Atlantic Canada . . .
start your engines!
xBy Terry Waterfield
Ah! Spring – longer days, warmer temperatures, soon to make way for the clear sunny skies and warm breezes of summer. A time of year that brings the anticipation of lazy days at the beach. There is a large group of people, however, who are looking forward to a much less relaxing activity. Spring, after all, marks the beginning of the auto racing season in Atlantic Canada. The area’s race tracks are ready. The race teams are ready, and there is no lack of tracks in Atlantic Canada for drivers, crews and fans to get their racing fix.
A quick internet search finds at least 16 tracks in the four Atlantic Provinces, with six in New Brunswick, six in Nova Scotia, three in Newfoundland and one on Prince Edward Island, and there is the possibility that some may have been missed.
These tracks offer a wide range of diversity in what they offer. The majority of the tracks are stock car ovals, but there are also three drag strips and one road course, and while most of the oval tracks are paved, Nova Scotia has at least one dirt track, Lake Doucette Motor Speedway, not too far from Yarmouth, NS, and Newfoundland two, Avondale Speedway and Exploit’s Valley Speedway at Bishop’s Falls.
Also in Nova Scotia are three paved ovals, Scotia Speedworld near Halifax, Riverside Raceway at James River, 10 km. from Antigonish, NS and Island Speedway, midway between Sydney and Glace Bay. Nova Scotia has the area’s only road course, the 2.5 km., 11-turn Atlantic Motorsport Park near Shubenacadie.
New Brunswick boasts the largest number of paved ovals, with five, New Brunswick International Speedway at Geary, Centre for Speed at Shediac, River Glade Speedway at River Glade, Blue Mountain Speedway near Bathurst and Miramichi City Speedway at Miramichi. There are drag strips in New Brunswick, Miramichi Dragway Park, Newfoundland, Clarenville Dragway, and Prince Edward Island, at Raceway Park, Oyster Bed Bridge, near Charlottetown.
Raceway Park also is the home of PEI’s only paved oval track, making it Atlantic Canada’s only dual-purpose facility.
The majority of the oval tracks offer weekly programs with a variety of different stock car classes, usually based on engine size and driver experience, but many also schedule special events during the summer. Schedules typically run from late May or early June to mid to late September, although some, notably Centre for Speed in Shediac have been know to run events into October.
Running an 11-race series at five different tracks in the three Maritime Provinces, the CARQUEST Maritime Pro Stock Tour is the premier racing series in the Maritimes, offering the area’s top drivers in the most powerful class run regularly in this area.
The 2006 schedule runs from a June 6 opening at Scotia Speedworld to the Sept. 16 finale at Riverside Speedway. In between the tour makes two additional stops at Scotia Speedworld, two at New Brunswick International Speedway, two at Raceway Park in PEI two at Centre for Speed and one more at Riverside Speedway.
Scotia Speedworld, which runs weekly Friday night racing in five different classes, Sportsman, Hobby Stock, Thunder and Lightning, Legends and, new this year, the Bandolero Class, a spec series racer designed for drivers as young as eight-years-old. Scotia will run two divisions in the class, Bandits, ages 8 to 11, and Young Guns, ages 11 to 15.
Scotia Speedword has also scheduled a number of Saturday specials. In addition to the three CARQUEST Tour events, June 3, July 8 and Sept. 9, Scotia has contracted for two rounds of the prestigious New England based Pro All Star Series.
The super late model series dates at Scotia Speedworld will enable the best pro stock drivers from the Maritimes to go face-to-face with the best drivers from New England and is always a highlight of the Maritime stock racing season, consistently drawing a large car count and the biggest crowds of the summer. Scotia will run the Forbes 200 / C&R Auto Supply Shootout, 200 laps around Scotia’s 3/10-mile D paved oval, July 24 and the Atlantic Cat 250 Aug. 11 – 12, with qualifying set for Friday the 11th, with the main event, 250 laps, going Saturday.
New Brunswick International Speedway, which runs regular racing for Pro Stock, Sportsman and Street Stock classes, will host its sixth annual “Irving Oil 250 presented by Coca Cola and humpty Dumpty” during their annual “Speedweekend” Sept. 1 to 4. The weekend features a special 150-lap event for the Sportsman Class on Saturday and the Enduro Series Championship 200 on Monday.
Highlight of the weekend is the Irving Oil 250, 250 laps of NBIS’s 1/3-mile high-banked oval, advertised by NBIS as “Canada’s fastest short track” featuring the best pro stock drivers from the three Maritime Provinces and Maine.
Last year’s event saw a record 39 drivers attempt to qualify for one of the 28 starting positions, which provides a payout to the winner in excess of $25,000. More than 7,000 attended last year’s race. NBIS also presents the CARQUEST “Best of the Best” Pro Stock series, three 100-lap races on June 10, July 17 and Aug 12, as well as the Firecracker 150 for the Sportsman Class on July 2.
Shediac, New Brunswick’s Centre for Speed, which runs an ambitious schedule from with Pro Stock, Sportsman, Street Stock, Thunder Cat and Tiger Cat Divisions, also presents a number of special events over the summer. Centre for Speed hosts two rounds of the CARQUEST Maritime Pro Stock Tour, July 15 and August 19 and will close out its season with their annual “Atlantic Stock Car Championship” Oct. 7 – 8, with Sportsman 125, 125 laps of their 3/8-mile oval, and the Midland Pro Stock 250 Oct. 8. This event annually draws the best sportsman and pro stock drivers from Maritime Canada to close out the racing season.
Raceway Park, Atlantic Canada’s only dual auto racing facility, runs a full summer of local classes, including Pro Stock, Street Stock and the Modified Super Series from mid-May until late September, and also schedules a number of special features, including rounds of the CARQUEST Maritime Pro Stock Tour on Jul. 1 and 22, as well as an Atlantic Open Wheel special Aug. 12. The facility also runs eight drag racing events between May and October, as well as Tuesday Night Street Races night June 6 to Aug. 29.
River Glade Speedway offers Saturday night race from May 20 to Sep. 30, when the track stages a special closing program featuring a Pro Stock Invitational feature. During the season the track presents championships in Sportsman, Warriors, Street Stock and Sunday Driver classes. The Maritime’s newest track, Blue Mountain Speedway at Big River, NB, not too far from Bathurst, which opened in mid-2004, was still finalizing its 2006 schedule at press time. The track runs weekend programs featuring Mini Stock, Sportsman and 4-cylinder classes.
Atlantic Canada’s only road racing track, Atlantic Motorsport Park near Shubenacadie, NS runs Improved Touring and Grand Touring sedan races on its 2.5 km road circuit, as well as races for F1600 and Formula Libre open wheeled formula race cars. This year’s dates are May 27, Jun. 17, Jul, 8, Aug. 26 and Oct. 14. The track also runs a full schedule of motorcycle racing.
Terry Waterfield can be reached here.