After spending time away from racing, John Cadman made his return behind the wheel this past year, jumping into the deep pool of Ontario’s racing ranks with a super late model.
“I was pretty happy with the year,” Cadman told Short Track Musings. “I had to keep things in perspective because I’ve been off for 16 years, so I think it’s easy to set unreasonable expectations when you first come back and you want to run up front, like we were down south. You can’t expect to jump back in the saddle and run like where you left off; that’s a little unrealistic.”
Cadman started off the season at Sunset Speedway with a sixth in the Spring Velocity, followed by an eighth in June and a seventh in July.
“I wasn’t quite as competitive as I would’ve liked right out of the gate, but we finished close to the top-five in the first few races and at tracks that I hadn’t been to before,” Cadman said. “Before I left Canada and went down south, I had never ran at Sunset or Peterborough, and had limited laps at Flamboro in a street stock in 1985. As I watched the year progress, I got a little better each race and got a little closer, even with how little we were running as I think I only ran like seven races this year – four at Sunset, the Gold Rush which we only made three laps in, and the two races at Peterborough.”
As the season hit the halfway point, there seemed to be a change in the tide for Cadman as he showed more speed. in his first appearance of the season at Peterborough Speedway, he won a heat and led 20 laps prior to the motor blowing up, while running up front at the Gold Rush prior to motor issues there as well. He then finished off the season with a fifth in Sunset’s Velocity 250 and a runner-up at the Autumn Colours Classic at Peterborough.
“I think we would’ve had something for the 9 car (Brandon Watson) if we hadn’t gotten in an altercation a little earlier in the race,” he said. “All in all, finishing the year with a second and a fifth at Sunset before that, it was a great end to the year and I think we’re going to be in better shape next year.”
With promise shown late in the year, positive thoughts surrounds Cadman as he has always began working towards the 2017 season – specifically surrounding his partnership with Junior Hanley. The pair began working together in the latter part of 2016, with Cadman calling him a “great asset” to the race team.
“I think we’re going to continue to make progress, and some updates on the car over the course of the winter to make it even more competitive,” he said. “We’ll have the big motor like we had the last couple of races last year; after we blew up at Peterborough, I got a motor built that has more power than we had previously. So we’ll have that for next season, which should make us even better as well. I look for us to be even more competitive next year, and hopefully certainly in the top-five consistently racing for some wins.”
Cadman feels the key will be continuing to get more seat time, so therefore he’s comfortable with the car. Knowing he has a competitive piece underneath him, he notes it’s up to the driver now.
“It’s just getting familiar and comfortable in the car,” he said. “When you’re racing every week, it’s easy to get comfortable and develop a rhythm. But when you’re only racing once a month, it takes a little longer to develop that and get your race craft back. Anybody can be fast for one or two laps, but to be fast for 50 to 100 laps, depending where we’re racing, is different. That takes time, and a lot of these guys that we’re racing against have been racing at these tracks for 10-20 years. I think that’s why the biggest thing is getting more seat time, and getting more comfortable at these tracks.”
Cadman is set to tackle a bunch of the same tracks in 2017, though is mostly looking forward to making the trip back to Jukasa Speedway (formally Cayuga Speedway) when it opens up this season.
“I haven’t raced there since the 90s and that actually is what intrigued me to get back into racing is hopefully running there at some point,” he said. “I’m most looking forward of going there of all the tracks in Canada. Secondly, probably – I like Flamboro, and I enjoy Sunset and Peterborough as well – but I’d have to say Cayuga as my favourite by far.”
Being able to head to Jukasa will mark a reminder of the past for Cadman, as his interest in racing developed in the late 70s and early 80s, watching his dad race against the likes of Junior Hanley and Don Biederman.
“He was a regular Friday night guy in a super late at Cayuga,” Cadman said. “I realized at the age of 9 or 10 that I inspired to get in the seat and I finally got an opportunity when I was 17.”