Holiday Wishes & Off Season Updates
With the holidays upon us and a new calendar year knocking at our door, I figured we could take a light hearted look at what some of our drivers, staff, tracks and fans might have had on their holiday or New Year’s resolution list during the season. Keep in mind, this is all in fun, but I’ll take any and all credit for any of the good ideas in this column coming to fruition
- I know it’s a bit early to start thinking about it - but I’m sure the likes of 2012 champion Shawn Turple, Mike Stevens, Jonathan Hicken and any other of our Tour drivers and team members with youngsters thinking towards the future. Don’t blink, 2021 will be here soon and the future will be itching to get behind the wheel of a race car. The “Parts for Trucks Maritime Bandolero Tour” or “Parts for Trucks Maritime Whiz Kids Series” each have a nice ring to them, dontcha think?
- The upper echelons of our sport are hoping we can produce some more “quality storylines” they can use in their events. I wonder if Wayne Smith and Darren Mackinnon have received their royalty cheques from Daytona Beach yet?
- Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour official Marty McRae has bananas and oat cakes on his list. We travel past lots of Irving and Tim Horton’s on our adventures throughout the season, so when you do, think of Marty. If not, assistant starter Ralph Vokey and I usually hear about it on the way home!
- John Flemming probably has Maple Leaf Monster Jam tickets on his list for 2013, that way he doesn’t have to sit in the hauler to watch from the side of the road.
- Shawn Turple’s New Year's resolution is to gain more upper body strength. After all, pushing Thomas’s stroller will tone and condition the upper body, right?
- The #5 team of Jonathan Hicken is hoping for a panhard bar to last 151 laps at Petty International Raceway.
- For Mike Stevens, it’ll be about “the one that got away in Antigonish in 2012.” I think they have a spot on the top shelf of the trophy case for the 2013 IWK 250 trophy.
- Rollie MacDonald is singing the same tune that Stevens is. With Cassius Clark, MacDonald’s #13 won the Atlantic CAT 250 at Scotia Speedworld and the Pro Stock 250 at Speedway 660, missing the IWK 250 by four spots with Corey Williams.
- I think Daryl Mahar has put his order in for another caution free race at Riverside. The veteran from Hubley was wore out (as were most of his peers) after wheeling 100 laps without a break on the high banks, but it was great and refreshing to see the #66 in the top five after the Lucas Oil 100!
- Donald Chisholm and his team want a win at Scotia Speedworld. He’s said on a few occasions that his Tour resume is incomplete without a win at the Speedworld. He’s won at Speedway 660, Riverside Speedway and Oyster Bed Speedway, tracks that have been on the schedule since 2001, and though he’s been so close in previous chances, he has yet to break through at “Atlantic Canada’s Action Centre.”
- “The Captain” Mark Wilson is hoping his fans are a bit more vocal in 2013. After our pace car driver heard the cheer of “We love you Tim Terry” coming from the Sutherlands River crew in the beer garden at Scotia Speedworld prior to driver intros this year, he was wondering when his were going to speak up! You can also add Mark to the list of fathers who will be lining up for the “Maritime Whiz Kids Tour” in 2021 after the birth of his son this past Summer.
- For Colby Smith, Dylan Blenkhorn and Jeff Dillman (and maybe another one or two we haven’t confirmed yet), their New Year’s Resolution is simple: Win the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year Award. Jerry Hayes and Cole Butcher will look to get seat time in 2013 to hopefully stare down the barrel at the top freshman honors in 2014.
- Speaking of rookies from last season, you have to believe that Steve Halpin, Brad Eddy and Dylan Gosbee have victory lane on their radar. Ask any of the veterans, it’s not easy to win on this series, but once you do, it really validates that you’ve made it and gives you that boost of confidence to not only go out and get the next one, but to chase that overall championship.
- I know our fans love great racing that leaves them on the edge of their seats. The point battle in 2012 was a see-saw battle, back and fourth from Race One. No driver really had that season that “set the world on fire” by winning a bunch of races and having a huge lead with two or three races to go. I’m sure a majority of our fans would love to see a battle like we saw in 2012 all over again in 2013.
