Scotia Speedworld Year in Review
When I set out to do my Year in Review, I wasn’t sure how I was going to pack a full season of motorsports action into one article. In the end, it wasn’t going to happen. In fact, there’s so many moments and memories from last season that I could fill a whole month of columns with it, but I’ve narrowed it down to ten. You’ll see five here and five in the next installment. I also have some statistics at the end of this piece. Scott Fairman and “Smokin’” Joe Baugh of the Sim Racing Network didn’t nickname me “Numbers” back in the day for nothing.
Without further adieu and in no particular order – the first five moments in the 2011 Year in Review!
Race Time Radio at Atlantic CAT 250, Rowe Takes Third Title
Racing at Scotia Speedworld was brought to an international audience in August when Race Time Radio (RTR) brought Scotia Speedworld and the Atlantic CAT 250 to Sirius Satellite Radio and The Score Channel 158. Joe Chisholm, Mike Kaplan and yours truly brought live flag-to-flag coverage of our crown jewel event to those across the continent on Sirius and across the world online on TheScore.com. Thanks to Joe and Sue Chisholm, the racing and Canadian sporting world was ears open for two and a half hours to what Scotia Speedworld and the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour offers and the reviews were very positive.
Fans were treated to one of the races of the year on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour and one of the best CAT 250 in recent years, including 125 laps of consecutive green to the halfway break to kick start the event! Ben Rowe of Turner, Maine started from the pole and went to victory lane for the third time in the event – the first driver to pull the feat thrice. Former three time Pro Stock Tour champion John Flemming of Halifax was second and champion-to-be in 2011 Wayne Smith of Timberlea was third, holding off a hard charging Darren MacKinnon of Charlottetown, PE for the spot. MacKinnon had run second in the season opening CARQUEST 100 before an incident late in that race took him out of contention. Veteran Pro Stock driver Mike Mackenzie of Dartmouth was fifth in the Atlantic CAT 250.
For more information on Race Time Radio and their weekly racing show on Monday nights, be sure to check out RaceTimeRadio.com!
Bandolero Battle Down to the Wire – Tanner and Butcher tie for championship
The young guns of Scotia Speedworld proved once again they have some of the closest competition on the Weekly Racing Series as the Hydraulics Plus Bandolero point title came down to the closest of margins at the end of 2011 – a tie.
Cole Tanner of Shubenacadie held a four point advantage on Jarrett Butcher of Porter’s Lake heading into the final night of racing in the season. Tanner, the leading rookie in the class had two wins on the season, which happened back to back at the completion of July. Butcher meanwhile had three wins heading into Finale Friday, including three of the six races leading into the September 9th tilt. The mark also had him tied for the season high with wins, a mark he shared prior to the finale with his brother and 2010 Hydraulics Plus Bandolero Champion Cole Butcher. Third overall in points Adam Meehan sat 24 points back of the leader Tanner and had an outside shot at the title heading into Finale Friday and had the momentum from his second career win in the class on September 2nd.
The goal was simple for Jarrett Butcher heading into the last night – finish ahead of Tanner in the heat and feature. He did that in the heat and had the buffer of his brother Cole Butcher between he and Tanner which allowed the #3 Traction Heavy Duty Parts Bandolero to gain two points on the #33 King Freight Lines Bandolero. The two went at it in the feature like they had all season and when the dust settled it was Jarrett Butcher that topped Tanner by one position in the feature. While the checkered flag was in Jarrett’s hand, it was the championship they were worried about. While the Truck race was going on, I was visited a couple times in the infield while calling the next feature asking “did we win?” Re-assuring them it was close, the team continued to be on pins and needles as they and the #33 team awaited the fate of the calculator upstairs in the tower.
In the end, the championship came down to a tie with the tie-breaker being feature wins. With Butcher’s four victories to Tanner’s two, the championship would be going back to Porter’s Lake for a second consecutive year. Jarrett Butcher became the sixth different champion in the Hydraulics Plus Bandolero class since its inception in 2006 and Tanner became not only the 2011 Rookie of the Year but was also awarded by INEX as their Canadian Outlaw Bandolero champion. Kennetcook’s Luke Ettinger, another Speedworld regular was awarded the Canadian Bandits Bandolero title. The two will be accepting their awards in Concord, North Carolina at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on January 21st.
