posted April 30, 2001 07:48 AM
Merrittville Speedway kicks off 50th Season in Style
By Alexis De Wolfe
Let the celebrations begin! Merrittville Speedway reopened its gates for the 50th year in a row on April 28th 2001. Many new and old faces were on hand to celebrate with the owners, fans and drivers at Merrittville Speedway.
The evening began with a cutting of the ribbon on the start/finish line by Thorold Mayor Robin Davidson. 2000 track champions were in attendance, along with top point earner in the street stock division as well as the vintage
cars that make regular appearances at the track. After the ceremony the cars
were brought on to the track to begin the racing festivities.
Lloyd Cichocki (8c) stole the glory away from Kurt Wilson(08)early in the street
stock feature to take the first checkered flag in the street stock division.
Jeff Johnson(63) dominated the dwarf feature, to add another win to his
racing career. Ken Sargent (25) started off his 2001 season by winning the pro stock main event, and the Sportsman field of 28 cars was defeated by Rob Pietz (69) in the 25-lap feature. Tbirteen-time track champion Pete Bicknell (42) went flag to flag in the 35-lap main event.
Street Stocks were the first to hit the dirt on Saturday night. Kurt Wilson began the event in the front row, and went on to lead the first lap, but Lloyd
Cichocki (8c) sat on his back bumper just waiting for him to make a mistake.
The first yellow came out on lap four as Rob Murray (1) came to rest on
the back straightaway. Mike Dooley (310c) started throwing his weight around
on the restart, trying to make a hole for himself ahead of Greg Ayres (17),
and managed to do it as Ayres spun into the infield. Darlene Gifford (34c)
ran into some trouble in turn four, getting herself stuck on the rail and
bringing out another caution on lap six. Cichocki jumped to the lead on the
restart, leaving Dooley to duke it out with Wilson for second spot. Dooley
made it around him on the ninth lap, but Wilson started falling through the
pack. Aaron Vasas (6) quickly moved up to take his spot. The yellow came out
as the field came around to take the checkered flag as 06 was spun out
in turn 1. Cichocki took the checkered, followed in by Dooley, and Vasas. A great beginning for a new season!
The dwarf cars were the next to take to the track. These little cars, with motorcycle engines always put on a great show for the fans. Dave Russell (88) took the early lead with Jeff Johnson (63) trying to chase him down. Caution came out on the first lap as Mark Brighton (6T) spins out his car in turn one. Johnson flew around Russell on the restart, and Lee Webber (17) went with him,
Russell quickly slid back to fourth position. On the fourth lap Russell
spun out leaving him tail. Webber moved up to knock on Johnson's back
bumper, but couldn't find his way around him until lap 5. Brighton picked a
different corner to spin out in on lap 6 bringing out yet another caution.
Johnson used the restart to make a move on Webber, but couldn't get around
him, as Webber started to pull away. Dave Ackler (7) moved up into fourth
spot. With five laps to go Johnson got to the inside and slid under Webber
as he took turn four too high. Johnson never looked back, as he and Webber
got into some lapped traffic. The lapped traffic proved to be Webber's
undoing, as he got tangled in them with only two to go. The checkered fell
on Johnson, Webber placed second with Ackler, Russell and Ray Webber (77),
finishing third fourth and fifth respectively.
Sportsmen had a field of 28 cars, forcing them into hosting a 'B' main for positioning in the feature.
Adam Ferri (1), Boyd MacTavish (93m), Dennis Giancola (13) and Chad Chevalier
(12) all qualified.
The Pro-Stocks took to the track for their first feature of the 2001 season. Dan Gilbert (400) and Ken Sargent (25), began the 12 lap feature in the front row. Gilbert took the early lead, only to fall behind Sargent on the first lap. Steve DeVos (13) moved up into third spot, knocking on Gilbert's back door, but Bill Bleich (108) was in on the action. DeVos lost his position to Bleich on the third lap, and had to fend off Sean Keus (7s), to hold his position. Sargent had
a huge lead on the pack by the halfway point of the race, leaving the rest
of the pack to fight for second place. Bleich broke on lap nine, bringing
out the first caution on the tenth lap. The caution brought the pack back
together as they had spread out over the track. Sargent retained the lead
on the restart, and no one was able to better their positions before the
checkered marked the end of the race. Sargent made a great start to the
season and was followed by Gilbert, DeVos, Keus and Jeff Dayman (5).
