By Terry Waterfield
With events stretching over five months across four provinces and including a few new surprises, racing season in Atlantic Canada is gearing up for another exciting year.
The return of an old friend has Maritime motorsport fans licking their lips in anticipation as the 2011 auto racing season gets underway. Back after a 10-year hiatus, Petty International Raceway, 40 km north of Moncton NB, opens its gate once more for racing following the purchase of the track by five-time Maritime Pro Stock champion Wayne Smith and associates Craig McFetridge and Brett Benoit.
The group purchased the track and surrounding land from original owner Jerry Campbell last fall and have spent the winter preparing the track for completion. While the new owners report the facility is still in good shape, a number of improvements will be on show when the track reopens. The purchase includes a parcel of land behind the back straight which will enable the pits, which formerly were located on the infield, to be relocated to the outside of the track between corners two and three.
A new wall between turn two and three is being built, which will allow for a new grandstand, will increase seating at the facility to 3,000. For 2011 at least, the track will confine itself to special events and has published a six-race schedule, including two events in the Parts for Trucks Maritime Pro Stock Tour. The MPTS event will open the season at Petty on June 4, with Round 1 of the 2011 Atlantic Open Wheel Modified Tour providing the undercard. The Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour will also make a stop at Petty as part of the 46th running of the River Glade International weekend August 26-27. In between these two events, Petty will host a 50-lap Sportsman feature on July 1 and then the Maritime Sporstman Super Series for two events, July 16 and August 6. The track will close out its season with a double-header August 26-27 by hosting the 46th annual River Glade International Weekend , reprising an event started by Ernie and Winona MacLean at River Glade Speedway in 1965. The event had been held every year since until River Glade closed last year. Thus, Petty takes over the long running event, which will present a 100-lap feature for Sportsman cars on Friday, August 26 and the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour’s CARQUEST 100 the next night.
In addition to the two races at Petty International Raceway, the Maritime Pro Stock Tour, with a new naming sponsor, will run 10 other races, taking the popular tour to all three Maritime provinces in a 12-race schedule, up one event from last year. The series will be rebranded as the “Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour” since Parts for Trucks, the largest distributor of heavy duty truck and trailer parts in Atlantic Canada, ramped up its involvement with the series to become the naming sponsor after CARQUEST Auto Parts, the series sponsor since the beginning, scaled back its involvement following the 2010 season. CARQUEST will sponsor two individual 2011 rounds, the season opening CARQUEST 100 on May 22 at Scotia Speedworld and the penultimate race August 27 at Petty International Raceway. The Tour will also run a 100-lap feature at Scotia Speedworld July 2 and the 250-lap Atlantic CAT 250 on August 13, giving the Halifax track four of the 12 races for 2011. Other rounds will include three at Riverside Speedway, with 100-lap events June 18 and August 20, plus the IWK 250 July 23.
Oyster Bed Speedway on Prince Edward Island gets two races, June 25 and July 30, while one event will be held at Speedway 660 near Fredericton, NB on July 9. It may be hard to beat last season, when the Tour featured 10 different winners in the 11 races run. Only 43 points separated the top five drivers on the points table after Shawn Tucker clinched his third MPST points title with a third place finish in the final race, with five season champions entered among the 30+ competitors. Every driver who has tasted the thrill of a title win since the series was conceived in 2001, including Shawn Tucker (2), John Flemming (3), Wayne Smith (2), Rollie MacDonald (1) and Shawn Turple (1) have filed entry forms with the series for 2011.
Any one of these five drivers has the capability to sip the champagne from the champions’ trophy when the series completes its 2011 run next September, but there are more than 30 drivers who have entered the series who will all have the same aspirations. Whatever the outcome, one thing is sure: there will be a lot of exciting racing before anyone hoists the trophy at Scotia Speedworld on September 10. Since its beginning in 2003, the Atlantic Open Wheel Modified Tour has quietly become one of the region’s more popular racing series.
First conceived by Jim Duke, with a race car designed by Burnaham Custom Fabrications of Upper Coverdale, NB, the series began in a somewhat modest way, racing at a few New Brunswick tracks.
