Did We See Full Moon Fever? Racenight Recap for Thurs Aug 11
The fourth racenight of the Laird International Raceway season got underway on Thursday August 11th, in front of another large sized crowd, with well over 50 cars and drivers in attendance. The weather was once again perfect for racing, not too hot, we started with temperatures in the low 20’s (mid 70’s for our American friends); cooling down to about 15 degrees at the end of the race night (60ish).
Right after qualifying a drivers meeting was held in the pits. During the meeting track promoter Donnie Varcoe acknowledged that we were working under a full moon during the night and said, “We need to be professional and act professional.” Varcoe really wants drivers to be able to load their cars onto their trailers at the end of each race night in one piece and not have to be spending time and money working on putting cars back together through the week. Despite his request, we did see a little bit of “Full Moon Fever” during the night.
Also, during the drivers meeting, we held a moment of silence for modified racer Mike Hearty, who lost his mother Pat Palumbo in a tragic incident in the Sault last week. Pat was the long time manager at Millie’s Mini Mart and was a proud sponsor of her son’s racing. Mike cut his teeth in racing at Laird in the Factory Stock division over a dozen years ago then a few years ago moved into the Modified class and began to race at a number of tracks in Southern Ontario.
The Super Late Models were brought up onto the track, then Annette Bouchard sang the American and Canadian national anthems. Track announcer Greg Brazeau walked down the front stretch, announcing the drivers that were on the track then heat races began, on schedule, at 7 pm. Greg was once again accompanied by Oval Reving in the tower.
We ran two heats and a feature in our four primary divisions, and a feature in the Enduro class.
Missing from action for the night was Dustin Jackson. Entering into the night Jackson was the points leader in the Super Late Model and was 1 point behind the leader, Jay Palumbo, in the Modified division. Dustin had a decision to make earlier to either neglect work commitments and race the night, or take care of work and put the racing on hold for the night. No doubt it was a tough decision for the young man, as by missing the night at Laird, it might just have cost him two championships at his home track. Dustin, you probably made the right decision, work should come first; racing is fun, but unless have dreams of making it a career, it still just a hobby. You have great family support, and there will be other seasons!
Super Late Models
The Super Late Models were first up during the nights program. Eight cars were out for qualifying in the division earlier in the evening, with fast qualifier being #77 Chase Wilson with a time of 14.332 seconds around the 1/3 mile. John Ross, who fans usually see in the #01 Modified brought out the #4 Late Model he recently acquired and managed to qualify fourth with a time of 15.021 seconds. John was doing “double duty” for the night, also running in the Mod division.
Ross started the firs heat in the outside front row, beside #3 Shawn Ritchie, with other slower cars deciding to start scratch (at the back). He led the first three laps of the race ahead of Ritchie, then Wilson. Wilson got by Ross on lap 4 then led the rest of the 8 lap, caution free heat to take the checkers. Ross finished 2nd, #21K Kevin Errington 3rd, Ritchie 4th. #71 Jay McCoy dropped out on lap 6 and wasn’t seen on track for the rest of the night.
The Late Model second heat was a 10 lapper, with 7 cars on track. Ritchie started at the pole again, this time with #100R Ron Raynor outside. The two ran side by side for the first lap and a half with Raynor in the lead the first lap, and Ritchie the second. Raynor drifted back for the next laps and Ritchie managed to lead one more before being passed by Wilson on lap 4. Wilson opened a lead on the rest through the rest of the quick race, again taking the Checkers. Errington made a solid run and took second, with #90 Jay Palumbo third and Ritchie fourth.
Seven cars were back out right after intermission for a 20 lap feature. Like the two heats, the race ran caution free. Ritchie and Ross were P1 and P2 respectively, and behind in row 2 were Errington and Wilson. Having won the feature the previous week Palumbo started at the rear, with #50 Rob Hiiemaa and Raynor starting scratch behind him.
Ritchie and Ross ran side by side for the first couple laps of the race, with Ritchie in the lead the first lap, and Ross leading the second. Ritchie then started to fall back and Wilson moved in behind Ross and started to look for an opening. The pair opened a 6 or 7 car length gap on the rest of the field. In a move characteristic of his dad George, Wilson slowed a bit and stayed low on corner two, while Ross moved up the track, Wilson then accelerated hard coming up inside Ross on the backstretch and made the pass inside through corner 3 and 4 for the lead on lap 7. Chase might have learned the move by watching videos of his dad? Or was it instinctive?
A lap later the black flag was flying at Ross. Apparently he had broken the ¼ second rule. Ross left the track with 9 laps complete. If you don’t know what the quarter second rule is, I’ll write up an explanation and post it on our website in a few days.
