Contributed by: ACT Staff
ACTion News – Wednesday, September 12, 2007
-by Justin St. Louis
There are usually some reservations about racing at a track you’ve never seen before. Where is the racing groove? What does the banking look like? How long are the straights? How tight are the corners? Can I get a run on a guy?
Oren Remick at Thunder Road in May: “That wall is going to take some getting used to.”
Joey Polewarczyk at Airborne’s Spring Green: “How do these guys get around this place?”
Scott Payea at the ACTion Super Series 200 at St-Eustache: “This track is so flat it’s like racing in a parking lot!”
With the exception of about a half-dozen American-Canadian Tour drivers, none of the drivers you’ll see in the Summer Sizzler 200 this Saturday have ever been to Kawartha Speedway in Ontario. Heck, a lot of them have never been to Ontario at all.
Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect: Long, fast straights; wide, progressively-banked, multi-groove corners; an outside retaining wall all the way around the track; an infield pit road; a classy restaurant; a 24-hour casino; a chicken BBQ and dance on Friday night; a huge $50,000 race purse on Saturday; an excited buzz in the air from Ontario race fans eager to see ACT back in action on their home turf; a fun weekend!
Among the few ACT regulars that have visited Kawartha Speedway once or twice in the past are Jean-Paul Cyr, Roger Brown, Joey Pole, Ron Henry, Joey Laquerre, and Donald Theetge. Former ACT driver and current part-time Kawartha campaigner Jacob McGrath is rumored to have a ride in place for the Sizzler as well.
But the same types of feelings held by drivers at a new track can be held by the track’s regular drivers about the new competitors coming in.
Take Dan McHattie for example. A two-time feature winner this season, the Cavan, ON veteran is excited about racing against the ACT Late Model Tour drivers coming into his playground this weekend, but he doesn’t know what to expect.
“Are the (qualifying) heats usually rough?” McHattie asked in a conversation this week. “I’m looking forward to the experience with ACT and racing with a new group of drivers, but I don’t know anything about them,” he said.
McHattie was surprised – and relieved – to find out that the qualifying rounds at ACT Late Model Tour shows this season have been wildly entertaining, and the majority of them have also been clean and respectful throughout. He was even more surprised to learn that 100-lap races at Seekonk Speedway and Oxford Plains Speedway took just 39 minutes (five short cautions) and 28 minutes (caution-free) to complete, respectively, and that the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road two weeks ago was finished in an hour and three minutes.
All told, who knows what to expect? Between McHattie, Kawartha Speedway point leader Larry Jackson, and top drivers including Linc Brown, Norm Mayhew, and Bryan Mercer, plus all the big guns from ACT, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will win the Summer Sizzler 200 and the $6,000 first-place check that goes along with it.
Getting there is half the fun. Check it all out this weekend; the green flag drops on qualifying at 6:00 pm on Saturday night. Kawartha Speedway is located on County Road 28 in Fraserville, ON, just off Routes 115 and 401 and only minutes from the city of Peterborough.
Patrick Laperle and Sylvain Lacombe will battle down to the wire for the Série ACT Castrol Championship at the 13th Annual St-Eustache 300 at Autodrome St-Eustache near Montréal on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 1:00 pm. Only 26 points (901-875) separate the pair entering the season finale. Laperle is hunting for the first championship of his racing career, while Lacombe wants his second Castrol title in three years.
Lacombe is a four-time winner of the St-Eustache 300, carrying the checkers in the first race in 1995, and again in 2002, 2005, and last year. Laperle thwarted Lacombe to win the ACTion Super Series 200 at the track in July.
Three-time Série ACT Castrol winner Alexandre Gingras (855 points) is still mathematically in the race, 46 points behind Laperle. Karl Allard (838) and J.F. Déry (826) round out the top five point drivers.
