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Atlantic Racing Scene
 

Shiftin' GEARS!
Our exclusive report on this year’s Atlantic racing scene


The green flag has dropped! The 2009 auto racing season has begun in Atlantic Canada, with most tracks opening for competition in late May and continuing into September. And, despite the current economic downturn, there’s a distinct air of optimism emanating from the region’s race tracks. Sponsorships have held and even increased at some facilities, while car counts continue to rise.

Bob Greenwood

 

Tara Foster, Marketing and Sponsorship Manager for the CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour and Scotia Speedworld, explains, echoing the thoughts of most track managers: “Sponsorship has not been a problem for either Scotia Speedworld or the CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour this season. I think most of our sponsors are aware that race fans are the most brand loyal in all of Sports Marketing.”

There are several tracks who have opted to shorten their schedules somewhat, but for the most part, tracks are looking forward to full grids and good crowds, most coming off excellent 2008 seasons in both areas.

Centre for Speed, near Shediac, NB and River Glade Speedway north of Moncton, have agreed to run a new “South Eastern Challenge Series” for Sportsman cars, and have come up with a set of building rules, common to both tracks that will: “Making it so any car can race at our two tracks and our cars can go to all other tracks without having to make major changes,” explains Herman Berry Jr., River Glade Promoter. The series will consist of 10 races, seven at Centre for Speed and three at River Glade. The two tracks have also agreed to not hold competing events on the same night, in order to take maximum advantage of the available fan base.



The region’s most popular touring series, the CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour, has actually added a race from its normal 11 and will run 12 events at five Maritime tracks, appearing four times at Scotia Speedworld, Halifax, three at Riverside International Speedway in James River near Antigonish, twice each at Raceway Park, Oyster Bed Bridge, PEI and Speedway 660, Geary, NB, while making one stop at Centre for Speed at Shediac, NB.

The series opened May 23 at Scotia Speedworld with the first of eight 100 lap features and will close out the season with the annual 200 lap finale at Scotia Speedworld Sept. 12.The other three races will make up the new “Triple Crown of Maritime Pro Stock Series” consisting of three 250 lap features at three different tracks, the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body at Riverside July 18, the Atlantic CAT 250 at Scotia Speedworld Aug. 8, 9, and the Peterbuilt 250 at Speedway 660 Sept. 6. Racers in this series will be competing for a total of close to $250,000 in prize money, including an additional bonus of $50,000 to any driver who can win all three races.

Tour Marketing Manager Tara Foster confirms more than 35 entrants at press time, including reigning points champion Wayne Smith of Timberlea, who recorded his fifth Maritime Pro Stock championship in 2008. Tour runner-up Lonnie Summerville of Saint John, who finished only 17 points back of Smith, along with third-place finisher Shawn Turple of Enfield, NS will be back gunning for top spot.





Former champion Shawn Ticker, Fredicton, NB has filed an entry form, as has another ex-champion, Rollie MacDonald. The full CARQUEST Tour schedule and entry list will be available here.

The Atlantic Open Wheel Tour, based in New Brunswick, has published a nine-event calendar for 2009 as of press time, but is expected to add races in the near future. The tour will make six stops at Speedway 660, with the first race May 23, and will visit Centre for Speed twice and Raceway Park once. The full schedule is posted on the series web site ataowtour.ca. The cars are specially built on a full size Chevrolet frame and sport a 305 cu inch Chev. motor, thus ensuring close wheel to wheel racing.

The Maritime League of Legends have scheduled seven tour races, visiting Scotia Speedworld three times, Riverside twice and Raceway Park and Speedway 660 each twice. Legends cars are 5/8-scale fibreglass full fendered versions of early NASCAR cars, powered by a Yamaha 1250 cc sealed engine. While the body designs vary, based on a variety of vintage race cars, the cars are basically equal, putting the emphasis on driver skill and ensuring close racing.

Legends cars, in addition to the touring series, race and several Maritime tracks as part of their weekly racing. More information is available from their web site: maritimelegends.ca.
With nine paved oval tracks in Atlantic Canada, five in New Brunswick, three in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island, there is no lack of stock car racing excitement to satisfy local racing fans. Most tracks offer weekly racing using local classes and teams, with occasional visits from the Atlantic Touring series, with the addition of a few visits from national or international series to selected tracks, plus special events.