When Ross left, it moved Palumbo into second place, but at that point Palumbo was nearly a quarter lap behind the leader. Palumbo was unable to close it during the remainder of the race. Wilson took his third win of the night, his first feature win at Laird in a Late Model. Palumbo took 2nd, Errington 3rd, Hiiemaa 4th, Ritchie 5th, and Raynor 6th.
Post race, there were some discussions amongst officials regarding the disqualification of Ross. It was decided to provide him with points and payout equivalent to a second place finish. Officially Palumbo still finishes second and it changes no points or payouts for the rest of the field. The decision was made with the following facts in mind: 1) This was Ross’ first time out in the car. He had no experience in it other than a few hot laps before qualifying. 2) He qualified 4th, ahead of 4 other cars in the field. 3) He ran two heats, giving him some more experience in the car 4) He likely did some work on the car during intermission to change the setup and handling. 5) Since the season is more than half over, the decision will have no impact on the final standings for the top 4 or more in the division.
Also post race, upon analysis of the lap results from the timing system, it was determined that three other drivers in the race had broken the quarter second rule (Wilson was not one of them), and another exceeded their qualifying time by a ¼ second on one lap. That would make it a possible 4 out of 7 drivers in the race to get a DQ for the quarter second rule! Why were cars so fast during that race? Was it that the air had cooled and was a bit more dense, developing a bit more horsepower? Did all these drivers work hard and make changes to their cars to make them faster? Or was it the full moon causing strange stuff to happen? You decide.
Atomic Blonde Factory Fours
Up second for the night’s program were the Atomic Blonde Factory Fours. Nine cars qualified, with #22 Shanna Harten the top qualifier with a time of 17.799 seconds. Dale Tucker brought out the #4, new to the division. Dale started racing this year in the Enduro class. The Factory Four division has a lot of new, rookie drivers. Great to see!
We watched two 10 lap heats and a 20 lap feature during the night. In their first heat, 10 cars took the green. Up front at the start were #724 Mike Heinonen and #42 Jack Lannigan. With a lap complete Lannigan had fallen back a position with Tucker and #05 Tyler Praysner edging past him on the outside. Heinonen lost 4 spots on the first lap. Tucker led for two then Praysner took over and led for 5. On lap 8 #22 Shanna Harten got past Praysner for the lead on the remaining laps. Late in the race caution almost flew as Jack Lannigan got tagged on corner 3 by #94 Seth Ralph. Lannigan went sideways but somehow recovered. At the finish line it was Harten with the checkered flag, followed by Tucker, #12 Anthony Mannarino and #95 Chuck Siddal.
The second heat, also 10 laps got started with 9 cars taking the green. As they rounded into corner 1 things broke loose midway in the pack. Not sure exactly what happened (I had my camera in front of my face) but it ended with #21 Daryl Whitmel, who had started inside row 2 being sideways loose between corner 1 and 2, then a moment later #7 Terrance Devon, who started behind Whitmel in row 3, sliding sideways up off corner 2, in front of Whitmel, into the tire bales in front of the concrete barrier at the beginning of the backstretch. Devon’s car rolled up and almost over, but settled back down upright, pointing towards the trees. Devon was able to move and rolled off the track on his own as the wrecker was coming out. Like James Bond’s martini’s, Devon was likely shaken by the incident but when I visited him in the pits later in the night he didn’t seem to be stirred! Amazingly, Devon was out in heat 2 but didn’t complete a lap, then was out and completed all laps of the feature.
With a full restart, the four bangers got their 10 lap heat 2 in with no further cautions. Tucker led the first two laps then was overtaken by Harten along with Mannarino on lap 3. Towards the end of the race Tucker also saw the back of Praysner, and Siddal. Harten got to hold the checkered flag for the second time in the evening. Mannarino took 2nd place, followed by Praysner, Siddal, Tucker, and Lannigan.
The 20 lap Factory Four feature consisted of 9 cars as well. Dale Tucker jumped up to lead the first 4 laps of the race. On lap 5 Siddal overtook Tucker for the lead. Meanwhile Harten had worked her way from the back into third and set to work on Tucker. She tried passing inside on one lap, gave him a couple taps a couple times to let him know she was there, then finally got past him on lap 12 to move into 2nd to chase down Siddal who was about 6 car lengths ahead. As the laps wound down, Harten did manage to close that gap, and on the last lap of the race, as they were going past lap traffic Harten got by on the backstretch, completed the pass and took her third win of the night, a perfect night for the young lady. Siddal had to settle for 2nd after running a near perfect race himself. Tyler Praysner finished 3rd, Anthony Mannarino 4th, Terrance Devon 5th, Dale Tucker 6th. Jack Lannigan, Daryl Whitmel and Mike Heinonen finished 7th, 8th, and 9th respectively, all one lap down. Announcer Greg Brazeau accompanied by two young race fans, met Harten on the front stretch for a short post race interview.
