Episode # 32
The major changes that took place in my personal life during 1997/98, combined with the awkward shift schedules at my place of work , had restricted my racing opportunities, and it was a situation that would continue for a few more years. With this factor in mind,
Episode # 32 will cover both 1999 and 2000.
The winter had been a bad one with lots of snow and the regular work trips back and forth to Espinola in northern Ontario had been a challenge. I was still driving a Volvo for Twilite Transportation on a dedicated contract hauling wood pulp.
In November of 1998 , I’d sat my Canadian Citizenship exam and on April 22 , I was invited back to Ottawa for the presentation ceremony. That was a very nice occasion where I was joined by many other ‘new Canadians’
On May 14 , my first European visitors of the year arrived when my good friends Willem and Anna Boschma from the Netherlands made a trip over to Canada. It happened to be, the week before the Cornwall Motor Speedway season got under way , so I took them along to the practice day on Sunday May 16.
A few days later on Thursday May 20, and after the Boschma’s had departed, Mum and Dad flew in from England for a visit, this time via the Montreal Airport .
After working the weekend shift, on Sunday May 23, I headed straight for the Cornwall Motor Speedway for the evenings races. There were two Feature races for the Modifieds , with Luke Plante winning one and Danny O’Brien the other.
I’d booked some vacation days and on Wednesday May 26 we all took a road trip in Mum and Dads rental car to Maryland. It was Carla’s graduation from the Catonsville High School on the Thursday, and we going down there to watch the ceremony. We booked into a small Motel , not far from Catonsville. Afterwards we all went down to the Baltimore harbor where we dined at Planet Hollywood.
On Friday, Mum, Dad and myself returned home and were back in time for me to attend one of the events at the annual Maxville Fair. Shania Twin, an impersonator of the famous Shania Twain was appearing, and I wanted to see her.
I gave racing a miss on the Saturday night and instead, put on ‘mini car show’ of my own. For many years I’ve collected die cast vehicles and decided to get them all out of their boxes and put them on display in the basement. I invited a few friends over so they could take a look.
I was back at the Cornwall Motor Speedway on Sunday May 30 for yet another Danny O’Brien win.
On Wednesday June 2, I drove Mum and Dad back to Montreal for their return flight to England.
The Brockville Ontario Speedway were now running on Friday nights, and on Jun 11 , I was there to see Stephane Lafrance take a win.
On Saturday I missed the Frogtown races in favor of my bowling club banquet, but was at Cornwall on the Sunday, where it got ‘rained out’ after the rookie races.
The racing season was now in full swing and on Jun 25 and 26 I saw Peter Mantha get back to back Feature wins at Edelweiss and Frogtown. I was at Brockville’s Super Dirt Series race on Wednesday Jun 30 which was won by Brett Hearn ( Steve Paine second and Luke Plante third)
A fortnight later, following a weekend of doing my work shift, Brockville’s Friday July 9, show got ‘rained out’, while Peter Mantha won again at Frogtown on Saturday. The next day at Cornwall it was a Big Block Modified Super Dirt Series race, and it was Billy Decker who took the checkers.
This was the week before the August ‘Long Weekend’ and on Monday July 26, Carla paid me a visit. She was now old enough to drive, and had her own car , a Mercury Topaz. She drove up from Maryland to see me during Maxville’s Highland Games ‘weekend’.
On Sunday night I took off to Cornwall to see Danny O’Brien take the win.
I’d booked some vacation time, and Carla stayed at my place until Wednesday Aug 4, before she returned to Baltimore.
On Aug 7 , I was at Frogtown again where Dave Heaslip took the win. By now, I’d become a regular visitor to this track and always sat in the same spot in the grandstand. This happened to be the seat just in front of Judy Heaslip ( Dave’s wife) and a few of his friends. Over the course of time we’d got chatting and they all become my friends too.
Cornwall on Sunday Aug 8, fell foul to a rain out.
On Tuesday Aug 17, I attended Frogtown for a Super Dirt Series event which was won by Pete Bicknell.
