In this week’s edition of Dave Mathers’ Motion Motorsport Report, Dave looks at the wild weather weekend in Canada, as well as other racing action around the world.
THE WEATHER: This past weekend was probably the worst I have EVER seen as far as bad weather is concerned.
Friday night at Delaware Speedway, it was bitterly cold and windy. Saturday at Grand Bend Motorplex, the wind coming off Lake Huron was brutal causing the track to switch from 1/4 mile to 1/8 mile.
I was wearing my 58-year-old Grand Bend Dragway jacket (see above) which still fits like a glove (O.J.’s glove… if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!!) but even it was not enough to protect from the wind.
Saturday’s qualifying in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix saw lots of rain for the first two qualifying sessions, and then the sun peeked out for the third session.
NASCAR CUP SERIES: Their next race, Nashville Superspeedway, is Sunday at 5 P.M. on TSN 3 & 5.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: Their next race, Nashville Superspeedway, is Saturday, June 25 at 3.30 P.M. on TSN 3.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: Talk about a change! The Trucks dropped into the legendary Knoxville Raceway on Saturday night.
The dirt track, famous for so many exciting Sprint Car races as well as having the Sprint Car Hall of Fame on the grounds, was ready with a well prepared racing surface.
Qualifying heats wins went to John Hunter Nemechek, Carson Hocevar (still racing with a broken leg after getting T-boned at Gateway), Hailie Deegan and Todd Gilliland.
And then – and yes, I am still confused – Derek Kraus started from the pole followed by Hocevar, Ben Rhodes and Canadian Stewart Friesen.
Stewart’s wife Jessica, a dirt track ace herself, started 19th in a truck almost identical to her husband’s sporting the number 62, similar to his 52.
The start of the race was awesome as the trucks circled the track four-wide, emulating the Sprint Car tradition.
Hocevar jumped into the lead at the green and lead for the first 65 laps. Ben Rhodes appeared to have a buildup off ‘dirt’ on his grille and his truck was blowing steam out of the overflow vent in front of the windshield for a bunch of laps.
Friesen went high on the last lap of Stage 1 and it was attributed to a flat tire. Not to be outdone, Jessica got up and over on lap 60 but after some work by the tow trucks she kept on going. Those trucks are tough.
On lap 67, early leader Hocevar blew up while leading. This handed the lead over to Todd Gilliland who stayed out front until lap 91 giving the lead up to Grant Enfinger.
Gilliland regained the lead, gave it up to Nemechek then led the last ten laps for the win. Hocevar won Stage 1 while Gilliland won Stage 2.
Nemechek finished second with Zane Smith third. Friesen recovered from his flat tire to finish 5th, while Jessica ended up 34th. It should be noted that the fast trucks ran the top of the track all race long.
Nemechek leads the points by 5 over Smith and by 10 over Rhodes. Freisen sits a solid 6th 49 points out of the lead.
Their next race, Nashville, is Friday at 8 P.M. on Fox Sports Racing.
FORMULA ONE: I have to start by saying what a disappointment our current government in Ottawa is! Six months for noted F1 commentator Karun Chandnok to get his visa and he still didn’t have it? It may be time for ‘heads to roll’!!
Is it time for the minister in charge, Sean Fraser, to ‘walk the plank’? There are far too many horror stories like this one to be just a coincidence.
As I stated at the top, the weather was brutal for Saturday’s qualifying at Montreal. Max Verstappen grabbed the pole in his Red Bull over Fernando Alonso’s surprising Alpine and Carlos Sainz (Ferrari).
Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, both had the best qualifying for Haas in a long time, grabbing 5th and 6th, respectively. Canadians Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) and Nicholas Latifi (Williams) started 18th and 19th.
Race day brought Chamber of Commerce weather for Canada’s biggest sporting event which announced an attendance of 338,000 spectators!!
They were all so happy to return after two years in purgatory!! Linda and I attended the very first F1 race at Montreal in 1978 parking our motorhome under the Jacques Cartier Bridge at the east end of the parking lot. NEVER again as that bridge rattled and creaked all night long.
It’s fair to say that ‘business has picked up’ since that first race, as far as attendance is concerned.
Max grabbed the lead right off the hop quickly putting a gap on Alonso. Sergio Perez dropped out on lap 9 with what appeared to be a mechanical problem (couldn’t get the transmission in gear?).
Schumacher’s stellar run in his Haas was negated on lap 20 when he brought out the virtual safety flag as he stopped on the side of the track.
On lap 23 the McLaren team had what could only be described as two BRUTAL pit stops, with Lando Norris having the worse luck when they appeared to put the wrong tires on his car and had to switch them. Come on guys, these are the big leagues!!
At the flag, Max was being hounded by Sainz with Hamilton third. With the exceptions of pit stops Max led ‘flag to flag’!!
The huge crowd definitely got their money’s worth with that race. I can hardly wait to hear Jos pass judgement on the race!! LOL Lance Stroll finished a very respectable 10th and in the points. Latifi ended up 16th on the lead lap.