Service Rental Factory Stock Division
In the Service Rental Factory Stock Division we had 8 cars on track during qualifying, but #23 Jason Kern didn’t get a qualifying time as his transponder was not received by the timing system. Jarritt Varcoe in the #67 was fast qualifier with a time of 16.204 seconds. Rookie Owen Brown was back in action, having his team rebuild the tail end of his red #88 after he spun backwards into the backstretch guardrail on Aug 4th.
All eight took the green on their first 10 lap heat. Jerry Ross in the #01 led the pack for the first two laps, then was overtaken by #08 Dan Bibeau, and #26 Brad Bibeau on lap 3. On lap 7, Brown spun into the infield, flagman Ron Schmidt opted not to pull out the caution, feeling it wasn’t a safety hazard. The running order remained mostly the same for the rest of the race with Dan Bibeau taking a run around the track with the checkered flag, brother Brad taking second, Ross 3rd, #51 Jamie Fox 4th, and Varcoe 5th.
In the second factory stock heat, seven took the green. Missing was #88 Rob Wagner. Mayhem hit before the first lap barely got started. Jamie Fox inside, and Jerry Ross outside started in row 1 with Dan Bibeau and Brad Bibeau in row two. At the green, Dan aggressively moved inside and up beside Fox making it three wide going into corner 1. Actually it was almost 4 wide as Brad Bibeau looked like he was contemplating moving up on the outside, Brad did back off though. Three wide rarely works for anything other than the Factory Fours going into corner 1. Fox was pinched and had the nose of his car ripped off by Dan’s right rear. Then Brad moved inside, passed Fox, still running three wide with Ross outside. By the time they were out of corner 2, both Bibeau’s had got past Fox, with Jerry Ross outside between the two Bibeau’s. Everyone continued, no caution.
A lap further in though Brad was seen spun in corner 3 bringing out the caution. This author did not see what transpired, as the visibility on that corner was obscured by a mound of dirt and other objects at the far end of the track. All that is known to this author is that Fox was shown a black flag and was sent off the track. Others stated post race that Fox had t-boned Brad Bibeau while he was stopped sideways at the bottom of corner 3. Something also happened to Ross about the same time, as he was seen with damage to his nose after the caution.
The race restarted, sans Fox, with Dan in the lead and Brad in close pursuit for the remainder of the race. Dan held the checkered flag, Brad finished 2nd, Varcoe pulled up 3rd, Brown 4th, Ross 5th and #23 Jason Kern was 6th a lap down.
Cooler heads prevailed in the Factory Stock Feature, a 20 lap event, with all 8 back on track for the green. The race got started with #88 Rob Wagner at the front, with #01 Ross outside. Second row was #51 Jamie Fox inside, with #08 Dan Bibeau outside; third row was #67 Jarritt Varcoe inside, and #26 Brad Bibeau outside. At the completion of the first lap, Wagner fell back to 4th, with Ross in the lead, followed by Dan then Brad. Ross maintained the lead for the first two laps, then caution was pulled when #88 Owen Brown spun on the backstretch.
The restart had Ross up front alone, with the Bibeau’s in row 2 right behind. As the green flew and up the front stretch Brad moved up alongside Ross on the outside and raced him around the track. Ross led lap 3 by about a 6 inches, then Brad led lap 4 by about the same amount. The pair continued side by side for another lap, until Brad slipped a bit exiting corner 4 moving him back to third behind brother Dan. Ross was ahead of Dan at that point by about 2 car lengths. On the backstretch on lap 6, Dan then made an inside pass on Fox and took over the lead. Fox ran beside Brad for a half lap then fell back a bit and got overtaken by Varcoe. The race continued with Dan in the lead, followed closely by Brad, and Varcoe. As the laps wound down, Brad had made a couple attempts to get up beside his brother on the outside, but just couldn’t do it. Jarritt Varcoe continued close behind. At the checkered flag the three were separated from each other by less than a car length. Dan Bibeau got the hat trick, carrying the checkered flag for the third time in the night, Brad Bibeau 2nd, Jarritt Varcoe 3rd, Jerry Ross 4th, Owen Brown 5th, Rob Wagner 6th, and Jason Kern 7th, a lap down. Jamie Fox had left the race after lap 5.
NAPA Auto Parts Modifieds
In the NAPA Auto Parts Modified division we had 9 cars out for qualifying, with #90 Jay Palumbo being fast qualifier with a time of 15.269 seconds. The Modifieds also ran two 10 lap heats, with a slightly extended 25 lap feature.
In their first heat, 8 mods took the green. Leading them off was rookie #68 Keith Horner and #28 Mark Porpealia. Porpealia led the first 9 laps of the race, looking like he might take the checkers, but the caution flew on the last lap when #01 John Ross and #84 made contact in corner 3 and 4. When the green flag waived again, Porpealia was up front with #79 Roddy Bolduc inside, and #90 Jay Palumbo outside in row 2. Porpealia just couldn’t hold off Palumbo after the restart, Palumbo passed him on the outside and took the win. Porpealia finished 0.357 seconds behind to take 2nd, Bolduc 3rd, and #01 John Ross took 4th.
