WEEKLY RACING SEASON OPENER
After a long winter, the cars and stars of the Scotia Speedworld Weekly Racing Series are set to put the rubber to the track for the first time since September! This Sunday, the six Weekly Racing Series (WRS) Divisions will be on track with one goal in mind for each of the drivers who take the green flag, and that is to be the first one to take the checkered flag first at the end of the afternoon.
There are changes abound throughout the Weekly Racing Series ladder this season and though pre-registration lists are a good guide as to who we can expect to see throughout the season, they don’t indicate who exactly we are going to see on Opening Day. I can tell you by looking at those lists of pre-registered drivers, this could be one of the most exciting seasons the Speedworld has seen in a long time with all divisions showing strong numbers. Starting at the top with the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series, over two dozen drivers are pre-registered for the season with a majority of those expected at the track for the first event of the season.
Jeff Dillman (Middle Musquodoboit) and Russell Smith Jr (Lakeside) are expected to race part-time in the division, leaving the title wide open for the taking if those statements hold true. This could be big for a driver like Aaron Boutilier (Porter’s Lake), who has been beating the door down trying to win that championship in recent years. If Colby Smith (Cape Sable Island) ends up running a full slate this season, expect the #17 Wade’s Wire Traps Chevrolet to be tough (yes, that’s not a typo, Colby has changed his number to #17 this season). How about a veteran like Kirk Ryan (Enfield), Larry Fisher (Porter’s Lake), Mike Banks (Wilmot), Tony Mason (Nine Mile River), Phil Barkhouse Jr. (Beaverbank), Wade Slauenwhite (Beaverbank) or Laurie Hutt (Belnan)? They could easily contend for the title and race wins with some lady luck on their side! Darren Wallage (Oakfield) told me last weekend he has his eyes set on this championship and will also be tough to beat this season. Jordan Veinotte (Porter’s Lake) is coming off the best Sportsman season of his career and will look to move up the ladder from last year’s performance.
We also have a few drivers on the registration list that hail from North of Colchester County. Dale Richardson (Stellarton) is a familiar name to Speedworld fans and should be a contender every time the #55 hits the track. Jerry Hayes (Sydney) has been racking up trophies at Riverside International Speedway and could be doing so at the Speedworld sooner rather than later with his #6 car. I’m glad to see Joey Livingstone (Merigomish) on the pre-registration list this season as well. Joey and his team are one of the most devoted teams you’ll find in the pit area and will make a great addition to the Speedworld family in the backfield.
Two rookies have signed up to run the full season. Moving up from the ACE Lumbermart Lightning division, John Poan (Hantsport) and Tyler Hallahan (Elmsdale) will each look to win the Debbie Hallahan Memorial Rookie of the Year Award presented by the Wooden Door Bistro. This one is a toss up as the pair have both experienced success in the four cylinder class.
Maybe the biggest change in the division? Each of our WRS Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series features will be 38 laps in length in memory of popular Speedworld champ Terry Roma of West Chezzetcook, who lost his courageous battle with cancer on April 15th. Sunday will be different without Terry in the pit area with us, but I’m sure he’ll be watching over us throughout the season with that smile on his face.
Let’s move to the Jack Daniels Truck Series. Wooooooaaaaaaaah, Jack Daniels? That’s right! Jack Daniels is sponsoring our Truck class in 2012 and with the excitement we saw in the class last season, it seems like a perfect fit. Dan Smith (Lower Sackville) and JP Arsenault (Church Point) are back this season as are Ryan Goldsmith (Bridgewater), Vernon Brown (Antrim) and Jason Fenton (Eastern Passage). Kyle Gammon (Middle Sackville) is making the jump to Trucks while Jim and Cale MacMillan (Halifax) are expected to present the first Dodge powered trucks to the tech line in division history this season. Cory Leonard (Halifax) and Kevin Robar (Halifax) are also registered for the class. Robar was a standout in the ACE Lumbermart Lightning class while the rumor is former Thunder car feature winner Kevin Clarke Jr (Halifax) is also in the process of building a truck!
Strictly Hydraulics presents the Legend class this season and has a mix of young blood and veterans registered for the season. The Blenkhorns are back with Dylan (Truro, 2011) and Paul (Truro, 2010) trying to go for the three-peat for the family in 2012. Justin MacNeill (Bedford) was the winner of last week’s Maritime League of Legends Tour event at the Speedworld and looked strong in the victory. “The Legend” Cy Harvey (Elmsdale) was quick last week as well, as was Richard Salter (Lower Burlington) and ’11 Cathy Ledwidge Rookie of the Year Dan Michaud Jr (Cole Harbour). “Miss Rawdon Rocket” Emily Meehan will be looking to back up her feature win earned in her rookie season. Danny Harvey (Lantz) goes from the “room next door to me” in the tower to the track in the #18 Elmsdale Carstar/Harvey Racing Legend as a teammate to ’11 Thunder car champion Dave Matthews (Kennetcook). The Warren brothers, Matthew and Andrew (White’s Lake) will be splitting the #85 this season while Joey Lawson (Porter’s Lake) also moves up from the Thunder class to battle for the Rookie of the Year Award.
