Barrie, ON- Barrie Speedway would play host to many top notch drivers from around the province as the 3rd Annual Garry Reynolds Memorial Invitational took place on Sunday September 22.
Cooler temperatures the order of the day, setting the stage for a very racy track come feature time. Following the features, it was former two-time Barrie titlist #48 Dwayne Baker who went to Victory Lane in the featured 100 lap event for the Late Models, while division sophomore #39 Travis “The Enforcer” Hallyburton led flag-to-flag in the 60 lap Thunder Car main, with provincial heavyweight #10 Doug Butler of New Lowell turning the trick in the 30 lap Pure Stock feature.
In the Late Model division, a strong 32 car contingent would align the pits to qualify for just 26 spots, with top qualifier, and two-time defending race champion, #51 Mike Bentley of Guelph drawing the pole position for the crown jewel event.
Bentley, would rocket out to the initial lead, with outside pole sitter and former Barrie competitor #88 Scott Beatty of Barrie alertly finding the inside line to land in second. 2013 Barrie track champ #10 Gord Shepherd of Oro Station powered past the #24 of Nick Goetz of Saugeen Shores on the outside line to claim third in the early stages. The best early battle was the race for seventh involving #41 Taylor Holdaway of Orillia and #34 Ron “The Dominator” Quesnelle of Penetang, with Holdaway taking the spot after a hard fought, tooth and nail dice.
Also on the move in the early going was the #48 of Baker, as the grizzled veteran would charge from his 11th place starting spot to land in ninth after working past #36 Gary “Iron Man” Elliott of Waterdown on Lap 8.
At the front of the field the action began to heat up on lap 13, as Shepherd would have a brief look to the inside of Beatty for second. Race leader Bentley had set sail and was now clear of that battle be nearly a half straightaway, while completing laps in the 15.1 second range while working and weaving his way through heavy lapped traffic. Shepherd, would eventually complete an inside pass of Beatty for runner up positioning with a clean inside move entering turn three, setting his sights on the dominant Bentley at the front of the field.
Nearing Lap 30, the top five was comprised of Bentley, Shepherd, Beatty, Goetz, and eight-time Barrie feature winner #14 “Hurricane” Thayne Hallyburton of Hillsdale.
At this point in the race the car to watch was the hard charging #48 of Baker who had worked his way to seventh position, using the outer groove to pick off one position at a time. Baker, would continue his charge towards the front and on Lap 33 he would power past Holdaway with an impressive move to the inside in Turn 3.
Nearing the midway mark, Bentley was still setting a torrid pace at the front of the field, holding a full straightaway lead on the second place car of Shepherd as the duo were clicking off laps in the 15.3 second range. Meanwhile Baker was continuing to pick off one position at a time, as the steady wheelman would complete a pass of Hallyburton to claim fourth, after Hallyburton had just worked around the #24 of Goetz a few laps prior to take that position.
A mandatory caution period came on Lap 50, with the race surprisingly caution free up until that point. 13 cars remained on the lead lap at this point in the race.
The caution would not be a welcome sight for the #36 of Elliott, who seen a Top 10 run end with over heating issues during his stop on pit road at this point in the race.
When the race went green again, the duo of Bentley and Shepherd went wheel-to-wheel for the race lead, with Bentley finally clearing Shepherd after an impressive two lap dice. Shepherd would remain trapped to the high side as Baker charged to runner up positioning, taking the inside line between Turns 1&2 on lap 54. Also on the move towards the front was the #41 of Holdaway once again, as the promising upstart, making his first Barrie appearance, passed Goetz for sixth, and then Hallyburton for fifth, with a nifty low move between Turns 1&2.
On lap 62 attrition began to take its toll, as the #70 of Tom Gibbons of Port Elgin would retire to pit road for the evening after a brush against the frontstretch wall, ending a strong run that had the Sauble Speedway veteran just outside of the Top 10.
On lap 65, the race for fifth place was the one to watch, as Hallyburton and Goetz would exchange that spot on successive laps, with Holdaway now on the move from fourth, and closing in on the lead trio of Bentley, Baker, and Shepherd. Baker looked just as if he was about to wrestle the lead away from Bentley when the first race condition caution flew on lap 72 as (#6) Lane Zardo of Brampton spun in turn four.
