(June 4, 2017) Football is played in all kinds of weather, baseball can stand a light drizzle and even golf can be played in less than ideal conditions. But stock car racing is dependent on the whims of He who controls the weather! Such was the case this past weekend when an unfavourable forecast caused the cancellation of the PASS event here. In 2017 the score is Racing 2 – Weather 2.
This past week reminded me of 2013. Anticipation of an approaching Pro All Star Series race, with an eye constantly tuned to the Environment Canada weekend weather forecast. In 13 we lost the PASS race and were unable to get it rescheduled. Fast forward to 2017, when last weekend’s race was at first postponed and later cancelled.
It is extremely difficult if not downright impossible to re-schedule events in a short racing season. Now the top three Canadians and top three Americans in next weekend’s PASS race at Oxford Plains will be awarded provisionals for the Oxford 250. Rain-outs are part of the territory when it comes to stock car racing. But that doesn’t make it any easier for race teams and fans who want to “go racing”.
Most times a decision on a weekly race date is made on Saturday morning, but it’s understandable why the plug was pulled on the PASS race a day earlier. With lots of teams travelling from New England, Quebec and the Maritimes and with a sketchy weekend weather forecast, its little wonder the decision was made to postpone and then cancel altogether.
The racing season is short enough as it is, but to lose two out of the first four dates really bites. In recent years May and June have been less than ideal and September rocks in terms of weather. But our racing season ends on Labour Day weekend.We love the Pro All Star Series. Its a real shame the race wasn’t run because we sure would have been anxious to see more door-to-door racing like this battle between Joey Doiron (#73) and Cassius Clark.
With no racing last weekend, maybe we can assess what we’ve seen so far this season. The racing has been amazing, particularly in Speedway 660’s three traditional divisions. Good car counts, competitive racing, rivalries, great finishes and a couple of first-time winners have been the order of the day. The crowd was very good at the Riverview Ford Season Opener/Kid’s Day event, but disappointing for our second show. I thought a great PASS 150 crowd would have allowed us to build momentum to carry over for the rest of the season.
The DMR Auto Sales Street Stocks have been pretty awesome in 2017. With Courtney O’Blenis and Rob Raynes both moving to Sportsman I wondered how this would impact the “old-school” division? But Riley Goodwin and Luc McLaughlin, each with a feature win, have emerged as two strong candidates for the championship, at least early on.
Chris Hanley out of St. Stephen has been a pleasant surprise and then there’s five-time champ Rick Cashol, Roger Slocum and Matt Crocker. Let’s not forget Destiny Enkle and Courtney Barton, a couple of really awesome young lady drivers. The car count is right around 15, which is pretty good.Chris Hanley (#71) has run some “hot-laps” so far this season. The Charlotte County driver has been running up front with the likes of Rick Cashol, Destiny Enkle (#52) and Luc McLaughlin. The DMR Auto Sales Street Stock division looks really good.
The Martin’s Home Heat Sportsman always thrills race fans. Drew Greenlaw and Jacob Logan have each won a feature and may go toe-to-toe all season long. Richard Atkinson has found his groove and would love to be in a position to claim a long sought after title when the Night of Champions rolls around in August.
The return of John Rankin, Andrew Rodgers and Matt Maillett to run full-time is a welcome sight. Courtney and Rob, up from Street Stock, will be interesting to watch. Alexandra O’Blenis and George Jamieson are two other drivers to keep an eye on. This division is hovering right around the 15 car mark, which is great compared to several other Maritime tracks that are getting single digit Sportsman car counts.Curtis Collins (#27) and Courtney O’Blenis (#48) are newcomers in the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman division. Courtney, up from Street Stock, and Curtis, from Sharp Shooter, are both in the running for the Sportsman Rookie of the Year Award.
The RE/MAX Group Four Realty Pro Stocks have really taken off in the last two seasons. Greg Fahey, won the first feature while Dylan Gosbee, a regular on the Maritime Tour, went to victory lane the second time out. The Pro Stock car count is in the 17 to 20 range.
There are so many strong teams that I am a little reluctant to name a few, for fear of leaving out someone. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention five-time champ Dave O’Blenis who seems totally rejuvenated in 2017. I don’t know what it is, but Dave’s got the gleam back in his eye and the competitive fire in his belly (not to mention a pre-race O’Blenis family grilled burger)!
It’s a real coup to have Sarah McKay run with us full-time this season. She loves 660 and is clearly the most popular Pro Stock driver in the Maritimes. At every autograph session, the line at Sarah’s hauler is always the longest and she is an amazing talent in her big Pro Stock.Sarah McKay (#32) knows it will be hard to consistently run up front at Speedway 660 this season, but she’s anxious to show fans exactly what she can do in her RE/MAX Group Four Realty Pro Stock.
I am never shy to point out that we are the only track, anywhere in our region, that runs a weekly Pro Stock division. When various tours are off, you never know who is going to show up to race with our headliners.
Something else, visiting drivers are always treated well here in the Geary Woods. When visiting teams in any division come in, our weekly drivers welcome them and embrace the competition. Our race director, tech director and owners treat visiting teams the same way they do our weekly guys. Believe me when I say, it’s not like that everywhere!Laurie Cormier, son of legendary Hall of Fame driver Adelard Cormier, has been on the podium the last two SpeedWeekends. Laurie knows when he hauls his Sportsman car up from Moncton he will be respected by our weekly racers and treated fairly by Speedway 660 officials on the track and in the tech shed!
Before wrapping up I’ve got to give a shout out to the Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooters. This weekend they’ve got a 50 lapper, their biggest race of the season. Kyle MacKinnon and Kyle Boudreau have won the first two features of the season and Brodie Levesque has looked real strong too.
We’ve only had nine or ten of the little cars run with us so far, but I know there some more out there. So I encourage all of you current or would-be Sharp Shooters to get motivated and get down here to the Geary Woods to entertain our fans.The Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooter car count has been a little disappointing early in 2017, but the side-by-side racing has been really good. This Saturday night these little race cars will line-up for a 50 lap feature race.
It’s disappointing that we lost last weekend’s PASS race, but we can’t control the weather. Let’s just hope the one who does control the weather, gives us some nice Saturday’s from now on. After-all, racing is a fair-weather sport and after going two for four in the early going, we deserve some nice nights in the Geary Woods.
We’ll see you at the races!