Eastern Canada’s Napa Ultimate Showdown Series was featured during Grand Bend Motorplex’s Stratford Spectacular last weekend…

After undergoing some expansion last season, it was reset time for the Napa Ultimate Showdown Series (presented by Ideal Supply) during the 18th annual Stratford Spectacular event.  

In retrospect, this developing series, which first came on the scene back in 2015, may have got a little ahead of themselves last year.  While their events in 2017 (5 races) were entertaining, they also did experience some growing pains and a myriad of problems that can occur with that.

After a reorganization last winter, and now being steered by Ontario drag racing enthusiasts (and racers) Dan Guegren and Peter Hyde, a decision was made earlier this year to host a single major event for 2018.   The USDS effectively put all of their eggs in one basket with an “Ultimate Showdowns 1” presentation held in conjunction with this reputed annual Stratford Spectacular calendar stop at GBM.

In drag racing, like in real life, sometimes when you take two steps forward, you must take one step back.  And it’s exactly that scenario which was our takeaway from last weekend.  

The event did have some obvious voids but we think it also did help to set a new foundation and foster some new promise for the future.

The Napa USDS had in the past headlined and featured strength in Pro Modified class car racing.  But this field was very poorly attended this time with only 6 cars entered (despite a significant payout offering).  Gone from the entry list (due to various reasons) were names that had been central to the series before, i.e.: defending 2X Champion Derek Hawker, Rob Atchison, Bruce Boland and Jeff Roth – a reality that left many attending fans pondering.

On the positive side — Pro Mod class racing did produce a first time class winner when Petrolia Ontario’s Gary Mater scored driving his turbocharged 2012 Ford Mustang.   Mater, who qualified #2 at 6.016 secs defeated Al Martorino’s supercharged Mustang (Coburg ON) in the final round.   Mater was the fastest of the Pro Mod cars attending, recording a 241.28 mph (top speed) while Martorino’s ever improving Mustang was credited with low ET at 5.979 secs while qualifying first.

Gary Mater’s turbocharged Mustang project continued it’s strides forward and got a nice win in the Napa USDS’s Pennzoil-presented Pro Mod class

Both the Top Sportsman and Top Dragster classes had rather weak fields too with 14 cars entered for competition in each.  But racing in those categories also produced something fresh with the emergence of some first time USDS event winners — Travis Gueguen and Benny Smith respectively.

Gueguen scored driving the Dordan Motorsports, nitrous injected late model Camaro, beating Joe McCormick’s Mustang in the final round.  Benny Smith topped Kevin Knight in the TD championship round.

Travis Guegen wheeled the Dordan Motorsports Chevy to a win in TS

Benny Smith was consistent while winning in his TD

The race also included Outlaw 10.5 cars in 1/8th mile competition.  That was won by a Toronto-area driver Frankie Daldo in a 1984 model Camaro.   Daldo’s final round did include some extracurricular activity —  when his competitor Joe Colavita lost control and flipped his Pontiac Trans-Am in the other lane – but thankfully Colavita was not injured.

Frankie Daldo won in Outlaw 10.5 in his very first USDS event appearance.

In addition to the “Ultimate Showdown One” competition, Grand Bend Motorplex owner Paul Spriet did book in a number of feature cars to supplement his program.    That included a very competitive TAFC match race between local talents Paul Noakes and Tyler Scott – which was won by a 2/1 count by Noakes.   The AA/FA cars of Tom Motry and Gary Kraus also entertained as did the “Northern Warrior” Jet Dragster driven by Neale Armstrong and the “Boneshaker” Jet Truck owned by Burlington’s Rick Kopp.

Other Winners at Grand Bend Motorplex this weekend were:

Rocksedge Extreme 32 – Benny Smith def. Joe Cicalo

Harley Bike Class – Pete Thomson def. Kerry Chatwell

Maple City Tire Mod – Will Steckley def. David Keller

GBM Top ET – Andrew Stirk def. Ken Hebert

Concrete Solutions Bike/Sled – Dave Rilett def. Joe Crosby

Fox Auto Sound Street ET – Brad Talbot def. Jeff Talbot

Leaf Racewear JR Dragster (7-12) – Jack VanHooydonk def. Keira Trealout

VP Race Fuels JR Dragster (13-17) – Tyler Trealout def. Avery Wildgust

Tommys Motors Outlaw 330 – Chloe Adams def. Connor McDonald

Due to the later start, the only classes that were completed on Saturday were:

Leaf Racewear JR Dragster (7-12) – Alexis Grasby def. Sienna Wildgust

VP Race Fuels JR Dragster (13-17) – Wyatt Henderson def. Ryan Boyd

Tommys Motors Outlaw 330 – Taityn Summerfield def. Connor McDonald

Ontario-based TAFC talents Paul Noakes and Tyler Scott hooked up for a best of 3 match race.

Gary Kraus’s AA/FA

Rick Kopp’s new look “Boneshaker” Jet Truck

Posted by Bruce Biegler

Photos by Brennan Shortall – Darwin Kent – Bruce Biegler

To view DragRaceCanada’s USDS/Stratford Spectacular event photo galley visit our co-production site : HERE