Tomas Tales: Niagara College Receives 1.4 Million for Automotive Lab

NC $Tomas Tales April 26, 2016

Well a big thumbs up from here!

Niagara College has picked up $1.4 million dollars in provincial funding for a Green Tech Automotive Lab from Ontario’s Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund program.

The 3,600-square-foot Green Tech Automotive Lab will be an extension of the existing automotive facility at the Welland Campus’s Rankin Technology Centre.
It will include open bays, a work area and classroom, and will house the latest in green automotive technology, including electric charging stations, alternate fuel technology, diagnostic equipment, green technology simulators and electric and hybrid vehicles.

College President Dan Patterson says Niagara College is a leader in sustainability and they are pleased to build on the renewable technologies offered through the automotive programs and are grateful for the Provincial Government’s investment.

Construction of the Green Tech Automotive Lab will begin this June, with completion slated for March of next year.

Niagara College has a long-standing partnership with Canadian Motor Speedway, signing a memorandum of understanding in July of 2014 that covers a broad range of areas to create hands-on learning and research opportunities for students.
NC’s Motive Power applied research program opportunities with CMS may include the testing of green-energy vehicles, co-op placements, recruitment events and collaboration with other post secondary institutions.

In addition, The College’s food and hospitality related programs will also utilize CMS events and functions for learning and practical experience.

It’s been a mandate of Canadian Motor Speedway to establish long-term partnerships with world class and Ontario-based educational institutions that can broaden the scope of the research and development component of CMS, taking all involved to a higher level of excellence.

It’s outstanding to see The Provincial Government support a CMS partner with the funds they need for vital improvements and advancements.

Tale Pipes: Merrittville Speedway St.Catharines/Thorold has just launched their 65th consecutive season, long established as Canada’s oldest and longest operating dirt track. Ransomville Speedway, under new ownership, lifts the lid on season 59 May 6th, with Humberstone Speedway in Port Colborne swinging open their gates for their 57th campaign May 1st.

“The Colonel” Leaves a Lasting Legacy on Niagara Clay!

Kurt at AceMost know my racing roots are planted around the dirt tracks in The Niagara Region of Southern Ontario.

Those roots became personal close to 30 years ago when I married Janice Lynn Uhl, who’s father Kurt was already a major player in the dirt track stock car racing landscape in Niagara, first as a car builder and mechanic, and then as a track owner and promoter.

My Father-in-Law was a big wheel in the sport I loved. Handy indeed.
On Friday April 9th, after a short courageous battle with kidney failure, Kurt Alfred Uhl of St. Catharines completed his tasks on earth in his 81st year with family and friends at his bedside at The St.Catharines General Hospital.

The deep sadness over his departure is soothed as we remember Kurt’s unfailing kindness, generosity, sense of humour, huge laugh and a love for the good things in life.

And one of those things in life he loved was racing on clay ovals with the co-ownership and operation of Merrittville Speedway in St.Catharines, Canada’s oldest and longest operating dirt track, and Ransomville Speedway, a short hop across the Niagara River in Ransomville NY.

Merrittville opens their 65th consecutive season of operation this month. Ransomville’s history traces back close to that total, so Kurt’s role in their longevity is well documented, as Uhl and his long time friend, the pre-deceased Stan Friesen operated Merrittville and Ransomville simultaneously for 13 years in the 70’s and 80’s, keeping the gates wide open on an international scale.

Kurt was born in 1935 in Waldheim Saskatchewan, with his family moving to St.Catharines when he was 6 years old.

Out of Thorold High School, Kurt entered the automotive trade and opened his own business, Ace Alignment in 1966 in St.Catharines.

Shortly after, with their friend Neil Sharp, Kurt and Stan joined the burgeoning Niagara stock car racing scene, campaigning late models and sportsman coupes and coaches with great success at Merrittville Speedway, Humberstone Speedway and Speedway Park.

After leaving the racing to younger hands, Kurt and Stan’s ownership of Merrittville and Ransomville came into major prominence when they joined Glenn Donnelly’s fledgling DIRT of Western New York sanction, designed to align Canadian and American Dirt Modified, Sportsman and Late Model rules and administration.

The Uhl-Friesen racing empire doubled in size in 1972 with the acquisition of Ransomville Speedway in the small upstate New York town of Ransomville, a short drive from Niagara Falls NY.

The Uhl and Friesen families played a critical role in this history as the wives and children were counted on to help run the speedways, working the concession stands, selling programs, and helping to maintain the tracks’ racing surface.

