WESCAR late-model se­ries rac­ing tonight at PGARA

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted CLARKE Cit­i­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

There’s good news in the fore­cast for drivers en­tered tonight in the sea­son-open­ing WESCAR late model tour­ing se­ries 100-lap race at PGARA Speed­way.

The heat wave that’s de­scended upon the city the past cou­ple weeks is loos­en­ing its grip and by the time they get be­hind the wheel to let loose all that horse­power a race­time tem­per­a­ture of 22 C is ex­pected.

That comes as a re­lief for WESCAR pres­i­dent/racer Shel­don May­ert, who knows he’s in for a few hours in the pres­sure-cooker, from qual­i­fy­ing to the fin­ish of the main event, try­ing to get the bet­ter of an ex­pected 12-car field. As one of the most sea­soned WESCAR vet­er­ans, the 51-year-old May­ert knows bet­ter than any­one how hot it can get in­side his car when he has his gas pedal plas­tered onto the floor. The warm weather’s good for the fans but not the drivers.

“I jumped into the truck this af­ter­noon and it said it was 34 de­grees – that’s a lit­tle too good,” said May­ert.

“It gets pretty hot in those cars. It’s al­ways ei­ther scorch­ing hot or we’re stand­ing around in the rain, so this is def­i­nitely bet­ter than rain.”

WESCAR points cham­pion Ken­dall Thomas of Kelowna and runner-up Chris Bab­cock are back for more this year along with May­ert, who fin­ished third in the 2018 stand­ings.

This year’s WESCAR lineup fea­tures three rook­ies, two of whom – Dar­rell Hor­wath and Grant Pow­ers – are vet­er­ans of the Prince Ge­orge Auto Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.

Hor­wath, the Tri-City Street Stock Se­ries cham­pion last year, won the PGARA street stock points ti­tle in 2018 and 2017 and was runner-up to points cham­pion Lyall McComber last year. Pow­ers did not race last year but has a long re­sume as a PGARA street stock driver and like Hor­wath he knows all the short­cuts to vic­tory lane on the three-eighths-mile oval.

“They both bought good cars and I’’m sure both of them will be run­ning up to­wards the front on their home­town track,” said May­ert.

“First time out, they’ll have some bugs but I ex­pect a good re­sult out of both of them.”

May­ert wasn’t en­tirely sure but said there’s a good chance 73-year-old War­ren Bergman will be back rac­ing tonight, bring­ing the num­ber to four Prince Ge­orge drivers en­tered in the WESCAR race.

Last year at the sec­ond Prince Ge­orge WESCAR race in June, May­ert just man­aged to edge out Bergman for fourth place in the main event and he knows how hard it is to hold off a guy with 49 years of stock car rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Drivers are not al­lowed to hot­lap within seven days of a race and May­ert did take his car out for a spin last week at PGARA Speed­way. He got eight laps in and ran over some de­bris which put a big hole in a new $280 tire.

The same thing hap­pened to him 12 laps into hot-lap­ping last year. But he left the track con­fi­dent his car will be run­ning well for the race tonight.

This is the first of six points meets in the WESCAR se­ries. Prince Ge­orge will host another WESCAR race on July 21, the back half of a dou­ble­header that starts the pre­vi­ous night in Ques­nel.

Hav­ing back-to-back races helps con­vince the out-of-town­ers from the Okana­gan and the Lower Main­land/Vancouver Is­land to make the haul north.

The other se­ries stops are in Wil­liams Lake, June 15; Agas­siz, July 27; and Ques­nel, Sept. 14. Non­series meets are sched­uled for Pen­tic­ton, July 6-7; and Vic­to­ria, Aug. 31-Sept. 1. A late model non­points race in Hythe, Alta., June 8 has been can­celed.

Now in his third year as WESCAR pres­i­dent, May­ert fig­ures car counts are on the way up as more drivers make the jump to the province’s top tour­ing stock car class.

“I think it’s gone through the bot­tom and it’s start­ing to climb back up,” he said.

“We’ve got three rook­ies rac­ing for rookie of the year this year and I can’t re­mem­ber there ever be­ing more than two rook­ies com­pet­ing at any one time and we have three this year.

“The en­ergy and ex­cite­ment are build­ing back up.”

Donny Kunka of Wil­liams Lake, son of long­time WESCAR racer Arnie, is also new to the se­ries this year.

PGARA’s four rac­ing classes – Ron’s Tow­ing hor­nets, Chief­tain Auto Parts min­i­s­tocks, North­ern Out­law 4s and the street stocks – will share the spot­light with WESCAR tonight.

Time tri­als start at 6 p.m. and rac­ing be­gins at 7.

PGARA Speed­way is known for its un­in­vited bug pop­u­la­tion but May­ert said there’s a chance race fans won’t have that worry tonight.

“I heard this from Jamie (PGARA pres­i­dent Craw­ford) but the mos­qui­toes weren’t bad out there, but that was last week,” said May­ert.

“Make sure you bring a hoodie.”

CIT­I­ZEN PHOTO BY JAMES DOYLE

Jeremy Floer races around PGARA Speed­way Park last week dur­ing a time trial lap at the Tur­geon Memo­rial. Tonight the street stocks will be back in ac­tion as part of the WESCAR sea­son opener.

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