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Next Race: Thursday July 18th

Next Race: Thursday July 18th

Come on out and join us for the third night of the Laird Raceway Season! Thursday Night Thunder, July 18thth - FULL SHOW! No race July 11

More New Winners and New Drivers on Thurs July 4th

More New Winners and New Drivers on Thurs July 4th

Fast action, great competition, and few cautions were the highlight at Laird on Thursday July 4th.

What a Great Start to the 2024 Season

What a Great Start to the 2024 Season

The June 27th Racenight was the 25th Season Opener at Laird Raceway. Good sized crowd, a good car count, and exiting races!


What a Great Start to the 2024 Season!
358
6/30/2024

6/30/2024

Laird Raceway


What a Great Start to the 2024 Season!

Racenight Recap for Thursday June 27th, 2024.

The 2024 Season marks the 25th anniversary of Laird International Raceway, which opened in 1999. Our season opener was a full show of Service Rental and Sales Super Late Models, Lakeway Automotive Factory Stocks, NAPA Reyco Automotive Modifieds, Northland Autobody Factory Fours, and AIM Recycling Enduros. The night was sponsored by KISS 100.5 and Country 104.3
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We had fantastic attendance by fans, with approximately 2700 people showing up at the track for the evening. Car counts were also good for the first race of the season, with more to be added as some drivers were unable to start as they were waiting on backordered parts.

Weather conditions were good too, the temperature was a bit below average for this time of year but not uncomfortable. One advantage to cooler night temperatures is that it keeps the mosquitoes away. We like that!

Annette Bouchard gave a wonderful rendering of the American and Canadian National Anthems, followed by announcer Greg Brazeau introducing the late model drivers that were up on track ready to race. Greg was joined in the announcer’s booth by Oval Reving.

Service Rentals and Sales Super Late Models

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In the Super Late Model division there were 12 cars in the pits for the night. Missing for the night was Rob Hiiemaa, who is recuperating after a recent illness. During the drivers meeting track promoter, Donnie Varcoe, passed a text message on to drivers from Rob… “Tell the guys and girls to be safe and respect each other and I’ll see you all soon.” Later in the program, announcer Brazeau had fans give a round of applause and a standing ovation for Hiiemaa.

The 2023 season champ, Chase Wilson ran the fastest qualifying time of the night with a 14.288 sec. lap around the 1/3 mile oval. We held one heat, and a 30 lap feature in the division during the night.

Twelve of the Super Late’s were on the track during opening ceremonies and their 10 lap heat got started right after some driver introductions. The heat was fast and caution free. The #21J, piloted by Jacob Heimonen along with #826 Jordan Parniak led them off at the green. Heimonen held that position, led all laps of the race, and took the win. #61 Dustin Jackson snagged a close 2nd, #90 Jay Palumbo 3rd, #21M Cody Maclean 4th, and #51 Jeremy Van Hoek rounded the top 5.

In the feature 11 Super Lates were on track to start. The #46 normally driven by Dan Byrnes was being driven by Kayden Kudlac – his first time piloting a Late Model. Kayden drove at Laird previously in a modified in the 2022 season.

Front row was Heimonen inside and #61 Dustin Jackson outside. As they rounded corner 3 to the green flag, things looked normal, then coming out of corner 4 it looked like Heimonen was a bit slow to get going and cars behind accordioned up a bit. #90 Jay Palumbo was right behind Heimonen,. Heimonen went a bit sideways and ran up the track. As they neared the flagstand #51 of Jeremy VanHoek, who started 2nd row outside got pinched up the track and slowed, then #47 Jordan Sims, starting 3rd row behind VanHoek piled into the back of VanHoek, lifting VanHoek's rear off the ground. Sim’s left the track under power but was unable to return due to a damaged rad. The race was then red flagged while track crews took VanHoek’s car off the track. Post race I asked Heimonen what happened and he said, “I just didn’t seem to get any traction, I don’t think Palumbo hit me, not sure.”
Before the green flag flew for a restart Heimonen also left the track. This left 8 cars on track for a full restart of the race.