See-saw battle in Truck Points ; Dan Smith’s wrecks
Everything can change in the blink of an eye. Evidence of this statement can certainly be found in the story of the 2011 Scotia Speedworld Truck Division point battle.
Dan Smith of Lower Sackville finished off strong in 2010 by capturing the final two features of the season and continued that momentum in 2011 by picking up the first checkered flag of the season in May. Jason Fenton and JP Arsenault followed him into victory lane in the next two events but when Fenton’s #3 Cutting Edge Construction Chevrolet broke in the third race of the season, it allowed Arsenault and Smith to take the top two spots with JP leading Dan by just two points. This battle atop the standings continued week in, week out in the Truck class and coming into Week Ten it was Smith who had amassed a nine point lead which was one of the biggest in the series all season.
Little did we know that the point battle would be turned upside down on August 26th, literally.
As Smith and Derek Sutherland battled for the lead in the closing stages of the 20-lap feature, the two made contact as the left front of Sutherland’s #5 got into the right rear of Smith’s #39. The two, as had been the case with most of the drivers in the Truck class throughout the season, had been swapping paint and leaning on each other during the feature, which makes for a great show if you’re sitting in the stands – until something like this happens. When the aforementioned contact was made, it turned Smith’s truck towards the wall but also lifted the back end of the #39 off the ground. The truck then took off like a piece of paper as it rolled once before impacting the wall before tumbling once more. Smith’s battered and bruised truck came to rest at the end of the backstraight and to the relief of the nervous crews and fans in the standings (including yours truly), Smith emerged from his truck unhurt seconds after the truck came to rest. Arsenault went on to victory while Smith was credited with fifth place, making the point battle a four marker advantage for Arsenault with two races to go.
When the pit gates opened on September 2nd, Smith’s #39 rolled through the gates with the battle scars from the week before and the name “Frankenstein” on the quarter panels. “We’ve gone over every bolt in this truck after last week and we’re ready to go back at it this week,” Smith told me in tech prior to the night of racing. “It’s not pretty but we’re here and we want to continue the battle with JP for the championship.”
The first lap of the heat race on September 2nd was just like the previous laps for the class on the season. Tight competition led to a spin by Fenton which stacked up the field briefly behind him, which included contact in the chain reaction between Vernon Brown’s #80, Sutherland’s #5 and Smith’s #39. The next lap, going into Turn One, what appeared to be a hung throttle occurred on the #39, sending Smith airborne for a moment before coming down on the grass and slamming into the tires outside Turn Two. The violent impact would require a trip into the QEII in Halifax for Smith. Though the multi-time Most Sportsmanlike Driver at the Speedworld did not break any bones in the wreck, it would leave the four-time feature winner in 2011 sore for weeks to come. It did not hurt the racer and competitor inside Smith though as he announced that he had bought another truck and was coming back to have some more fun in 2012.
JP Arsenault would go on to win the Truck championship in 2011 to take his first championship at the Speedworld but everyone knew Smith was there and was a championship contender right up to the end. The battle in the series has turned into one of the best at the Speedworld with five different winners in a dozen races and only one driver going back-to-back in consecutive weeks. The point battle in the 2011 Scotia Speedworld Truck Division will go down as one of the closest battles in the history books of the track, which turns to the 25th chapter in 2012.
Ryan Anderson Takes Flight at the Speedworld – Legendary name in the Monster Truck world races at Scotia.
The name is music to the ears of any motorsports fan. We’ve had the honor of hosting the iconic truck and the stars of the USHRA Monster Jam Tour at the Speedworld since 2003. As symbolic as the name Grave Digger is to Monster Truck fans is the name Anderson. Dennis was the one who brought the name to the forefront and made the truck famous by winning two Monster Jam point titles and four world championships at the helm of the monster. His son Adam has also been ripping up arenas and stadiums in recent years but 2011 will go down as the year for Ryan Anderson. Anderson took to the track in Las Vegas at the World Finals in “Son-uva Digger” for a freestyle encore which will go down in the history books as one of the most memorable debuts on the World Finals stage. Don’t believe me? Youtube it. IF you’re like me, your jaw drops with the thought of the back flip that Anderson pulled off.
