WOW! Racenight recap for Thursday July 14th. (corrected July 18)
What more can we say about racing at Laird International Raceway on Thursday July 14th, other than just WOW! We began our season a couple weeks back with an Enduro race that was fairly well attended. July 14th marked the start of our regular season, about a month later than normal. The delay was needed to let us get the track and grounds back in shape after a long closure. We hadn’t held a race at Laird for almost three years.
Thank you fans for coming out and supporting your local stock car track! Grandstands were packed with fans, more than we have seen for many years; and we had nearly 60 cars in the pits, spread across 5 divisions. Drivers stepped up and gave fans a great show. It was also great to see a lot of familiar faces, and many new ones too.
Greg Brazeau was accompanied in the announcer’s booth by Oldies 93 FM personality Lou Turco and the duo kept fans informed through the night. Ron Schmidt returned as flagman, with past racer Billy See working the flag in corner three. On track was Billy Syms; fans might remember Billy from years past, taking care of car lineups after cautions, before we became more automated. Behind the scenes in the pits was Allison Wagner, racenight manager taking care of lineups and more. Another key employee that works behind the scenes is Michelle Boudreau; taking care of the timing system up in the announcer’s booth – a critical and many times stressful job. There are many more that participate in organizing and helping to put on the show.
We were a bit delayed in getting the show started for the night, due to some issues with qualifying. The Super Late Models rolled onto the track, and once the national anthems were played, the night began with heats in all 5 divisions.
Super Late Models
Fast qualifier for the Late Models was Kevin Errington in the #21K with a time of 14.300 seconds around the 1/3 mile D shaped oval. After opening ceremonies eleven Late Models were out first for a 10 lap heat race. The caution came out twice during the race due to cars spinning. Dustin Jackson in the #61 took the checkered flag first, followed by #90 Jay Palumbo in 2nd, #0 of Dan Byrnes in 3rd, and the #21J of Jacob Heimonen in 4th.
The late models were scheduled for a 2nd heat later but drivers were not lined up and ready, which caused a pause in the night’s program. Many in the stands thought the pause was the beginning of an intermission break. Laird staff apologize for any mix-up or miscommunication here.
Ten Late Models were up first after the “proper” intermission for a 25 lap Feature. With one lap complete, caution came out when #3 Shawn Ritchie came into corner 3 a bit hot and tapped the rear of #90 Jay Palumbo, sending Palumbo into a spin. Ritchie was sent to the back on the restart. A lap after that restart the caution was out again as rookie #71 Jay McCoy slid up a bit on corner 1, tapping Ritchie into a spin. McCoy left the track after that with a bit of damage. The balance of the race was caution free. Just past midway through the race on lap 17, leader Jackson began to lap cars. He got past a couple then came up against Ron Rayner in the #100 car. Ron didn’t want to get passed with both Jackson and Errington behind him until lap 23. Raynor continued to race with the leaders until the final lap when he slid out of corner 2 into the infield. #61 Dustin Jackson lead all laps and took the checkered flag. Runners up were 21k Kevin Errington in 2nd, #90 Jay Palumbo 3rd, #77 Chase Wilson 4th, #3 Shawn Ritchie 5th, rookie #21j Jacob Heimonen 6th, a lap down, and #0 Dan Byrnes 7th, also a lap down. #100 Ron Raynor, #50 Rob Hiiemaa, and #71 Jay McCoy all had DNF’s (did not finish).
Atomic Blonde Factory Fours
The Atomic Blonde Factory Fours were second up in the night’s lineup of racing. They did two 10 lap heats and a feature. Fast qualifier for the night was #99 Ken Fewchuk with a time of 18.642 seconds.
In the first 10 lap heat, consisting of 11 cars, caution was out before the first lap was complete, as Fewchuk slid sideways on the backstretch before corner 3. Fewchuk left during the caution with a right rear wheel on a 45 degree angle. After a full restart, the race ran caution free. At the end of the race Jason Kern in the #48 took the win over rookies Bob Ralph in the #94 – 2nd, Shanna Harten in the #22 – 3rd, and Chuck Siddal in he #95– 4th.
Nine Factory Fours took to the track for their second heat. Missing were Fewchuk and Harten. The race went caution free with #88 Kayla Kurnell taking the checkers, Sidall 2nd, #42 Jack Lannigan 3rd, and Kern 4th.
All 11 cars were back out for their feature. There was some banging and bumping going on at the back of the field on the first couple laps, but no caution was pulled. Once they settled down a bit the race went on with Lannigan and Kurnell doing battle for first. As the race continued Kern’s car was seen smoking, progressively getting worse until he stopped at the top of the track in turn 3, bringing out the caution on lap 7. During the caution, while Kern’s car was being loaded onto the Laird flatdeck, the infield lights on corner 2 and 3 decided to quit on us. The race was red flagged and track staff worked on the lights for about 15 minutes until they lit up again. Turned out to be a loose connection in a panel box. The race then resumed for the final laps with Lannigan and Kurnell continuing to run side by side at the front. Towards the end, Sidall got between the two, and proceeded to race side by side with Lannigan. Sidall got ahead of Lannigan on the final corner of the race and took the win by a car length. Lannigan had to settle with 2nd after running a great race, Kurnell 3rd, Ralph 4th a lap down, Fewchuk 5th 2 laps down, #3 Terrence Devon 6th, Harten 7th, #21 Darrell Whitmill 8th, and #96 Brandon Williams 9th. Kern and #724 Mike Heinonen had DNF’s. It was a good race, despite the delay due to the lights.
