THOROLD, ON – With the help of Merrittville Speedway’s Reunion Committee, 61st season celebrations included Larry Lampman winning the Jerry Winger Memorial Lucas Oil Slick Mist 50 Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified Main Event. In other Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series action Rob Knapp, Evan Curtis, Josh Sliter & Rob Murray visited Victory Lane in the Original Pizza Logs DIRTcar Sportsman, Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder, J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite and Hoosier Stock Divisions.
The Annual Nostalgia Night began with Harry Vanderzanden and Harry Sittler inducted onto the L. St. Amand Enterprises Wall of Fame. Both Vanderzanden and Sittler were humbled by the front-stretch CAA Stage prior to race time.
“I never thought I would be here – I raced a 4 Cylinder,” said Harry Vanderzanden, whose career began as a tow truck driver at the track before a racing career that included the former Late Model and Mod Stock Divisions, before becoming a Car Owner for his son Dave and his grandsons today.
“I just came out and raced every week,” said Harry Sittler. “I won some races … but never a championship – this is quite an honor!” Sittler’s career began in the Jalopy Division, moving to Late Model before the Big Block and Small Block Modifieds in a career that spanned from the 60’s through to the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s.
Race fans of today and alumni also enjoyed racing from Vintage Race Cars with former second generation racer Brad Gravestock and Steve Arbuthnot winning the two events. Arbuthnot’s car was one he built himself at his home in the Ottawa area. Both winners cars were of the Gremlin Style from the 70’s and 80’s era.
With third generation driver Colton Ledingham leading the field to Harry Sittler’s green flag in the Don Ledingham 1936 Vintage Car, Larry Lampman Jr. was first to lead the 50 lap Lucas Oil Slick Mist 50 Jerry Winger Memorial.
Winger was a two time Modified Champion who passed away in the 1959 Season after an illness and his crew created the annual award in his memory.
Lampman and the field would be slowed on lap 3 for a caution with Mat Williamson in control on the restart. By lap 10, Williamson settled into a couple car length lead with the two front-runners pulling away. Just prior to a second caution on lap 12 however Lampman would close slightly on the leader with Tommy Flannigan joining the two at the front of the field.
On the restart, Travis Braun would join the lead group although the top 4 were all separated by a couple car lengths each. Just as Lampman began to make another run on the leader – caution would slow the pace once more on lap 22.
Unfortunately while under caution, Flannigan ducked into the pits but was able to continue with Tim Jones now joining the front runners..
Coming out of turn 4 to complete lap 35 Lampman ducked under Williamson and got an incredible run to regain the lead. In Turn 1 of lap 39 Lampman got a little high in the turn and almost lost the lead. About that time, Braun took over the runner up spot – all this while the front runners were battling increasing lap traffic.
Caution would slow the field for the final time on lap 44.
With Lampman back out front on the restart – Braun and Williamson were battling for second. Williamson was able to get second back but through to the finish – it was Lampman with about a 3 second lead for his 4th Jerry Winger Memorial Victory – having won in 2002, 2009 and then again last season.
“I thought the outside would be a little better,” said Lampman in Victory Lane. “Mat snuck underneath me on that restart and it took almost the whole race to get it back.”
Lampman, Mat Williamson & Braun were followed by Pete Bicknell and Mike Bowman
“We never touched it this week – just changed the oil and the drive shaft,” said an almost overwhelmed Rob Knapp in Original Pizza Logs DIRTcar Sportsman Victory Lane. “This is my ’01 car … we brought old Rusty out and it’s been awesome – we finally caught a break!”
Knapp’s race ended early last week after a broken drive shaft robbed him of a top finish for sure.
Knapp took control of the 25 lap event out of Turn 4 to complete lap 7 from initial leader Jason Farraway – opening up a quite a lead before caution slowed the pace on lap 12.
