Tour Instils Many Memories In Race Fans
If you haven't heard yet, the CARQUEST Maritime Pro Stock Tour is celebrating its tenth season in 2010. To kick off the season there is a contest running on the Tour site that could net you a cool VIP package to the Lucas Oil 100 on June 5th at Scotia Speedworld. All that needs to be done to put yourself in the running is to send in your favourite Pro Stock Tour moment over the past nine seasons of racing. Seems pretty easy, right?
The hard part for some fans may be picking one memory as their favourite over the past nine summer seasons. Some have been around since the inaugural green flag on May 12th, 2001 at Scotia Speedworld when it was Wayne Smith taking the first place hardware home. Smith would pilot his #33 to six wins, nine top fives and eleven top tens that season en route to his third consecutive and fourth overall Maritime title (after winning the MASCAR crown in 2000, 1999 and 1994). The Oval Outlaw team would also take the title home in 2008 making the #44 team one of only three multi-time champs in the CARQUEST Tour era.
Sometimes my memory can be spotty at best but one of my earliest recollections of being at the track was during that 2001 season for the Pro Stock Tour events. I remember fondly sitting at the finale at Riverside Speedway in September of that year to see the #6 car of George Koszkulics taking the checkered flag first while Wayne Smith and team celebrated their series championship. I was only eleven years old at the time, but it was one of those memories that will stick with me for a lifetime.
Some might remember the year of 2003. For the second consecutive year, the point title would belong to Halifax's John Flemming. Flemming would eventually win his third title in '06, becoming the most decorated champion in the CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour era. It was also a year that saw Scott Fraser return to Maritime Pro Stock racing. Among his five feature wins on the '03 campaigns were two CPST feature wins at the Centre For Speed in Grand Barachois and at the season finale Parts for Trucks 200 at Scotia Speedworld! Fraser also pocketed two wins at New Brunswick International Speedway (now dubbed Speedway 660) in a Pro All Stars Series event and the coveted NBIS 250 (a race which saw the team bring home over twenty four grand to Shubenacadie) along with an open race at Scotia Speedworld at the end of September. Fraser would pass away during the off-season but would leave race fans across the region and all around the world with many great memories of the “Shubie Shuttle.”
The next few seasons would produce some incredible chapters in the history book that is auto racing in this corner of the country. From Rollie MacDonald adding another incredible accomplishment to his resume by coming home with the 2005 title to Shawn Turple breaking through to win his first Pro Stock event at the new Riverside International Speedway in 2006, many memorable laps have been run.
Many of my favourite moments though have come from the past three seasons but then again I am a bit biased. In '07, I had the opportunity to join the staff at Scotia Speedworld as an assistant announcer to Mike Kaplan. With that came the honour to work behind the scenes on the Tour at Riverside International Speedway along with Scotia Speedworld. As a seventeen year old I gained a new respect for those who work behind the scenes on the Tour and at each racetrack to get each race going every Saturday night during the summer that we wave a green flag. '07 would be the year that Fredericton's Shawn Tucker came home with his second series championship in a season that featured many exciting races. The first visit to Riverside International Speedway produced some Saturday night fireworks, which just happened to be captured by CTV's Breakfast Television and lives on through the magic of Youtube. Event three of that season also created much talk, as it was Turple and Smith battling for the win at Speedway 660. When the dust settled after 100 laps it was the two Nova Scotians finishing with 0.004s between them! Four one thousandths of a second! Smith, driving the car with two fours on it would stand in Victory Lane after the finish.
July 25th, 2008 will always stick out in my mind as great personal accomplishment as it was the first time I had been on the call for a Pro Stock event. I had the opportunity to fill in for Andy Campbell during qualifying for the Parts for Trucks 100 in Geary, which had been dominated by Lonnie Sommerville. I also had the chance to be on the horn for three other races that season which included Craig Slaunwhite's two Pro Stock Tour victories at Riverside International and his home track at Scotia Speedworld. Slaunwhite had graduated from the Speedworld Sportsman division the season previous after winning the points crown in '06 and '07. The other race I ended up calling that season was Slaunwhite battling Wayne Smith for the lead in Grand Barachois for the Lucas Oil 150 title with Smith edging out Slaunwhite at the end of the race in one of the best Pro Stock races I've seen at the Centre for Speed in recent years.
'09 is not even one year in our rear views but it presented us with some amazing on track moments. Who can forget the Forbes 100 at Scotia Speedworld on July 5th? Shawn Tucker and John Flemming, two of the drivers battling for the point lead had themselves a duel that many will remember for a long time which ended with eighteen one thousandths of a second between the two former multi-time titlists. This was just one of three close Pro Stock finishes at the Enfield oval last summer as the Atlantic CAT 250 came down to the final lap with Lonnie Sommerville beating Dave O'Blenis to the line by inches. In September, it was Tucker once again having to hold off a hard charging Mike Stevens as Stevens chased his first Pro Stock Tour victory. As I said at the end of the season – watch for that #26 car in Victory Lane this season. From what we've seen in the past few seasons it is just a matter of time before Stevens gets that first checkered flag on the CARQUEST Tour!
The other two Triple Crown Series races in 2009 stacked up to the hype as Wayne Smith had to pass '08 IWK 250 winner Regan Smith in the last quarter of the race and then had to hold off former Riverside Tour winner Kent Vincent to capture race one of the three race mini-series! Fireworks were set off in the late stages of the race as Regan Smith, who had his brakes go away during the gruelling 250-lap affair and eventual series champ Shawn Turple made contact going down the backstraight, sending the #0 car hard into the concrete wall. Tempers overflowed on pit road between the crews after the incident as both teams came so close to taking home the prestigious race.
The 2009 Peterbilt 250 looked to be between Shawn Turple and Johnny Clark in the late stages until a caution flag with just over twenty-five laps to go bunched up the field. Atlantic CAT 250 winner Lonnie Sommerville and Shawn Tucker among others rolled the dice and came down pit road to get tires on the final yellow. It paid off for Sommerville in the end as he would take the victory following a furious charge to the front of the field!
There you have it some of my favourite memories looking back throughout the past nine racing seasons. Now, it is your turn. Get over to MaritimeProStockTour.com and get your entry in by April 4th to have the chance to find yourself at the June 5th CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour lid-lifter at Scotia Speedworld. You will not want to miss the first race of the tenth season – we are bound to create some more great moments when we wave the green flag on another great summer of racing in Atlantic Canada!
As we get closer to the '10 season we are also looking for your pre-season predictions on who will do what this summer. Who will win the championship? Will we have any first time winners? Can someone pull off the Triple Crown? Let me know and we will get some of your thoughts on Tim's Corner when we dust off the ole crystal ball later on this month. Join in the fun by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and see where your pre-season favourites stack up against other race fans from around the region!
Until next time, keep the hammer down and we'll see you at the track!
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