Special to the Mirror
The sounds of roaring motors and screeching tires combined with the smell of burning rubber returns to Saratoga Speedway this Saturday night as the Black Creek oval opens its new season with the first of 25 events.
This season will mark the 47th season of auto racing in Black Creek as the oval opened in 1968 under the name of Oyster River Speedway until 1978 when the speedway closed for two years until it reopened in 1981 under the current Saratoga Speedway banner.
The lineup for this Saturday night’s opener features the always exciting Crash to Pass cars along with the Hornet cars, Road Runners and the Mad Max cars.
Also included is a fireworks show to finish off the night.
The 2017 season will see some rule changes come into effect such as motor size, tire size and two breakout rules which will increase the competition in the Crash to Pass, Hornet and Mad Max classes.
The class most affected by the changes will be the Crash to Pass class as competitors will be limited in motor size as they will not be allowed to run anything bigger than a 360 along with a breakout rule where if a driver posts a lap time of faster than a 19.5 they will be deemed illegal.
The Mad Max class will also be under a breakout rule.
Any driver caught going faster than 19.5 will be docked one lap for every lap they go faster than the 19.5 rule.
The change in the Hornet class comes in the A class as they will now be racing a American racer tire which will result in faster lap times which will create a more competitive field.
Returning point champions include Blair Mangles in the Hornet A’s and Damon Dunn in the Mad Max class.
Ryan Guest is the champion in the Road Runners while a new rule for 2017 which states a point champion in any class cannot compete in the Hornet B class will see a new point champion by the time the 2017 season is done as the 2016 champion, Keegan McCosh, will be forced to run in the A class.
Another point champion will emerge in the Crash to Pass class as defending point champion Sheldon Hoop will not be racing full time as he will be running only selective race events.
Among the 25 events will be two double-race-day monster truck weekends with the first May 20 and 21 which will include the Robo Dragon – a car eating machine followed by another Monster Truck weekend August 5 and 6.
Also included in the 2017 season are three visits from the Wilroc Sprint Sars with the first race on June 24 along with the IMCA Modifieds and Dwarf cars for a full night of open wheel racing.
The first race for the IMCA Modifieds will be May 13 along with the Bomber and Dwarf cars and it will be a special night for them as they will pay homage to Darrell Wardrope, a popular driver who lost a tough battle with cancer in the off season and in his memory, the drivers will compete for the first Darrell Wardrope Memorial trophy.
Saratoga Speedway is located halfway between Courtenay and Campbell River on Macaulay Road which is off Ham Road and will open its gates at 5:30 p.m. Qualifying follows at 6 with the first green flag of the season to drop at 7 p.m.
With the new season comes the running of the speedway go-karts and the monster truck rides which are open 12-4 p.m. on fine weather weekends…
The Modifieds car count looks to be strong this season with defending champion Travis Stevenson back to defend his championship while new comers include former Bomber car drivers Mike Dionne and Brian Baltis along with former Crash to Pass and Dwarf car driver Matt May.