As part of the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo, OSCAAR President Dave Gainforth spent some time on the stage speaking about the upcoming season, among other topics, with fellow short track promoters from across the province of Ontario.
Notably, the success of last season was recognized with Gainforth noting it was a great year for OSCAAR across the four divisions – OSCAAR Super Late Models, OSCAAR Modifieds, OSCAAR Pro Midgets and OSCAAR Midgets.
“Lots of activity with the divisions,” he said. “It’s not an easy thing to do but I have a great group that’s supportive of the series. But we had a great year last year and looking forward to more now.”
The Pro Midgets were one of the bigger topics of discussion, as a result of this past year being their inaugural season.
“The pro midgets are an idea that Charles Priestley had three or four years ago to put suspension on the Hurricane Midgets,” Gainforth said. “Our first year first race, we had four cars, but by the end of the year we had 16 cars. Right now going into the year, we have 27 drivers registered so we’re very happy.”
The other key marker in the discussion was the new Hot Rod Series, which will debut this year with an eight race schedule – seven asphalt events, and a dirt race at Brighton Speedway.
“I grew up going to dirt racing as Brighton was my home track,” Gainforth said. “So when I started this division, I always thought it’d be great to take it to the dirt. I thought it’d be neat to have a division in Ontario that ran both pavement and dirt. So when I spoke to Mark this year through the off-season and being apart of the 50th anniversary night, it was a no-brainer.
“My guys are excited about it. None of them have ever raced on dirt before so it’ll be a whole new experience for them and I know someone is going to go off the back straightaway right into the little creek out there. I think it’ll be a great season.”
Even with the focus seeming to be on these two divisions, the Super Late Models and the Modifieds aren’t far from the radar, either, as there were some notable cost saving measures discussed during pre-season driver’s meetings.
In the fan’s eyes, a super late model is one of the most expensive cars to race with the mod quite expensive as well,” he said. “We took steps this year with the drivers to cut the money every week. We cut back on the tire bill this year. For the super late models, we cut it in half this year, probably saving around $3500 this year. For the modifieds, they’re saving around $1200 this year.
“For both our top divisions, if you come last in the feature, you covered your weekend expenses and it’s more important for a traveling series because our bill is bigger with traveling and we’re taking the steps to ensure that the traveling division stays strong and all the competitors are there each week. It is relative, but if we’re taking steps at it, it helps on top of that.”
While the excitement is there with each of the divisions, it’s also worth noting that the excitement surrounding the series’ return to Kawartha Speedway for the first time in a couple years was discussed, as well. Gainforth brought it up as part of the panel’s discussion in attracting new fans, mentioning the challenges they’re facing.
“The thing that we’re facing this year is Kawartha hasn’t been open the past couple of years and there’s no solid fan base there,” he said. “So we’re trying to figure out different things to do to get people there for both events because it’s very hard to do this as a one-off. It’s very nerve wracking.”
However, with that noted, there’s also excitement into getting to the other tracks, and working with each track’s perspective promoter to put on a good show.
“I don’t know what’s worse being a promoter or series director, but it’s awesome working with all the other promoters in Ontario,” he said. “I see what they do to help get their track out there and such.
“It’s a gamble, even for a weekly show. The people have to be entertained because you’re trying to keep people’s attention for three hours. There’s a lot of different things that they could do, but there’s a lot of good things that the promoters are doing to keep them coming every week.”
With positive thoughts on the mind across the board, this year is bound to another season full of success.