We Had a Great Season Opener at Laird Raceway on July 6th
Thursday July 6th Racenight Recap
After a one week delay due to potential weather issues, we finally got our 2023 season opener in the books on the evening of Thursday July 6th. We had a good car count in all divisions, and a great fan turnout for opening night. The weather was comfortable starting out at about 20 degrees at race time, and cooling off into the evening; a bit cooler than we’d like, but it kept the mosquitoes at bay.
Weather conditions can play a big part on the track, especially in the divisions like the Super Late Models. With cooler temperatures comes increased air density, and with that increased horsepower. Temperature also is a factor in car handling. Too cold and tires are harder and lose grip – they aren’t as “sticky”. If it is too hot the tires are softer and have increased traction, but the asphalt track itself can release oils that makes it slipperier. There is a sweet spot in between cold and hot, where performance is best for any given car and setup. When conditions change from warm to cool like they did on Thursday night, it can become a challenge for many drivers; a car that handled well early during heats might not perform the same way come time for the features. We saw some evidence of that on Thursday night. The other thing noticeable with cooler temperatures is with the drivers themselves, on Thursday night we saw cooler heads prevail and great racing came as a result.
Annette Bouchard was out on the front stretch with announcer Greg Brazeau for the national anthems, and racing began with a Super Late Model heat at approximately 7:15 pm. Greg was joined in the announcer’s booth by Oval Revving.
Service Rental Super Late Models
For an opening night we had a good turnout of Super Late Models. There were 7 cars out to qualify, Chase Wilson was the fast qualifier with a time of 14.351 seconds around the 1/3 mile.
The Super Late’s were out for a single heat and a feature during the night. The qualifying 7 were out, plus John Carter in the #29 (running without a scoring transponder). The group ran a fast and flawless 10 lap heat. John Ross #5 and Dan Byrnes #46 led them off at the green. Byrnes took the lead and held onto it for the win. #77 Chase Wilson took second, about 1/3 of a second behind at the checkers. #21K Kevin Errington finished 3rd, Ross 4th, #61 Dustin Jackson 5th, #50 Rob Hiiemaa 6th, and Jake Irwin 7th – leaving the track with 8 laps in.
Later in the evening, right after intermission, the group was joined by George Wilson driving the sharp looking #88 for a 30 lap feature, to bring the car count to 9 to start the race. Once again, Ross and Byrnes started at the front. The group got a good start, this time with Ross taking the early lead, while Byrnes was seen to be off the pace and leaving the track after two laps completed.
With Ross leading, Errington 2nd and 4 laps complete, caution came out on lap 5. Errington had Jackson challenging on the inside coming down the backstretch. As they entered corner 3, Errington was moving down and pinched down on Jackson, causing Errington to spin. Errington was going to be sent to the back, but on the first lap of the caution Jackson tapped his roof, taking the blame and restarted at the rear.
The race restarted after track crews swept dirt off the inside corner 4 and before a lap was complete caution was out again. Coming out of corner 2, Errington was running his line inside, and Chase Wilson came down into his nose causing Wilson to knock himself into a spin. Errington was sent to the back this time, maybe incorrectly, but it equalized the situation from the previous caution. Action is fast, and from the flagman’s perspective it is sometimes hard to see the race lines on corner 2 into the backstretch. It’s even harder for other officials to see it from the track entrance or corner 3.
John Ross was still in the lead on the restart. George and son Chase were following behind. George gained the lead from Ross on lap 12, with Chase soon to follow, then caution flew again with Carter in a spin into corner 2 at the back of the pack. The restart saw Chase get in front of father George then Chase began to open a lead on the rest, while George contended with Jackson.
At the end of 30 laps, Chase Wilson had a 1/3 track lead taking the checkered flag. George Wilson was 2nd, Jackson 3rd. Ross was running 4th but looped it coming out of corner 4 coming to the checkered flag, leaving Errington with that position. John Carter pulled up 5th, Hiiemaa 6th, and Ross with that last corner spin finished 7th.
NAPA Reyco Automotive Modifieds
In the Modified division there were 9 cars out for qualifying - #20 Mike Hearty had fast time, of 15.085 seconds.