The kids grew up at the family tracks. I arrived on the scene in the 70’s as co-announcer with the late Gordie Wilson at both facilities. Miss Janice started in popcorn, graduated to hot dogs, then as a race official and scorer in the towers and that’s where we met.

They sold Merrittville in 1981, with Kurt relinquishing his involvement with Ransomville 6 years later.

The Friesen family carried on Ransomville ownership, with patriarch Stan Friesen passing away in 2012.

Late last year they sold “The Big R” to Buffalo interests.

Kurt’s departure to join his pal Stan at that great big dirt track in the heavens officially closes the Uhl-Friesen era of dirt track racing in Niagara/Western New York.

But Uhl’s influence in speedway operation is still prevalent. His track prep and detailed organization of speedway administration methods are still being used.

Ace Alignment remains a vital Niagara business thanks to Kurt’s guidance and vision.

He worked hard and he played just as hard.

Parties and laughter meant everything to Kurt, and “The Colonel’s” laughter will echo in our hearts forever.

“Now he belongs to the ages….”


Tomas Tales: Jeff Gordon’s # 24 Pit Stops at CMS Site!

2016-03-14 16.04.24Following the Motorama Custom Car & Motorsport Expo in Toronto this past weekend ( March 11th-14th, ) the Hendrick Motorsports transporter, carrying Jeff Gordon’s 2015 #24 AARP Member Advantages Chevy SS NASCAR Sprint Cup stock car headed down the QEW to Fort Erie and The Peace Bridge for the long trip back home to Charlotte NC.

But before crossing the border, transporter driver Kenny Babbert stopped on Sunset Drive at The Canadian Motor Speedway site in Fort Erie to meet CMS Executive Claire MacSweyn to view the site of the speedway, and to ensure the first ever race car on site was driven by 4-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion and CMS track designer Jeff Gordon.

Gordon’s car was showcased as part of The Canadian Motor Speedway display at The Toronto Motorama show. It’s the car Jeff Gordon raced for his 93rd and final career win on November 1st, 2015 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia during the Chase for The Championship.

Retired from racing, Gordon is now a colour commentator for FOX Sports on NASCAR Sprint Cup telecasts, and continues to work with CMS architects on the design of the oval track portion of the CMS complex.

Taken directly from victory lane at Martinsville, Gordon’s car was shown at Motorama complete with dents, confetti and Pepsi Cola spray. It was a major hit with fans, as it was a rare opportunity to see and photograph an actual major NASCAR touring series race-winning car on display in Canada for the first time in decades.

This priceless piece of motorsports history is destined for The Hendrick Motorsports Museum and The NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Tale Pipes: As a preview to their 65th consecutive season of operation as Canada’s oldest and longest operating dirt track, Merrittville Speedway/Thorold has their annual Mall Show in full swing at The Pen Center St.Catharines. Nice shiny, new cars ready for combat are on display throughout the Pen. Merrittville opens their historic anniversary season April 23rd. Ransomville NY Speedway opens their gates under new ownership May 6th for their 59th season. Humberstone Speedway in nearby Port Colbourne will release their 2016 schedule shortly.

Tomas Tales: Raceline Radio Network and Partners Work Year 24!

Raceline_Logo jpegFebruary 24, 2016

As a new racing season unfolds, we are allowed another quiet little celebration in the Raceline Radio Network office.

Because we are still here and the lights and heat are still on!

We remain extremely gratified companies who do business with this sport and with fans and listeners who buy automobiles, influenced by on-track or on-road success, continue to realize a solid return on their investment partnering with The Raceline Radio Network, the official and exclusive Canadian radio voice of Canadian Motor Speedway.

Over our history, we have worked with and continue to work with some of the biggest blue-chip companies in North America who have partnered with The Network to market their products.

For 2016, we are delighted to welcome a brand new Network broadcast partner, The Elite Brand of After-Market Products from Continental, the official drive belt of NASCAR.

Long-time friend John Hymers and I have been working on this one for a while, so it’s fabulous to finally have them with us.

Tissot Swiss Watches, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and The IndyCar Honda Indy Toronto are with us with solid seasonal campaigns.

It’s equally tremendous to have the continued support of The Raceline hour from speedways and racing events at the regional/local affiliate level across the Network.

