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Author Topic: Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience  (Read 3036 times)

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Offline Shadowracer

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Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience
« on: July 14, 2015, 09:38:32 AM »
Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience

Howdy all and welcome! I took the opportunity this week to return to Ohsweken Speedway after not having been there for quite some time. Not sure how long ago my last visit was, but at the time the regular headliners were dirt modifieds and the Outlaw Thunder Cars were still in business…so I’m thinking about 10 years ago or so. Maybe longer.

Anyway, you can file this piece under consumer reviews rather than race reporting I suppose. I wasn’t busy writing down results etc this time around. I was just there as Joe Race Fan, kicking back, having some racetrack nibbles, and enjoying the show.

I wanted to go on a night when it was just the standard Friday night regular show. I think you get the best read on a place when you do that….not to mention the best vibe. Also, I won’t be engaging in any of that dirt vs asphalt, asphalt’s for parking, dirt’s for potatoes, real-race-cars-don’t-have-fenders…and all that crap. When racing’s good, it’s good. Doesn’t matter what the particulars are.

Ohsweken Speedway celebrates is first 20 years in business this year. It sits south of Brantford on the 6 Nations reserve…about an hour and a half from London, depending on how fast you drive. It’s on native land, but not too far in, so the place is pretty easy to find.  (Actually we had a harder time figuring out which driveway to pull into than I did actually finding the track.)

Anyway, once we’re parked, all is quiet. It’s just after 6 and they’re watering the track down. Couple of super nice ladies running the ticket window, ready to chat and take my 12 bucks admission. Then in thru the gate there’s another lady selling race programs…nice fat programs with lots of stuff in them ….3 bucks. And the 50 50 girls – I think it was three for 5. So I’m in, got a 50-50 and a program and still have only spent 20 bucks. Nice.

Wandered down to take a look at the track. The first thing I noticed is just how wide it is. Man, it looks like cars could go like 8 wide around the corners. As I found out later, I wasn’t that far off. They have a smaller oval in the center that shares the frontstretch with the big track. I was informed that the small oval is for their bomber cars. Bombers = Four Funs = Bone Stocks…you get the idea. Straight stock no-frills 4 bangers.

The other thing that struck me is that Ohsweken appears to be a true oval, as in two turns separated by 2 straights. The few dirt other tracks I’ve been to actually have a frontstretch that’s more like a long sweeping curve, making the track effectively shaped like a capital D. Not really sure why they do that…maybe so everyone gets sprayed equally once the wheels start spinning?

The grandstands in this place are huge. I’m not sure what their capacity is but you could fit a ton of people in here. They have a nice slope so you can see even when you have folks in front of you, and unlike a lot of places, the bottom rows are still good seats. (bring your goggles though when the sprint feature starts) The catch fence is tall and very solid looking. There’s cordoned off areas in turn 4 and turn 1 with picnic tables – that’s your smoker’s ghetto. No smoking in the grandstand period. Which I found a little bit of a surprise considering the track sits on a road that’s wall to wall smoke shacks…but whatever. It’s the way of the world, and it’s kind of good to know the rules are the same here as everywhere else.

An aside: There is also no beer garden here. The track is completely alcohol free. Might be an issue for some, perfectly fine with me though. I didn’t hear anyone complaining.

So while it was still quiet I went to grab some chow and flip thru the program. Food prices and options were in the ballpark with everyone else as far as I could see. Ohsweken has a signature Speedway Burger as well as your regular burgers and fries. They also have pulled pork sandwiches. I opted for the Speedway Burger. It’s a cheeseburger with bacon, topped with crispy onion rings, bbq sauce, and a light bit of chipotle sauce. I took a chance, as I’m not much of a spicy food guy. The girl said it had a little zip, but wasn’t stupid spicy, so I took her word for it and she was exactly right. It hit the spot. (Just don’t tell my cardiologist.)

So fast forward a little bit, met a few nice folks while wandering around, including a few Delaware regulars that were out moonlighting just like me. Had some great conversations, and soon it was time to bring everyone out for hot laps. At Ohsweken they just come out in little groups and only for a couple laps. I did a double take when I saw one of the first Bombers to hit the track was a Volkswagen Beetle sporting Lightning McQueen colours.
So the classes for a regular Friday show are 360 Sprints, Crate Sprints, Thunder Stocks, Mini Stocks and Bombers. 5 divisions…and that’s plenty.

Once the 360 sprints hit the track, you know they’re the main event. Just something so primal about them. Gives you shivers. In fact I forgot myself and was standing at the fence taking some video and one of the guys had to come down and remind me to stand back from the fence. (he’s on the video right at the end) And remember, I’m the guy who’s been writing in the Delaware program every week for however long to make sure folks stay back from the fences. Fair enough, I was being stupid and the fence patrol guy got me fair and square. Here’s to ya bro.  