Newer drivers in the division included Terrance Devon in the sharp looking black and yellow #7, Devin Service in the #97, and Keith Horner in the #17. Actually Keith has run at Laird in years past. He said, “I drove a couple races last year. Back in the early years I ran two Factory Stock cars here when they were running 30 or 35 cars in the division. (Back when Laird opened in 1999). Then I ran a Sportsman and a Modified then I got out of it.” Keith’s car number back then was #90. Welcome back Keith!
The modifieds ran two 10 lap heats, and a 20 lap feature during the evening. In heat 1, Jason Herrington in the #78, and #28 Mark Porpealia. Caution was out a couple times during the race, with Randy Larrett making a couple spins. Jerry Ross was also seen slipping a bit but didn’t bring out the caution. Herrington retained the lead through both cautions and held it until lap 7, when he was overtaken by #20 Mike Hearty. Hearty went on for the win; #84 Mark Laakso got past Herrington as well, taking 2nd, Herrington 3rd, and Porpealia 4th.
In their second heat, caution was out a couple times again, once for a spin, and another for a minor incident in corner 3 with Ross, Porpealia, and Devon involved. Herrington had the lead for the first half of the race, then once again Hearty took over for the win. Herrington held on to 2nd place, Laakso 3rd, and Porpealia 4th again.
In their 20 lap feature, 9 cars were out. Caution came out three times. First was on lap 12 with Popealia making a spin by himself out of corner 4; second was on lap 13 with #17 Keith Horner spinning in corner 2 with #7 Terrance Devon, the third was on lap 17 with #97 Devin Service tight going up the track and off corner 2. Service left after the incident.
Herrington and Porpealia led them off on the green and Herrington once again held the lead until the second caution flew. By that time, Hearty had worked his way up to 2nd and on the restart took the lead away from Herrington after a number of laps of side by side racing
After the third caution Mike Hearty had the inside front, with Herrington outside. Hearty jumped off to a quick start, taking the lead, and eventually the win, his third of the night; while Herrington, a little slower on the restart had Mark Laakso beside him. Laakso got by to take second away from Herrington who finished 3rd. #01 Jerry Ross 4th, and #28 Mark Porpealia 5th.
Nine cars were out for qualifying in the Factory Stock division with Brimley Michigan driver #44 Chris Toms posting fast time of 15.803 seconds. Also in the pits was the #57 car of Rick Ellis, but he was not out for qualifying.
New to the division were #15G Andrew Givens, and #12 Anthony Mannarino who moved up to the division from the Factory Four he ran last season. The Factory Stocks were out for two 10 lap heats, and a 20 lap feature during the evening.
In their first heat, all 10 cars were out for the green. #77x Ed Lapish, and #88 Rob Wagner had the front row at the start. Lapish held the lead for two laps then on lap 3 was passed by #80 Brad Bibeau. Brad opened up a lead over Lapish and his brother Dan in the #08 until the caution flew on lap 6 with #12 Owen Brown taking a spin alone through corner 2. On the restart, Brad took the lead again. At the end, the lead cars were spaced apart by about 6 car lengths each. Brad Bibeau took the checkered flag, followed by Dan Bibeau 2nd, Lapish 3rd, and #88 Rob Wagner 4th.
In the Factory Stock second heat Lapish and Wagner started at the front again. Lapish held the lead, with Owen Brown right behind for the first three laps. On lap 4 caution came out with the #15 of Andrew Givens rolling to a stop on the inside of the front stretch.
On the restart there was a tense moment out of corner 4 with Brown moving up the track in front of Dan Bibeau, then swinging back down in front of the #44 Toms car being driven by Josh Maitland. No contact was made but caution came out and Brown was shown the black flag by flagman Ron Schmidt and sent off the track; for a mechanical issue, possibly something leaking from the car. Maitland also took the #44 pitside.
The race restarted with Lapish out front, but within a lap he was passed by both Bibeaus. Dan Bibeu led up to lap 9, then as they were coming around corner 3 and 4 on the last lap, something gave out on Dan’s car allowing Brad to take the win. Dan crossed the line second and came to rest at the exit of corner 2. The pair had a wide lead on third place Ed Lapish when Dan’s car broke and Lapish wasn’t able to get to Dan before he crossed the finish line. Rob Wagner in #88 finished 4th, and #12 Anthony Mannarino finished 5th.