All three Niagara/Western New York DIRT Tracks, Ransomville, Merrittville and Humberstone Speedways promote their facilities and events on Raceline Radio on News Talk 610 CKTB St.Catharines, in the immediate CMS market.
CKTB airs the show twice a week. Live Sunday nights at 8 PM eastern and a repeat broadcast Saturday afternoons at 4 PM as teams and fans are starting to head to the tracks.

Merrittville and Ransomville also sponsor an associated Raceline element, weekend race wraps that are aired following CKTB’s Monday morning sportscasts.
CKTB continues to air regular updates on CMS progress. I can’t do anything on their air without talking about the Speedway.

We have to make sure the Raceline hour is profitable for affiliates, or at the very least makes sense to attract their markets’ racing fan base as new and potential listeners for all of their advertisers in all day parts.
So support for our radio show nationally, boosted by local affiliate sponsor involvement is something we are very proud of.

But one company in particular has made sure we keep the National Raceline Radio signal hot season after season, year round.

Since that initial meeting with Brian Hyland more than 20 years ago, Subaru Canada Inc. has been with us every step of this adventure.

Our 2016 contract renewal marks the 24th consecutive season The Raceline Radio Network and Subaru Canada have worked together to present award-winning motorsport radio coverage with a focus on Canadian drivers and stories, while building Subaru sales numbers to record totals.

Raceline Radio continues to take the Subaru message to consumers and fans across Canada and border U.S States with targeted campaigns for Subaru’s high performance brands.

An advertising and marketing partnership that’s flourished this long in this sport is extremely rare.

It might not be in the Richard Petty-STP or Kenny Bernstein-Budweiser record book of longevity, but it’s getting there as we quickly approach our 25th anniversary with Subaru Canada.

It also works very well that Subaru also supports other on-air elements on many of our Network affiliates, so call us one big happy family if you like.

Subaru’s world-wide success on the rally roads makes this a simple no-brainer as Raceline Radio showcases their high performance models.

Their WRX STI, scoring 11 Manufacturer’s Championships in The Canadian Rally Championship alone sets the tone, coupled with Antoine L’Estage’s incredible record of 8 Canadian and 7 North American Rally Championships as principle driver.

And since The Raceline Radio Network is the only Canadian radio entity that makes sure rallying gets headline coverage, we take that Subaru success story to listeners and car-buyers across Canada.

It’s your classic “win on Sunday… sell on Monday” situation.

The results have steadily grown over the 24 years of our partnership to record sales figures for Subaru into 2016.

It’s how a marketing partnership in motorsport is supposed to work, and the main reason why The Raceline Radio Network survives to continue to carry auto racing news that matters to The CMS Nation and across Canada.

Tale Pipes: … looking forward to seeing everyone at the 2016 Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo in Toronto, March 11th, 12th and 13th at the International Center. Our Canadian Motor Speedway display will feature Jeff Gordon’s 2015 Martinsville-winning # 24 Chevy SS. It’s a very rare an actual race-winning Sprint Cup Series car will be shown in Canada! The Raceline Radio Network will be part of the display so stop by for some bench racing and the latest CMS updates.

Tomas Tales: Gordon’s Martinsville Car at CMS Display at Motorama!

Motorama-Full-Website-No-Date-Cropped-3152015 NASCAR MartinsvilleTomas Tales February 1, 2016

Gordon’s Historic Martinsville-winning # 24 Center Stage at CMS Display at Motorama!

If this isn’t a first for Canadian NASCAR fans then it’s been an extraordinarily long time since we’ve seen this in this country, if ever.

I’ll stick my neck out and say it is a Canadian-racing first… in my time on this earth anyway, because it’s the real, honest to goodness, genuine article!
An actual NASCAR CUP Series stock car from an actual race on display well north of the Mason-Dixon line.

And not just any NASCAR Cup series stock car… we’re talkin’ a race-winning stock car, an historic vehicle in the truest sense.

Because this year at the 2nd Annual Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo in Toronto next month, at the Canadian Motor Speedway display, we are honoured to present Gordon’s 2015 # 24 AARP Member Advantages Chevy SS that he raced to victory at Martinsville, Virginia last fall to advance in the Chase for The Championship.

Historic in that this was Jeff’s 23rd and final season of competition, and as it turned out, this Martinsville car carried him to his 93rd and final NASCAR victory.

I have to give big props to CMS Exec. Claire MacSweyn for securing this car with Hendrick Motorsport, especially this year. You can imagine the demands for this car across North America. It’s a major coup for CMS to have it at Motorama. Nice work Claire.