In the second heat, 7 cars were up on track, missing was #58 Keith Horner. Porpealia once again was up front, this time with #4 Mike Carbone up beside him. When the green flew, Porpealia couldn’t repeat his earlier run during heat 1 and was back to third at the end of the first lap. Carbone managed to lead the first two laps then was passed by #84. According to announcer Greg Brazeau, the car normally driven by Mark Laakso was once again being driven by Johnny Lawhorn, visiting from Indiana. Lawhorn led the rest, with Palumbo making a run up outside but unable to complete a pass. Carbone finished 3rd, #01 John Ross 4th, #79 Roddy Bolduc 5th, Porpealia 6th, and Larrett 7th – having dropped out on lap 4.
The 25 lap Modified feature started out with 9 cars. Horner was back out, along with #15 Jamie Nedeau. The cars got lined up then the white flag flew showing one to go, with Horner at the front racing ahead of the rest of the group. It happened twice then Horner was shown the black flag. The lineup still wasn’t right so flagman Ron Schmidt cautioned them down, turned on the red light and threw the red flag on the track in front of the flagstand. Schmidt then went down on track, and with the help of corner 3 flagman, Gary Maitland, verbally directed the drivers into the proper lineup, with #4 Larrett inside front row, #4 Carbone outside. The race finally got started and Larrett didn’t start well and found himself at the back after the first lap. Meanwhile Carbone was able to lead two before he was overtaken by John Ross. Ross then led two and was overtaken by Palumbo. Palumbo immediately started opening a gap. Ross had the #84 behind him until lap 9 when Lawhorn overtook him. Lawhorn had about a second and a half to make up from there.
The gap stayed relatively the same until about lap 20 when it started to close. Palumbo was running slower lap times on most laps, and the result was that on the last lap Lawhorn had caught up and started to run up alongside Palumbo. At the finish line, Palumbo held onto the lead, by less than a half car length, or 0.143 seconds. Ross finished 3rd – 6.4 seconds later, Bolduc 4th, Carbone 5th, and Porpealia 6th. Larrett left on lap 9, Horner was DQ’ed and Nedeau didn’t take the green and left before the race started.
Lakeway Auto Parts Enduros
New drivers continue to show up in the Enduro division. It’s a great division to try out racing, relatively inexpensive. Among the new drivers we saw Tyler MacMillan in the #782 and Ryan McDonald in the #70. Also, Taylor Larrett switched cars with her dad Randy, she was driving #72, and Randy was driving #71
Seventeen cars showed up on the scoring system for the race, three of which we don’t have driver names for. Keeping track of these drivers seems to be a nightmare for race organizers. In actuality there were at least nineteen of them out there, with at least two not having an active scoring transponder onboard. No matter though, it’s really all about having some fun and learning in the division. The race was 20 laps in length, at the end after quite a bit of bumping and banging we know that #96 Levi Weisflock won the event. At the time of writing I have incomplete or erroneous information for the other finishers.
During intermission this week we skipped the School Bus Race. We held another Lawn Tractor Race on the infield, a 15 lap run, with 9 or 10 of the machines making the run around the dirt loop in the infield. The entertainment was courtesy of the Algoma Lawn Mower Racing Association, look for them on Facebook.
Next up during the intermission was 8 year old Klara Parsons demonstrating her driving skills in her little #72 Mini Wedge. If there are any kids/parents that might be interested in starting up a division of these at Laird next year, give Donnie Varcoe a call, or talk to one of the Parson’s. Klara races her 6 hp machine down at Onaway in lower Michigan, along with dozens of others. Factory Four driver Shanna Harten cut her teeth in one a few years ago.
Klara is the youngest member of a multi generational family of drivers with her dad Tyler, Grandfather George, and Great Uncle Mike all being involved in the local race community. Mike passed away in 2016 and Laird will be holding a race weekend memorial in honour of Mike during the weekend of Friday Aug 26, and Saturday Aug 27th.
Our intermission wrapped up with a Spectator Drag that had many of the fans screaming. Seems to be a fan favourite.
Our racenight ended shortly before 10 pm. As people were filing out, that full moon was just poking it’s face through the trees on top of the hill off corner 3.
Photos from the night can be found on the Lairdraceway.com website under the media menu item – photos. Feature videos will be posted on the website within the next couple days.
Our next scheduled race will be on Thursday Aug 18th. We hope to see all our fans back out for more Thursday evening entertainment. Tell your friends and neighbours and bring them along! There's only a couple race nights left in our short season, take advantage of it!
Article Credit: Tom Stephenson
Submitted By: Tom Stephenson