So it was obvious where I was going to be when the USHRA announced that Son-uva Digger and Ryan Anderson were coming to our track in June. Anderson did not disappoint as he swept Freestyle for the weekend and took two of the three racing competitions of the week, missing out on the clean sweep on Saturday night when Chad Tingler and Grave Digger took the win. He also took two of the three Wheelie competitions at the Speedworld, missing out on the first win of the weekend to Tingler by one point.
I firmly believe when we look back in five or ten years we will be seeing Anderson as a (multi-time?) World Champion. Scotia Speedworld and our fans can be glad to say we had Anderson visit us in his rookie season. It definitely stands out to me as one of the top moments of 2011!
MacEachern leads half of Lumbermart 50 – Veteran shows strength late in the season.
When you think of veterans of the Lumbermart Thunder division, Drew MacEachern has to come to mind as one of those drivers who has many, many laps around the Speedworld’s 3/10-mile oval at the helm of a Honda Civic. MacEachern of Dartmouth busted onto the scene as a Thunder car driver in 2004, finishing ninth overall in the standings of 51 and third in the rookie standings to TJ Brown and fellow Thunder veteran Scott O’Neill.
Recent seasons have seen MacEachern run in the top ten but in late 2011 we saw the resurgence of MacEachern. It was like a fire was lit under the seat of the #13 Blackburn and Bennett Civic as MacEachern turned up the heat on his competition. If you need any example of this, I direct you to the September edition of the Lumbermart 50. MacEachern started on the pole of the event and was the car to beat in the first half of the event, leading the first 23 laps of the event before a caution flag bunched up the field and eventual winner Stevie Lively to MacEachern. MacEachern’s lead was impressive in 23 laps and though this sport isn’t about “coulda, woulda, shoulda,” MacEachern’s lead may have been big enough that if that race went flag-to-flag without a caution that it may have been Darkside Racing in victory lane at the end of the night.
MacEachern came home seventh in the standings in 2011, one spot behind his Darkside stable-mate Joey Lawson. Watch for MacEachern to build off the point finish and the Lumbermart 50 run in 2012 as he goes for the top spot amongst “the BEST four-cylinder drivers in Atlantic Canada!”
BY THE NUMBERS – 2011 Scotia Speedworld Weekly Racing Series
66 – The number of main features contested between the six Weekly Racing Series divisions in 2011.
28 – Different winners in the 66 WRS features in 2011.
17 – Wins by drivers with the last name Smith (Russell Smith Jr (5), Jorden Smith (5), Dan Smith (4), Colby Smith (3)). Russell and Jorden are brothers, Dan and Colby others are unrelated.
9 – First time feature winners in their respective divisions at the Speedworld.
7 – The amount of different winners in the Legends class, the highest amount of different winners of any class (Pye, Dylan Blenkhorn, Paul Blenkhorn, Harvey, Baker, Meehan, Moore).
5th – The race number that Jarrett Butcher (Bandolero) and Jeff Dillman (Sportsman) recorded their first wins on the season, the latest of any of the six champions. Dave Matthews (Thunder) and Jorden Smith (Lightning) won their first features on Opening Day, JP Arsenault (Trucks) won on his third night out and Dylan Blenkhorn (Legends) won on his fourth feature try.
3 – Sets of siblings to win features at the Speedworld this season (Adam and Emily Meehan, Jordan and Russell Smith Jr., Cole and Jarrett Butcher). They combined for 20 of the 66 features contested in the Weekly Racing Series this season.
Here’s two more statistics, keep in mind these numbers bring in to count the Maritime League of Legend and Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour feature laps. These numbers do not include caution or heat race laps.
2545 – The amount of advertised feature laps at Scotia Speedworld in 2011.
763.5 – The amount of miles ran in those advertised laps. Put your car on the Trans Canada Highway and go west, you would end up around Montreal with that many miles traveled one way.
Next time, we’ll bring you five more moments that sculpted the landscape of the 2011 season at Scotia Speedworld, the 24th in the storied history of the track!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
|BACK TO ARCHIVES|