March 11th, 12th and 13th, fans will be able to see and be photographed with this car in Canadian Motor Speedway’s “Victory Lane”.

This is big for not only Jeff Gordon fans, but NASCAR and racing fans in general, because it’s not every day an actual race-winning NASCAR CUP Series car is shown in Canada, let alone a car of this stature.

This will mark the 6th time Canadian Motor Speedway has presented Jeff Gordon machinery at Motorama, and its fore-runner, The Canadian Motorsports Expo.
Up to this year, it’s been Gordon’s # 24 showcar, displaying new paint schemes and special features that quickly became one of the hallmark attractions at Motorama. The fact it’s Jeff’s Martinsville-winning car makes this year’s showcase extra special.

And carrying on a very popular tradition, the thousands of fans that visit the CMS display at Motorama every year will get a chance to meet and speak with Gordon’s step-dad, John Bickford about the car, Jeff’s final season and reflect back on Jeff’s four NASCAR Championships!

I like what John Bickford said about having Jeff’s Martinsville car at Motorama. It’s just another indication of Jeff’s commitment to the CMS project as oval track designer.

CMS staff will of course also be on hand to talk about CMS progress, while our tech-partners at Niagara College’s Motive Power Program, Applied Research Centre, and The Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre will be exhibiting their technology together with CMS, showcasing their Hybrid Trainer and a 3D printed model of Canadian Motor Speedway. Fans will be able to see CMS’s motorsports stadium, to be the largest in Canada, take shape in 3D form.

The Raceline Radio Network will be part of the fun as well all weekend. Like Bickford, we look forward to this too! And since as of this “Tales” we are only a few short weeks away from The 58th running of The Daytona 500 to open the 2016 season, the bench-racing will be thick and fast!

See you at Motorama next month and make sure you bring your camera, your phone, or whatever it is you take photographs with.

You’ll want to capture a Canadian racing first at The Canadian Motor Speedway display!


Tomas Tales: CMS Traffic Management Stake Holders Thumbs Up!

This was enormous, and a long time in the process!

Major stakeholders involved in the Canadian Motor Speedway Traffic Management Plan, or the TMP as we call it for short, have given CMS their support and final input on the implementation of what Executive Director Azhar Mohammad calls an “unprecedented document”.

And that’s exactly what it is.

The goal of the meeting in St.Catharines this week at The 4-Points Sheraton Hotel, where they make excellent sandwiches, was to get closer to the end of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s (MTO ) final process to approve the CMS TMP with a final review and consensus by those organizations and bodies who will have a hand in the traffic management process for major CMS events.

The list of those in the meeting was very impressive. These are the key decision- makers who will ultimately make sure the fan experience, coming from both sides of the border to CMS is a pleasant and safe one. People like The Ministry of Transportation of The Province of Ontario, The Niagara Region, The Town of Fort Erie, The Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition, Canada Border Services Agency, Department of Homeland Security, and of course The Ontario Provincial Police, The Niagara Regional Police Service, and Niagara Emergency Medical Services.

The meeting was really one of the final steps after years of in-depth painstaking discussions with specific agencies responsible for traffic, transit, emergency services, border crossings and the QEW corridor which will service the facility.They also looked at similar, existing speedways to examine how they get fans in and out of their parks.

All of these organizations will have a role to play at various levels for CMS events, particularly when attendance exceeds 15 thousand fun-loving fans.
All stakeholders have shown tremendous support of the CMS development since initial discussions and the generation of the Traffic Management Plan, and the St.Catharines meeting sustained that good vibe.

There are small minour refinements to be made to certain aspects of the TMP based on input from the stakeholders at the meeting. Once everyone signs off on their respective duties, CMS will issue the final TMP, part of the over-all site plan, and present it to The Town of Fort Erie for approval to obtain the permits required to get equipment back on site to resume work this summer.

We can also tell you The MTO is just about ready to start refurbishment of the Bowen Road interchange, the result of a long and highly detailed collaboration between CMS and The Ministry.

Meanwhile, where the ¾ mile oval track on the site will actually sit has been finalized, while Jeff Gordon continues to work with CMS architects on design tweaks.

Barring any approval delays, the forecast is for a 2018 opening of what will be Canada’s largest auto racing facility, and Canada’s largest sports arena.

T’aint easy planning something like this, but good things of size are rarely easy.

