Season Opening Enduro Race at Laird was a Big Hit! (Updated Tues June 28)
Finally! After two years of forced closure, we finally had some rubber laid down on the 1/3 asphalt track at Laird International Raceway. We held the first race of the season on the afternoon of Saturday June 25. It was a hot sunny day, and festivities began at approximately 4 pm. A few of our seasoned drivers that were in attendance were brought up onto the front stretch and each had a short interview with Allison Wagner, our MC for the night. In the booth Allison was accompanied by Oldies 93 announcer, Lou Turco.
Annette Bouchard sang the American and Canadian national anthems, then the race day got underway with a 10 lap School Bus Race. The four buses got three wide, at least once, creating a couple tense moments. One of the buses got a bit high on the track near the exit to the pits on corner 3 and started to slide down into the dirt off the bank. It looked for a moment that it was going to roll but the driver saved it.
Shortly after the bus race the Enduro cars were brought onto the track to begin their 100 lap race. There were 35 cars lined up at the start, two wide, extending half way around the oval. The more seasoned drivers, ones that have raced before, started at the back. The race was broken into four 25 lap segments separated by a 10 or 15 minute pause to allow cars and drivers to cool down, a driver swap (if there were multiple drivers for the car), refuelling, or a tire change. In the Enduro race there are no caution flags flown; if a car dies on the track, or if there are vehicle body parts that come off a car, they become obstacles on the course; the only reason for a caution would be if there was a serious safety issue (injured driver, fire, etc.) We had no such issue during the days race.
Randy Larrett in the red and white #72 was one of the drivers that started the race near the back. At the end of the first 25 lap segment, he was parked at the front, but the actual race leader at that time was Cody Champagne in the #33 that was half a lap ahead at the caution and restarted at the back of the line.
Randy was obviously having fun, out of the car and waving his arms to the crowd. Randy has been waiting for this race for 3 years. An Enduro race was scheduled at the beginning of the 2019 race season, but because of weather was delayed, and then there was no suitable date for the race to be rescheduled. Randy spent the 2019 season racing with the Factory Four cars and got some valuable experience then. Champagne also has raced at Laird in the past.
Once the race restarted for the second segment Larrett caught up and got past Champagne a few laps in and finished the segment in the lead. The third segment was not so forgiving on Larrett. He got tied up with other cars spinning in front of him, and started having handling issues. By the end of that segment he found himself in third behind the 33 of Cody Champagne and the 13 driven by young rookies Logan Lavoy and Shane Hamilton.
Larrett changed a right rear tire during the third break but it didn’t seem to help his handling much as he was seen sliding sideways off corner 4, and almost into the guardrail a couple times. A couple laps before the end of the race Larrett lost three spots spots as he slid and got behind a minivan. At the end of the race it was #33 Cody Champagne that was the victor with the checkered flag. Track promoter Donnie Varcoe presented Cody a cheque for the win of $4000 on the front stretch.
Logan Lavoy and Shane Hamilton in the silver #13 took second place, an impressive spot for the young men who were both racing for the first time and had started the race from near the back. Lavoy drove the 1st and last segments, while Hamilton drove the 50 laps in between.
Third place went to #22 Cody Parr, fourth to Dale Tucker in the Fountain Tire sponsored black #4, and Larrett took fifth. Tyler Praysner in the #05 ended the race sitting in the infield but received a trophy for the best looking car and team 707 received the Hard Luck trophy.
The race had a fairly high attrition, with just 17 cars left running on the track of the original 35 that started 100 laps earlier. A few had engine problems or other breakdowns, some became damaged in collisions, and a couple were seen running on bare rims after blowing tires off their car. Quite a few spun on corner 2, but none of those were damaged to the point of not being able to continue. The track had parts and debris all over the place.
The most disastrous place on the track was corner 4. A few were seen sliding over the bank and into the tires in front of the track entrance, one hitting hard enough to almost roll over. On the next to last lap of the race, Trevor Reid in the #69 was spun coming up the front stretch and bounced off the guardrail then continued. A lap later, coming up to the checkered flag, the guardrail got tested again when the #68 and #121 got side by side and slid into the guardrail in tandem – it was a hard hit but both drivers seemed to be ok (drivers names unknown at the time of writing this article). Both cars were wrecked beyond repair.
All in all, it was a really great day at the track. We had a fairly good sized crowd of fans show up, a number of new young people that got introduced to the sport, and it was nice to see familiar faces and friends again.
Visit https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.5183699531708225&type=3 to view the photo gallery for this racenight.
Our next race the Race for the Flag, scheduled for Saturday July 2nd, with a full show of Late Models, Modifieds, Factory Stocks, and Stock Fours. Come on out and have some fun and good entertainment. (UPDATE: The race scheduled for July 2nd has now been cancelled to avoid a conflict with races at Kinross Speedpark. Our next race is now scheduled for Thursday July 14th.)
Article Credit: Tom Stephenson