This time #90 Jay Palumbo was inside of Jackson at the front. The race was running fast with exception of #46 of rookie Kayden Kudlac who started at the rear and was running about 3 seconds off the pace. Kudlac was getting lapped by lap 4 and then on lap 5, something happened at the back involving Kudlac and #20 of Mike Hearty. Kudlac slid off the backstretch down to the fence on corner 3. Kudlac was able to restart but Hearty was done, leaving 8 cars for the restart.

Jay Palumbo took the lead for the next laps, with Dustin Jackson behind at first, then #77 Chase Wilson, the three ran nose to tail until lap 20 when #21M Cody MacLean spun on corner 4. Kudlac had left the track a few laps prior, leaving 6 of the original 11 to restart.

Wilson took over top spot for the next 4 laps, with Palumbo, #01 John Ross, and Jackson following then caution flew again on lap 24 when MacLean got loose through 1 and 2 spinning into the backstretch. MacLean left the track leaving 5. A restart and a lap and a half later caution flew again, this time with #424 Parniak spinning into corner 1. One more caution after that, with Ross spinning into corner 1.
The last laps of the race had Wilson out front for the win, Jackson 2nd a couple car lengths behind, Palumbo 3rd, Parniak 4th and Ross 5th.

Lakeway Automotive Factory Stock Division:

In the Lakeway Automotive Factory Stock division we had 11 cars out for qualifying, including new driver Xavier Carter in the sharp looking #29. Xavier is the son of John Carter. John wasn’t out racing during the night but should be out later on, he has been concentrating on his son’s car. Fast qualifier for the night was Owen Brown with a time of 16.063 seconds. The Factory Stocks had two 10 lap heats and a 20 lap feature.

All 11 qualifiers were out to start the first heat. Caution flew right away as they came to the green when #33 Cody Champagne got loose towards the back of the pack, slid up and impacted the front guardrail. Although the front right of his car was a bit twisted up, Cody was able to restart, but left later after completing 2 laps.

On the full restart #88 Rob Wagner had the pole, with #77x Ed Lapish outside. By the end of the first lap, Lapish had dropped back a couple of positions with #57 Rick Ellis moving up along with #08 Daniel Bibeau. By the end of lap 2, Bibeau, who started outside third row had the lead with Wagner behind and Ellis 3rd.

Lap 4 of the heat saw #80 Brad Bibeau taking up 3rd from Ellis. Brad continued his charge and got past Wagner on lap 7. The race ended with Daniel Bibeau taking his first checkered flag in the division for the season, brother Brad 2nd, Wagner 3rd, Ellis 4th, and #12 Owen Brown 5th – a good finish for him as he started at the back.

In the second Factory Stock Heat 8 cars were out. Missing was Wagner, Champagne, and #15 Andrew Givens who had did a bit of “off roading” during the first heat. At the front for the second heat was Lapish, with #51 Jamie Fox outside.

Fox was able to lead for just a lap before losing the position to Daniel Bibeau. A lap later, Brad Bibeau took up second. The Bibeau show continued for the rest of the laps with Daniel taking his second checkered of the night, Brad 2nd. Fox was 3rd, a few car lengths behind, #12 Owen Brown had moved up to 4th, and #4 Dale Tucker snagged 5th place.

In their feature, the car count had returned to 10, with Wagner and Givens back out. Champagne was unable to start. Rick Ellis had returned to start at the pole with Lapish outside. On lap 2, Daniel Bibeau with Brad trailing were working inside Ellis on corner 2, when Daniel bounced down off the inside of corner 1 & 2. Smoke was seen coming out the back of his car after that and he stopped on lap 3 at the bottom of the backstretch bringing out the caution. Turned out the smoke was from a tire rub, Dan went to the pits, got the tire changed and was back out to restart at the rear.