But the thumbs-up on the CMS Traffic Management Plan moves the football even closer to the goal line!


Tomas Tales: Azhar Mohammad’s Latest CMS Progress Report on Raceline Radio!

Raceline_Logo jpegCMS Executive Director Azhar Mohammad gives us the latest progress report on the Canadian Motor Speedway project in another exclusive interview on The Raceline Radio Network across Canada!

Here’s a link to the Raceline Page at where Raceline is podcasted.
Azhar’s interview is in the second guest segment.


Friesen Family Sells Ransomville Speedway after 43 years!

Big R Packed!Tomas Tales, December 2, 2015 Bullet News Niagara

St.Catharines’ Friesen Family Sells Ransomville Speedway.

It’s not only the end of an era in Niagara/Western New York dirt track racing, it ends one of the most unique track ownerships in the sport.

The Friesen Family of St. Catharines has sold Ransomville Speedway after a run of 43 years operating the fast 5/8th’s mile clay oval just outside the town of the same name, just east of Lewiston NY, to Parm Atwal of Buffalo.

The sale of “The Big R” also curtails a very rare situation, where a race track situated in The United States, is owned and operated by Canadians.

Stan Friesen, the family patriarch, purchased Ransomville Speedway with partner Kurt Uhl of St. Catharines in 1972 and operated the facility simultaneously with Merrittville Speedway in Thorold for 13 seasons.

Managing the two tracks required a full-scale double-family effort. Stan’s wife Diane and Kurt’s wife Deanna ran the office, with Stan and Di’s sons Joel, Jamie and Alex, and Kurt and Deanna’s daughter Janice learning the business growing up at the tracks.

Uhl eventually sold his interests, and the Friesen’s moved forward with Ransomville. Operation then fell to Stan, Joel and Jamie when youngest brother Alex was killed in a snowmobiling accident in 1996.

Stan, Diane, Jamie, Joel and wife Trish, and Ransomville native Tana Robinson have kept the speedway vital since then, with Stan passing away in 2012.

Why the decision to sell?

Joel tells Tomas Tales/Bullet News Niagara he and brother Jamie are now in their 50’s, and all but 12 of their 50 years has been dedicated to the operation of the speedway, so it was time to let it go and let a new owner take the track to the next level of progression.

“This move allows Ransomville to move forward. We’re very proud and satisfied with the thumb print we left on it. It didn’t come without a lot of dedicated and committed employees, friends and family.”

Joel is quick to dispel rumours the track would close. He confirms the new owners want to keep the Speedway property as a racing operation.

“The new owners are in love with short track racing in the Niagara area and want to continue the operation as it has been. But as with any new owner, like a new coach of a hockey team, they’ll tweak a few things and put their thumb print on it, so we’re looking at a very bright future for Ransomville Speedway.”

Friesen says several key personnel will remain in place in the new regime.

“People like Marketing Manager Tana Robinson and Race Director Jeff Anstett are planning to stay to continue to make sure it thrives!”

Jamie and Joel will still be associated with Ransomville as consultants.

I asked Joel what he might do with his Friday nights now that he’s not helping run the place.

“ I might just instinctively wander over to the track Friday nights after work, get to the gate, set up a lawn chair, sit down and talk with everybody and complain about the way the races are run!” , he joked with a hearty laugh.
“But seriously, we know the fans also take great pride in the operation. If it wasn’t for the fans, Ransomville Speedway wouldn’t be at the level it’s attained and maintained!”

Season tickets are now on sale, with a drivers meeting scheduled for January after the traditional New Years Day “Hangover 150”. The regular season launches Friday May 6th, 2016 to kick off the new era.

Joel can’t say enough about what his family and staff have accomplished at “The Big R” over 43 years of unfailing dedication.

And the Friesen’s have every right to be proud.

Owning and operating a race track is arduous, often back-breaking, never-ending toil that’s occasionally unfairly criticized by fans and competitors.
If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It takes very special people to succeed in this sport at this level especially.

The Friesen’s have been firm, fair and friendly over those 43 years and I have personally had the pleasure of working closely with them over many of those same years as track announcer, and broadcast promoter of their events with Raceline Radio.

For my wife Janice and our daughter Katelyn, they have been much more than friends and colleagues, they’ve been family.

Enjoy the relaxation you guys. You’ve earned it.