Max continues to lead the points now with a commanding 46-point margin over teammate Sergio Perez, and by 49 atop Charles Leclerc (Ferrari). Red Bull leads the Constructor’s Championship by 76 over Ferrari and 116 atop Mercedes.
Their next race, Britain, is Sunday, July 3.
NHRA: The NHRA travelling circus dropped into Thunder Valley, Bristol Tennessee on the weekend. I worked the 1967 Springnationals there for NHRA and I asked one of the locals why it was called Thunder Valley. He said, ‘Wait for the first Top Fueler to go downtrack.’
Sure enough, the first pair went down the track and about thirty seconds later the noise came thundering back down through the trees. Unbelievably cool and VERY memorable.
Mike Salinas qualified #1 in Top fuel but lost in Round 1. Justin Ashley came out of the number 14 spot to beat all comers including Shawn Langdon in the final. Traction was once again an issue as 7 pairings experienced, and I quote, ‘up in smoke at the 300 foot mark’ and ‘spun right at the hit’!
Robert Hight grabbed the #1 spot in Funny Car but was taken out in the second round by Ron Capps who went on to win topping Tim Wilkerson in the final. Traction was an even bigger problem for the floppers as 11, count ‘em, 11 pairs had ‘issues.’
Aaron Stanfield qualified #1 in Pro Stock and marched right through the field for the win taking out Erica Enders in the final. Only one pair had traction issues and that was the final round.
In Pro Stock Bike, Angelle Sampey qualified #1 one and got through to the finals only to lose to Jerry Savoie.
Factory Stock appears to be turning into ‘Pro Stock Lite’ as there were 10 Camaros, 4 Challengers and only 2 Mustangs in eliminations. At the first race this year, Gainesville, there were only 7 Camaros but 5 Challengers and 4 Mustangs, a fairly balanced field.
Do you see a pattern there? Dan Condon qualified #1 but lost in Round 1. David Barton came from the number ten spot to defeat Stephen Bell (qualified 12th) in the final.
In Top Fuel Brittany Force has a 25 lead on Mike Salinas and 52 points on Justin Ashley.
In Funny Car Matt Hagan keeps the lead by 42 over Hight and by 106 over Capps. Erica Enders has an 83-point lead on Aaron Stanfield in Pro Stock and 208 on Kyle Koretsky. Steve Johnson leads Pro Stock Bike by 79 over Karen Stoffer and by 127 over Matt Smith.
Their next race is Norwalk, Sunday.
INDYCAR: Their next race is Mid Ohio, July 3 at noon.
IMSA: They race this weekend at Watkins Glen.
SUPERSTAR RACING EXPERIENCE (SRX): Ray Evernham is reportedly stepping away from the day-to-day operations this year. Helio Castroneves was a late addition to the race at Five Flags Speedway, Pensacola, Florida, calling the night before to see if they had a car for him.
He then showed everybody that he was up to the task by winning the race over short track ace Bubba Pollard and Ryan Newman. Not only that but he climbed the fence!! Who knew? LOL
The announcers had fun picking on Paul Tracy wondering who he would hit first from his outside pole qualifying spot!! Tracy finished second last, just ahead of Mikey Waltrip.
Their next race is Saturday night at the fast 4/10-mile South Boston Speedway in Virginia.
NASCAR PINTY’S SERIES: Their next race is at Eastbound International Speedway, Newfoundland this Saturday.
APC SERIES: This series dropped into Peterborough Speedway this past Saturday. In the Late Model division J.R. Fitzpatrick qualified on the pole (started 8th with the inversion) followed by Jake Sheridan and Treyton Lapcevich.
Fourth-place qualified Ryan Kimball actually led the most laps, 56, but ended up 6th. Fitzpatrick led 29 laps and picked up the win on the tight 1/3 mile bullring ahead of Andrew Gresel and Sheridan. 23 cars took the green flag.
In the Super Stock division Lane Zardo qualified number one (started 8th with the inversion) followed by Gerrit Tiemersma and Jason Parker. Parker led 4 laps including the last one for the win while Shawn Chenoweth finished 2nd after leading 47 laps. Zardo finished 3rd. There were 20 cars in the main.
Their next race(s) will be at their home track Delaware Speedway on Friday and Saturday, July 1&2.
ONTARIO SPORTSMAN SERIES: This class ran a 100 lapper Friday night at Delaware Speedway and defied all odds by running green to checker with no cautions!! Who knew?
I watched qualifying from Corner 2 in the pits and was quite impressed with three cars, the 15, the 2 and the 38 with the 38 looking to have the most horsepower of all of them.
I also noticed a couple of cars with the wrong gear, hitting the chip way before Corner 3. The first group out on track showed 20.15 as quick time but the second group dropped that down to 19.88.
These cars are basically remnants of the old CASCAR Super Series and definitely put on a good show, a less costly way to go racing. There were actually a few drivers from the Super Series still racing in this class along with several second-generation drivers. Good to see for the future of the series and the sport.