The restart saw Ellis at the front, with Brad Bibeau alongside. Brad had a great restart and took the lead right away. On lap 6, Brown, who had started near the back got past Ellis and then started to work to catch up with Bibeau, who was about 10 car lengths ahead. Brown was on fire, consistently running laps averaging 1/3 of a second or more faster than Bibeau. By lap 13 Brown was able to pass Bibeau for the lead. Brown continued to open a gap, then began to lap cars. Caution came out on lap 17.

Brown had the lead for the restart, Brad outside, with Ellis and #4 Dale Tucker behind. Brown continued his ride on the rails and took the checkered flag, about 1.6 seconds ahead of Brad Bibeau. It was Brown’s first career Factory Stock win! Rick Ellis pulled up 3rd place, 3.4 seconds after the winner, Daniel Bibeau managed to get past Tucker near the end to take 4th, Tucker 5th, #51 Jamie Fox 6th, #88 Rob Wagner 7th, Lapish 8th, and #29 Xavier Carter and #15 Andrew Givens 9th and 10th respectively, both a lap down.

NAPA Reyco Automotive Modified Division:

In the NAPA Reyco Automotive Modified division we saw 6 cars out to qualify. Fast qualifier was J.P. Delpaggio with a time of 15.352 seconds. We held two heats and a 20 lap feature in the division. New to the division is #20 Matt Lewis who moved up from the Factory Four division he ran last season.

The first heat ran caution free. #78 Jason Herrington led all ten laps to take the win. #84 Mark Laakso 2nd, #22 JP Delpaggio 3rd, #01 Jerry Ross 4th, #20 Matt Lewis 5th, and #7 Terrance Devon 6th.

In their second heat, caution was pulled out once on lap 5 with a spin in corner 3 by #01 Jerry Ross. Herrington again led all laps of the race to take the checkers. The finishing order was identical to heat 1, Laakso 2nd, Delpaggio 3rd, Ross 4th, Lewis 5th and Devon 6th.

Missing from the feature was Mark Laakso, leaving 5 cars to start the 20 lapper. All 20 laps ran caution free. Herrington started at the front again, outside Terrance Devon. Herrington took the lead again right away and held it through lap 15, with Ross patiently working right behind looking for an opportunity, and Delpaggio right behind Ross.

At the end of lap 15 as they rounded corner 4 Herrington was going a bit high and Ross moved under. The pair bumped out of corner 4, causing Herrington to go a bit more up the track. They dragged down the front stretch and Ross took over the lead into corner 1. Ross then opened up a lead on Herrington and took the win. Herrington pulled 2nd, 1.3 seconds behind, with Delpaggio 3rd, 2/10ths of a second after for 3rd. Matt Lewis had a good run too, taking 4th 3.6 seconds behind Ross, and Devon took 5th about a half lap behind the leaders. It was a good clean and fast race.

Northland Autobody Factory Four Division:

In the Northland Autobody Factory Four Division we saw 10 drivers out to qualify. Fast qualifier was #22 Shanna Harten with a time of 17.398 seconds. New drivers in the division include #6 Wayne Devon, and twin brothers Jaxson and Ryder Byrnes, sharing the #46 –(rumour has it that the Byrnes family will be picking up another factory 4 so the boys will each be able to race every race.)

Both Factory Four 10 lap heats ran caution free. Eleven cars started in both heats. In the first heat it was #42 Jack Lannigan and #4 Kayleigh Tucker starting out front. Kayleigh managed to lead the first lap but was quickly passed by Tyler Praysner, driving the #38 for the night. On lap 2, #7 Gianni Viotto moved into the second spot. Viotto moved into top spot on lap 6 and held on to take the checkered flag. Praysner pulled up 2nd,#24 Christopher Viotto 3rd, #22 Shanna Harten 4th, and #21 Brent Fewchuk 5th.

In their second heat Lannigan and Tucker started at the front. By the end of the first lap, Praysner had the lead again, with Fewchuk, and Gianni Viotto behind. Praysner held the lead for all 10 laps for the win, with Viotto in 2nd. Harten was 3rd, Chris Viotto 4th, and Brent Fewchuk 5th.