Tale Pipes: More Friesen Family news! Halmar International Racing has added Niagara-on –the-Lake’s Stewart Friesen to their racing stable in a partnership with Stewart’s current owner Jeff Daley. The plan is a full-time assault on the 2016 Super Dirt Series championship along with weekly runs at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown NY. Stewart, the 4-time Super DIRT Week Syracuse big block modified champion made history this past summer, becoming the first Canadian driver to win a World of Outlaws Sprint Car A-Main, and the first driver to do it on Canadian soil at Ohsweken Speedway… four “Best-Of” Raceline Radio shows over Christmas and New Years will usher in 2016, Raceline’s 24th consecutive season on the air as Canada’s national radio motorsport authority!

Photo: another packed house at “The Big R” Courtesy of Alex and Helen Bruce.

Tomas Tales: Super DIRT Week Finale Stamped Niagara! Reason? Friesen!

Stewart Friesen wins SDW 44 Oct 2015Tomas Tales, October 19, 2015

When the CMS project was first proposed, it was our mandate to make immediate and direct connection with the rich and long-standing auto racing platform and fan base already entrenched in Niagara’s sports tradition.

Dirt track racing in the region and just over the river in Western New York goes back to the early 1950’s, and this fan base will form the foundation for the CMS fan base going forward.

We will cross-promote each others’ events, and so we should.

So what happens at Merrittville, Ransomville, Humberstone and Lancaster Speedways and their operators, and what happens to the drivers and teams that compete at these facilities is very important to CMS management.

So we enthusiastically congratulate the hottest driver on clay ovals in the North East this season, who made darn sure Canada and more specifically Niagara, left a lasting impression in dirt track auto racing history over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

This year’s Super DIRT Week Championship in Syracuse was wrapped in emotion, as SDW this year was billed as “The Finale at The Fairgrounds”, with the race moving to a smaller track next year due to government re-development of the New York State fairgrounds site.

32 year old Stewart Friesen, son of Jamie and Yvonne Friesen of Niagara-on-the-Lake, added a cool $50 thousand dollars to his 2015 winnings with his 4th Super DIRT Week big block DIRT modified championship in 6 years.

In 2010, Friesen first made Super DIRT Week history as the first Canadian driver to win the big block title.

His wins on “The Moody Mile” have come in bunches. He’s now won the title back-to-back twice, 2010-2011, and 2014-2015.

The accomplishment is monumental, because winning Syracuse, just once, is a herculean task.

Stewart’s crew spent hours leading up to the race replacing the rear end in the car, and once underway from the outside pole, the entry was a handful and he fell back a few positions.

But a change of tires and some adjustments improved the handling, and Stewart started moving ahead again, despite the pace being slowed by 18 cautions.
Saving something for the late going as you often have to do to take checkers at Syracuse, he was never seriously challenged over the final quarter of the race.

Stewart says it was your typical run at Syracuse. You never really know how it’ll play out!

“Every year we’ve won it’s been something different. Last year we had mechanical problems. This year we had to fix the car. The first two years we won it gambling on fuel mileage. You never know how this track is going to change. It was a different track even from the small block race on Saturday. It was wider in turns 2 and 3 with two lanes. Guys were running the extreme outside, but we kind of found something on the bottom for some decent two-wide racing.“

Along with the operation of Ransomville Speedway, Ransomville NY, a regular weekly DIRT sanctioned facility with racing Friday nights and specials during the summer, Super DIRT Week is very important in Friesen family racing history.

Stewart’s late grandfather Stan drove in the earliest days of the race. His uncle, the late Alex Friesen is also a former Syracuse winner, a last chance Sportsman qualifier in 1996.

Stewart then applied the finishing touch for the family at Syracuse with his 4th big block championship, as the curtain came down on the classic on The Mile.

Super DIRT Week will now shift 19 miles north to soon-to-be-completed Central New York Raceway Park, near Brewerton NY, owned by DIRT ( Drivers Independent Race Tracks ) sanction founder Glenn Donnelly.

Friesen says the adjustment to the smaller half-mile dirt oval will take some time.

“Syracuse was all about pit stops and re-fuelling, and Syracuse-only bodies with ground effects. The month-long preparation for this race was unbelievable. Going to a smaller half-mile track, we don’t know how many laps the race will be, or if we’ll need pit stops. There are a lot of unknowns, but it should be an awesome event regardless. At least the event doesn’t die!”

A big part of Stewart’s success in DIRT modifieds and sprint cars, especially this season, is attributed to his wife Jessica Zemken, who’s also a sprint car driver of note herself.