Sprint car hot laps/Shadow gettin’ busted:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orRnCL6dXDQ

The crate sprints were interesting too. A little lower budget than the 360s, they were still plenty quick. I think they were pulling down laps only a second or 2 slower than the regular guys.

So its race time now, and the heat races begin. One after the other, clickety-clack. Last race goes off in turn 2, next race comes out off turn 3 to take the white flag. I lost track of how many heats they ran. I know the Thunders had 4 and I think the Minis had 4 as well. Everyone else I believe had 2. Sprinters they had in the neighborhood of 15-16 cars, minus ex-Delaware guy Tyler Hendricks…who I was all ready to root for till he ended up with motor problems before he even made it out. Boo.

Then it was a bunch of consis and B Mains and then intermission. I swear they had all this in in just over an hour. I don’t know if it’s the nature of the track itself or what, but we had surprisingly few cautions. Even in the features.

I understand they had something like 39 Thunder Stocks. I know there were a few invaders this time out, as this was some sort of inter track special deal for them. But man what a show. I’ve always maintained that you can tell how healthy a track’s competitor base is by the nature of their mid-card…the Thundercar/Super Stock/Sport Stock/Street Stock divisions. Going by that, this place is in amazing shape.

The feature was phenomenal. Only 20 laps. This place hasn’t yet fallen into the trap of making features longer, and it was a barn burner. Your two top guys, Dave Bailey in the Brewster Baker 49, and Dave Silverthorn Jr in the 9 car dueled their way through the field up to the front, and then had it all to themselves the last few laps. Bailey in the high line and Silverthorn hugging the bottom. Silverthorn prevailed.

Next up was the big boys, the 360 sprints. Last night was a memorial night for track owner Glenn Styres’s Uncle Frankie Turkey. Apparently it was his uncle that got Glenn into racing, and is partly responsible for Ohsweken’s orange/white paint and logo theme. So they did a wave lap in some sort of missing man formation, then fireworks started going off all over the place. It was a moment. I happened to get it on video as I was filming the wave lap. (I didn’t know the fireworks were coming when I started filming.) So that was a nice tribute…and actually a little moving. The feature went off with a couple of cautions, but was over with pretty quickly. Glenn Styres took the win with flair. He seems to favor running way up in the loose stuff and if you’re sitting near a turn, you just might wanna put some goggles on when he’s on the track.

Wave lap/Frankie Turkey tribute:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKzW7I4aqck

Then it was mini stocks and let me tell ya, they were a hoot to watch. I don’t actually remember who won but these guys were 5 wide and all over the place. Great show, on a track that seems to be perfect for them.

After the minis, I actually opted to head out and beat the crowd, as I had an early morning coming. It wasnt for lack of interest...both the crate sprints and Bombers should have been fun, but I had to get moving. That was three features and I’d more than gotten my 12 bucks worth. You just can’t beat that.


So, as a race fan, here’s a list of stuff they’re getting right at Ohsweken:

1.  Gate/Track Staff: (This is actually the biggie) First high point came before the racing even started. I was just struck very early on that by the time I made it to my seat, I hadn’t yet met one track staffer that didn’t smile at me. The ladies at the front gate, the girl selling programs, the kid selling 50 50 tix. Everyone was nice and chatty. Lots of places have friendly staff…but in a polite “just doing my job” kind of way. These folks at the “O” were what I think of as “country friendly” They seemed genuinely happy to be there. It felt like an event. It even struck me that the girl at the food window didn’t have to go asking when I asked her what a Speedway Burger was. How many times would you ask a question like that at other tracks and have some teenage kid look at you blank, then yell over their shoulder “hey…anyone know what’s on the burger??” Everyone was just super friendly. Even the dude in the video that had to shoo me back from the fence during hot laps cracked a smile eventually. (you know you did...I saw ya) Special mention to the coffee girl…sorry forgot her name, but she was awesome.

2.  Sense of place: No question what speedway you’re at when you’re at Ohsweken. The speedway logo is loud and proud and emblazoned everywhere in bright orange. The souvenir stuff is nice. It looks fairly well made and prices are pretty much par with other places. Hats and tees mostly 20 bucks each. I bought one of each and almost bought a cool Ohsweken Speedway flag for the old race room, but the Fri nite fun money was getting a little light at this point…we’ll save the flag for next time. You can even get an Ohsweken belt buckle or a trailer hitch cover, if that’s your thing. They had some nice stuff. Anyway, not sure but I think the loud colours are a dirt track thing. A lot of staffers at the asphalt places wear uniform shirts that look like something the staff would wear at a golf course, or else they wear stuff that makes them look like NASCAR wannabes. I just liked the way the place looked.