In the feature there were 11 cars out on the track. At the start Praysner again jumped to the lead and started to open a gap on the rest of the field. #17 Shawn Desjardins ran second through to lap 10, when Shanna Harten passed him. Shanna had started in the 5th row so had nearly a whole field of cars to pass to get there. The leaders were going through lap traffic, when on lap 12 Harten lost control and spun up the front stretch and hit the guardrail past the flagstand, bringing out the caution. Harten was able to stay in the race and restarted mid field, ahead of a few cars that had been lapped.

On the restart, Praysner continued in the lead with #24 Christopher Viotto running second. Harten worked her way past a few cars and moved into second place on lap 16. Harten set to work on catching up to Praysner then started to work at getting by. She managed to do it a couple times but the pair were going through slower lap traffic again and Harten had to get in line behind Praysner a couple times. Harten managed to lead lap 19, but on the final lap, fell back again due to getting caught in traffic. As they rounded corner 3 and 4 on the last lap, Harten was behind Praysner, then pulled outside and rocketed up beside Praysner. They were side by side at the finish line. The Laird scoring system showed the win to Praysner by 2/100ths of a second. A photo taken from the infield however, showed Harten was first to fully cross the finish line. The photo was shown to Praysner post race and he conceded the win to Harten. The discrepancy between the scoring system and the photo is accountable by looking where the scoring loop is located (a few feet before the line) and where the scoring transponders are located on the car (on the back axle). It is also possible (but not confirmed) that Praysners transponder was not located on his back axle, or another possibility is that Harten actually passed Praysner in the distance between the loop and the line. In any event, the official win went to Harten post race, Praysner took 2nd, #24 Christopher Viotto 3rd, #17 Shawn Desjardins 4th, #21 Brent Fewchuk 5th, and #16 Dyllen Sherrard 6th. The rest of the field finished a lap or more down, or did not finish.

AIM Recycling Enduro Division:

The AIM recycling Enduro’s had a single 15 lap feature at the very end of the night. Early in the race one car went up off corner 4 and slid down in front of the beer gardens, not sure who though (couldn’t see the number). Another incident saw a couple cars come together on the front stretch with one running through the infield an getting back on the track. Yet another had a spin coming out of corner 4 but was able to get underway again a few seconds later. There were 14 cars that started, two of which were not scored because they didn’t have a transponder onboard, or had improperly placed transponders.

At the end of 15 laps #86 Dylan Connolly had the win. #44 Eric Sylvestre took 2nd, 10.6 seconds behind, #83 Jon Hill 3rd, 16.8 seconds back from the leader. Kohle Kennedy took 4th, a lap down and #415 Brian Berg 5th.

Intermission Activities:

Between heats and features our intermission included a Lawnmower Race, courtesy of the Algoma Lawnmower Racing Association (ALMRA). The group spent some time setting up the infield race track earlier in the season, including a few loads of red clay and putting the track closer to the centre of the stands. The race winner was the silver #7 ridden by Chuck Siddall. For information about ALMRA visit their facebook group page

Also during the intermission we had the first “Powder Puff School Bus Race” featuring only women driving. Taking part were Chayse Willet in #5, Kaitlin O’Brien in #25, Tambi Vince in #45, Barbara Elliot in #3, Kirby Kind in #67, and Taryn McCoy in #77. At one point in the race they were three wide down the front stretch. Elliot got caught low, pinched down by O’Brien with a resulting “scrape” on the first corner that saw the front bumper on Elliot’s #3 getting peeled forward. Elliot persevered and went on to take the win.

Photos from the night can be found on our website under the “media” menu item, or click here

The next Thursday Night Thunder is set to be another full show, sponsored by Laird Towing, running on Thursday July 4th. Hope to see you there!

Fans are invited to view the Laird Raceway Facebook page to get current news and updates including weather cancellations, announcements, and more. URL is https://www.facebook.com/lairdraceway

General track information is available on our website at https://www.lairdraceway.com. There you will find post race writeups, photos, points standings, race results and more.


Article Credit: Tom Stephenson

Submitted By: Tom Stephenson

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