Despite being almost 7 months pregnant, Jess still works on the race cars at Stewart’s side, dressing tires, while helping with set-ups and strategy.

Their faithful German Shepherd dog Charlotte is never too far away. Growing up in the pits at race tracks, the furriest member of the clan never gets underfoot and knows her place in the hauler when things get a little frantic.

“Jessica’s feeling good! We welcome a baby boy Christmas day. Jess is going to have to slow down a little bit though! I am very proud of her! She’s an awesome car owner, crew chief and wife!”

2015 has been a story book season of success for the newest branch of the Friesen racing family. They’re having the time of their lives carrying on the tradition of winning automobile races, often big, historic automobile races.

“Representing all the Canadian fans and all our friends is something we are very proud to do. Hopefully we can continue to do that for a few more years to come!”

Tale Pipes: The “Finale at the Fairgrounds” was Super DIRT Week 44. Stewart Friesen’s car number? 44. Just spooky enough to take us into Halloween!


-Friesen celebrates in victory lane in the final SDW run at the Moody Mile.

Photo courtesy of Super DIRT Week Media.

Tomas Tales: Smoke Douses The Fire Himself!

Tony StewartOne of NASCAR’s major headliners will cease driving after the 2016 Sprint Cup season.

Tony Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, former IndyCar champion, team and track owner will officially retire as a NASCAR competitor after next season, which will be his 18th in the top stock car racing series in the sport.
It’s been an emotional struggle for Stewart since that fatal freelance sprint car accident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park two summers ago.

Stewart accidently struck and killed another driver who stomped out onto the track during a caution to confront Stewart over earlier contact. Tests indicated Kevin Ward Jr. had marijuana in his system at the time of the tragic mishap.

Tony wasn’t charged criminally, but Ward’s family has filed a civil lawsuit.
The accident was generally badly handled by the main stream media, who did not hold Stewart in a favourable light, even though the official investigation exonerated him from blame.

Once a regular NASCAR front runner, the incident and reaction impacted Stewart deeply, many believing it’s the root cause of his uncompetitive season.
He hasn’t yet finished any races this season in the top 5 for the first time in his career, and he failed to qualify for the Sprint Cup Chase for the championship.

The 44 year old Rushville Indiana native first came to prominence driving high-powered sprint cars on dirt tracks in the mid west United States.

Tony has a deep-seated love for sprint cars and dirt track racing, prompting him to buy Eldora Speedway in Ohio, with the occasional driving assignment in the rapid winged machines. He’s a frequent special guest driver at major sprint car events at Ohsweken Speedway near Brantford Ontario.

He also owns several sprint car teams, including TSR Racing for principle driver, current World of Outlaws Sprint Car points leader Donny Schatz.

After winning an IndyCar title in 1997, Stewart swung his talent over to stock car racing.

His first career NASCAR win was a big one, the 1999 Daytona 500.

His 48 career NASCAR win total ranks 13th on the all-time list.

He currently co-owns his NASCAR Sprint Cup team featuring drivers Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch, and defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick. He will continue to own and operate his team after he stops driving himself.

Often criticized for a somewhat fiery temper and brash disposition, there is a sweet, generous side to “Smoke” you don’t often see, secretly doing a tremendous amount of charity work.

Stewart prefers to maintain a very private personal life as a single man. He’s often stated his race teams are his family.

Tony will still be involved with NASCAR going forward as an owner, but it’ll be strange to watch the # 14 in 2017 with replacement Clint Bowyer behind the wheel.

Tale Pipes: Stewart is the second major NASCAR star to retire. 4-time champ Jeff Gordon, designer of the oval portion of The Canadian Motor Speedway project in Fort Erie, stops driving at the end of the current season… Jeff Atkinson is the new man in charge of the Honda Toronto Indy, Canada’s lone IndyCar event. He takes over with the departure of long-time President Charlie Johnstone… Many Niagara-based DIRT Modified drivers and fans head down the New York State Thruway over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend for the final Super DIRT Week championship at the NY State Fairgrounds “Moody Mile” in Syracuse. After 40 years, SDW will have to relocate due to State development of the Fairgrounds property. Niagara drivers have recorded great success at SDW. Niagara-on –the Lake’s Stewart Friesen is a 3-time Big Block champion, Pete Bicknell has won the 358 Small Block title 5 times, with fellow St.Catharines driver Brad Rouse the 2013 Sportsman champion.