BELLEVILLE, ON (July 31, 2021)- Hometown racing is a brotherhood. Or in the case of Willow Barberstock, a sisterhood.
The former Peterborough Speedway Bone Stock track champion, who now competes with the Ontario Modifieds Racing Series, has switched-up her program for the 2021 season to pay tribute to the memory of her friend and fellow racer Melissa Bullen.
Bullen – a third-generation racer who competed along with her brother Joshua in the Mini Stock division at the track known as Canada’s Toughest 1/3-Mile Oval – passed away during the 2020 season at the age of 23. At the start of this year’s schedule, Barberstock announced that she would changing her car number to 67 and reskinning her OMRS machine to incorporate the bodywork that had been used on the family-owned open wheeled racing machine.
“There was no one like Melissa. Her smile. Her laugh. The way she’d always greet me with a hug. I’ll never be able to find enough words for everyone to know how much I miss her,” Willow Barberstock stated. “Being at the racetrack was one of the highlights of my week and knowing I’d see my friend there made it even better. It is so hard to believe that we’ll never spend those special times together again.”
After growing-up in Stirling, 21-year-old Willow Barberstock currently lives in Belleville and is spending her summer working as a PSW at a local nursing home, while completing her studies in the nursing program at Loyalist College. The young racer says paying tribute to her friend was something she felt she had to do.
“Melissa raced the car at Sunset Speedway and drove it a few times during practice,” according to Barberstock. “During the off-season, my team and I talked to her family about putting the body on my car for the 2021 season. We had to change a few things around to make the components fit properly on the existing frame but I think it is a good tribute to her memory. One of the best parts is that by running No. 67 instead of my original No. 62w, Melissa’s spirit will always be with me.”
The next date on the OMRS schedule is Saturday, August 14th at Peterborough Speedway.
Prepared by Jim Clarke, Clarke Motorsports Communications/First Draft Media