But with a car design which included full size Chevrolet frames and suspension, a 305 cc Chev engine and build rules which put a premium on driver ability, the series has caught on. With 25 drivers entered to date for the 2011 series, the schedule has expanded to 11 events and will run at seven different tracks in all three Maritime provinces, with two races south of the border at Spud Raceway, Maine.The open-wheel modifieds has also scheduled races at Petty International Raceway (2), Centre for Speed (4), Lake Doucette Motor Speedway (1), Blue Mountain Speedway (1) and Oyster Bed Speedway (1).
The championship will open June 1 at Petty and conclude October 8 as a part of Centre for Speed’s “Atlantic Speed Works.” It is arguably the finest class of race cars running in Atlantic Canada. The Sportsman Class is a part of the weekly racing line-up at most of the region’s tracks. The NAPA Sportsman Super Series 2011, which will race a six-race series, gives Sportsman Class drivers a chance to test their skills against drivers from other tracks. The six races will include four races at Riverside International Speedway and two at Petty international Raceway. The series will race at Riverside June 18 in the Highland Home Building 50, as a part of the IWK 250 weekend July 22-23 in the Highland Home Building 100, August 20 in the Highland Home Building 50 and as a part of Riverside’s NASCAR weekend September 16-17 in the Highland Home Building 100.
Races at Petty International Speedway will take place on July 16 and August 6, when the Sportsman series will present the main event. The Maritime League of Legends has published an eight-race schedule which includes four races at Scotia Speedworld, two at Riverside, one at Petty International Raceway, and one at Atlantic Motorsport Park. The four races at Scotia Speedworld will coincide with visits there by the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, including the Atlantic CAT 250 August 13 and the tour’s season finale September 10. The Maritime League of Legends will open their schedule as part of the Pro Stock event at SSW May 22 and will finish off the year on the 2.5 km, 11-turn road circuit at AMP near Shubenacadie Oct. 10. The two races at Riverside will include the IWK 250 on July 22. While the touring championships tend to garner the most fan and media interest with their infrequent visits to Atlantic Canada’s various tracks, most of the tracks in the region also serve up a steady menu of close exciting racing in their weekly race cards.
Scotia Speedworld, located outside Halifax on Highway 102, opposite the Halifax International Airport, for example, runs weekly schedules from late May into September, with races each Friday night. SSW runs races in six classes, Sportsman, Trucks, Legends, Thunder, Lightning and Bandolero, which provides an entry class for competitors as young as eight years old. The track normally runs a rotating schedule where five classes run each night, with a different class getting a week off each Friday. However, all six classes will run the opening day, which was held on Sunday, May 29, with racing starting at 2:00 p.m. The track also rounds special events from time to time, including the June 10-to-12 Monster Jam and a special Sportsman 100-lap feature on August 12.
Centre for Speed, just outside Shediac, NB on highway 153, traditionally runs the longest schedule of all Atlantic Canada tracks, and 2011 is no exception. COS has scheduled its first race for May 22 and will not close the gates until the conclusion of the 12th annual Atlantic Speed Weeks, which run from September 24 - October 9. CFS runs weekly events on Sunday afternoons (2:00 p.m.) with classes for Super Sportsman, Street Sportsman, Mini Stock, Four Fun The annual season ending “Atlantic Speed Weeks” billed by the Centre for Speed as “Atlantic Canada’s Year-End Motor Sports Celebration,” occurring after other tracks in the region have closed their doors for the season, draws a large number of competitors and fans to the track. It runs consecutive weekends from September 24 to October 9. With a Monster Trucks and 4 Wheel Jamboree taking up the first weekend, racing in a number of classes, including the Super Sportsman 100 championship race, takes place the Oct. 1 weekend.
The final weekend features the Pro Stock 150 championship race, plus the Shediac Sportsman 100. Riverside International Speedway at James River, NS, just 10 km west of Antigonish, will again run special events, with four dates scheduled for 2011. The Riverside schedule opens June 18 with a Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour 100 lap feature. The IWK Super Race Weekend July 22-23 event features a major Sportsman event on Friday night and the annual IWK 250 Pro Stock event on Saturday. A points race for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, the race will include MASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose, back for his second shot at an IWK 250 win. He finished 19th last year with an ailing engine.