3. The track. These guys have done an outstanding job building this place up. The track, as I said before, is nice and wide, and most of that width gets used. Catch fences are nice and strong. Sound system is excellent. And once the sun goes down, this place is lit so well you can probably see it from space. The fan is not missing anything when you're watching a race here.

4.  The racing itself. What more can you say? The car counts were awesome, 5 full divisions. 35+ cars for the mid card divisions. 6-7 wide racing in a few spots, and surprisingly few cautions. Announce team is great…enthusiastic and knowledgeable. (shout out to Tommy Goudge aka TommySalami - card carrying member of the CRO faithful) And the sprints were out of this world. There was 16 or 17. That seems to fall in line, or slightly better, with the counts for most track’s main eventers these days. And the racing was fierce.  (The World of Outlaws show they put on here must be out of this world.) And that on track tribute to Uncle Frankie was pretty cool too.

I wanted to include a minus…some sort of point-to-grow-on. Just to be fair and impartial. Really did…but I had to work to find something.

Basically I found the heat races moved along perhaps a little TOO quick. It felt a little too “assembly line” and there wasn’t really enough time to get a handle on who some of these guys are. And once they started in with the B mains, it got a little confusing.

“So what are they running now?”
“B Main.”
“Wasn’t the last race the B main?”
“Yup…this is a second B main”
“doesn’t that make the last one the C main?”
“nope, that’s different”

Maybe I’m just an asphalt guy trying to figure out dirt racing, or maybe its because I’m used to 2 heats and maybe a consie…which might be the same as a B main..but might not be. Sigh.  :)

Anyway that’s all minor…and I guess when you have a hundred plus cars in the pits, you learn to rip those heats off in pretty quick fashion. Must be a nice problem to have these days.

So that’s my night at Ohsweken in a nutshell. A-1 experience. If you like racing and you go, you will not be disappointed.

Now most of you guys know that I’m a Delaware guy. That isn’t going to change. Some guys, on leaving Delaware behind, began to obnoxiously sing the praises of other tracks, and the “O” gets a lot of that, being the “other” Friday night track. I’m only pointing this out to be clear that that is not what I’m doing here.

Because there’s a part of me that believes that it behooves the race fan to support their local joint first, sometimes warts-and-all. (And some of them have a lot of warts.) No one’s perfect. But sometimes you have to venture out and check out what is going on elsewhere.

And Ohsweken Speedway has a lot going on that’s good: Reasonable admission price, topnotch staff, great atmosphere, and an awesome racing program. There’s a LOT of places that are missing a few of those.
This place has it all.

You’ve gotta check it out at least once in your race season.

Shadow out


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Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience
« on: July 14, 2015, 09:38:32 AM »

Offline ernie

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Re: Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2015, 04:28:01 PM »
Great report Trev  ;D

Can you go to Sunset next? Haven't been there in decades  ;)

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Offline CanadianRacingOnline

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Re: Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2015, 09:45:42 PM »
Let's send him all over the place to do a weekly report. Thanks for the great report Trev

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Re: Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2015, 09:45:42 PM »

Offline Shadowracer

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Re: Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2015, 09:48:23 PM »
Great report Trev  ;D

Can you go to Sunset next? Haven't been there in decades  ;)

One of these days I will. That's the only sw Ontario track I've never been to.

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Offline Shadowracer

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Re: Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2015, 09:50:19 PM »
Let's send him all over the place to do a weekly report. Thanks for the great report Trev

If only eh? Wish I had the time or I would.

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Offline cardriver

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Re: Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2015, 09:06:02 PM »
That was a great report!

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Offline Longtimefan

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Re: Shadow on the Road – The Ohsweken Experience
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2015, 09:39:26 PM »
Shadow,
We've never met and I have never been to Delaware or Ohsweken for that matter, but I have always enjoyed reading your reports. I plan on sometime seeing both facilities. I am from the Barrie area and have watched racing at Sunset and Barrie for over 40 years. I wanted to also suggest you should visit Sunset; for a true race fan it is almost a dream. I used to look forward to "special events" and I still do, but the regular Saturday night show is absolutely amazing. Car counts this year have been, limited late model 25-30, super stock, same, mini stock 30+ and mini mini stock (my own name for them) around 25. There are probably at least 10 cars that could win a feature race and even the fastest starting deep sometimes just can't get to the front. There are dominant cars for sure, but they always have many to battle with. You really should make the time to visit if you can, any real race fan should, as times like this with soooo many cars sadly can't last forever. Keep up the good work. Out.

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