The RH Tile #20 driver was determined to earn an opening night trip to victory lane, and as the white flag signaled the final lap Bailey was closing in fast.  The battle for third seemed miles away as the top two raced to the finish.  Out of corner four they were side by side, and the checkers came down just in time as Holman crossed the line a tire ahead of the multi-time champion.  Dave Haggedorn, Russ Aicken and Eric Yorke completed the top five finish.

In the winners’ circle Holman pumped his fists and excitedly waved the checkered flag in celebration.  In the post-race interview when asked about the restart Holman said he knew that Bailey was the faster car from the first race, but he wanted this win more.

Mini Stocks are back in action next weekend, Saturday May 1st.  Details available on the schedule.

Thunder Cars – Chenoweth Unchallenged

When the race winner climbs out and says, “We’ll see how we fare next week in traffic,” it’s a pretty good indication that he felt no pressure from the competition.  The Flamboro Speedway opening day heads-up start from Thunder Car qualifying put veteran driver and former champion #89 ‘Big Bad’ Bob Chenoweth on the pole.  How do you beat a Chenoweth when he starts at the front?
Bob Chenoweth has run in almost every division Flamboro Speedway has had to offer, and when the checkers fell over top of the flat black #89, a mean looking tank of race car, it wasn’t much of a surprise.  But while Chenoweth’s cool demeanor in victory lane is a testament to his numerous career victories, he may want to give some credit to his outside pole sitter, Dave Osborne.

‘Super’ Dave Osborne from Brantford was a hot runner in Mini Stocks a couple years past and advanced into the Thunder Car class with great promise and aspirations, only to find struggle and frustration.  His past seasons as the Eastwood Signs #10 brought heartbreak and disaster on many occasions.  It must have been the number.  Debuting in 2010 as the Big ‘O’ and with new partner Ohsweken Speedway  on the car, Osborne ran to a first place finish in qualifying and had a very strong start in the feature.

The #0 was a stronghold in second, holding up a couple of last year’s multi-race winners #27 Kevin Albers and #21 Matt Bentley, along with the now 3-time consecutive Division Champion #72 Randy ‘the Rocket’ Rusnell.  It took nearly half the race for Albers to move Osborne out of line and get a run at the lead.  At that time there was a freight train of cars lined up on the inside and it was Big ‘UhOh’ for Super Dave as he watched his top five finish pass him by.

At the front the line was Kevin Albers, Randy Rusnell connected to his bumper, and Matt Bentley right behind along with #10 Dennnis Cybalksi.  Chenoweth was a full straightaway ahead of the field by the time Albers and Rusnell found open race track, and in the closing 10 laps they went to work closing that gap.

With only a couple circuits remaining Rusnell lost patience with Albers and broke from the partnership, edging inside the #27 in a race down the back stretch.  Albers took some exception to the move, illustrated by a less than friendly tap exiting turn four that broke both drivers attention.  That moment was enough for Matt Bentley to join the fight, and Dennis Cybalski wasn’t far either.  The four car bunch ended the run with no further exchanges, but with definite tensions and excitement already growing in the Thunder Car ranks.

Late Model News – Setting Up for Summer

The Grisdale Late Models are not scheduled to start their competitive season for a couple more weeks, but two experienced drivers did come out on Saturday to play with their cars and shake out the bugs prior to the event program.
Two-time champion ‘The King of Speed’ Jason Shaw and Ontario’s “Iron Man” Gary Elliott both took laps in preparation for the season, and helped promote the upcoming 2010 Late Model debut on Saturday May 15th.

The two drivers also helped Race Director Don Cox in determining the measurements required to place the new ‘referee line’ that will be painted through the corners of Flamboro Speedway in the coming weeks.  The new teaching tool was not prepared in advance of opening day because of weather conditions, and an inability to get race cars on the track in racing form to determine a fair measurement and position for the line.

Both drivers were consulted, and their participation was generally accepted as good choices for input given their senior level of experience in grass roots racing.