The American are Coming: Wade’s Weekly 16 # 18

(Aug. 29, 2016) The countdown to SpeedWeekend 2016 is underway. In just a few days fans, race teams and marketing partners will converge on the little community of Geary, New Brunswick for the biggest weekend of racing in Atlantic Canada. SpeedWeekend is a “happening” and we look forward to seeing an awesome two days of short track racing. 

 

The McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 is the biggest, most prestigious pro stock race in our region. If you don’t believe me just ask Cassius Clark because he took over 30 grand outta here last year! Why is our 250 so good? Well it’s pretty much an “open race” because it attracts some great drivers from the Pro All Star Series, the Maritime Pro Stock Tour and the Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Division at Speedway 660. You can expect about 40 drivers attempt to qualify for our 250 and that by far is the biggest car count of the year in our neck of the woods.660_0092The Americans owned the 250 podium in 2014. Travis Benjamin won the race while Ben Rowe and Austin Theriault finished 2nd and 3rd.

I don’t want to take anything away from race teams in the Maritimes, but the Americans make our race different from the IWK 250 and the Atlantic Cat 250. Those are both great races, but in northeastern North America the competition in the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 is second only to the Oxford 250 in Maine.

The Americans have won four of the last six 250’s on SpeedWeekend. The only Maritimer to win the race since 2010 is Shawn Tucker and he did it twice (2011 & 2013).  Tucker, who actually has three 250 wins, has since retired and it’ll be up to someone else to keep the big trophy and even bigger prize money from going south of the border down Maine way!660_6868Two outta three ain’t bad! Americans Cassius Clark and Johnny Clark finished first and second in last year’s 250. Craig Slaunwhite, the 2008 winner of the race, was the only Maritimer on the podium in 2015.

Cassius Clark took the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 last year and back in 2012. Travis Benjamin won in 14, while Johnny Clark won his 2nd 250 in 2010. All the Americans, including Glen Luce, the 2015 Oxford 250 winner and Joey Polewarczyk, the 2012  Oxford winner and 2014 ACT champ, will be “loaded for bear” and come “hunting up north” this weekend. They are cool customers and will be hard to beat, but they can be beaten.

The question is by who or is it whom? How about Greg Fahey? He’s fresh off  winning his fourth Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock championship. He’s motivated, because his car owner is the new sponsor of the 250 and Greg told me he won’t consider his racing career complete without a 250 trophy.PIC_0041Last Saturday night Greg Fahey became a four time pro stock champ. He’s on a roll, having won the last three features at 660. Fahey and his team hope to ride that wave of momentum right into the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 on Sunday.

Lonnie Sommerville has won this deal twice, but not since 2009. Lonnie has a new car and he’s determined to have a great outing come Sunday evening. Matt Harris always seems to fly under the radar, but he’s always got a fast car and if he’s up front with 20 or 30 to go, Matt just might be able to make it happen.

You would think drivers from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island should be able to win this race too, but they haven’t had a lot of success over the years. Scott Fraser (2003) and Craig Slaunwhite (2008) are the only “bluenosers” to win the race and no one from PEI has ever been to victory lane. ScottFraserScott Fraser knew how to make it happen in the Geary Woods! Scotty took center-stage in this podium shot beating Americans Ben Rowe and Johnny Clark.

Only three New Brunswickers have ever won the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250, but those three have a total of six wins. We already mentioned Shawn Tucker and Lonnie Sommerville and the other NB winner was Dave O’Blenis. So if you are keeping count of the wins the score is: Maine 7 – NB 6 – NS 2 – PEI 0.

Here’s the official winners list:  2015 – Cassius Clark; 2014 – Travis Benjamin;  2013 – Shawn Tucker; 2012 – Cassius Clark; 2011 – Shawn Tucker; 2010 – Johnny Clark; 2009 – Lonnie Sommerville; 2008 – Craig Slaunwhite; 2007 – Johnny Clark; 2006 – Lonnie Sommerville; 2005 – Scott Chubbuck; 2004 – Shawn Tucker; 2003 – Scott Fraser; 2002 – Dave OBlenis and; 2001 – Kirk Thibeau. dsc_0211Kirk Thibeau was the first American to win our 250. Actually he was the first driver to win the race, back in 2001. Kirk has been coming to Speedway 660 from Fort Fairfield, Maine ever since in an effort to win the 250 again. 

The Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour has some great drivers and those who have entered this year’s race should be contenders. Cole Butcher, Dylan Gosbee, Craig Slaunwhite, Jonathan Hicken and Dylan Blenkhorn are all tremendous drivers. So don’t be surprised if one of them goes to the Riverview Ford Victory Lane on Sunday night. Former tour driver John Fleming is reported to be coming up for the 250 and it’s a race he sure would love to win.Cole Butcher wins Parts for Trucks race July 4, 2015Cole Butcher knows how to win at Speedway 660. He took the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour race here last year and the Cat 250 at Scotia this summer. Cole will be a strong contender come Sunday evening when the 250 goes green! 

So the Americans are coming and that’s what makes the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Pro Stock 250 different from every other event in the Maritimes. Will the trophy and winner’s share of the purse be headed state-side after the race or will it stay here? That is a big question that will only be answered sometime after the sun goes down Sunday night. Glen Luce, winner of the 2015 Oxford 250, has pre-registered for this weekend’s race. Luce, from Turner, Maine is one of the best short track racers in eastern North America.

SpeedWeekend starts Friday night with a Free corn boil and concert in 660’s infield. The A.E. McKay Builders Sportsman 150 highlights action Saturday night and the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250, SpeedWeekend’s prime time attraction, goes Sunday. The supporting classes will be pretty sporty on both days too.SpeedWeekend’s Friday evening free infield party, corn-boil and concert has become really popular with fans, race teams and marketing partners. It’s a great way to kick-off a wicked weekend of fun! 

So I hope you are ready for a rip-roaring three days of incredible fun in the sun and a little dancin in the moonlight. SpeedWeekend 2016 is just days away.

We’ll see you at the races!

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