Last season, Wally Wilson put together a solid OSCAAR Modified rookie campaign, placing 10th in the year-end standings. After confirming plans to once again run the full OSCAAR schedule, alongside select Outlaw Midget events, Wilson took some time to speak about everything with SHORT TRACK MUSINGS.
SHORT TRACK MUSINGS: What are your thoughts looking back on the 2017 season?
WALLY WILSON: My thoughts looking back on the 2017 season are nothing but positive things. We ran a three car team this year, had some solid finishes and have a good idea on things to improve on for 2018. We, as a team, learned a lot about the Modified all year, and showed improvement each week, the confidence is up. We left the three biggest races in Ontario short track racing with our car in one piece and no damage.
And in the midgets we weren’t as focused on, it was more for fun. We had a few solid finishes and a pair of thirds; for the limited amount of starts we had with the Midget we did great, and the Pro Midget we only had two starts, we sold it just before Frostoberfest at Flamboro, so I’m pretty excited to see that car on track and hopefully performing great like it did in 2016 when we finished second in points with it!
But getting back to the Modified, I learned not to drive it like the midgets, and that I was a little too conservative of the car. I can be a lot more aggressive than what I was. We’ve got the car to win races, now it’s just about getting the driver in the right mindset too!
STM: What was the most memorable moment for you from this past year?
WALLY: That’s a tough one to answer because there was so many memorable moments this past year, starting back in May with my first start with the OSCAAR Modifieds. We were far off the pace, but gained respect from my competitors by giving them lots of racing room while I learned how to drive the car! Then of course getting to run with Cole Powell at Kawartha was great too; I loved that place both times we ran there this year!
Another memorable moment was making my first start with the Outlaw Midgets, it was great to be back with a lot of the same drivers that I started racing with back in 2015! Of course one of the better memories was at my home track of Sauble Speedway; we came home with a 9th place finish after a chaotic feature race! There was a weekend where I got the incredible opportunity to work with Norm Benning and Mike Senica of Norm Benning Racing at CTMP for the truck race, I learned a lot that weekend!
One of my favourite moments this past year would have to be getting to race with Gary Elliott, especially for his 800th consecutive start! I’ve looked up to him for years, watching him run a late model, vintage Modified and then these last few years the OSCAAR Modified as well, and this past year he really took me under his wing and taught me a lot!
STM: Moving up from midgets to the modifed, what was the biggest surprise for you?
WALLY: The biggest surprise for me would have to be how different the cars handle from each other, and how much power the engine has Over the midget. Everything about the Modified is so much different compared to the Midgets!
STM: What’s the biggest thing you learned that you feel will help you moving forward?
WALLY: The biggest thing I learned this year that I feel will help me improve moving forward is that I need to be more aggressive, but of course still maintain the clean driving I’ve had for years. I’ll have to find the happy medium between aggressive and conservative, which throughout the off season so far, I’ve been going back and studying my GoPro footage of the races, as well as various other forms of racing and learning about what to do in situations as well as when to make particular moves.
STM: We talked about the schedule you’re set to tackle. What are your goals and expectations for the new year?
WALLY: My goals for the new year aren’t much different than last year, I’m aiming for another top 10 in standings at the end of the year for the modified, and in the midget, my goal is to win a race. I’m expecting to run in the top-five each week! We’re really going to be stepping it up from last season; we’re back to a two car team again, which is how we were in 2016 where I was very successful, so I’m hoping it’s going to bring back that luck again!
STM: What track are you most looking forward to?
WALLY: I don’t have one track that stands out in particular, but one race that I know is huge for the OSCAAR Modifieds is that race at Jukasa Motor Speedway; it’s a very big stages for us to run with the NASCAR Pinty’s series, so there’s been a lot of talk about it, and I’m sure we’ll see our biggest car count to date that week! I’m excited to get back to Sunset Speedway in both the Midget and Modified, but especially in the Modified; it’s always really great to see a series return to a track after a year away from it which we were lucky enough to get to run Fall Velocity last year! Another wonderful track we’re returning to is Kawartha, that’s also going to be a very big pair of races for us!
There’s always a lot of excitement for myself each time we get to run Sauble Speedway, and I’ll get to do that multiple times again this season, with a double header weekend in September! A track I’ll be returning to for the first time since 2015 due to rain each time we’ve been scheduled to return is Full Throttle Motor Speedway. I’ll be getting to race with the Outlaw Midgets twice there this year, which being about 30 minutes away, I would consider it my second home!
I’m excited to race Flamboro again, which is a track I’ve done well at in the past! And of course, last but never least, Peterborough Speedway, I had a great run at Autumn Colours last season, and I’m looking forward to running there again twice in the Modifieds. Oh and speaking of Peterborough Speedway, I also get to return there in a midget, my most successful track with two heat wins, that one is going to be a good race for sure!
STM: We’ve seen a steady growth for the Modifieds the past couple of years. What are your thoughts on the state of the division as of right now?
WALLY: The state of the division right now is stronger than ever, we were all able to put on some of the best shows in Ontario last season, and had some of the highest car counts as well, Modifieds are always a fan favourite because they’re so evenly matched, the close open wheel racing keeps fans on the edge of their seats. Last year alone we had one of Canada’s most recognized and talented drivers come out to run with us, that being J.R. Fitzpatrick! It seems the closer we get to the 2018 season, the more Modifieds are seeming to be purchased. It’s going to be amazing to have guys like Kelly Balson, Chris Mitchell and many more coming out, and of course some faces we’ve seen a limited amount of times like Connor James and a few others!
And with the awesome schedule OSCAAR has made for us this year, we’ll be drawing in plenty of attention, and we may even see some guys come up from the States to run with us as well! This year is huge for OSCAAR, as the Modifieds will be taking center stage as the top class of OSCAAR. The jump to 40 Laps instead of 30 is going to make a big difference in who can win races. After watching the growth these last few years, that’s what convinced us to get a Modified, and it’s cool to be a part of the growth; look for it to get bigger and better as the season goes on!