(#2) Todd Sheppard got around pole sitter (#15) Mike Hryniuk, Jr. on lap 39 and went on unchallenged for the win. Mike finished second with (#38) Derek McCullough right on his bumper for third. Doug Cathcart towed in from Ottawa with what looked like a brand-new car and he finished fourth but with a few battle scars on the right front fender.
Their next race is at Full Throttle Speedway, Varney, this Saturday.
DELAWARE SPEEDWAY: The Ontario Sportsman Series put on a 100 lapper Friday with those results listed above. 40, count ‘em, 40 Bone Stocks were in attendance for the annual Dave Lawrence race, a 28 lapper in deference to Dave’s old number.
Dave’s two sons were in the race with Kris dominating his heat race. Jeremiah Rabideau picked up the win while Jordan Willems was second and Kris ended up third.
The V/8 Stocks put on another ‘interesting’ race with both the first (Jesse Kennedy) and second place finishers getting disqualified for ‘breaking out’ on the last lap.
I finally figured out that this class has, other than the mandated safety rules, only one rule!! Do NOT go quicker than 21.00 seconds (or was it 21.30??) or you will be black flagged. That means almost any class can run.
Jesse Kennedy had his Late Model out there along with another guy’s Super Stock in amongst the Camaros, Chevelles, etc. It made for a bunch of side-by-side racing with most lifting just before the line.
The track received bad news on race day when the contracted caterer for their food service announced that they had quit!! Lots of lead time for that!! Wow, what a class act (NOT)!
The staff all got together, and the food booths were busy and maybe just slightly slow. I told Luke Ramsay NOT to expect any tips as he was handing out the food!! LOL
This Friday will see the Late Models, the Super Stocks and the always entertaining King of the Hill!! I had a three-year undefeated run back in 93, 94 & 95 with three different Ford Lightnings, one stock, one blown, and one blown with ‘spray’!! Finally got beat by a former Player’s Challenge Series Camaro. I brought a knife to a gun fight that night!!
GRAND BEND MOTORPLEX: A little history on the Stratford Spectacular. Linda and I bought St. Thomas Dragway from the Fletchers in 1998 and about a month after the purchase I looked out and there was a pickup sitting beside the tree on the track marked Norwalk Dragway and IHRA.
Into my office walks the BEST drag racing promoter EVER, Bill Bader.
I had met him before but always at Norwalk. He started right in: ‘Your track is halfway between Detroit and Buffalo and two hours from Toronto. There are 7½ million people within a two-hour drive!! I want to move into Canada and start with a National Event here!’
Wow. Only problem you ask? It would need a two-million-dollar investment. No can do. I told him there was another track just over an hour away and the owner had lots of money. So off he went to Grand Bend and the deal was done for the Canadian Nationals!
Stratford Day had originated at Sparta with incredible support from local Stratford businesses. However, with the Bend getting the National Event, the day’s biggest sponsor (Fram) felt it would make more sense for them to have Stratford Day at The Bend as their signage would get much more visibility. Correct.
This year was promoted as the 25th year for the event but I’m pretty sure it is almost 30 years.
As I mentioned at the top, the weather wreaked havoc on Saturday’s action with a north wind coming in at a reported 80 + KPH. This forced the track, for safety reasons, to cut the racing from 1/4 mile to 1/8 mile.
Some fast cars elected not to run; a very smart decision. Nevertheless, there were many bracket racers, Junior Dragsters and Top Sportsman/Top Dragster entries to put on a good show for the spectators.
A break in the program allowed the recognition of some Stratford residents, both current and former.
Wayne ‘Hub’ Huber died last year and his widow Cheryl along with sons Wade and Scott and Wade’s young son (VERY wide eyed at all the excitement) were there with Hub’s recreation of his ‘Misbehavin’ old drag coupe.
Jack Hyde (who had been partners with Hub on the Biscayne) had his cloned ‘66 Biscayne big block ‘Jack and the Green Stock’ there.
I told the Huber boys that I had the original Green Stock sitting in my laneway on their IHC ramp truck in 1966 when Hub came back to my place from Cayuga so he could race Sunday at Sparta instead of driving all the way back up to Stratford.
And in the ultimate tribute, a sight that almost gave me shivers, young Spencer Hyde and his dad Pete actually wrapped their Bad *ss ‘69 Camaro Pro Mod as an exact clone of the Green Stock.
WAY cool. Then Spencer went out and right down Broadway with a stout 3.80 pass in the 1/8th mile. ‘And the crowd went wild’!!
Unfortunately, with Father’s Day Sunday, I was ‘confined to barracks’ so I missed Sunday’s action.
GALLERY: STRATFORD SPECTACULAR, COURTESY OF PETER ANDERSON
But Wait There’s More!! My grandson just arrived with Father’s Day cards for both Paul and I and in my card was a photo included of him.
Check out the shirt he is wearing!!
Ya gotta love it!
Until next week!!
– Dave Mathers