RACING2017

READY FOR SOME FLAT TRACK­ING?

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - TIM MILLER

Flat track­ing starts this week­end, and hockey icon Johnny Bower to wave the green flag at Cana­dian Tire Mo­tor­sport Park in Bow­manville.

There are sev­eral race se­ries which get un­der­way this week­end, in­clud­ing Flat Track Canada, which starts with its open­ing round in na­tional com­pe­ti­tion this Satur­day at the Wood­stock Fair­grounds.

This opener will fea­ture dirt oval mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing in all classes, with heats start­ing at 1:30 p.m. and the of­fi­cial open­ing cer­e­monies at 3 p.m.

The Wood­stock event will be the first of nine na­tion­als for 2017, which will com­pete across On­tario with stops at Wel­land County Speed­way, Flam­boro Downs, and Oh­sweken Speed­way.

There is a full card of pro­vin­cial rac­ing as well un­der the sanc­tion, in­clud­ing a race at the Paris Fair­grounds this com­ing Sun­day. Wel­land County will hold eight provin­cials through­out the sum­mer.

Flat track rac­ing has been tak­ing place for more than 100 years, and has ex­pe­ri­enced a surge in pop­u­lar­ity re­cently. There are 18 classes of riders and ma­chines un­der Flat Track Canada sanc­tion­ing, from 50-cc bikes for chil­dren start­ing at four years old through to vet­eran riders 40-plus. ATV and Speed­way bike rac­ing is also part of the pro­gram.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to flat­track­canada.com.

Oh­sweken Speed­way opens its 22nd sea­son to­mor­row night with a reg­u­lar card of rac­ing for the Kool Kidz-Corr/Pak 360 Sprint Cars, Strick­land’s GMC Crate Sprint Cars, Mid­dle­port Me­chan­i­cal Thun­der Stocks, HRW Au­to­mo­tive Mini Stocks, and Gale’s Auto After­mar­ket Bombers.

The 3/8ths-mile clay oval, which is home to the only stop for the pop­u­lar World of Out­laws Sprint cars along with the sea­son-end­ing Cana­dian Sprint Car Na­tion­als, has also an­nounced its 2017 Wall of fame class to rec­og­nize in­di­vid­u­als who have con­trib­uted to the track.

Those to be hon­oured in a spe­cial cer­e­mony are Mini Stock com­peti­tor Jim Cochrane, spon­sor­ship sup­porter Gale Hill, Sprint Car driver Tom Hup­punen, and track an­nounc­ers Clin­ton Ge­of­frey Kruchka and Adam Ross. Kruchka is also the track’s gen­eral man­ager.

The Wall of Fame was es­tab­lished in 2015, and this year’s cer­e­mony will be held June 16, the an­niver­sary date of Oh­sweken’s in­au­gu­ral race in 1996.

Here’s an in­ter­est­ing 50th an­niver­sary. To help cel­e­brate the 50th year of Grand Prix rac­ing in Canada, and the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stan­ley Cup, Cana­dian Tire Mo­tor­sport Park (nee Mosport) has an­nounced that Johnny Bower will serve as Grand Mar­shall for the road cir­cuit’s open­ing this week­end, the Cas­trol Presents the Vic­to­ria Day SpeedFest Week­end.

Per­haps the Leafs’ most noted goalie, Bower started his ca­reer with the New York Rangers in 1953, then signed up with the Leafs in 1958. He played un­til 1970, re­tir­ing at the age of 45. Along the way, he won four Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­onships, and two Vez­ina Tro­phies.

The iconic cir­cuit will of­fer a wide range of rac­ing this week­end. The Pirelli World Chal­lenge will fea­ture the highly com­pet­i­tive GT SprintX class with su­per cars such as the Mercedes AMG GT3, McLaren 650S GT3, Cadil­lac ATS-V. R GT3, and Fer­rari 488 GT3.

Three Cana­dian se­ries — the Cana­dian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship, the Ul­tra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Chal­lenge Canada by Yoko­hama and the Nis­san Mi­cra Cup Se­ries — will round out the week­end.

The au­thor of sev­eral books on auto rac­ing, Tim Miller can be reached at tim­millerthe­car­guy@gmail.com

OUTLAW PRODUCTIONS PHOTO

Flat Track Canada opens it sea­son this week­end at the Wood­stock Fair­grounds with a full card of mo­tor­cy­cle dirt track rac­ing.

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