South Buxton Raceway, Merlin, ON- Justin Coulter was supposed to enjoy the weekend off. Andrew Reaume was supposed to race in Kentucky. Instead, both regulars on the Late Model circuit in Ohio wound up in the Winner’s Circle on Memorial Night Saturday at South Buxton Raceway.
Coulter made his first appearance in a modified in two years a victorious one by winning the Brian Outhouse Memorial race in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds.
Reaume, who was scheduled to race in the North-South 100 at Florence Speedway in Kentucky, instead made the short 10-mile trip to his home track where he capped off a perfect three-for-three night by winning the first Gord DeWael Memorial race in the Lube Tech/Great Canadian Tire UMP Late Models.
It was South Buxton’s fourth attempt at running its memorial night program as the three previous dates were all postponed by weather.
Coulter said he received a call from Amherstburg’s Mark Goggins on Thursday, offering his modified car to the Leamington driver to race at South Buxton.
Coulter was no stranger to the car, since he installed the new body and did the set-up for Goggin in April, but the car never made it to the track.
“We didn’t have to do too much, just rescaled it, made a few changes and it was ready to go,” Coulter said.
However, he did find something wrong on the first lap of his heat race Saturday when he didn’t make it out of the first turn.
“It felt like the back brakes locked up,” said Coulter. “I drove it around the pits, did a couple of brake checks and they seem to free up. They worked the rest of the night.”
Coulter was relegated to the ‘B’ main, which he won, to earn the 16th starting position for the 20-car Outhouse Memorial field.
He methodically worked his way through the field, moving into the top five on lap eight and found himself in third behind the leader Jeff Daniels, of Merlin, and Drew Smith, of Wallaceburg, on lap 14.
“I figured around lap 15 or 16, we had a shot at winning,” Coulter said, as he passed Smith for second on lap 16 and chased Daniels for the next four circuits before the caution came out on lap 20.
As the field was coming around to take the green for the restart, Daniels came out of turn two and made a sharp turn onto the infield as a broken bolt on a ball joint ended his night.
Coulter led the final five laps for a dramatic victorious return to the Modified class.
Merlin’s Joe Brosseau, who won his heat and the dash, finished second, followed by Leamington’s Joel Dick, Smith and points leader Darryl Hoekstra of Chatham.
Coulter said with or without the late caution and Daniels’ breakdown, he would have overtaken the Merlin driver in the final laps.
“The high side was working and no one else was running up there so it was open … I think I would have got around him either way,” said Coulter.
He said the experience he’s gained driving State-side in the Late Model class was the reason he was able to come into South Buxton and steal a checkered flag from the Modified veterans.
“I’ve been learning to keep the car straight, it doesn’t seem like you’re going faster because you’re not slinging the car out there like some guys do,” Coulter said. “I think that’s what helped me tonight, trying to keep the car as straight as possible.”
It wasn’t the first time Coulter has pulled off a heist at South Buxton. He won the 2008 Modified season championship race in just his third night racing in the class.
Coulter expects to be back at South Buxton in the Modified for the rest of the season when there isn’t a conflict with his Late Model ride.
It was a disappointing 13th-place finish for Daniels, who represented all drivers by taking a tribute lap before the race program in memory of his long-time friend and Modified class supporter Bernie Rombouts, who passed away Friday at the age of 62.
“I really wanted to win it for him,” said Daniels, whose car had a special ‘In Loving Memory of Papa Bear’ decal in honour of Rombouts.
“It was probably the worst one to lose, but at least Justin pulled it off,” Daniels said of Coulter, another of his mentors.
“He does most of the set up on my car, he’s helped me out a lot, so it means a lot that he won,” Daniels declared.
Had he not had problems, could Daniels have held off Coulter?
“It’s hard to say, but I was going to give it all I had,” he said.
“But he was fast, I think he was basically just showing the student who the teacher was,” Daniels said laughing.
Coulter also had a laugh about the teacher-student reference.
The memorial race honours Brian Outhouse, a long time track worker who died at the age of 57 in 2004 of a heart attack.
Reaume was disappointed when the third attempt at the Gord DeWael memorial race was postponed on July 27, knowing he intended to race in Kentucky on Saturday’s make-up date.
The two-time track champion was scheduled to drive Kirk Hooker’s No. 38 that night, the same car he drove to his third career Canadian Fall Shootout victory last September.
Over the last week, however, he had a change of mind.
“Gord!” Reaume answered without hesitation in the Winner’s Circle, on the reason he decided to forgo the North-South 100 at Florence to race in the first DeWael memorial at his home track.
“Kirk and I talked about it and I really want to run this deal,” Reaume said. “I’m glad we stayed here, it was awesome to win this for his (DeWael’s) family.”
Chris Ross, of Charing Cross, another regular on the Ohio circuit who stayed home for the special race, passed Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis for the lead on lap 10.
Reaume moved into second two laps later and followed Ross for six laps before taking the lead after a lap 19 caution.
“He was definitely good,” Reaume said of Ross. “He had the better car, I had to find something.
“That’s why on that last restart, I went it in as hard as I could and got under of him,” Reaume described the pass for the win.
Two laps later, Ross went to the pits with steering problems and finished sixth.
When the checkered flag fell, Reaume only had three other cars behind him – Chatham’s Jim Jones, Brad Authier and Jason Haskell – as the 25-lapper was slowed by 10 cautions. Chatham’s Brent Colby finished fifth in the pits.
Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford, who won five straight features going into the night, saw his streak end with a broken distributor cap while running third on lap four. He finished 12th.
A season-high 17 late models were on hand for the DeWael memorial, which offered a $1,000 winner’s share plus a bigger purse and extra lap money.
Reaume won his heat and dash, as he is 5-for-5 in Hooker’s car going back to the Shootout when he also won the heat.
Reaume will be back to defend his Shootout title on Sept. 28 at South Buxton. In the meantime, he is scheduled to run in World Of Outlaw Late Model events in Michigan and Ohio, plus the Baltes Classic and World 100 on back-top-back weekends in Eldora.
The DeWael race honours the three-time track champion who died in January at the age of 62.
Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere won his second straight Len Bryden Memorial race in the Windride Transportation Sport Stocks.
It was the second straight and seventh feature win of the season for the two-time reigning points champion.
Vanderiviere passed Merlin’s Steve Shaw for the lead after a restart on lap five. Shaw, who has the class’s other four feature wins, saw his chance to pull off a late comeback end with a flat tire with three laps to go.
Wallaceburg’s Willy Vyse finished second but was disqualified when his car failed post-race inspection.
Harrow’s Patrick Lajeunesse was promoted to a second-place finish while Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon, Wallaceburg’s Gary Vyse and Kingsville’s Rob Young rounded out the top five.
Bryden was a former track owner from 1981-91 and ’93.
Denis DeSerrano won the fifth Cory Schives Memorial trophy for the Tirecraft Mini-Mods, completing his fourth three-for-three sweep of the season.
It was the Cottam driver’s sixth feature win and track-leading 20th checkered flag of the season.
Merlin’s Steve Shaw Jr. finished second for the second straight week and third time in the last four race nights.
Dresden’s Matt Sorrell, Merlin’s Jody Mason and Blenheim’s Elliot Wilton rounded out the top five.
The race is held in memory of Cory Schives of Blenheim, who lost his long battle with cancer at the age of 17 on June 8, 2009. Schives worked on Shawn Jones’ race team, a three-time champion in the class and winner of the 2011 memorial race. Jones moved up to the Modified class this season.
From: Mike Bennett/ South Buxton Raceway