Speedway 660, on Route 660 near Oromocto, NB, presents racing programs, mainly on Saturday nights, from May 27 to September 5. The track runs championships in Pro Stock, Sportsman, Street Stock, four-cylinder, truck and six-cylinder endure classes.In addition, the facility features special events, including a PASS 200-lap event July 11, the only visit to Atlantic Canada for the New England-based Pro Stock series. Oyster Bed Speedway on P.E.I. runs from May 23 to September 11, with racing in Outlaw, Street Stock, Ebduro and Modified classes. The track will host a round in the Parts for Trucks Air Show Atlantic 100 scheduled for July 30. The Atlantic Open Wheel Modified Tour will visit the track September 5.
Lake Doucette Motor Speedway has posted a four-event schedule for 2011, opening with a Sportsman Invitational June 25. The Atlantic Open Wheel Modifieds are at the track July 23, with a Imperial Stunt Drivers show and “Bash for Cash” set for Aug. 20 The schedule ends with a second Sportsman invitational Sep. 10.
Blue Mountain Speedway, near Bathurst NB, has four events on their 2011 schedule, beginning with a Demolition Derby and Mini Stock racing August 6. A visit by the Atlantic Open Wheel Modified Tour Aug 20 will be combined with racing in four-cylinder and mini-stock classes. These will also be in action again with a pair of demolition derbies September 4 and 25.
Sadly, Island Speedway between Sydney and Glace Bay, Cape Breton’s only racing oval, has been listed for sale. The link to the announcement does not work and the rumour is that the property has been sold for development, which will spell doom to stock car racing in Cape Breton.
If your preference is for right and left turns, with lots of elevation changes instead of the left turn only ovals we have profiled so far, then Atlantic Motorsport Park is the place for you. AMP, situated on a 377 acre, wooded site about a 45 minute drive north of Halifax, near the town of Shubenacidie, NS, is Atlantic Canada’s only road circuit. Featuring a 2.5 kilometre, 11-turn track with a number of elevation changes, AMP offers a challenging race track to all competitors and exciting wheel to wheel excitement to spectators. AMP has scheduled a six-event racing schedule for sedans and open-wheeled formula cars, which will provide a full day of racing in three sedan and two formula car classes. Qualifying sessions and races which run from mid-morning until late afternoon, provide almost constant action on race days. TRAC features a six-event schedule, with a full day of racing on each of its six race dates: May 29, June 25 and 26, August 20 and 21 and September 25. The TRAC Tour involves three sedan classes, Improved Touring, GT and Unlimited Class, run under national rules sanctioned by the ASN Canada FIA, Canada’s national motorsports sanctioning authority.
This allows AMP racers to compete at any other sanctioned Canadian track while racers from other parts of Canada can, and often do, compete at AMP events. While the main difference between classes is engine power, Improved Touring cars must be street legal with only minor modifications for safety reasons, such as racing safety belts. The GT cars allow additional modifications which provide for a more stripped out, purpose-built race car. Cars which do not fit in the Improved Touring or GT Class, are run in the Unlimited Class. Each race event also features an endurance race, usually a one hour timed event, where all three classes run together. The open wheel class, purpose-built open-wheeled, single-seat race cars, with two classes, separated by engine displacement, will run three races at each event. AMP ends their car racing season with the Jack Canfield Memorial Endurance Sedan Race October 10. In addition to the auto racing schedule, AMP runs a full schedule of motorcycle racing at the track, including the ARL/Parts Canada Superbikes national championship event August 4th to 7th.
Looking for straight-line speed? Then the Atlantic Drag Racing Association is just the ticket for you. ARDA sanctions drag racing at the five drag racing tracks in Atlantic Canada, with tracks in all four Atlantic Canadian Provinces; Clarenville Dragway, NL; Miramichi Dragway, NB; Cape Breton Dragway, NS; Raceway Park, PE; Greenfield Dragway near Bridgewater, NS. Events at these tracks begin in mid-May and run until late October. A comprehensive schedule for the five tracks can be viewed on the Maritime Drag Racing web site, with links to the individual tracks for more precise information.
The information in this article was the latest available at our press deadline, but there could be some changes as several tracks were still in the process of finalizing their dates. Auto Atlantic, www.autoatlantic.com, has links to most of the tracks mentioned where you can get up-to-date information. A quick Google search should locate the rest.
So enjoy your summer, we’re goin’ racing.
Much, much more in the print addition of Auto Atlantic.
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