A driver that really impressed me last week was Cole Butcher. The former Bandolero champion from Porter’s Lake was quick in his debut in a Legend car at Scotia Speedworld and brought his car home in fourth during the League of Legends Tour race last Sunday. The drive reminded me of the first time I saw the likes of fellow Bando grads Dylan Blenkhorn and Shelby Baker in a Legend car in the way that they minded their own business but showed a ton of speed. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the #5 Atlantic Tiltload Legend car in victory lane by the end of this season!
Stevie Lively (Shubenacadie) is coming off a victory at Petty International Speedway last weekend in his Honda Civic and has his eyes set on the ACE Lumbermart Thunder car title this season. The biggest change in this division is the phasing in of the newer generation Civics. Prior to 2012, drivers were restricted to using a 88-91 Civic models, but under new rules, the 92-95 generation Honda Civics are now allowed in the class. The drivers are also allowed to run multi-port on their cars as opposed to the dual port rule that was in place last year. How does this change the class at the Speedworld? I’m not quite sure that some of the drivers even know. “It’s a game changer,” many drivers have told me. Troy Bonin showed up to the Speedworld on Test ‘n Tune day with a newer generation Civic and with over 20 drivers registered for the class, that number is likely to grow before Sunday.
Who to watch? Obviously Lively has to be a favorite. Tylor Hawes (Sheet Harbour) was in title contention until the late laps last season. Matthew Warren is registered to compete this season. If Ross Harvie (Kennetcook) can string a season together, he will be very tough to beat. Drew MacEachern (Dartmouth) lit the field up in the first half of the ACE Lumbermart 50 last year and will be one to watch. Kyle MacMillan (Hammonds Plains) will be tough if luck is on his side as will his brother Kirk Mullane (Hammonds Plains). Andrew Cluett (Kennetcook) also showed speed at the end of 2011. A dozen or more others are also expected to race for that first checkered flag on Sunday afternoon.
It’s hard to gauge, especially in the four cylinder classes, who will be contenders for the season. Some are late getting their cars prepared and “will not know what they have until they hit the track.” The ACE Lumbermart class will have to contend with Jorden Smith (Lakeside) again this season. Smith, who is also a father-to-be this year, is looking to go back-to-back in the Lightning division after setting a record in 2011 with the biggest margin of victory for a Lightning car champion. He is going to have a long list of competitors that will be coming at him in 2012 though, including Cody Singer (Kennetcook), Jamie Dillman (Carroll’s Corner), JR Lawson (Bible Hill), Marc MacMillan (Glenholme), Harry Breimer Jr (Stewiacke), Mike “The Outlaw” Umlah (Stewiacke), “The Pit Lizard” Jamie Creamer (Spryfield), “Rational” Richard Patrick (Halifax), Mark Campbell (Halifax), BJ Nicholson (Beaverbank), Robert Henry (Eastern Passage), Mike Brown (Urbania), “Big Daddy” Kenny Hopper (Lakeside), Matt Farrell (Halifax), Marshall Bezanson (Elmsdale) and Colin Hallahan (Elmsadale) among others who ran full time last season that are registered this season.
Jarrett Butcher of Porter’s Lake can do something this season that no other driver has done before in the Hydraulics Plus Bandolero. Butcher can become the first multi-time champion of the division if he can win the title in 2012 but it won’t be easy. Adam Meehan (Rawdon) and Cole Tanner (Shubenacadie), who tied with Butcher for the title last season, return for a full season as does Canadian Bandits Champion Luke Ettinger (Kennetcook). Megan Parrott (Beaverbank), Dylan Sutherland (Beaverbank), Joshua Langille (Coldbrook), Braden Langille (Shubenacadie) each return for another shot at the Bandolero title while Craig MacDonald (Waverly), Nathan Blackburn (Timberlea), Nicholas Naugle (Dartmouth) and Wyatt McCulloch will bring some new blood into the division as they battle for the Rookie of the Year Award.
If I forgot anyone above, I apologize. With over a hundred teams expected this weekend, there are a hundred different stories that should be told and I’m hoping to tell some of those here this season on Tim’s Corner at ScotiaSpeedworld.ca! I’m glad to have the season back and I’m glad you will be here with me along for the ride in 2012!
Until Sunday afternoon, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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