Tim's Corner

We’re just under two months away from hearing and seeing race cars on the race track at Scotia Speedworld. While I’ve heard a couple of rumors here and there (Phil Barkhouse Jr is returning to the yellow #99 Sportsman, Mark Williams is returning to the Legends ranks, our Jack Daniel’s Truck division will include Jamie Creamer and a few new faces in 2013), it has been a relatively quiet off season with not many Weekly Racing Series drivers and teams moving around. We had our schedule released a few weeks ago, and our staple events have returned to the schedule. So, while the race teams (for the most part) stay quiet for the time being, let’s look ahead at five events you have to be out to in 2013 if you are a racing enthusiast.

1 - Atlantic CAT 250 Weekend - August 9th and 10th

This one is a no brainer.

The 14th Annual Atlantic CAT 250 is our biggest race of the season, and even with flirting with the fog last year, it still was one of the most exciting races of the year (and I saw over 40 of them around the region). As with any show on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, the Atlantic CAT 250 is sure to bring 30 or so cars to the track with a good dozen or more of those having a legitimate shot to win when we throw the green flag.

Hometrack drivers the likes of Craig Slaunwhite, Wayne Smith and 2012 series champ Shawn Turple have been hunting the CAT 250 crown and will look to etch their name alongside John Flemming as the only Nova Scotia driver to win the event. In fact, the only other Canadian driver to win the race, which was sanctioned by the Maine based Pro All Stars Series for a decade, is Saint John, New Brunswick’s Lonnie Sommerville. Rumor is Sommerville, who will drive some races down south for Brad Keselowski Racing in 2013, has the Atlantic CAT 250 on his radar this season and will look to join Ben Rowe, Cassius Clark, Mike Rowe and Johnny Clark as multi-time winners of the race. Of those names, Turner, Maine’s Ben Rowe is the only driver to win the event thrice.

Not to be overshadowed by Saturday night is Friday’s show, highlighted by the Sportsman 100. The Sportsman 100 is one of the most coveted trophies in Nova Scotia Sportsman racing and has eluded many of the top drivers in the class, including Russell Smith Jr and Jeff Dillman. Smith Jr won the season finale 50 lapper in 2011, but even said in victory lane that the win “wasn’t the 100.” One of the only races left off Dillman’s Sportsman racing resume is the Sportsman 100, and while he has a Pro Stock ride lined up for 2013, don’t be surprised to see the former two-time Sportsman champ in a seat to chase “the one that got away.”

Qualifying is sometimes half the battle of the Sportsman 100 show. In recent years, upwards of 30 cars have arrived at Scotia Speedworld on Friday evening trying to grind their way not only into the field, but to get a starting spot near the front of the field. The 2012 Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series champion Aaron Boutilier of Porter’s Lake will look to not only lead the locals into competition, but will look to top them to take the Sportsman 100 crown to put alongside the Roma Brothers Cup.

The big thing that sticks out to me about this weekend? For the first time since 2008, each of our Weekly Racing Series divisions will race on our biggest weekend of the season. Like was the case in that 2008 edition of the weekend, the ACE Lumbermart Thunder and Lightning divisions will contest point races on Friday night as the undercard to the Sportsman. Also joining them for the third consecutive season will be the Jack Daniel’s Truck division, who always put on a showcase of hard racing. Saturday’s card will include the Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros and the Maritime League of Legends Tour as the appetizer to the big show put on by the Pro Stock boys. Kudos to Ken Cunning and his scheduling staff for bringing this weekend back to its roots and including all of our divisions that run every Friday night from June to September!

I could go on and on about why you need to be at the Atlantic CAT 250 weekend, but we only have so much room here. Let’s look at a few more events that will shape our 2013 season.

2 -Weekly Racing Series Opener, Sunday, May 26th at 2pm

Keeping with the Weekly Racing Series theme from the Atlantic CAT 250 weekend, you need to mark your calendar for the WRS opener on May 26th. Not only is this the first race for our WRS boys and girls, it’s the most racing you will see on one card anywhere in Atlantic Canada. Six divisions will kick off their season, and it is also our first chance to see who is strong out of the gate. All the bench racing that has been done to this point and will be done in the next two months will come down to this first race. Championship runs are made and in some cases, holes are made that drivers will take all season to dig out of. The Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman, Strictly Hydraulics Legends, Jack Daniel’s Trucks, Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros and ACE Lumbermart Thunder and Lightning classes will all be on the jam packed card on the 26th.

By far, it is one of the most unpredictable days of our season, making this one of the must see races of 2013!

3 - Season Finale Weekend - September 13th and 14th

As important as the season opener is, the season finales are as important. After all, it’s good to finish as strong as you start, right?

On September 13th and 14th, a total of seven division champions will be crowned. If history continues like it has in the last few years, I’m sure we will have at least a couple new champions, maybe a driver rewriting that same history book with his second or third championship. While usually the championships are the big story, the races are never overshadowed. For example, last year’s Finale Friday saw Stevie Lively win the last ACE Lumbermart Thunder car feature of the year as he tried to top Kyle MacMillan in the standings, who had to dodge almost every bullet a driver can to eventually win the championship. While Cole Butcher was working his way through traffic (which even included a “moment” that saw his airborne for a quick second), Emily Meehan, Matt Moore and Danny Harvey were dueling it out up front for the final win of 2012. Cole Boudreau did everything in his power to keep his championship hopes alive by winning the Hydraulics Plus Bandolero main feature.

