Jeff Blackburn Finds Victory Lane in Flamboro Speedway Season Opener
MILLGROVE, Ontario --- From great battles on the track, to some wild incidents that may have taken your breath away, there was a bit of everything at Flamboro Speedway for the opening night of the 2023 season.
As it has become customary over the past couple years, the Qwick Wick T.Q. Can-Am Midgets were on-hand to kick off their campaign.
2021 series champion Jeff Blackburn won the first heat ahead of Andrew Whelan, Jr Farrelly, James Stanley, Mike Westwood, Bob Bailey, and Jody Bound, with Sherri Hogan failing to finish.
Defending titlist Cory Whittam was victorious in the second qualifier followed by Daniel Hawn, Dominique Smith, David Miller, Jaden Riddell, Robert Pollillo, and Paul Jorgensen.
The heat victory saw Blackburn start mid-pack, but that did not slow him down on route to victory. He wasted no time breaking into the top-five, doing so with just six laps on the board. He continued to work his way forward, taking the lead on Lap 10. He then led the rest of the way to win in front of Daniel Hawn, David Miller, James Stanley, and Jr Farrelly. Bob Bailey put together one of his most impressive runs in sixth, followed by Jody Bound.
Unfortunately, several drivers ran into issues throughout the event. Mike Westwood was the first to not finish due to a mechanical failure in the closing stages. Andrew Whelan went for a wild ride, tipping his car off following contact off of turn four with the outside wall. Cory Whittam, Jaden Riddell, and Sherri Hogan also did not go un-scaved, with continuous incidents taking out competitors. Robert Pollillo perhaps scared the fans the most, making contact with the turn four wall, before flipping over a couple times. Dominique Smith, Paul Jorgensen, and Craig Pitchell also did not take the checkered flag.
Thankfully, despite the multiple incidents throughout, all drivers were okay and able to walk away.
Feature Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F591pbpSH8s
Pro Late Models
The team of J.R. Fitzpatrick and Chris Howse proved to be dangerous for the competition last season, as evident by the pair winning a Grisdale Triple Crown Championship together. They have now decided to chase a track title, and it started off in the best way possible.
The 2022 APC Auto Parts United Late Model Series Champion led flag-to-flag en route to victory, in front of Blair Wickett, Rick Spencer-Walt, Kevin Albers, and TY Cavallin. Billy Schwartzenburg made his way forward a couple positions to place sixth, followed by Rick Burbridge, Cole Quinton, Shawn Chenoweth, and Logan White. David Gallinger rounded out the field
The invert for the second feature played into Shawn Chenoweth’s hands, as he led all 30 laps en route to victory ahead of Rick Burbridge, J.R. Fitzpatrick, Kevin Albers, and Blair Wickett. The second feature saw Rick Spencer-Walt struggle a little to make his way through traffic to place sixth, followed by Billy Schwartzenburg, Ty Cavallin, Cole Quinton, and Logan White. David Gallinger rounded out the field.
Second Feature Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dqN7MP7R08
Ontario Pro Challenge Series
The father-son duo dominated the headlines last year as fans watched Mike and Tim Norris duke it out for the championship. It may be new season, same verse if the first race of the year is any indication.
Mike Norris beat his father Tim to win the first feature, taking the lead with eight laps to go en route to victory. Bryan Stevanus was third, with Ethan Fleet and Nolan Quinton rounding out the top-five. Emma Norris continued to show progress in her ability with a sixth, followed by Travis Majeury, Mike O’Connell, Sterling Hattin, and Jay Linde. Ty Riopelle and Tenli Pepin rounded out the field.
Tim Norris kept it in the family, though, holding the lead from Lap 8 on to pick up a checkered flag of his own. Mike Norris was second in front of Travis Majuery, Bryan Stevanus, and Emma Norris. Ethan Fleet kept the momentum rolling with a sixth, followed by Mike O’Connell, Sterling Hattin, Jay Linde, and Ty Riopelle. Nolan Quinton was 11th, while Tenli Pepin failed to finish.
Second Feature Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2Rf549M470
It seems no matter the track they attend, BT Racing has proven to be a threat for the victory. They followed up their top-five’s on Friday night at Delaware Speedway with Wayde Thorne winning the first feature on Saturday night.
The veteran battled his way to the front after starting eighth, breaking into the top-five with 10 laps on the board, before taking the lead with two laps to go for the checkered flag. David Rockwood showed his veteran knowledge for a second in front of Cameron Thomson, Andy Wheller, and Mike Etsel. Spencer Riddell’s return to the division continued with a sixth, ahead of Leo Labarbera, Brady Cox, Chance Rogers, and Mark Allan.
Austin Ellis began his full-time campaign at Flamboro in 11th, followed by Paul Huskins, Rodney Rutherford, Teegan Ellis, Dan Cormier, Reece Bourgeois, Alex Stewart, Brian Gamble, Jordan Fidler, and Nicole Givens. Daphne Sullivan failed to take the green flag.
The second feature is what dreams are made of, or storybooks for that matter. For the first time in five years, Andy Wheller got to hear the cheers of the fans in feature victory lane with a victory to call his own. The veteran wasted no time getting to the front, dominating the 20-lap affair. Spencer Riddell put together one of his most impressive runs with a runner-up, followed by Leo Labarbera, Austin Ellis, and Teegan Ellis. Wayde Thorne drove through the field to place sixth ahead of Brady Cox, Cameron Thomson, Nicole Givens, and Reece Bourgeois.
Mark Allan was 11th in front of Chance Rogers, Dan Cormier, Mike Etsell, Paul Huskins, Daphne Sullivan, Jordan Fidler and Owen Booker. A pair of incidents saw Alex Stewart and David Rockwood fail to finish the event. Rodney Rutherford did not take the green flag.
First Feature Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-Sk0_rWQhA
Second Feature Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iykR7RA3Sc
Thanks to Derek Smith (http://www.racepulse.com), Peter Anderson (email@example.com), and Zoompics.com for their images of the racing action each week.
Thanks to Ingrid Hartman for filming each week. Be sure to check out her videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/petalpower51/videos.
The next event at Flamboro Speedway is taking place on Saturday, May 20, sponsored by Klotz Auto Repair & Engine Machine Shop. It will showcase the season opener for the Canadian Vintage Modifieds, with their Hank Frank Memorial. The action will also include the Super Stocks, Mini Stocks, Pure Stocks, SOMA Modifieds, and Spectactor Drags. The pit gates will open at 4pm, followed by the front gate at 5pm, with racing kicking off at 6pm.
It will be a busy weekend, as the track celebrates Victoria Day weekend in style with the Spring Fever 150 Enduro set for Monday, May 22. The Mini Stocks and Pure Stocks will also be on-hand for special features. The pit gates will open at noon, followed by the front gate at 3pm, with racing kicking off at 4pm.
Be sure to keep up with the latest by checking out Flamboro Speedway’s website at http://www.flamborospeedway.ca. You can also keep up via your favorite social networking website by following the speedway on Twitter at https://twitter.com/FlamboroSpdwy and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/flamborospeedway. Fans are encouraged to like the speedway’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Flamboro-Speedway-Authorized-Page-102328664646735/.
Race Report By: Ashley McCubbin