Merrittville hometown heroes ready to take on Big-Block Modified stars in Bob St. Amand Sr. Memorial
Super DIRTcar Series heads westward to Thorold track for Canadian Civic Holiday race night
THOROLD, ONTARIO - Friday, July 26, 2013 - The Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series kicks off its August western swing with a historic show Monday, August 5, at Merrittville Speedway. Now dubbed the Bob St. Amand Sr. Memorial, the Canadian Civic Holiday celebratory race night has taken over the speedway every August since 1972.
Modified racing legend Will Cagle won the inaugural event in 1972, and since then, Merrittville’s local racers have been stepping up to the plate every year to try and beat DIRTcar’s best on their home turf. Last year, St. Catharine’s Mike Bowman became one of many hometown heroes to make it to Victory Land at the annual event.
“It was something that I never expected to ever achieve,” said Bowman, whose small-block Modified triumphed over the Big Blocks. “I used to sit in the stands and watch all of those guys come in from out of town when I was young, and to beat them is a dream come true.”
The previous year, 2011, defending Super DIRTcar Series Champion Matt Sheppard took the win, and Bowman narrowly made the feature, qualifying in the last-chance B-Main.
“Going into last year, my expectations were severely less than what I had achieved,” Bowman said. “Every year when that race comes, it’s one of these nights where you know everybody’s coming to town. You want to run well, and you you definitely want to make the show.”
Bowman certainly ran well in the 2012 Bob St. Amand Sr. Memorial, winning his heat, drawing the pole, and leading all 100 laps. In fact, his success last August influenced the 71 team’s engine builder, ERD, to send Bowman to the Dirt Track at Charlotte for November’s prestigious
“I definitely put myself on a big stage to get my feet wet,” said Bowman, whose first-ever feature in a Big-Block Modified took him to a 20th-place finish. “Just to get in the show was pretty good. All the best guys were there.”
Bowman returned to a small block for his 2013 season at Merrittville Speedway, where he sits third in track point standings.
In this year’s Fourth Annual Bob St. Amand Sr. Memorial, Bowman and other Merrittville locals, such as track point leader Pete Bicknell and fourth in points Mat Williamson, may face an extra challenge from a slightly larger field of series competitors. Seven-time Super DIRTcar Series Champion Brett Hearn did not race in last year’s event due to a health condition, but when he got back behind the wheel he was better than ever.
Hearn won some of the biggest races last year, including Lebanon Valley Speedway’s Mr. DIRT Track U.S.A.,NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week’s VP Small Engine Fuels 200 and Orange County Fair Speedway’sEastern States 200, coming up second in series points. This year, Hearn has already climbed to the top inseries points and is ready to prove, yet again, that he’s made a full recovery.
Although Hearn and the series cohort will invade Merrittville in the powerful Big-Block Modfiieds, Bowman believes the 358-Modifieds of the Merrittville regulars will remain competitive.
“I don’t really feel like we’re at that much of a disadvantage, if any,” Bowman said. “This year, three of us were able to beat (Big-Block Modified driver) Justin Haers’ former record of 15.0. Mat Williamson, Brandon Easey and myself all put down laps quicker than the previous track record this year in our small blocks.”
Gates open for the Bob St. Amand Sr. Memorial at 4 p.m. on Monday, August 5, and showtime is 7 p.m. In addition to the Super DIRTcar Series, the show, held in memory of 1972 track champion and longtime Merrittville pit steward Bob St. Amand, Sr., will also include a 20-lap Hoosier Stock “Duel on the Dirt” Big 6 Series Event, an 20-lap Sportsman Non-Winners Event and Enduro Qualifier No. 3 accelerated by Niagara College. For more information about the Bob St. Amand Sr. Memorial, contact the speedway office at (905) 892-8266 or visit www.merrittvillespeedway.com.
AT A GLANCE:
Bob St. Amand Sr. Memorial
Divisions: Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series (100 laps); Hoosier Stock “Duel on the Dirt” Big 6 Series Event (25 laps); Sportsman Non-Winners Event (20 laps); Enduro Qualifier No. 3 accelerated by Niagara College
Date: Monday, August 5
Time: Gates open at 4 p.m., showtime at 7 p.m.
Location: Merrittville Speedway, 2371 Merrittville Highway, Thorold, Ontario, Canada
Super DIRTcar Series
The Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Racing in the Northeast Region is brought to fans by several sponsors and partners including Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels, Chevy Performance Parts, NAPA Auto Parts, and Safety-Kleen. Contingency partners include the University of Northwestern Ohio, Contingency sponsors are ASI, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix, ButlerBuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Edelbrock, Integra Shocks, Intercomp, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, MSD Performance, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, Superflow and Wrisco Industries.
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