With Knapp out front – Brandon Easey was now in the runner up spot and was trying everything he could to overtake the leader. Another driver on the move in the latter stages was Jim Johnstone. A lap 20 move through Turns 1 and 2 almost meant disaster for Easey after getting a little high in the turn.
Easey slowed slightly allowing Johnstone to take second – only to come within a couple car lengths of Knapp at the finish.
Garnet Wilson was first to lead the Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Feature with caution slowing the 15 lap event right away for the disable car of Jason Coutu.
On the restart a couple of cars would come together but the event was still under the control of Wilson before Pietz took over about a lap later.
By lap 5 Evan Curtis would begin to challenge Pietz for the lead and by the halfway point – Rocco Conte had taken over third spot. On the final lap, Conte would take second from Curtis. Into Turn 3, Pietz and Conte would make contact – allowing Curtis to get by both cars for the win.
“This is just awesome … I saw the two of them come together and was hoping something good would happen,” said an exuberant Curtis. “This is beautiful – thanks!”
Curtis, Conte & Pietz were followed by Kyle Pelrine and Garnet Wilson.
Derek Bredin first to lead before Randy Hollingshead took control completing the first lap. Hollingshead was soon challenged by Josh Sliter who took the lead until caution slowed the field on lap 8. Sliter back out front on restart with Derek Wagner now in the runner up spot with caution slowing the field on lap 10.
Sliter back out front with Wagner side by side in a see saw battle for top spot. The last half saw the two side by side neck and neck with Sliter getting a good run off Turn 4 for the last time and a couple car lengths at the finish.
“The top side of Turn 4 was just unreal,” said Josh Sliter in J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite Victory Lane. “I just pulled off like crazy!”
The entire last half of the 20 lap event was quite a battle between Sliter and Derek Wagner. The two ran side by side … lap after lap in a see saw battle for top spot in the feature and points until the last time out of Turn 4 when Sliter got a great run and through to the checkered flag.
Sliter set the pace through two restarts before the halfway point after getting by then leader Randy Hollingshead. Hollingshead took over top spot from initial leader Derek Bredin.
Sliter and Wagner were followed by Jason Corless who made a late race charge to take third. Hollingshead and Dillan Sliter closed out the top 5.
“I’d like to dedicate this win to my friend’s father who passed away recently – this one’s for you Fergie!” consoled Rob Murray in Hoosier Stock Victory Lane for the 6th time of 2012.
Murray wrestled the lead away from Jeff Dayman in Turn 2 of lap 15 and with some incredible 3 and 4 wide action back in the pack was able to run to about a 5 car margin of victory at the checkered flag.
Dayman, who had taken the lead from early leader Ryan Turner on lap 3, faced an early challenge from Pete Reid. One that would see Reid mount another challenge later with Reid taking the runner up spot from Dayman at the finish who settled for third. Chris Crawford and Brad Sheehan rounded out the top 5.
INSIDE TRACK MOTORSPORT NEWS PIT NOTES: Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Driver Mike Sadusek was named as the most recent B&C Truck Centre Mack Canada Driver of the Week. Merrittville Speedway’s Reunion Committee would like to thank all the Alumni that joined in the 61st Anniversary Celebrations with special thanks going to Greg Danyluck and Tracy Palleschi for all their help and the Reunion Night sponsors Lucas Oil, L. St. Amand Enterprises, CAA Niagara, Auto FX Graphics & Signs and Turn 4 Collision’s Norm Ellsworth.
UPCOMING AT MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY: The Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Division returns to the spotlight Saturday, July 21, with another round of the Triple Crown Series as part of Semenuk’s Esso/ Archer Truck Services Night. The Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series Program with also feature action in the Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modifieds, Original Pizza Logs Sportsman, Hoosier Stocks and J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite Divisions. The Grandstands will open at 5:30 p.m. Showtime is 7 p.m.
Race fans and Race teams alike can follow Merrittville on Face Book (Facebook.com/Merrittville Speedway) and Twitter (Twitter.com/Merrittville).
From Jim Irvine/Assistant General Manager