Not to mention that September 13th falls on a Friday. That’s right, Friday the 13th. A lot of our drivers are superstitious, while a handful of our drivers love to run on Friday the 13th. Drew MacEachern and his green #13 Wee Dump Civic comes to mind right off for defying bad luck in recent years. Coming off a career year with his first main feature victory, MacEachern has to be a favorite to win the finale months before we roll off the ACE Lumbermart Thunder class for the finale. They will be joined by the ACE Lumbermart Lightning, Jack Daniel’s Trucks and Strictly Hydraulics Legends on Finale Friday.

Saturday brings with it the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour 200 and a $10,000 check to the champion. Shawn Turple had a home track, home town celebration in 2012 but had John Flemming keeping him honest as the #97 went to victory lane in the race itself. The Pro Stock Tour usually brings one of the closest championship battles into town with traditionally a half dozen drivers having a mathematical shot at the biggest season long prize in short track racing in Canada. You might pay for the whole seat when you come into the gate on Saturday, September 14th, but with this Pro Stock Tour and the championship fight they bring in, you’ll only need the edge of it by the time the green silk drops.

They are joined on September 14th by the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series and the Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros as they settle their championships in 2013. Aaron Boutilier will look to become the first back-to-back Sportsman champ since Craig Slaunwhite pulled the feat in 2006 and 2007. With Jarrett Butcher moving up to a Legend car in 2013, we are guaranteed a first time Scotia Speedworld track champion in the Hydraulics Plus Bandolero in 2013. Adam Meehan, Braden Langille and Cole Tanner among others have to be favorites to continue the young gun legacy in 2013. The question is, will we see another name step up and challenge this trio for the championship on September 14th? Best way to find out is to be there for yourself!

4 - 19th Annual Shriner’s Classic for Sportsman - Friday, July 26th at 7pm.

The longest active race that has been run in consecutive years in Atlantic Canada turns 19 this year as the Shriner’s Classic for Sportsman will run on July 26th. The 50-lap affair is much, much more than just a point race, as was seen in last year’s event. The 2012 edition was dedicated to the memory of Terry and Lockie Roma, who won the event thrice over the years. With their car on the track driven by Terry’s son Travis and wrenched by Lockie’s son Chris, it was Jeff Dillman who drove to his third Shriner’s Classic trophy and in turn tying the Roma Brothers mark at three Classic wins.

The event, which also includes a donation to the Shrine Hospitals in the name of the race winner, means so much to our racing community that Dillman told me a month ago in Florida that he has a ride lined up for this race already with his record breaking fourth Classic title in sights. In addition, there are no other big Sportsman races in the region on this weekend, meaning we could see an extra car or two from outside of the Speedworld, especially with the new Maritime Sportsman rule amendments making it easier for drivers from other tracks to travel in 2013.

In addition, the Strictly Hydraulics Legends, Jack Daniel’s Trucks, ACE Lumbermart Thunder and Hydraulics Plus Bandolero divisions will also be in attendance. By the end of July, we can really start seeing the contenders pull away from the “pretenders” when it comes to the championship battle, and a mid-season point race like this one could really be a turning point in a season just past the halfway mark in a Weekly Racing Series campaign.

Lots of storylines, combined with a big race with points on the line? Why would you want to miss this?!

5 - ACE Lumbermart Twin 50’s - Friday, July 19th and Friday, August 16th

Remember how I mentioned that the Sportsman 100 is the biggest race of the year for our Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series drivers? The ACE Lumbermart Twin 50s are the biggest two races for our ACE Lumbermart Thunder and Lightning drivers and if you’ve never been to a Twin 50s event, you owe yourself in 2013 to get out to one or both!

The event has a big race feel for the drivers who traditionally do not get this sort of attention from any other track in the region. Driver introductions prior to the two features set the tone for the 50 lap event, and as is the case with most of their regular races, the 50 lappers tend to see a lot of green flag racing. That doesn’t mean we don’t see fender rubbing, paint swapping and the occasional heated temper- because there is usually a bit of that going on as well.

In 2012, Jorden Smith took both sides of the Twin 50’s in the Lightning class while Kyle MacMillan and Stevie Lively split the two 50 lap races last season. With all three of those drivers returning to their respective divisions, it will be tough to top them but with dozens of “The Best Four Cylinder Drivers in Atlantic Canada” set to vie for the 50 lap crowns, they are in for the fight of their lives if they plan on defending those races.

Still not sold? Get out to the track yourself on July 19th and August 16th to see what I’m talking about!

Of course, we start our season on May 19th at 4pm with the Lucas Oil 150 for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour.  There are some new faces scheduled to be on Tour this year, including Jeff Dillman and Colby Smith. The duo own three of the last four Scotia Speedworld Sportsman Series titles and while this will be Smith’s third Pro Stock start, the Lucas Oil 150 will be Dillman’s first. Cole Butcher is also in a Pro Stock part time this year, and his first start is expected to be the Lockhart Truck Centre 150 in June. Lots of storylines to follow, which we will recap closer to the event at maritimeprostocktour.com.

Bottom line? It’s going to be a wild season and you’ll want to get to every race that you can at the Speedworld. Once we begin to get registration lists from the office, which reopens for the season on April 1st, we’ll take a look at who is racing what in 2013!

Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!