Eastern Canada’s devoted fan base once again came in groves to attend Cayuga Dragway’s primary seasonal event….

It was Canadian Nitro Nationals version 9.0 last weekend at legendary Cayuga Dragway Toronto Motorsports Park.

Track owner Uli Bieri, once again did his best to satisfy the seemingly never-ending thirst for Canadian fans for a little taste of Summertime nitromethene.

Due to some unexpected circumstance, the ’18 Canadian Nitro Nationals did fall short of it’s pre-race participation when two of the booked-in nitro cars were no shows. But the formidable Top Fuel dragster driven by Canadian favourite son Todd Paton, and the three nitro Funny Cars raced by Jeff Diehl, Jack Wyatt and Dale Creasy did not disappoint during their collective runs down the track on a very memorable and very hot (+35C!) Saturday evening.

Todd Paton in Top Fuel (top ) and Jeff Diehl in fuel Funny Car got top billing during the 2018 Canadian Nitro Nationals.

While the atmospheric conditions did not allow any of those racers to challenge for the Cayuga Dragway track records, their smokey burnouts and high header flames were impressive. Throw in a pair of AA/FA cars and some ungodly flame-throwing Jet Trucks, and I believe that the palates for most attending drag racing fans were satisfied this evening.

Duck and cover!

The 2018 event version did also include a pretty feisty program featuring local talents within various eliminators. That class competiton had some interesting story lines within itself.

After a very so-so Pro Modified class effort at Cayuga Dragway last Victoria Day weekend in May (only 4 cars), a very good field of competitors (11 entries) were on hand this time. That eliminator produced a very nice win for one of Canada’s most potential ridden young racers, Spencer Hyde (from Stratford ON) who won in the category for the first time in his career.

After qualifying 4th, Spencer’s Napa Auto Parts/Ideal Supply Camaro picked up both it’s pace and consistency nicely during eliminations by running consecutive times of 6.037 secs, 6.087 secs and finally a 6.104 secs earning it’s admission to victory lane. Spencer beat the fast improving turbocharged Mustang raced by Petrolia’s Gary Mater in the final round when Mater had problems staging his car.

Spencer Hyde’s team showed impressive improvement while winning the event’s Pro Mod class feature.

“After a pretty successful semi final finish at the Stratford Spectacular Race (Ultimate Showdowns 1) at Grand Bend, we were pretty confident in our car’s ability,” said Spencer, post race. “Although we had the car running well, we decided to make a pretty substantial change, by bolting on a supercharger prepared by Al Billes to the top of our Hemi. We knew were were going to have to run strong in this class — because it’s filled with some very competitive cars – and with Al’s help tuning too, that’s what we ended up doing!”

Pro Mod class racing was paced by Mike Yedgarian’s Speedwire-sponsored Firebird which qualified on the pole with a swift 5.991 secs, but Yedgarian did have a red-light foul start in round number two. Mike was however also credited with top speed for the breed at 258.62 mph which (to our best understanding) is a new Cayuga Dragway track record for Pro Modified cars.

Mike Yedgarian (from King City ON) reset the Cayuga Dragway track speed record for Pro Mod cars.

Top Dragster and Top Sportsman class racing was also featured with some big wins going to Austin Vandergeld and Wes Goddard respectively.

Austin, who is son to Tom and Linda Vandergeld (Lowdown Hot Rods) won for the first time in his career when he defeated Scott McCann in the TD final round. His win, which came over 13 other entries also included round wins over James Goudreau, low qualifier Diane Thiffeault, and Joe Passero.

Austin Vandergeld drove the Lowdown Hot Rods dragster to victory in TD

The Top Sportsman title went to what was easily the event’s hands down fan favourite car – the outrageous “Hellbilly” turbocharged ’58 Nash driven by Goddard (from Ariss ON). Wes defeated a 9-car field of TS cars and then won the final round “Top Runoff” race versus Vandergeld to cap off his very successful weekend.

Was there a more fan favourite victory at Cayuga then Wes Goddard’s TS win in his Nash ? — no there was not!

The event also included some local TAFC racers in match race competition. Pre-race favourite Paul Noakes won that feature. Noakes (from London) qualified #1 with a 5.84 secs and then beat Aidan Heatley-Smith in a very spirited class final round – winning a 5.88 secs to 5.97 secs decision.

But it was that runner-up finish by Aidan Heatley-Smith which was for sure one of the real “feel good” stories of the event. It seemed that finally (!) the popular Ant Hill Mob Racing team reaped some rewards. During the weekend, they ran by far their career best numbers for their Ford Mustang, including the team’s first ever “fives” and their first ever 240 mph runs.

“We knew the car always had it in it to run those numbers,” said a smiling Aidan. “In the past we’ve just been plagued by parts failure beyond our control. No one sees the behind the scenes of what we do to make all this happen — we work out butts off! For it all to come together in front of that packed crowd was amazing! The Ant Hill Mob certainly rocked the house and now we can’t wait until Labor Day to do it all again!”

The “Ant Hill Mob” gets our vote overall for the top “feel good story” of the event!

The weekend’s racing program also included an Outlaw 10.5 class category – which drew in four cars for competition. In the end that was dominated by Muskegon Michigan’s “Wild Bill” Devine who rolled his turbocharged Mustang into victory lane during an event performance that included both low ET (4.203 secs) and top speed (175.68 mph).

To view our extensive event photo gallery from the Canadian Nitro Nationals – please click : HERE

Posted with files by Bruce Biegler & Rob Potter
Photos by Bruce Biegler – Brennan Shortall – Darwin Kent