Ontario Traditional Sprints Coming To Southern Ontario Motor Speedway
Tom Slager/ special from CandidBadger.com
There’s a new, “old school racing” series coming to town this weekend at the Southern Ontario Motor Speedway. This weekend, May 13-14, the track returns to action after a long winter and rainy spring. Along with the weekly complement of Late Models, Modifieds, Mini Mods and Thunderstocks the winged 360 Southern Ontario Sprints fill the Saturday card. Friday, though, it’s Mini Stocks, Thunderstocks and the opening round for the Ontario Traditional Sprints.
Sprint cars have had a regular presence at the 3/8th mile oval, located in South Buxton, Ontario. In most seasons there are at least a couple of shows that featured winged sprint cars. These cars are what most local race fans are the most familiar with. The wings provide downforce and allow the cars to attain higher top speeds.
Open-wheel cars did not start out sporting wings. The first wings made their appearance in 1958 and that style of sprint car racing gradually grew. Today, there are only a handful of tracks and series that race wingless cars in North America. This is where the Ontario Traditional Sprints are hoping to make their mark.
Kenny Bayliss, Promotion Director for the Ontario Traditional Sprints knows they have something unique. He said, “I haven’t heard of any other series in Canada that is a non-wing sprint car series.” Racing without wings requires a different driving style and also opens up the competition to the range of engine sizes found in the sprint car community.
This also, he says, opens up an opportunity to bring in more participants.
Bigger engines mean more horsepower, but that doesn’t help if the driver can’t get all that power to the ground. “Crate engine [smaller engine] cars from Oshweken would be legal to run with us, providing they take the wings off,” Bayliss notes. He goes on to explain that if the track dries out and gets slick, the big engines are not as effective. “The difference is someone with a 410 or 360 is going to have to lift in a dry/slick situation, whereas a crate car can keep their foot buried into it.”
Being the only series in the country without wings does pose some challenges. Drivers are not used to the different driving styles and fans aren’t always sure what they are going to see. Bayliss knows, that to build anything, you have to lay a foundation. “We are hoping for 12 cars. In our opinion, 12 would be a nice number to start with. We’re pretty sure that there are plenty of guys and girls who are watching this to see how it goes.”
Being new also means finding tracks that are willing to give the series a chance to succeed. The Southern Ontario Motor Speedway has stepped up. The track’s promoter, Craig Smulders said, “We took on five races as it’s a new division in Ontario and this will be their home track. We wanted to launch them by making them have more than a couple dates to help build the series”
Those five scheduled visits for the Ontario Traditional Sprints has Bayliss excited. “Henry [track owner] has built a beautiful track out there. We are really thankful he gave us five dates. As far as I can tell from one of the teams that have been practicing non-winged last year it’s probably going to be the fastest speedway in Ontario.”
Fans will get to see something new as the wingless sprint cars provide their own set of thrills. Without the wings, they tend to use more racing lines around the track and the sliding through the turns is much more evident. Sometimes, you see a car really grab hold of the track and head down the straight with the front wheels in the air.
Drivers, too, can benefit from the experience says Bayliss. “Non-wing, the driving style is completely different. It’s been my opinion that if you’re going to run non-wing at all, it’s going to make you a better driver. You’re going to have to use your feet and your hands a lot more.”
The Southern Ontario Motor Speedway has given the local region an opportunity to see something different at the track. For those who head out on Saturday, the Southern Ontario Sprints put on a high-quality show. For fans who go on Friday, too, they will be at the start of something unique in Canadian racing.
If you go: Racing for both nights starts at 7PM. Adult admission is $20 on Friday, and $25 on Saturday.