-- The tracks we visit are already busy gearing up for 2013. If you have a few moments, be sure to check out Petty International Raceway on Facebook to see pictures of their new Turn One and Two wall. The wall will not only prevent someone from flying over the bank, but will allow traffic to flow freely from the grandstand and pit sides. In the first two years since the re-opening, crews and fans would have to wait until the track was quiet to go in or out of the pits due to the bank being exposed.
-- I’ll leave you with this little story for now. As some of you know, I moved to Halifax back in July (following our stop at Speedway 660 last year), leaving the Truro area that I grew up and lived in for the first 21 years of my life. I tend to find myself back in the town every weekend or two to take in Truro Bearcats games or to visit friends, and if I stop to eat, I either find myself at Murphy’s Fish and Chips or Champions Bar and Grill. The latter of the two is a popular stop among those in the racing community and is owned by Paul Blenkhorn and family. I found myself in there twice in December. The first time I had the chance to catch up with Jeff Dillman. For those Pro Stock fans that may not be familiar with the name, Dillman is a two-time champion of the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series at Scotia Speedworld and a three-time champion of the Shriner’s Classic at the Speedworld, winning his third edition in 2012, joining the late Terry Roma as the only three time champ of the event. He also drove the #0 Sportsman to the win in the first NAPA Sportsman Series race of ’12 at Riverside Speedway.
Dillman purchased the car formerly piloted by Halifax’s Brad Brown and will look to make his first Pro Stock start in the 2013 season opener. After that the schedule is unclear for Dillman. “The plan right now is run all the Nova Scotia races, but it all depends on funding,” Dillman told me. “Our goal is to run with Dylan (Blenkhorn) and Colby (Smith) for the rookie title, but time will tell. If we can get a couple sponsors on board, we’ll look at running the full schedule once it’s released.” After being able to call his two Sportsman championships and three Shriner’s Classics at the Speedworld, I can tell you Jeff and his team are a great bunch, are passionate about the sport and will make a great addition to our Tour! Good luck to Jeff and team in 2013!
-- My second stop to Champions was a couple days before Christmas, when I met up with Dylan Blenkhorn. As I was finishing up my potato skins and chicken fingers (which were some of the best I’ve had in a while I may add), we chatted about a few things. The Blenkhorn’s purchased most of the former Dan Mackay racing operation, including the car and trailer. Dylan showed me a picture of the car, which still had Mackay’s trademark yellow on it. “I like the scheme we ran at the finale last season, but that yellow looks sharp,” said Blenkhorn when talking about the scheme of the car. “We still have some work to do, but we’re excited to get 2013 kicked off.”
We also talked about the winter, and when the conversation about February came up, the subject of Florida came up. With TimsCorner.ca, I am planning on heading to Auburndale Speedway to cover Legends and Bandoleor racing at INEX Winter Nationals, an event that Dylan and his father Paul ran in last year. “Our cars have moved on to Newfoundland, but we are planning on heading down for a few days to check up on those at Auburndale. The competition is stiff down there and I wish our guys all the best. We’re also hoping to get over to New Smyrna to see Wayne (Smith) run his car.” Smith recently announced that he will be running during the World Series at New Smyrna.
Before the Blenkhorns get to Florida though, there is a stop in Mooresville, North Carolina planned for the GRIP Seminar. The event is hosted by Dartmouth native Gary Crooks and focuses on everything short track racing. If you were at Scotia Speedworld last season during our weekly shows, you probably heard me talk about GRIP when talking about Sportsman drivers Fred Schofield and Mike Banks, who took in GRIP last year in Maine. Schofield and Banks saw their level of competition upped and Schofield told me that a lot of the new information they found with their cars came from Crooks and his seminar. If the Blenkhorns can take anything from the seminar, watch out for them in 2013!
That’s all for now folks, check in during the next month to MaritimeProStockTour.com. Not only will you likely see another Tim’s Corner piece, you may even see a couple announcements from the series - including something we like to call a schedule for the upcoming season! I know, I’m excited and can’t wait for it either! Have a great holiday season folks!
Until next time, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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