On Wednesday Aug 25 , I made a rare visit to the Capital City Speedway ( Ottawa) and came away unimpressed. There were very few cars in attendance, and after many weeks of dirt track racing , it seemed a little tame.
As my local racing season came to an end, I attended Frogtown Sept 4, ( unknown winner, I forgot to record it ! ) Cornwall Sept 5, and Brockville Sept 17, that were both won by Steve Paine.
Meanwhile over in England the BriSCA F1 Stock Car World Final was taking place at Coventry on Sept 18, which was won by Murray Harrison # 97 . The 1999 BriSCA F2 World Final was held at Buxton and won once again by Rob Speak.
In late November I used up the remaining vacation days I had owing to me, for a trip down to see Carla. My Plymouth Reliant and Olds 98 weren’t really up to long trips so I hired a rental car, so on the weekend of 25/26 /27, I was down in Maryland.
As the year came to an end and the new millennium of 2000 approached, it was my shift that was scheduled to work. I remember sleeping in my truck in Ottawa as the fireworks heralded the new year at mid night.
My spare time during the winter months were spent pretty much the same as the previous winter, hanging out at the Zumas Roadhouse, a country music bar on St Laurent Blvd in Ottawa. I was also spending time, checking out Flea Markets and adding to my die cast vehicle collection.
On April 1 , I attended a Custom Car show at Landsdown Park in Ottawa, where Capital City Speedway were represented.
My home town of Maxville was treated to a big dump of 30cms of snow on April 9, but by the end of the month I’d attended my first race . I was at the Can Am Speedway at Lafargeville NY on April 29, but had to leave for home early, due to rain.
It was about this time of the year, that by chance, I happened to be going into Cornwall for a bowling commitment, when I passed by the Total Race Supply store in St Andrews. Parked out side and surrounded by a group of people was the new Dirt Modified of Iroquois driver Bill ‘Moon’ Mullin.
Total Race Supply were one of his sponsors and there was some kind of publicity event taking place. As usual, I had a camera in the car, so stopped by to get some pictures. While I was there, I met race fan Craig Revelle, who’d just started doing a web site for Bill. I offered to send him the pics I’d taken for the web site, and from that day, we became good friends. Craig now does web sites for a living, and among the impressive list, is my own www.rickattheraces.com.
One of my favorite ‘new country’ singers at this time, was local artist , Charlie Major, who was appearing as one of the concert guests at Ottawa’s annual Tulip Festival. On May 18 , I took my lawn chair along to Majors Hill Park to watch him perform.
I had a full weekend of racing on May 26/27/28 when I attended Brockville, Frogtown and Cornwall. Winners were Lee Gill, Vince Quenville Jr and Pat O’Brien respectively . I was back home in time from Brockville to see another of my favorite local performers, Ambush, who were appearing at the Maxville Fair.
A week later on June 9 , I saw Peter Mantha get another Edelweiss win, while New Hampshire’s Dan Douville was the Frogtown victor. Sunday June 11 at Cornwall was canceled due to a waterlogged track.
On June 16, Carla arrived at my place, to join me for a flight back to England. It was my Mum and Dads Golden Wedding anniversary on July 1 and we were heading across the Atlantic, to be in attendance. We flew out of Ottawa on the evening of Sunday June 18, and arrived at London Gatwick the next morning, where we were met by Mum and Dad.
Carla and I both had our separate agendas for the two week stay. I had the use of Mum’s car so on Tuesday June 21, I drove Carla down to Glastonbury where she was attending the famous music festival. On the way down, we stopped off for a quick look at the historic Stonehenge.
Carla had acquired a small tent, and so after dropping her off, I headed back to Mum and Dads place in Totternhoe, Bedfordshire.
On Saturday night I joined my old stock car friends Mick Black and Vic Peck for a trip to the races. It was the British Championship for the BriSCA F1 Stock Cars at the Kings Lynn Stadium, ( now known as the Norfolk Arena) and was an event I always looked forward to. It was great to see many of my racing friends again. The big race was won by Andy Smith # 391.
On Sunday evening I drove back down to Glastonbury to pick Carla up, then on Monday I took her to London. She was meeting a friend at the Paddington Railway station and they were heading to Paris ( France) for a few days.
