Lonnie Sommerville and the rest of the Pro All Star Series racers will invade Speedway 660 this weekend for their only Atlantic Canadian stop on the PASS Tour. Wade Wilson, Speedway 660 announcer, recently talked with Lonnie about this weekend’s race, the tour, coming home to race in NB and his racing career.
Lonnie Sommerville, a two time Auto Value 250 winner, is excited about coming home to Speedway 660 for Saturday’s PASS 200. Sommerville, who finished 2nd in PASS points last year, will be out for his first tour win of 2012.
Wade: Hey Lonnie, I know you race at a lot of different tracks in the States and Canada, but it must always be a special treat to come back home to Speedway 660.
Lonnie: It really is a big deal for me to come home to Speedway 660. This is where it all began for me and I have a lot of reasons to look forward to coming back, even if it is only a few times a year. The fans are diehard and I have a lot of them on both sides of the fence – some love to cheer for me and others love to boo. I actually get a kick outta all the reactions, because they all are making noise!! I also like coming home because of my loyal sponsors, family and friends. They are huge supporters and the reason why I am where I am at in my career!
Wade: How do things look in terms of competition on the PASS Tour this year?
Lonnie: This season is probably tougher than last year, with the addition of some more top-notch race teams and guys just improving their programs.
Wade: 2011 was your first full season of PASS racing. You had a win, ten top fives and finished 2nd in the points behind Johnny Clark. That’s a pretty impressive debut in one of North America’s best short-track tours!
Lonnie: It was a year we can be proud of because we were competitive at all of the tracks we went to for the first time. So, I really look forward to racing those tracks again and obviously our goals are to be better than last year in the win column and points.
Wade: You’ve had a lot of success at Speedway 660 in Sportsman and Pro Stocks. You also have two Auto Value 250 wins. What is it about this place that really gets you excited?
Lonnie: This is my home track and I really get motivated to defend my home turf. And the Speedway 660 fans provide that extra excitement, which inspires me to do my best.
Wade: I grew up watching a lot of great race drivers in the 60s and 70s. One of those guys was your dad, Billy Sommerville. What was it like growing up around race shops and tracks and how big an influence is your dad on your racing career?
Lonnie: Obviously my dad is the whole reason I got into racing. And to be around race cars growing up I was always very hands on, which I believe is one of the biggest reasons for my success. And to still be able to go to the track with him and see him still win races in a car I built last year, it really makes me proud!
Wade: Scott Fraser was the first big-time racer we ever saw at Speedway 660. I know he was a good friend of yours and influenced you a lot.
Lonnie: He influenced me more than most people really know, I spent a lot of time in the Fraser shop before I ever started racing and learned how to build and set up race cars. I also learned so much from Scott once I got behind the wheel of a car. He was always there for advice and was a great friend! I still miss him a lot and wish he was still here because he would be the guy I would be worried about beating this weekend. The biggest thing I have taken from my friendship with Scott Fraser is to try and do for other people what he did for me. I have tried to help out a few guys that I know want to win as bad as I do. Guys like former Speedway 660 Sportsman champ John Rankin just need the opportunity to showcase their talent.
Wade: The PASS race this weekend at Speedway 660 is one of our big events of the year. And of course the AutoValue 250 on SpeedWeekend 2012 is another one. What does it take to go that fast for that long, against great competition?
Lonnie: These races are very demanding mentally and it is important that you give the proper information and feedback to your crew chief in order to make the right adjustments during pit stops. Your race car will change more than once over the course of the race and you really want to be at the front when the checkers fly. It’s all about leading that last lap and earning that big cheque and trophy!
Wade: Good luck this weekend Lonnie and thanks for doing this.
Lonnie: Thanks Wade, I really look forward to racing this weekend and am going to try my best to keep that PASS 200 trophy in Canada!!