The vintage cars came out to race during the intermission. The cars circled the
track as past owners of the speedway swapped stories in the tower, adding a
bit of nostalgia to the evening.
The Sportsman were quick to get on the track for their 25-lap feature. Joe Meisel (15j) and Rob Pietz (69) began the race on the lead row. Pietz jumped to the early lead, as parts of the pack were going into turn one three wide. Meisel sat back in third place while Rob Ledingham (19jr) and Randy Chrysler (21k) duked it out for third place. Ledingham was quick to get ahead and jump up to challenge Meisel on lap five. Chrysler spun out on lap 10 to bring out the first
caution of the feature. The top five after ten laps were Pietz, Meisel,
Ledingham, Chrysler and Tim Jones (9). Pietz chose the outside line for the
restart, and it served him well and he held onto the lead. Pile up in turn
one on the restart called for the yellow yet again, as Brad Rouse (75),
Chris Wood (4w), Tim Lipsitt (29) and Chad Brachmann (3c) got entangled.
Ledingham managed to grab second spot on the restart, before the yellow
came out. Lipsitt needed a bit of help getting his car off the racetrack.
The restart found Ledingham and Pietz fighting side by side for the lead,
Pietz managed to pull ahead on lap 14. Jones had managed to weasel his way
up to third spot by this time, and Brachmann managed to make it back up to
fifth spot, after his earlier accident. Chris Ricker (13) brought out a
caution on lap 19. Pietz held the lead on the restart, but Meisel spun out on
turn three, narrowly avoiding a major accident. Restart on lap 20 found
Pietz once again in the lead, but Ledingham tried to get around him. Pietz
held it to the line, with Jones almost catching him, Ledingham placed
third, followed by Brachmann and Chrysler.
The Modifieds took to the track for the final race of the evening. Pete Bicknell (42), last year's modified champion started on the lead row and jumped to the top spot off the green. The race was for second throughout the 35 laps as Bicknell was not to be caught. Joe Plazek (1p) started in the lead row with Bicknell and spent a lot of time chasing. Greg Panunte (99p) spun out on the second lap after winning his heat (his first win in his first season in Modifieds.) Ken Cosgrove (9) rushed up the outside on the restart to gain three positions and land himself in fifth spot, after starting in the tenth position. Rob Krull (123) moved up to challenge Cosgrove on lap eight. Jamie Turner (11) sat back in third behind Bicknell and Plazek on lap ten. Turner moved up to challenge Plazek on lap thirteen, but Harry Sittler (44) in the Ray Stevens modified spun out to bring out the first caution of the race. Cosgrove went sailing around the outside of the track on the restart to clinch third spot, as Rick Richner (26), went with him to secure fourth. Turner moved back up to take third back from Cosgrove on lap 17. Turner moved into position to challenge Plazek on lap 21, but just couldn't get around him. Cosgrove blew up on the back straightaway on lap 24, dashing his hopes of a feature win. The yellow came out with the top five being Bicknell, Plazek, Turner, Krull and Richner. Krull passed Turner on the back of lap 25 to take fourth spot. Fred Cade (12c) spun out on the back straight away on lap 28 collecting a few unwilling participants with him. Krull worked his way up to second spot on the restart, only to have Plazek break on lap 30. Don Spatorico (65) broke his way into the top five to grab third spot on turn two. Bicknell carried the lead from flag to flag,
followed by Krull, Spatorico, Turner and Richner.
Join us at Merrittville Speedway Saturday May 5, 2001 when Canadian Tire Stores presents the Fabulous 50th Full Card and Spectator one on one challenges. For more information visit www.merrittvillespeedway.com or phone our 24 hour Raceline 905-892-8266.