The new year started with a roar at the Saratoga Motorsports Park Speedway.
Over 200 racers and fans spent the afternoon of Jan. 1 at the speedway for the first annual “New Years Day Enduro” that some were calling “the Polar Bear Race.” The race drew 23 hornet cars to the track featuring snow and ice hazards and a snowbank wall.
The 2022 racing season started off with a ton of fun, offering race teams valuable experience in challenging conditions, and a chance to compete for trophies and cash. Teams included novices and seasoned drivers alike, from Campbell River, the Comox Valley, down Island, and the mainland, who all braved the elements.
At first, the race started and stopped several times as drivers tested the performance of their machines and their ability to navigate the treacherous oval. The banked and slick one-two corner was a “diabolical” challenge that saw many race cars looping into the snowbanks to await a tow-out by the safety officials.
Campbell River’s Boston Larson showed why he has many trophies in his den. The youngest member of a respected racing family made his way from the back to the top five in challenging conditions — not once but twice — before falling several laps behind due to a mishap.
Also from Campbell River, Jenn Kingston had a difficult day driving the only rear-wheel drive car in the competition. Jenn wheeled her 200sx #12 car with energy and determination, but deteriorating conditions saw her retire early.
The winner of the $1,000 prize was Kale Woodske of Abbotsford who started in second-last position on the grid, but displayed his experience and fancy footwork to smoothly power his Honda to the checkered flag for the well deserved win.
In second place, Michael Lavigne overcame initial doubts about the race and drove a “spunky” race to finish four seconds behind the leader. The third place trophy went to James Laidlaw of Parksville who muscled his #91 Integra from 15th position on the starting grid.
After the race, it was discovered that a member of the #27 Woodske Race Team had sadly lost his battle with cancer on Christmas Eve, Terry Price. Price drove that same car last year at Agassiz Raceway after having just met the Woodske family the year before and joined the team for his rookie season. Woodske Sr. said their friend and team member will be sorely missed and he dedicated this spectacular win to Price’s memory.