In the Factory Stock feature, we had seven cars on track to take the green. Missing were Dan Bibeau, Josh Maitland, and Andrew Givens. The race began with Lapish and Wagner at the front again. Before a lap was complete both got passed by Brad Bibeau. Bibeau opened a gap on the others. The race ran caution free. Owen Brown moved up to second spot and held it but was about a half lap behind Bibeau. Bibeau took his third win for the night for the hat-trick. Brown finished second, about 6.3 seconds behind, #57 Rick Ellis was third, about 11.5 seconds behind the leader, and fourth went to Anthony Mannarino another 2.5 seconds behind Ellis. Lapish 5th, Wagner 6th, and #23 Jason Kern 7th.
Northland Autobody Factory Fours
Eleven cars were out for qualifying in the Factory Four division. Tyler Praysner in the #05 recorded fast time with 18.050 seconds around the track. There were two heats and a feature scheduled for the division.
In the first 10 lap heat, #42 Jack Lannigan and #17 Shawn Desjardins led the field to the green. Lannigan led the first lap, then #94 Seth Ralph led the second, and Lannigan had the front at the end of the third lap. On lap 4, front was taken over by #05 Tyler Praysner. The yellow flew on lap 7 with #22 Shanna Harten spinning out of corner 4. The race restarted and caution flew again on lap 9, with Lannigan spinning out of corner 4; the #21 of Daryl Whitmell was sent to the back on the restart for the event. At the end of the 10 laps Praysner took the win, #16 Dyllen Sherrard was 2nd, #95 Gianni Viotto 3rd, #12 Fern Mannarino 4th, and #94 Seth Ralph 5th.
The cars came out later for their second heat but couldn’t get lined up properly to start the race. In frustration, flagman Ron Schmidt threw out the red flag, climbed down from his flagstand and sent them all off the track. It was determined by officials that few if any of the drivers had a raceceiver on. Raceceivers are radio receivers that are mandatory for drivers. A track official broadcasts lineups and notifies the drivers of cautions when they occur through these receivers. It is primarily for safety, but also helps keep the show flowing well.
Nine cars were out for the feature. The white came out, the cars didn’t line up well, the green flew and they were immediately cautioned down for a full restart. The restart was much better. #12 Fern Mannarino led the first 15 laps of the race, with #95 Gianni Viotto and #16 Dyllen Sherrard in close pursuit for many of them. Viotto managed a pass to get ahead of Mannarino on lap 16. Meanwhile, #05 Tyler Praysner was working his way from the back of the pack and took over the lead on lap 17. Praysner took the checkered flag for the second time during the evening. Viotto kept up for the last few laps but didn’t have enough for a pass and had to settle with 2nd. Third went to Sherrard, 4th to Mannarino, 5th to Lannigan. Shanna Harten’s #22 engine blew up entering corner 3 on the last lap, with fire seen under the car when she spun to a stop between 3 & 4. Shanna was safely out of the car a few seconds later. She was credited with 6th as she was a lap ahead of the remaining finishers.
AIM Recycling Enduros
There were 12 Enduro cars that were out for the last race of the night for a no caution 15 lap race. The Enduros run last simply because they usually leave a lot of debris on the track. Top 5 were #19R Jacob Ritchie, #19 Rob Morrison, #89 Brad Charrette, #44 Eric Sylvestre, and #86 Dylan Connoly. From this race forward, the Enduros will be scored and points awarded and posted on the Laird website at https://www.lairdraceway.com Visit the website for photos, news, standings and more.
Our intermission fun for the night included a school bus race, and a lawnmower race, courtesy of the folks at the Algoma Lawnmower Racing Association (ALMRA).
During the evening also gave away a bicycle to a lucky kid in the stands, randomly selected by announcer Greg Brazeau. Congratulation to Riley.
Our racenight ended at approximately 10:00 pm.
Join us for our next racenight scheduled for Thursday July 13. It will be a full show again, with a few more drivers expected to show up and start their season.
Article Credit: Tom Stephenson
Submitted By: Tom Stephenson