By Dave Vokey
With the close of the 2014 season’s first month looming, race fans young and old were treated to a dominant display of driving in the track’s featured Wahta Springs Late Model division, as #31 Rick Walt of Hawkestone would capture both 30 lap feature races as part of Simcoe Child Advocacy Night on May 31. With the wins, Walt becomes the first rookie driver to capture both feature races on the same evening since the track adopted the double feature format at the beginning of the 2010 season. Furthermore, the solid outing would vault Walt from 6th place in the season long point standings into a tie for 2nd, in what has been a season of ups and downs for the talented wheelman who captured the track’s Thunder Car title for the past two years in succession. Heading into the month of June, defending track champ #10 Gord Shepherd of Oro Station holds a slender 12 point advantage over the duo of #12 Dwight Brown of Beeton and Walt, while division rookie #00 Darryl St. Onge of Barrie sits just 18 behind the leader after very solid showings the past two weeks, while the winner of the first feature race of the season #83 Ian Bourque of Newmarket sits just 21 back of the lead.
In the first 30, it was #27 “Smilin” Sam Reckzin and #44 Rob Bromley who went wheel to wheel for the race lead from the front row. After racing the first 4 laps side by side, Reckzin would break out to a marginal lead with Bromley slowing on track after suspected contact with Reckzin. The result of the contact would soon send leader Reckzin pitside with a flat right rear tire, handing the lead over to former 4 time Thunder Car track champ #49 “Flyin” Frank Davey in the process. Davey, would lead the way for a fast three car train that also included #69 Al “Red Rocket” Inglis and Walt to break away from the rest of the field by a half straightaway nearing the 10 lap mark. On lap 11, also making his presence felt was the 10 of Shepherd, as the silky smooth driver had now entered the top 5 after executing an inside pass of Brown between corners 1&2. The race’s only caution would appear one lap later, when the 4th place car of Bourque would spin in corner two after contact from Shepherd, with both drivers summoned arrears for the ensuing restart as involved cars.
With the race set to go green again and Davey and Inglis on the front row, Davey would overcook corner 2 on the restart and get hard on the brakes, forcing Inglis to wash up the track, as a very alert Walt slid underneath the duo to assume control of the race lead. Davey, would get trapped to the high side at this point, as the trio of #91 Andre Pepin, St. Onge, and Brown all would file past, dropping Davey just outside the top 5 with less than 10 laps remaining. Pepin, would soon drift high along the backstretch himself, allowing both St. Onge and Brown the necessary room to check into 3rd and 4th respectively along the inside line. At the front of the pack, Walt was driving with intense purpose, soon opening up a half straightaway lead on the 2nd place car of Inglis, who was coming under late fire from the 00 of St. Onge for runner up positioning. St. Onge, would not be able to drive his way past the wily veteran Inglis over the late going, with Walt now home and cooled at the front of the pack en route to taking his first Barrie Speedway Late Model feature win. Inglis, would edge St. Onge by a single car length in the race for 2nd, while Brown and Shepherd would complete the top 5.
In the 30 lap finale to the evening it was Bromley who broke out to the early race lead, after gaining the advantage of the 27 of Reckzin from the drop of the green. Quick to attempt a charge to notch 2nd was the 83 of Bourque, as the talented veteran moved to the high side of Reckzin just a couple laps in, with Reckzin holding firm along the inside line and able to maintain the position in the process. Bourque, would finally take the spot after an outside pass while the duo raced into corner one on lap 4, with Brown quickly following that move to claim third. Also beginning to make there presence felt at the front of the field was the duo of Inglis and Shepherd, as that pair would charge to within the top 5 nearing lap 10, after the pair would start 5th and 10th respectively. On lap 12, the action began to heat up all over the racetrack, with Shepherd slipping inside Inglis in corner four to take over 4th, while at the front of the field Brown would complete an impressive 3 wide pass entering corner two to surpass both Bourque and Bromley to assume control of the race lead.
The first of a series of mid race cautions flew on lap 15, when Bourque would get caught up in the marbles in corner 4, with the back end of his sleek looking Mustang kicking out and getting crossways, leaving the duo of Shepherd and Inglis nowhere to go but into the prone Bourque ride. Unfortunately, the contact would prove to be terminal for Inglis, who retired with radiator damage, and in a repeat performance of the first race the duo of Bourque and Shepherd would be sent arrears for the restart. After another caution period, the race would take a fateful turn when it went green for the 3rd mid race restart as the duo of Brown and St. Onge now aligned the front row. While racing into turn one Brown and St. Onge would rub doors, with Brown overcooking turn two as a result, and sliding high up the racetrack. While he tried to maintain track position Brown would slam into the door of the 4th place car of Reckzin, who was in turn hit by the 10 of Shepherd, with the latter then sent for a hard lick into the outside retaining wall. This turn of events would end the night for Brown, Reckzin, and Shepherd, with the top 5 now totally reshuffled to include leader St. Onge, Walt, #5 Mike “The Hulkamaniac” Langley, Bourque, and Davey. On the restart, Walt was once again quick to find the front, completing laps in the 14.7 second range, opening up a half straightaway lead over St. Onge, with the best battle on track now the race for 3rd, as Langley would hold a smooth line along the inside while fighting off a stern challenge from Bourque along the outside. Over the duration the on track positions would remain unchanged, as Walt would cap off a career night by picking up his 2nd feature win of the season. Fellow rookie St. Onge would cap off a solid point night of his own with a solid 2nd place effort, while Langley would record a career best in finishing third. Bourque, would battle back from the mid race adversity to finish 4th, while Davey would comprise the remainder of the fast five.