Newfoundland has two oval tracks, both dirt, Avondale Speedway at Avondale, NL and Exploit’s Valley Speedway at Bishop’s Falls, NL, offering weekly events, plus the Internationally famed Targa Rally, while Nova Scotia can boast of the only paved road course, the 2.5 km, 11-turn Atlantic Motorsport Park, near Shubenacadie, NS.

In Nova Scotia, two of the three tracks, Scotia Speedworld and Riverside International Speedway, had published schedules for 2009 as of this issue’s deadline. Scotia Speedworld, scotiaspeedworld.ca, a 5/10-mile D shaped asphalt oval located opposite the Halifax International Airport, has scheduled a mix of touring series events and weekly local classes, normally running their local classes on Friday nights and touring series, such as the CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour, on Saturdays.

Scotia has scheduled four dates, May 23, July 4, Aug. 7 – 8 and Sept. 12 for CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour visits, with the July 4 100-lap Forbes Chevrolet 100 starting at 6:00 p.m. while the Sept. 12 Parts for Trucks 200, the season finale, beginning at 2:00 p.m. The two-day, Aug. 7 – 8 event, the CAT 250, will feature qualifying events on Friday night at 7:00 p.m., with the CAT 250 and a Sportsman 100-lap feature being held Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Thirteen Friday nights (plus a Saturday kick-off May 30, 2:00 p.m) have been set aside for regular racing classes, with the season finale scheduled for Sept. 11.



Scotia Speedworld holds championships for Sportsman, Hobby Stock, Legend Cars, Thunder Cars, Lightning Cars and Bandolero. The track will also host three rounds of the Maritime League of Legends, running 20-lap features as the undercard for the three CARQUEST Tour events.

Riverside International Speedway, riversidespeedway.ca, a 1/3 high-banked paved oval located at James River, NS, has five events, including a just-announced Truck and Tractor Pull Aug. 14-15, scheduled. The track opens June 6 with a 100 lap CARQUEST Tour feature and a 50-lap Sportsman feature, followed by the IWK Super Race Weekend July 17 – 18. The weekend is highlighted by the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body Shop, round one of the CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour’s Triple Crown as well as a point’s scoring CARQUEST Tour event. This event annually brings the biggest field of drivers, not only from the CARQUEST Tour, but other pro stock drivers from the area.

Included in the starting field for 2009, NASCAR regular David Reutmann, who will drive the “CAT Car for Kids”. This promotion, sponsored by Atlantic CAT, is designed to help raise awareness for the regions largest health care centre for sick children, Halifax’s Izaac Walton Killam Hospital.



As part of the promotion, Reutmann and the car will visit the IWK Hospital where patients will be able to become honorary members of the team by putting their mark on the car. “This will be our third visit to the IWK,” Track General Manager Paul MacLean noted. “Last year participation more than doubled and we expect the “CAT Car for Kids” concept to grow it even more. We’re very pleased to use one of our landmark events in partnership with Atlantic CAT to help raise awareness and funding for the IWK Health Care Centre.” To date, the race, which first ran at Riverside in 2007, has raised more than $40,000 for the hospital.

Riverside will present a third CARQUEST Tour event Aug. 22 with the Parts For Trucks 100 and will host the Komatsu 300 Canadian Tire Series feature on Sept. 19. In addition, the Sportsman Super Series will return to Riverside for 2009, with two 50-lap races June 6 as part of the MPST event, and a pair of 100 lap events, July 17 during the IWK Super Weekend and Sep. 18 as part of the NASCAR Super Weekend. As of deadline time, Island Speedway near Sydney, NS had not posted a 2009 schedule. The track runs races in five classes, Street, Thunder, Lightning Bugs, Truck and 6 Cylinder.

Speedway 660, runs a packed schedule from May 23 to September 7, with regular points races in Pro Stock, Sportsman and Street Stock Classes, as well as a number of special events.

