My last report ended on Sunday afternoon (22nd of October) when I took off from my home in Cornwall, Ontario bound for my daughter Carla’s place in Willow Springs, North Carolina.
After an overnight stop in Binghamton, NY I was pulling into her driveway about 4-30pm on Monday.
Soon after arriving, I was out taking pictures of a different kind of sport and a family trophy winner.
I was out watching my grand daughter Sophie as she picked up an award , with the Vipers , the girls soccer team she plays for . (that’s women’s football to the rest of the world LOL)
I sat with my grandson Benji as he watched his sister in action.
The next few days were spent having ‘quality time’ with my family, and making several visits to the ranch where Carla keeps her horse.
On one of those visits , Sophia was having a riding lesson.
On Thursday morning (26th of October), I took off from Willow Springs to Charlotte for a few days. It’s about a two and a half hour drive .
The Short Track World Finals were taking place that weekend at the Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord , and this was my destination.
I arrived around lunch time, and once checked in to the media ‘sign-in’, I went about finding myself a room for a couple of nights.
I got lucky and there was one available at the Rodeway Inn at nearby Kannapolis. With that sorted, I headed back to the track.
The World Finals are dedicated to the many grass roots divisions that are seen weekly on the dirt ovals of the U.S.A and Canada.
There were about 550 cars crammed into the pits, and once again, luck was on my side.
I’d purchased a vehicle access permit, and soon found a small spot, just big enough for my Impala , next to the Peterbilt hauler of my friends , on the Cedric Gauvreau Sportsman team.
They’d left home in Gatineau, Quebec the previous day and had shared the driving in the big rig.
I’ve known the Gauvreau family and their team for many years and it’s always fun to hang out with them at the races .
There was plenty of time to explore , so I took the elevator to the top level of the grandstands, somewhere I hadn’t been , since my first visit to the track in 2010.
FLASH BACK to 2010
On track for the first night, it was mainly hot lapping and time trials.
There were quite a few of my locals taking part in the Sportsman and Pro stocks
The winners were, Dylan Brown (Late Models) Nelson Mason (Sportsman) Kyle Strickler (UMP Modifieds) and Luke Horning (Pro Stocks)
My long time friend, Chris Dolack of DirtCar was taking care of Victory Lane and was lead photographer.
When all the picture taking was done, I drove the short distance back to the Rodeway Inn.
I returned to the track around mid day for Friday’s show and once more got my car parked up by the Gauvreau Team Peterbilt .
I had enough time to wander round the pits before racing resumed.
Once back in the middle, I joined my tog buddies, Mike Knappenberger and Michael Fry.
The main races of interest for me were the heats for the Sportsman and Pro Stocks. Their Feature wasn’t scheduled until Saturday.
The majority of the day was taken up with qualifying for the divisions I have little interest in.
With that being the case, once I’d got the pictures I wanted, I made an early exit.
I had a nice Philly Cheesesteak at the Twin Peaks eatery , and then returned to the hotel.
Saturday morning I checked out of the Rodeway Inn and was parked up in the pits at 10-00am.
I wanted to be there early to get my car in a good position for another early exit.
The Sportsman and Pro Stock features were the first on the program, and my plan was to head straight back to Carla’s place in Raleigh once they were done.
Another reason to be there early was , because I had a few people to visit in the pits.
On Friday I got talking to Joe Goodman from the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania, who told me about the young 12 year old, Sportsman driver, Logan Lockhart #58 who he was with.
He wondered if had any ‘on track’ pictures of him with the ‘Charlotte’ sign in the background. I hadn’t , but said I’d try next time he was out.
I also thought it would be a good idea to meet the young guy and get a picture, so that was my first call.
My next stop was to chat with Sportsman driver, Kyle Whitney.
I’d spotted, Raleigh NC on the side of his car and it got me thinking.
You don’t get too many DirtCar Sportsman from that neck of the woods, and after chatting, I discovered he’s from just out side the city, and close to my daughters place near Fuquay Varina.
I guess when I’m staying at my daughters, he will be my ‘local’ driver.
After chatting with Kyle , I met up with Jessica Power. who’s a good friend and one of my local drivers from Kingston Ontario.
She told me her big block car was being brought down for the following weeks show at Charlotte.
I then moved along to chat to some of my local Pro Stock drivers.
Eric is from Casselman, Ontario,
While in the Pro Stock area i caught the Stephane Lebrun team on their four wheeler.
Quebec’s Roxanne Roy was there with her partner, Sean Corr from Middletown NY .
Then I passed Bruno Richard prepping his tires
Once the racing began I moved back to my spot on turn three and four.
The first part of the show, was the last chance qualifiers for most of the divisions.
There was no need to have Last Chance races for the Pro Stocks and Sportsman, due to the lower car count.
So, in both cases all the cars were allowed to take part (about 30 in each).
Lucky for me, these were the first divisions to take place.
Pete Stefanski and Denis Gauvreau dominated in the Pro Stocks race which was plagued with cautions.
Stefanski lead for most of it with Gauvreau on his tail throughout.
It was a very exciting end to the race as they dueled to the finish .
That’s was the order it ended with Zach Sorrentino third.
Denis Gauvreau is the uncle of Cedric, the Sportsman driver.
The Sportsman feature followed .
As the race went into the final stages, it looked very likely to stay in that order to the end, until Richer blew his motor.
All Gauvreau had to do , was hold off the fast approaching, (last years winner), Kevin Ridley.
As you can imagine, with my good friends getting the win, there was a lot of celebrating going on.
By this time , it was about 7-00 pm, and it was time for me to leave.
As mentioned, my plans were to head back to Carla’s place before it got too late.
My car was still parked next to Cedric’s hauler and there was more celebrating going on there !
It was a great weekend for the Gauvreau family
Denis drove his Pro Stock over to Cedric’s pit and we took a group photo of the family and friends beside both cars.
I bumped into one friend, I hadn’t seen for a while, Nicolas Vaillant who was down in NC helping out Denis.
So it wasn’t until about 7-45 pm before I got away.
After a quick stop along the way for a coffee to go, I was back in Willow Springs at 10-30 pm.
I was up early on Sunday morning for a trip to Richmond Virginia, with Carla and Sophia to watch Benji in a Lacrosse tournament.
It had been a two day event and Alex (my son in law) had taken Benji the day before and stayed overnight.
Benji #67 is goal tender for the Carolina 91’s who came third in the tournament .
We then drove back to Willow Springs where I had a few more days of quality time .
I spent some time down at the ranch , and on Tuesday the 31st it was Halloween.
I took the kids to school in their costumes, then at night while they were ‘Trick or Treating’ I sat out on the porch giving out candy.
On Thursday my plans were to head back to Charlotte for another dose of racing.
More about that in the next Blog