The Classic Holds a Special Place To All
While the 18th Annual Shriner’s Classic for Sportsman is happening this Friday night, it’s not just a special night for the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series. Sure, it’s their special night to shine for 50 laps, but the support divisions on the evening know how big of a deal this night is. The Shrine hospitals do so much for those in need and while we may take that for granted sometimes, the fact is that they are there when they are needed. Since opening the facility, the Speedworld has raised over $250,000 with the Shriner’s for the IWK Hospital in Halifax. Being in victory lane on this night, whether it is in a Sportsman car or any of our five divisions racing on the night holds a special honor.
When many of us think Shriner’s Classic, the name Roma comes to mind instantly. Terry Roma, along with his crew chief and brother Lockie, won this event thrice, the most of any team in the previous 17 runnings of the event. Three drivers have won the event twice (Craig Slaunwhite, Harry Ross White and Jeff Dillman), but none have won it back to back except for Roma Brothers Racing, who pulled the feat in 2004 and 2005. It’s only fitting that the 18th edition of the ‘Classic is presented in the memory of Terry and Lockie Roma, who left us far too soon but I’m sure will be watching over us on Friday as their peers run for the prestigious trophy.
How big is this race? Just ask Russell Smith Jr. The former ACE Lumbermart Lightning champion is making one of his part time starts at the Speedworld this weekend to try and bring the Classic trophy back with him to Lakeside. “This race means a lot,” Russell told me last weekend at Riverside. “Seeing Terry’s name on the champion’s list, I’d love to be on it with him. It’s was sad to hear of the news last week (Lockie’s passing), we’re hoping to go out there and get it done for them Friday night.”
The last three Shriner’s Classic champions have gone on to win the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series championship, with Dillman pulling it off in 2009 and 2011 and Colby Smith doing the same in 2010. Aaron Boutilier has a commanding lead in the series and I’m sure he’s hoping to keep the statistic the same after Friday night if he can pull off the win. Speedworld veteran Larry Fisher is second in the standings, being closely chased by Phil Barkhouse Jr, Jordan Veinotte and Mike Banks.
It’s not just about the Classic itself though. Speedworld Thunder car point leader Kyle MacMillan grew up watching the Roma brothers race at Scotia and would like to take his fourth victory of the season on Shriner’s Classic Night. “It would be special to win on Friday,” MacMillan told me by phone earlier in the week. “Terry and Lockie meant so much to this sport and a win on the night that the Classic is running on would be such an honor.” Another driver I’m sure that will be looking to put his car out front on Friday will be West Chezzetcook’s Jordan Pirri, who is running a special paint scheme on his #20 Atlantic Hardchrome Honda in memory of Terry Roma.
While Russell Jr will look to lock up the Classic, his brother Jorden will look to inch closer to the ACE Lumbermart Lightning car title. The lead now sits at 76 points, 17 points away from establishing a new record for the highest point advantage in the class which was set by Smith last season in his first championship season. He will have a whole host of strong competition nipping at his heals, including the likes of Richie Moore, second place point man Mike Brown and JR Lawson, who has been showing strength in the past few weeks among two dozen set to take the grid on Friday.
The Jack Daniel’s Truck division continues to be a see-saw battle between Dan Smith and JP Arsenault with Smith now leading by 3 over Arsenault. Jason Fenton has Kyle Gammon by one point for third in the standings with Derek Sutherland not far behind. Ryan Goldsmith and last week’s feature winner Vernon Brown round out the list of Truck regulars this season.
Also on the docket for Friday is the Strictly Hydraulics Legends. The action has been heated the past few weeks and with Wooden Door Bistro Rookie leader Cole Butcher leading the overall points and well over a dozen others chasing him, the racing is bound to be ramped up in the coming weeks as the field chases the 16-year old youngster.
Action gets underway at 7pm on Friday with the 18th Annual Shriner’s Classic for Sportsman, Presented in Memory of Terry and Lockie Roma. It is a race you will not want to miss!
Until Friday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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