Speedway 660, a 1/3-mile high banked paved oval near Geary, NB, will also host two rounds of the 2009 CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour, including the Peterbuild 250, the final round of CARQUEST’s Triple Crown Events, plus the Parts for Trucks 100 June 27. They will also feature the only visit to the Maritimes by the U.S. based Pro All Stars Series with a 200-lap feature June 13.



As mentioned earlier, Centre for Speed, Shediac, NB, and River Glade Speedway, River Glade, NB, have reached an agreement that will see a 10-race “South Eastern Challenge Series” for Sportsman Cars and have agreed not to run regular events at the two tracks the same nights. “I think this is a very positive thing for stock car racing in our region,” Tim While, Centre for Speed, remarked. “I think this is something that the whole stock car racing community can benefit from.” “With this alliance we hope to have increased car counts and give the fans some very exciting nights.”

At press time, River Glade had not completed its racing dates, but what is known is that River Glade will host three of the 10 Challenge races and will also run their local classes as part of these events. They are hoping to post their finalized schedule on their web site, probably by the time this magazine is delivered.

As far as Centre for Speed goes, they had posted a full schedule of events beginning with a Sportsman 50-lap feature and other points races June 13 continuing into mid October, with their popular “Speed Weeks” closing out the season October 3 to 18 with a number of events, including a Pro Stock 150, Sportsman 100, with events for all classes, plus a show and shine and demolition derby. The track will also host the CARQUEST Lucas Oil 100 Aug. 15.
Two other New Brunswick Tracks, Blue Mountain Speedway and Miramichi City Speedway were still working on their schedules at press time and expect to be able to announce them in the near future.



Blue Mountain Speedway will be running events for 4 cylinder and mini-stock classes and are planning for a demolition derby and a monster truck show. The track announced their new schedule on a new web site in May.

Prince Edward Islands only oval, Raceway Park at Oyster Bed Bridge, likewise has not posted a schedule on their web site, and could not be reached at press time, but the track will run regular classes, as well as two rounds of the CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour, June 20 and August 1 and will host the Maritime League of Legends August 8. The Maritime’s only road circuit, Atlantic Motorsport Park, a 2.5 km, 11-turn road circuit located not far from Shubenacadie, NS., hosts events for both cars and motorcycles throughout the summer.

Car racing is held in two divisions, open wheeled formula cars and sedans. AMP will hold five dates for car racing, May 24, June 14, July 19, August 23 and Sept. 20. Normally, Saturdays are available for practice, with qualifying for the Sunday races beginning at 10:00 a.m., followed by racing in open wheel and various sedan classes during the afternoon.

Drag racing is alive and well in the Maritimes, thanks to the Atlantic Drag Racing Association, which conducts a points racing series at four Maritime Tracks, with two races at each track; Greenfield Dragway, Greenfield, NS, June 13-14 and Oct. 2-4; Miramichi Dragway Park, June 27-28 and Sept. 26-27; Raceway Park, PE, July 18-19 and Sept. 5-6; Cape Breton Dragway, July 25-26 and Aug. 22-23. Some of these tracks run events other than the ADRA point’s series and their web sites may be accessed through the ADRA site.



ADRA runs competitions in a number of classes at each event, with points championships and prizes in each class. In addition, the association will be hosting the inaugural “Maritime Team Challenge” at Greenfield Dragway October 3, where each track may send a 27-member team to compete for prizes. Clarenville Dragway in Mount Pearl, NL, www.5liter.nf.net, runs eight events throughout the summer, beginning June 13-14.

Targa Newfoundland, now seven years old and advertised as the only Targa Rally in North America, is scheduled for Sept. 12 to 19. Starting and ending in St. John’s, the rally covers more than 2200 kilometres for highway and rural roads in Eastern and Central Newfoundland.
Targa, or competitive sections are held on roads closed to the general public and comprise 20% of the total course. While standings for the Targa Stages are determined by the quickest times for the stage, all other stages must be taken at a legal speed and points are deducted for being too fast through the stage, or too slow. The final rankings are determined by a combination of the timing through all the stages. The world class Targa Newfoundland attracts local, North American and International competitors.




About The Author: Mr. Terry Waterfield is a highly experienced contributor to Auto Atlantic.


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