Service Rental Factory Stocks
We had 10 Factory Stocks show up to race for the evening. With some familiar faces, and three rookies - #50 Keith Horner in a “barn find” hot rod Lincoln, another #77 Ed Lapish driving the car once run by Parker Brockelbank, and Jason Kern in the orange and black #23. Also of note, long time veteran racer Rick Ellis in the #77 came out of racing retirement. Fast qualifier for the night was #26 Brad Bibeau with a time of 16.298 seconds.
In their first 10 lap heat, all 10 cars started. One caution came out on lap 6 then #51 Jamie Fox did a small paint exchange with Ellis into corner 1 with the pair sliding sideways in corner 2. Ellis was done for the race with a left front tire down. The race continued with the Bibeau brothers, #08 Daniel & #26 Brad battling each other with #26 Buddy Palahnuk in the mix. At the end, it was Daniel that took the win over brother Brad, with Palahnuk in 3rd, and #67 Jarritt Varcoe 4th.
In their second heat, caution was flown twice. On lap 4, Varcoe, Fox, and Ellis were tight together sliding out of corner 4 – not sure if they touched or not, but Fox’s car was squirrelly on him all the way up the front stretch, ending with a slide up the bank before corner 1. The second caution was out on lap 7 with Kern taking a little spin on the backstretch off corner 2. Daniel Bibeau took his second heat win, Palahnuk 2nd, Varcoe 3rd, Gerry Ross in the #01 4th, and Fox 5th. Good race!
The Factory Stock feature was a fast paced 20 laps, with no cautions. Eight cars were on the track to start, missing was Brad Bibeau, and #88 Rob Wagner. Palahnuk led the first 14 laps of the race side by side, or nose to tail with Brad Bibeau then Bibeau took over the lead with an inside pass on Palahnuk down the backstretch & into corner 3. Palahnuk then went a bit loose on corner 4 and slid back a few car lengths, never to make up the distance. On the last lap of the race Ross and Palahnuk spun in corner 3, but the checkered flag was already waving for Bibeau. Ross was shown the black flag and was disqualified from the incident. Jamie Fox was scored in second, having got past Ross and Palahnuk, Palahnuk 3rd, Ellis 4th.
NAPA Auto Parts Modifieds
Eleven Mods were in the pits for the night. Fast qualifier was #90 Jay Palumbo with a time of 15.162 seconds around the 1/3 mile. Race action for the division consisted of two 10 lap heats and a 25 lap feature. We had three rookies in the field; welcome goes out to #15 Jamie Nadeau, #4 Kayden Kudlac, and #69 Jason Herrington.
In the first mod heat, caution flew twice. The first was on lap 2 when #79 Roddy Bolduc was seen sliding out of corner 3, he may have been tapped in the left rear quarter by #01 John Ross. Ross was sent to the back on the restart. The second caution was pulled out on lap 7 when #4 Mike Carbone went up off corner 2. The first 6 laps were led by Mark Laakso in the #84 then after the second caution he lost the lead to Jay Palumbo who went on and took the win. Laakso was passed by #27 Dustin Jackson on the last lap, bumping Laakso to third. #20 Mike Hearty took 4th.
In the second mod heat, 10 cars were out. Laakso led the first 4, then was overtaken by Jackson. Laakso spun in corner 2 on lap 8, bringing out the caution. They restarted in the same order after the caution. At the end of the race Dustin got to the line first, Laakso 2nd, Palumbo 3rd, and Bolduc 4th.
10 cars returned to the track later for the Modified feature – a 25 lap race. Caution came out at the start of the race as #69 Jason Herrington spun in corner 3. During the caution, Nadeau left the track, leaving 9 cars for a full restart. A second caution came out with one lap complete as Herrington spun again in almost the same place on corner 3. Once the race restarted it went caution free. Dustin Jackson was leading #90 Jay Palumbo through the entire race. Palumbo was able to keep up, but Jackson was leaving him no opportunity for a pass. On the last lap, Palumbo saw an opening low on corner 3 and the two came together and spun. #20 Mike Hearty was in close pursuit, threading a needle between to two to snag the checkered. Bolduc pulled up 2nd, Palumbo was able to get it back moving and took 3rd. Laakso crossed the line 4th, Ross 5th, #28 Mark Porpealia 6th, Jackson had to settle for 7th. (corrected July 18th - originally I had written that it was Jackson and Laakso leading through the race and spinning at the end, when in fact it was Jackson and #90 Jay Palumbo - sorry for any inconvenience - Tom)
We’ve added a new division this season at last minute after seeing the interest in the Enduro race held earlier in the month. The Enduro class is a “get started racing, relatively cheap, and have some fun” division. There are no cautions in the Enduro race, if a car spins or stops, we keep on going. We had a 11 cars out for a 10 lap heat, won by #05 Tyler Praysner. Twelve cars were out for the feature with Praysner winning again, #724 Steve Turco 2nd, and #13 Logan Lavoy 3rd.
During intermission fans were entertained by a 10 lap School Bus Race, followed by a lawnmower race on the infield. Not your average lawnmowers – these things don’t cut grass, they dig it up with their wheels! The race winner was Mike “Shrek” Ballard. Mike came from Listowel, about 50 km northwest of Kitchener to race. He was ecstatic about his win and thanked his main sponsor KV Enterprises.
Full race results get posted at https://lairdraceway.com, along with photos, occasional videos, and stories. Drop by our website and check it out - we've recently updated/rebuilt it. We are also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
It was certainly a fantastic night at Laird International Raceway. Fans came out in droves, drivers stepped up, showed up, and gave those fans some good entertainment. It was really nice to see that stock car racing in the Sault and Area is alive and well. Let's keep the momentum going! Our next race is scheduled for Thursday July 21st. Check our website for details and scheduling information.
Article Credit: Tom Stephenson
Submitted By: Tom Stephenson