They were traveling via the channel tunnel and I’d be returning to London’s Waterloo station on Friday to pick her up. While at Waterloo, I got a chance to see the nearby London Eye, the big wheel beside the River Thames.
On Saturday July 1, it was Mum and Dads Golden Wedding and their party was held at the village hall in Woburn. Most of my relatives were there and it was a great opportunity to catch up. The next day we had a Garden Party in Totternhoe.
I returned to Canada on Monday July 3, and was back at my local race tracks the following weekend.
Two weeks later I was at Brockville, where rain once again canceled the show.
The next day, Saturday 22 July was the Golden Wedding of Lotte and Klaas Staal, so I missed the Frogtown races in favor of a trip over to my first Canadian home town of Combermere, for their celebrations.
While I was taking the weekend off, a relief driver was being used to cover my shift, and on my return to work on Monday I learned the bad news.
He’d had an accident up near North Bay, and had put ‘my’ Volvo on it’s side. Luckily the driver was uninjured but the truck was totaled. I had to use a spare Lavigne’s International until a replacement could be acquired.
For the weekend of August 4/5/6 , Edelweiss on Friday had two Feature winners, Graham Gorman and Dave Heaslip, Saturday night at Frogtown was won by Jim Ryan while Cornwall’s Sunday show once again fell victim of wet weather.
On Monday Aug 14 , I visited the Autodrome Drummond in Quebec for the first time . There was a SUPER DIRT SERIES race taking place and I traveled up there to see Steve Paine take the win. Steve was on a roll, and he won again the next night when the series visited Frogtown.
When I started my work shift on Monday morning, it was the first time out in my new set of wheels. Twilite Transportation had decided to replace our fleet with new Freightliners for the Espinola Pulp contract.
On Wednesday August 23 there was a mid week special at the Can Am Speedway and I was there to see Frankie Caprara take the win.
As the race season wound down I attended quite a few more races that gave me a good variety of different winners.
Sept 1, Brockville ( Dale Planck) Sept 2, Can Am ( Billy Wilcox) Sept 3, Cornwall (Pat O’Brien), Sept 4, Edelweiss (Todd Burley), Sept 6, Capital City Speedway, Sept 13, Capital City Speedway, Sept 15, Brockville (Vic Coffey) Sept 16, Can Am (Danny Johnson) and Sept 17, Frogtown ( Pat O’Brien).
After all the years I’d been going racing in England, where I’d been able to buy a ‘race day’ program to record the results, the lack of these in Canada and the USA was a bit annoying. I decided to make my own and printed off my own personal ‘programs’ , I called ‘Race Reports’ for my three local tracks, Edelweiss, Cornwall and Frogtown.
Over in England the BriSCA F1 World Final took place at the Coventry Stadium on Sept 2 and was once again it was won by John Lund # 53. The 2000 BriSCA F2 World Final took place at Kings Lynn where a new name, Daz Kitson took the title.
On Monday Sept 25, Mum and Dad flew in from England for a visit, and during their stay we’d planned a trip south to see Carla. By now Carla had started college in Washington DC so we rented a car to go and see her on the weekend of Sept 29/30 . We stayed in a motel in the Washington area and while there, did the ‘tourist thing’ and visited the White House.
On Sunday October 1 we returned to Canada, but not before stopping by at Fulton NY.
It was the final day of the Victoria 200 Weekend for Dirt Modifieds( non qualifiers day) at the Fulton Speedway, so we dropped in to see some of the races. We didn’t stay for long , but long enough for me to add the Fulton Speedway to the list of Dirt Motorsports sanctioned tracks I’d visited.
Mum and Dad returned to England on October 8 , as I got ready for the long winter ahead.
My final racing event of the year was a late season event at Ottawa’s Capital City Speedway on October 15.
As 2000 came to an end, on December 8, Carla paid me a visit for her Birthday, and as a treat, we drove up to Mont Tremblent in Quebec for a skiing trip. Skiing was not on my agenda, I hasten to add , so was happy to watch from the restaurant !