Attending two events in a weekend wouldn’t normally be considered ‘busy’ by my standards, but in these days of COVID 19 restrictions its become a rarity .
A few weeks ago the Merrittville Speedway near Niagara Falls, Ont , were forced to cancel their first Modified show of the year , because of wet weather and it got re-scheduled to Sunday 26th of July. My local Cornwall Motor Speedway had their Summer Sizzler the night before, so my diary suddenly became full.
Before Saturday came around, I had the car all loaded and fueled, so I could get away at the crack of dawn on Sunday.
With the Cornwall races the night before, it could of meant just a few hours sleep so wanted to be ready to go.
On Saturday, I met up with my friend Chanty for lunch at Shoeless Joes in Cornwall before heading to the track. We were joining our friends on the # 22 Cedric Gauvreau Sportsman Team at the pit gate.
I took off for a wander around the pits , as there was someone I wanted to see.
Making a rare appearance was the legendary Mr ‘Small Block’ Pete Bicknell, the winner of more 358 Modified races than any other driver.
Pete’s from St Catharines , Ontario, and is around the same age as me, so in recent years he has curtailed his racing activities , to his local tracks of Merrittville and Ransomville NY. With the Canada/USA border closed, no Modified racing had taken place at either place at this time.
It was great to meet up and chat with Pete, as it’s been a while since we’ve chatted.
FLASHBACK 15 Years to 2005
The nights program consisted of Modifieds, Sportsman, Vintage Mods and Lightening Sprints. There was a good field of Modified drivers from far and wide.
As usual I took my usual spot on the pit tower to take pictures until the sun went down.
After the Intermission , I moved to the middle and the first of the features was for the Lightening Sprints.
This gave Xavier Lauzon his second consecutive win at Cornwall in 2020.
Next up was the main event, the 50 lap Summer Sizzler for the 358 Modifieds.
After fuel issues in the heat race , Mr Small Block had to start at the rear.
Yan Busierre , David Hebert and Dalton Slack were running good at the start , but faded as Steve Bernard and Mat Williamson moved into first and second.
Mat is really on a roll this year, starting where he left off at the end 2019. With the restrictions in place , he has now won four features in Canada.
Completing the podium was Mat’s fellow Niagara native, Gary Lindberg
The Sportsman feature was next , and after a mid race stoppage for a wreck on the front stretch, Jarratt Herbison held off Gab Cyr for a popular win.
The last race of the night was the Vintage Feature where Randy Gaudet got his second win of the year.
Victory Lane pictures were done by around 11-00 am and I was heading for home.
After sending a few of my pics to the media, not long after, I was in bed and the alarm clock set for 6-00 am.
With the car all packed and ready to go, I left Cornwall at 7-00 am. Taking full advantage of the lack of Sunday morning traffic, I was able to put my foot down and make good progress.
While making a quick stop for gas and Timmys to go at the Trenton Services , I bumped into Longueuil , Quebec Modified driver Simon Perreault heading for the same place as me.
Back on the road and right foot hard down in the Chev Impala, (Cruise Control actually) I was through Toronto and had arrived at the Motel 6 in Niagara Falls by 12-15 pm.
I had plenty of time to kill so relaxed a bit and found a nice Italian restaurant for lunch before making the 20 minute drive to Merrittville.
It wasn’t long before I met up with my ‘tog’ buddy Alex Bruce and Merrittvilles new race director Melissa Stevens.
Melissa is no stranger to Dirt Modified racing, and has been connected to the sport for many years with her late father being a regular racer at the track a few years back.
I wasn’t the only one who had been at Cornwall the night before, and to name a few, there was Mat Williamson, Pete Bicknell , Gary Lindberg, Mike Bowman, Dalton Slack , Steve Bernier and the aforementioned Simon Perreault.
I spent a while chatting to most of them as well as Sprint Car drivers, Steve Poirier and his nephew Jordon who had traveled down from Saint Mathieu de Beloiel in Quebec.
Merrittville is one of my favorite tracks for ‘photo ops’ and once the action got under way , I stationed myself on turn three and four.
As well as the headline event for the 358 Modifieds the 360 Sprint Cars and the domestic Street Stocks were the added support.
Just like, my trip to the Humberstone Speedway a few weeks previous , the show was going out live on G Force TV.
After a longer than expected intermission, racing resumed with the consis for the Street Stocks and Sprints. The first of the features was for the Street Stocks, which got delayed just before the green flag, due to a medical emergency in the pits.
Once the race got underway, it provided a win for Rob Murray.
Next up it was the 360 Sprints, where a predictable rollover gave us another delay.
I listened to the G Force TV presentation after the event and yes, the announcers Greg Calnan and Adam Ross were spot on with their comments ” Photographer Rick Young, a big Modified Fan and a non Sprint Car fan wont be enjoying the hold up, pretty sure he will be wishing the Mod feature had been first”. I had to laugh at this because it was so true, I’ve known both of these guys for a long time and by now, they surely know my views on Sprint Cars.
Well eventually the race was over and won by Quebecer Jordon Poirier .
The Modifieds then took to the track for the evenings 40 lap main event. This turned out to be a good one, where local trier, Fred Carleton took the early lead and managed to hold off Mat Williamson for a long time.
Mike Bowman was also up there and looked good , but once again it was Matty that showed his supremacy.
As Carlton started to fade Steve Bernier was making his way up to join the first three.
Everything was all over before mid night and I was soon back in my Motel editing pictures.
There was no rush to get home on Monday, so I took a leisurely drive back to Cornwall stopping off at several places along the way .
As I passed Coburg on the 401, I noticed that even the Big Apple was wearing a mask .