DARTMOUTH DODGE SPORTSMAN SERIES BREEDING TOP NOTCH RACERS
When you sit back and think about, the six Scotia Speedworld Weekly Racing Series divisions serve as great proving grounds in the grand scheme of this sport. After all, if you think about it, if a driver excels in one division, they tend to move up to prove themselves in a higher class. Examples of this can be seen scattered throughout our Friday night program but can be seen deep in the premier division at the Speedworld, the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series.
The top class at Scotia Speedworld has bred many stars for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, including most recently Craig Slaunwhite and Leonard Boutilier, two Speedworld vets who now run full time on the Tour. In the last month, the “silly season” has begun, Colby Smith and Jeff Dillman, the gentlemen who own the last three Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series crowns, are planning on moving up to the Tour to vie for the EIT Race Radios Rookie of the Year Award. With these two (and at least one more candidate rumored but not announced yet) set to battle for top freshman honors in the biggest racing series in Atlantic Canada, it will be one more reason to catch the Pro Stock Tour when it hits the Speedworld in May.
But what does this mean for the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series? After I thought about it, it means a great deal. Though the series loses two of its biggest names, it opens the door to those looking to make a name for themselves and prove that they deserve to be racing at the top level of weekly racing at the Speedworld. I think of drivers like Kyle Gammon, Tyler Hallahan and Scott O’Neill who are making their move from the four- cylinder ranks of the Speedworld to the top class on Friday nights. While Hallahan hasn’t seen any green flag race laps in a Sportsman yet, Gammon and O’Neill have impressed me in their limited experience at the helm of an eight cylinder race car. O’Neill had his first race laps in New Brunswick on November 15th and was running competitive laps throughout the race and brought the #96 Mason Motorsports Grand Prix home in one piece. Gammon turned heads this season by moving from the #98 Canadian Tire Spryfield Honda Civic to a Chevrolet Impala Sportsman car with the same number and sponsor. Gammon accomplished exactly what he set out to do in 2011 by getting seat time in hopes of running full time in the class in 2012. With seat time and experience, any of the three could be the next Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series champion.
Another example is Steve Pye. Pye’s team has acquired the former Richard Salter race car and has got some end of season experience under his belt at Riverside International Speedway and the Centre For Speed. After solving some mechanical problems with the car, Pye got a chance to showcase his skills in the car in New Brunswick by coming from the rear of the field in their season ending event and began picking off cars. Expect Pye to be a contender for the Debbie Hallahan Memorial Rookie of the Year trophy in 2012!
The points above also establish the fact that this series is a real proving ground for the Pro Stock Tour. Out of the last eight Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series championships, six of those titles are represented in the top series of racing in the region if you include the plans of Dillman and Smith. Shawn Turple, former champion of the Sportsman series has won a championship on the Tour and drivers such as Gordie Ryan and Craig Slaunwhite among others are former Sportsman racers who have won races on the Tour. I’m sure if you put championship contenders in the Sportsman ranks like Aaron Boutilier, Larry Fisher, Jordan Veinotte and Kirk Ryan, just to name a few in a Pro Stock car that they would also catch on quick. Russell Smith Jr. has two starts in a Pro Stock under his belt at the Speedworld and will be one to watch when he makes that jump to the Tour. Mike Alexander would also be a nice fit under the “young gun making the jump up” category as the Cole Harbour native has proved he can go wheel-to-wheel with the best Sportsman drivers in Atlantic Canada.
Regardless on who moves up to the series or who moves on from the Sportsman ranks for 2012, one thing is for sure – this series is one of the best weekly racing divisions in the region. I have seen every weekly division at every track throughout the region and can say between the guys we have piloting the cars to the racing it produces, we have something special in the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series. Be sure to come out next season on a Friday night to support these guys and gals as they push forward to make a name for themselves in this highly competitive class.
Next weekend is the Scotia Speedworld Awards Banquet, so make sure to stop here in two weeks time to get the scoop on everything that has to do with the banquet. Who won what? Who’s moving up? Who’s “retiring” and who’s got the 2012 trophy in mind before we even turn the calendar? Find out here in November!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the Glengarry!
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