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.