The first of five scheduled season events for 2016 was held at Toronto Motorsports Park’s iconic Cayuga Dragway last weekend and that event featured wins by two very wily Canadian drag racing veterans.
Hamilton’s Bruce Boland, who finished second in final championship points during the USDRS inaugural season last year emerged victorious over a very inspired and interesting Shellbourne Fuels-presented Pro Modified field.
Racing a newly acquired supercharged Chevy Camaro, Boland combined some good fortune with arguably some intimidation – to take the overall top title during Cayuga’s Victoria Day Weekend feature.
After qualifying 5th for the 8-car program Boland benefitted from both the misfortunes and miscues of others to take home victory.
In round Bruce defeated the awesome all new Vanishing Point-built Willys Coupe raced by Jeff Roth, carding a 6.048 secs to take that victory, while Roth’s emerging machine had some new car issues. Then in round two, Boland benefitted from a red-light start by his opponent Derek Hawker who had been the event’s #1 qualifier. Boland’s run of 6.329 secs got the win-light versus Hawker’s much quicker 6.001 secs.
The event’s PM championship final round match also featured Robbie Atchison, the USDRS defending champion, who after qualifying #2 had beaten back Doug Blowes and Gary Mater.
But surprisingly, Atchison’s Chevy Corvette went .001 red and that nullified his much superior 6.001 secs 239.91 mph making Boland’s 6.511 secs 211.59 mph pass — victorious.
“That’s drag racing – sometimes in this sport to win you need a little luck,” admitted Boland. “It just goes to show you that once you can qualify anybody can win. Those two red-lights certainly played to our advantage and just maybe the fact that I’ve been around this sport for so long might have been a factor?”
“We did have electrical issues with our car the weekend – there was some popping on some of our runs,” Bruce continued. “But overall we did well racing my new car and my guys really did a great job. I can’t say enough about how Uli prepared the track – it was just awesome. We had our personal best 60′ times ever at this race.”
Pro Mod class participation for the first race of the season was solid with 12 different machines entered and making qualifying runs. The event’s overall performance star was arguably Derek Hawker who had his Belleview-based supercharged Pontiac seemingly running on a string. That included the event’s best 5.949 secs at 243.99 mph during qualifying which stood up for low ET and top speed overall for the breed.
The USDRS event also marked the circuit debut for the Billy Briggs Racing Engines-presented Outlaw 10.5 class category. That inaugural victory went to veteran Canadian racer Tony Pontieri, from Bolton, Ontario.
Pontieri, whose long and successful racing career has included a wide variety of machines (including Pro Mod and Pro Stock) was behind the wheel of a retrofitted 2005 Chevy Cavalier ex Pro Stocker owned by Amo Paone.
Pontieri’s victory came in his first ever competitive outing in the 10.5 class category. He too benefited from a red-light start in the final to defeat heavy pre-race favourite Nick Agostino’s 2000 Camaro. Tony ran a winning 4.31 secs at 170.56 mph to Agostino’s 4.41 secs at 139.79 mph.
Tony had beaten the Pontiac cars raced by Trevor Deek and Wade Stevens in the first two rounds for the 1/8 mile feature competition. Stevens’ Maximum Performance turbocharged 2000 Trans-Am, which is based from Queensville Ontario, was the low qualifier at 4.198 secs.
The event’s biggest payday however when to Hampton-Ontario based racer Mike Leger, who collected the $10,000 first place check for the event’s marquee Top Sportsman versus Top Dragster Shootout final.
Leger ran his nitrous-injected Chevy Lumina to a final round 8.43 secs at 162.67 mph to “cash in big” while up-and-coming young lady TD racer Shawna Woodstra (from Waterdown ON) had a red-light start.
Leger had advanced to that lucrative run off by topping 10 other entires in Top Sportsman (presented by Stricklands), including Kevin Wicke in the TS final, while Woodstra had previously turned back 15 other challengers in the Nick & Dan’s Collision-presented TD division, beating New York’s Robert Bauer in that class final.
Posted by Bruce Biegler
Photos by Bruce Biegler, Brennan Shortall & John Marechal
(*Editors Note: DragRaceCanada will be posting an event photo gallery and other participating circuit racing series results from the Victoria Day Weekend event – Coming Soon!)