We come to the end of another year and with it, many great racing moments on the Canadian prairies. The following list is in no particular order, but each item holds its own distinct significance. Here we go…
If there is any doubt about the quality of racers who represent the Northern Lightning Sprint Association, all you have to do is look at the 2012 stats sheet from Winnipeg’s Red River Co-op Speedway. On any given night, at least half of the field was in contention for the win and proved it with strong performances all season long. Anyone who witnessed 3-time Champion Roland Bernard, Dylan Sabatini, Amber Balcaen, Wally Butler, Chris Sorin and company dueling it out night after night knows the thrill that Open Wheel racing has over other car classes.
Roland Bernard’s return to the NLSA proved that the #2 Lightning Sprinter is in an elite class of racers. Despite a slow start, Bernard’s team worked hard to find their way back to the top and put on those familiar dominant performances that earned them championship seasons in 2009 and 2010. When the dust settled, Bernard would collect his third title in 2012.
Strong, consistent performances by Dylan Sabatini, Wally Butler and Chris Sorin made for a competitive field of cars.
NLSA comeback driver of 2012? Amber Balcaen. Amber found her way back into the mix this season. Her runs were somewhat reminiscent of her 2010 season where she came close to chasing down Roland Bernard for the NLSA Championship.
Mike Balcaen finally chased down Ricky Weiss to capture the Wissota Late Model track championship at Red River Co-op Speedway in 2012. I knew it was a matter of time before Balcaen would edge out Weiss for a title. The Balcaen-Weiss feud is just getting warmed up. 2013 will be a barn-burner.
Whether you cheer for the #10 or not, if the name Balcaen is attached to a championship, it’s good for the local racing business.
Sprint Car racing returned to Swift Current’s Speedy Creek Raceway in 2012 and in a big way. Through a lot of hard work and dedication, Open Wheel racing in Saskatchewan got a real shot in the arm. The Alberta Sportsman Sprints invaded the Southwest Saskatchewan bullring with a record 19 teams and put on a great, competitive show for the racing fans in attendance. I am hopeful that this will be an annual weekend event in the coming years.
IMCA racing is growing in the West. The inclusion of the Modifieds as a regular featured car class at Speedy Creek Raceway gives regional racers another travel option for weekend racing.
Estevan Motor Speedway can be summed up in three words. Smooth, Fast, Passing. This was not just a hit or miss occurrence all season. Estevan’s dirt track was consistently prepared this way each race night in 2012. Don’t we all want this on our wish list?
The Sportsman Sprint population has ballooned at Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway. In 2012, the Sportsman class consistently carried enough teams to run a B Main. A fun and affordable Open Wheel class that is successful. Where have I heard that before?
I am thankful to anyone who is willing to contribute in some way to make this Blog better. Thanks once again to contributing photographers Byron Fichter (Estevan), Kaz Grafix (Manitoba), Tarra Sahlin and Tristen Stoneman of Stpracing Memories (Alberta). Special thanks to Sheri Pallen for her photos from Red River Co-op Speedway.
2012 marked my 10th anniversary as a member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum. I can never say enough good things about what they do to preserve the history of Sprint Car racing. The support and encouragement I have received from this organization over the years has been more than I ever expected.
If you enjoy Sprint Car racing, I encourage you to support the Hall of Fame. You can check out their website at sprintcarhof.com
Thanks to Northern Lightning Sprint Association President, Chris Unrau for having me return in 2012 to work with the local racing group. Chris took the time to visit with me and talk about the NLSA during the off season. That’s all the coaxing I needed to return to Red River Co-op Speedway.
I can not say enough good things about the support I have received from past NLSA President Darren Pallen. Thanks to Darren, my racing involvement in Winnipeg was extended for a few more years.
Morden’s ALH Motor Speedway fine tuned their racing program this past season. They trimmed back the number of weekly car classes and brought in additional classes occasionally. Hopefully 2013 will be more successful for the Southern Manitoba dirt oval.
Thanks to the good folks at Racers for Christ for the opportunity to try writing a Devotional. Stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing thoughts about my faith was challenging and exciting.
On behalf of the Cybulski family, I would like to extend heartfelt wishes of joy and love during this Christmas and holiday season. God willing, I will see all of you at a dirt track again in 2013.
By Greg Cybulski