With twelve cars remaining on the lead lap, the restart wouldn’t go well as a gaggle of cars were collected while approaching the flagstand. Junior Farelly (#72) of Guelph got crossways, collecting the #89 of Shawn Chenoweth of Plattsville, #17 Nick Roth of Baden, #74 Roy Manary of Gravenhurst, and #5 Mike “The Hulkamaniac” Langley of Orr Lake. Roth was the only casualty and unable to continue.
It was on the ensuing restart that the only lead change would occur, as Baker would claim the point on the outside after a tough two lap dice with the #51 of Bentley.
Baker would soon open up a two car length advantage at the front of the field, A further three lengths back of Bentley was the #10 of Shepherd, who was now coming under heavy fire from the #41 of Holdaway in the battle for third in the running order. Just outside of the Top 5, the action was just as intense, with the #24 of Goetz claiming sixth place after passing #37 Marvin Freiburger of Walkerton with a clean inside move in Turn 1 on Lap 80.
Just a short while later, Holdaway would pass Shepherd for third. Hallyburton tried to fill the hole along the low side to move into fourth, but Shepherd would remain game on the high side and was able to maintain that position. Over the duration, Baker would quicken the pace at the front of the field, completing laps in the 14.9 second range while racing in clean air.
Baker, would parade on to take the win by just over a three second margin over Bentley at the checkered. Holdaway, Shepherd, and Hallyburton would comprise the remainder of the fast five. Goetz, would have an impressive run in his Barrie debut in finishing sixth, with Freiburger, Beatty, #43 Darin Malcolm of North Bay, and Quesnelle rounding out the Top 10.
Heat wins were claimed by Bentley with a pair, Holdaway, Hallyburton, #34 Ron Quesnelle, and #88 Scott Beatty.
In the Thunder Car division, 27 cars would take to the track set to do battle with Barrie regular #39 Travis Hallyburton drawing the optimal pole position. Hallyburton rocketed out to the early lead as #00 Darryl St. Onge would find the inside line on the opening lap under #37 Brian Murray as the two drivers went door-to-door for a couple laps.
Further back, the duo of #10 Rick Walt and #44 Dave “The Deuce” Doucette were also lurking landing in fourth and fifth places, respectively, after working past former two-time track champion #12 Jim “Polish Prince” Belesky on lap four. Hallyburton, would build up a half straightaway lead at the front of the field early on, with St. Onge and Murray still locked in a side-by-side battle when the race’s first caution came about on Lap 7, a result of #8 Paul Bogensburger and #11 Kent Constable collided while racing into Turn 1.
At this point in the race, the staunch St. Onge ride would surprisingly hit pit road with mechanical issues, but the 2009 track champ was able to continue, restarting the race from the rear of the field as the green was set to fly.
On the restart, Hallyburton would move out to a marginal lead, with the #10 of Walt moving to the inside line and passing Murray for second spoton exit of turn two, leading the way for the #44 of Doucette to follow a short while later. This left Murray locked in a wheel-to-wheel battle with the #12 of Belesky for fourth, in a duel eventually won by Belesky. On lap 16, the action near the front of the field began to heat up once again, as Doucette relieved Walt of second with a clean pass to the low side of turn two.
At the front of the pack, Hallyburton was still looking calm and collected, hitting all his marks with laps in the 16.3 second range while working lapped traffic. Walt gave Doucette a knock out of Turn 4 and pulled along the inside line as the two drivers waged an all out war for the runner up position. This battle was very reminiscent of the week prior when the two drivers decided the Barrie title in a 1-2 finish.
The second caution came about on lap 24, as #16 Bryan Penny would spin midway down the backstretch and tag the inside retaining wall along the way.
Hitting pit road at this point in the race was #36 Ken Grubb of Sauble Speedway, relinquishing his top ten position as the race was set to go green once again.
Hallyburton would again move out to the race lead over Doucette on the restart, as Doucette used the outside line to maintain enough grip to eventually slot down in front of Walt in second.
Approaching Lap 30, the best battle on track was the race for sixth, as #30 Todd Davenport and #07 Dan Archibald waged an impressive dice for that position, Davenport eventually coming out ahead. On lap 32, Davenport would continue his progression, passing Murray for fifth, when the third caution appeared as #00x Joe Adams of Owen Sound slowed along the backstretch with transmission troubles. This yellow wiped out the three car length lead Hallyburton was holding over Doucette at the front of the pack.