The Thunder Road/ACT staff would like to welcome Chittenden to the family, as the 103 year-old Vermont-based financial institution headlines the 44th Annual VT Milk Bowl at Thunder Road on Sat./Sun., Sept. 29/30.
“The Milk Bowl continues to grow every year,” said defending race champion Brent Dragon of Milton, VT. “Adding Chittenden can only be a positive thing for everyone involved in racing.”
Dragon became the third member of his family to kiss the Chittenden Milk Bowl’s bovine beauty when he smooched Harvest Hills Ferry Queen, a 1600-lb red headed Ayrshire cow, in 2006. The second-generation racer carried on a family tradition started by uncle Bobby in 1972 and father Harmon (you likely know him as “Beaver”) in 1978.
If Brent Dragon successfully defends his crown in the “Toughest Short Track Race in North America” he will become just the third driver in history to do so in back-to-back years, joining Dave Whitlock in 1994-95 and Brian Hoar in 1998-99.
The Chittenden Milk Bowl is known as a tough race because, well, it is. With more than 50 cars expected to attempt qualifying for 28 starting positions, Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Time Trials decide the top three starters and positions 19-24. “Triple 50” qualifying races divide the field evenly to take spots 4-18 (top four in each race to fill out pos. 4-18, followed by the top six time trial cars not already qualified in pos. 19-24). Starters 25 and 26 will be taken from the last-chance “B” Feature, with provisionals awarded to full-time competitors from the ACT Late Model Tour (up to 2), Thunder Road (up to 1), and the Série ACT Castrol (up to 1).
The main event is then split into three 50-lap segments, with the finish of each inverted to start the next. Race points are handed out to competitors following each segment (1 point for 1st place, 2 points for 2nd, etc.), with the lowest three-segment total score earning the overall Chittenden Milk Bowl victory. In the event of ties for overall position, the driver with the higher third-segment finish is given the better overall position.
The Milk Bowl is never over until it really is completely over, and the funny thing is this: you don’t actually have to win to win. In fact, the overall Milk Bowl Champion has won without the benefit of a segment victory on 15 occasions since the race began in 1962.
The Championship finales for Thunder Road’s NAPA Tiger Sportsman, Allen Lumber Street Stock, and Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior divisions will also take place on Chittenden Milk Bowl weekend, Sat./Sun., Sept. 29/30.
Did you know…?
-Kawartha Speedway point leader Larry Jackson can get out and walk to his 2007 Track Championship. In 12 races this year, Jackson has yet to finish outside of the top three positions, winning half of the races run. Ironically, however, two of his worst finishes of third have come in the two extra-distance 100-lap events this season. Steve Tiemersma (in June) and Dan McHattie (in August) won those events. Other winners this year include Linc Brown (twice) and Steve Robblee. McHattie also copped the most recent event on Sept. 7.
-Combining all 52 starts in the Chittenden Milk Bowl for brothers Beaver and Bobby Dragon and their sons Brent and Scott, the family has compiled an amazingly low finishing average of 7.538. Beaver owns 17 top-tens in 21 starts, including seven trips to the podium. Bobby has 15 top-tens in 20 starts, with nine top-threes. Brent has five top-tens in nine starts, and Scott has two ninth-place finishes in two starts. The most Dragons in a single Milk Bowl was three in 2002, when Bobby finished 3rd, Scott finished 9th, and Brent finished 18th.
-The first Milk Bowl pole sitter was Bobby Bissell in 1962, who clocked in a lap of 15.48 seconds in a flathead Ford coupe. Bobby Dragon set a national Late Model Sportsman ¼-mile oval time trial record at 13.59 seconds in 1973. Montreal’s Sylvain Metivier set the Pro Stock record of 12.245 seconds on one year-old asphalt in 1995, while young Joey Pole set the Late Model record of 12.935 seconds last year.
Don’t forget to check the websites for updates and information, stories, schedules, and all the good stuff at www.acttour.com, www.thunderroadspeedbowl.com, and www.laserieactcastrol.com.