In the Triple Sick Skin Tattoo Thunder car division, it was #00 Luke Gignac of Port McNicholl who went to victory lane to claim his 3rd feature win of the season in just four attempts. Gignac, currently enjoys a 13 point adavantage in the division standings over #12 Jim “Polish Prince” Beleskey of Carthew Bay, who ironically enough would chase Gignac to the line over the duration of the 30 lap main. The race would begin with #37 Robbie Sikes taking the early lead from pole positioning with the duo of #64 Ryan Semple and #55 Goggins checking into 2nd and 3rd respectively, after outside pole sitter #3 Jim Morrison would get crooked while coming out of corner 4. In the early stages, the best battle on track was the race for fifth, as #7 Joel Hamilton and #10 Jordan Latimer went to war for that position, with Gignac patiently lurking behind that duo in his ominus #00 Pontiac Grand Prix. After an early lap 5 caution, the 55 of Goggins would move to 2nd inside of Semple in corner two, with Semple now under fire from the 00 of Gignac who quickly moved to third with an inside pass midway down the backstretch. Goggins, would momentarily take the lead from Sikes just shy of the midway point of the race, but the driver would soon slip up in corner two a couple laps later, allowing Gignac to assume the lead after he too had slipped past Sikes just a short while earlier.
With the action up front finally starting to shake out, a tremendous battle for 5th place position was brewing in behind as Beleskey and #16 Bryan Penny would exchange that position on successive laps, with Beleskey finally coming out on top in his fast #12 Malibu. Beleskey, would soon find the bumper of Semple for 4th. with Penny also filling the opening and able to enter the top 5 with a clean pass of Semple. Beleskey, would soon take third from Goggins, and with 3 laps remaining the driver would move to 2nd, as the former 2 time track champ used lapped traffic to work around the 37 of Sikes along the high line while keeping his counterpart pinned to the apron. It was clear this race would belong to the silky smooth Gignac however, as the longtime division veteran would record the win by 3 car lengths over an oncoming Beleskey at the checkered. Goggins, would execute a late race pass of Sikes to finish 3rd, with Sikes have a season best 4th place feature result, while Penny would round out the top 5.
Heat wins went to the impressive Sikes with a pair, Beleskey, and Penny.
In St. Onge Recreation Pure Stock action, it was #10 Doug Butler of New Lowell who claimed his 2nd feature win of the season in his always fast Nissan 240, Butler, would increase his slender point lead from 4 to 8 over defending track champion #77 Mike Gettliffe of Orillia, as the two drivers appear to be set once again to battle into the “dog days” of September to decide the 2014 titlist. #09 Dean Curry of Singhampton currently sits third in points on the strength of one feature win, as the veteran driver could also play a factor before the season has concluded now sitting just 23 in back of leader Butler. Speaking of Gettliffe, the former Thunder Car pilot would finish up the 20 lap main in the runner up post, with a returning #400 Justin Holmes rounding out the podium. #57 Ryan Toon would cap off a solid point night of his own with a season best 4th place feature finish, while Curry would come to the stripe in the 5th place position.
Heat wins were recorded by Butler with a pair, Toon, and Curry.
PIT NOTES —————- A familiar face would return to the Thunder Car ranks as #22 Chris Callow would take a turn behind the wheel of the #22 Monte Carlo normally campaigned by an ailing Jason Elliott. Callow, a former feature winner in the division, would turn in some impressive results after a 9 year absence from behind the wheel with 4th and 5th place heat race results, also coming home with a top 10 feature finish. Speaking of returning drivers, as mentioned earlier #400 Justin Holmes would make his return to the Pure Stock ranks after a off season foot injury. The promising upstart Holmes would not miss a beat in finishing 2nd and 3rd in his two heat races, while also turning in a 3rd place feature finish, after starting outside pole and leading for the first 17 laps by as much as a full straightaway until the race’s only caution would appear. Be sure to join us this coming Saturday June 7 as all three divisions are back in action on Progressive Waste Solutions Night as the drivers and fans honor Neil Green a former employee of the company, who also spent time as a track employee for several seasons.. Pit gates open at 2pm, with spectator gates open at 5pm, and green flag slated to drop at 6:30pm sharp!!! THIS WILL BE ONE YOU JUST CAN’T AFFORD TO MISS!!!