When the race went green once again, Hallyburton continued to set a torrid pace, completing circuits of the one third mile tri oval in 15.7 seconds, holding Doucette at bay. Further back in the pack, the battle for seventh was really heating up as St. Onge, Archibald, and #9 Kevin Reynolds were racing covered by a blanket for that position. St. Onge would soon send Archibald around in Turn 4, just as Reynolds hit the infield with what turned out to be terminal throttle issues.
The next caution would fly on Lap 46, when 2013 Peterborough Speedway champion #40 Donny Beatty went around entering turn one, after the field bunched up when #83 Rob Morrison hit the wall just underneath the flagstand.
On the restart, Hallyburton remained poised, moving out to a single car length lead over Doucette, with St. Onge taking sixth from Murray inside of turn one. Murray would soon face another challenge to the outside from the #36 of Grubb just as the final caution flew for the slowing #21 of”Flying” Bill Walt.
Hallyburton would once again move out front on the restart, this time Doucette wasn’t letting him get away. With five laps remaining, the wily veteran stayed pinned to Hallyburton’s bumper, while slightly further back, St. Onge would execute a pass on Davenport to snatch away fifth in the running order.
Over the duration, the top five positions would remain unchanged as it was a Barrie Speedway sweep at the line, with Hallyburton taking the breakthrough victory by a slender margin over Doucette. The defending, and current, Barrie speedway champ Walt would continue his stellar season with a third place showing, while Belesky and St. Onge rounding out the Top 5.
Earlier heat wins went to Doucette, St. Onge, #36 Ken Grubb, and #9 Kevin Reynolds.. The win was especially significant for Reynolds, the brother of the man the race was being held in honor of seven-time Barrie champ Garry “The Gambler” Reynolds.
In Pure Stock action, 26 strong cars showed to do battle in the 30 lap feature as 2009 Barrie champ #26 Ben Melenhorst took the initial lead after getting the jump on 2013 Barrie titlist #77 Mike Gettliffe from the drop of the green.
Soon following through under Gettliffe and into second was 2013 Barrie runner up #10 Doug Butler. The talented pilot soon set his sights on Melenhorst, and a duel soon shaped up between the Nissan 240s.
Gettliffe found himself locked in a door-to-door duel with 2013 Varney Speedway champion (#36) Cory Young for third, with a pair of Barrie cars, #9 Charlie Smith and #400 Justin Holmes, running nip and tuck behind that duo.
The first caution would appear when #11 Adam Misener would turn Smith on the exit of turn two on Lap 7, with #71x Chance Isherwood, #9 Dean Curry, and #17 Kevin Bridge also collected and piling into the prone Smith ride. Curry, Misener, and Isherwood would all see their race’s end as a result of the contact. This turn of events would totally reshuffle up the positions near the front. Melenhorst and Butler raced for two solid laps, wheel-to-wheel at the front of the pack, with Bulter finally clearing his counterpart on Lap 9, between Turns 1&2. Gettliffe took third from Young after a solid door-to-door battle of their own a little further back of the leaders.
Nearing the midway mark, the man on the move was the #400 of Holmes, as the third year driver landed in fourth spot, with Young and #64 Brandon McFerran exchanging fifth place positioning on successive laps.
The second, and final, caution flew on Lap 13, when #73 Scott Schuelter spun on the exit of turn two. Butler again took control over Melenhorst on the restart, with a multi-car battle shaping up just outside of the Top 5 involving McFerran, #63 Jamie Cairns, Smith, and #88 Jeremy McLean. Smith would take seventh from Cairns inside of turn one on lap 17.
Butler was now holding a near half straightaway lead over Melenhorst at the front of the pack, turning solid laps in the 16.2 second range. Holmes meanwhile, would continue to make his mark, passing the #77 of Gettliffe for third, with an inside move midway down the frontstretch. Further back, Smith would pass McFerran for sixth while that duo raced out of Turn 4.
Over the duration, it was clear nobody had the power to find the back bumper of the impressive Butler Nissan. Holmes had one last ditch look to the inside of Melenhorst while racing out of Turn 4 on the final lap, but Melenhorst was able to fend off the Holmes challenge. However, Butler was already home and cooled as the silky smooth division veteran easily recorded the win by five car lengths over Melenhorst at the checkered. Promising upstart Holmes would bring his Mustang home in third, with Gettliffe and #36 Cory Young rounded out the fast five.
Earlier heat wins went to Smith with a pair, Butler, Holmes, Gettliffe, and #09 Dean Curry to complete a sweep of the heat races for the Barrie Speedway competitors.
By: Davey Vokey