Making the move into the ever-competitive Flamboro Speedway Mini Stock division, Erik Dalla Riva got stronger on a weekly basis over the course of the 2018 campaign, learning each step of the way.
“I got off to a slow start and struggled a little bit towards the middle of the season but with the help of everyone on the Spira team, the last half of the season improved immensely,” he told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “We missed the setup the first few races of the season and were chasing our tail to catch up, but that turned out to be more about communication between myself and the team as well as not being confident in making the bigger swings in the set-up that were required to get the cars handling to change to suit my driving style instead of adjusting my driving to suit the cars handling.
“About mid-way through the year. the car got much better but minor motor issues and getting caught up in some wrecks really hurt our chances to get a better points finish. I am very proud to come out of the season with Rookie of the Year, top-five in points with a feature win and obviously topping it off by wining Frostoberfest was unreal!”
At the year-end Frostoberfest special, Dalla Riva ran just outside the top-five through most of the first feature, but capitalized on other competitor’s late-race misfortune to finish third. He then backed it up in the second 50-lap feature, working his way from the 11th starting spot to the front, avoiding the incidents along hte way to finish third. As a result, he would be crowned the overall Frostoberfest Champion, taking home the prestigious Igloo trophy.
“I still can’t believe it happened,” he commented. “I learned very quickly in my first Frostoberfest race that it is a very difficult event to do well in as there is a lot of great drivers that show up for the event. My goal this year was to run consistent and keep the car clean for both 50 lap races because I knew the car was the best it’s ever been. I think the whole team was pretty excited to get another Igloo to go alongside the one that Billy (Schwartzenburg) won! The team worked very hard all year and I probably wore everyone out week after week asking questions and trying to perfect the car, so it is really nice to see it all come together with a big win like that at the end of the season.”
Alongside winning the year-end special and placing fifth in the standings, he said there were some other great highlights from the rookie campaign to remember.
“The whole season was a lot of fun,” Dalla Riva said. “The car continued to improve, working with the Spira team was great and the whole Flamboro Speedway Mini-Stock division was ultra-competitive and rewarding to run in every week.”
With full fields every week at Flamboro Speedway – boosting some of the most competitive fields in the province, the success was rewarding in knowing the caliber of talent he was able to beat.
“There are so many fast cars and drivers that if you’re not on your game you can’t run up front,” he commented. “The track continues to improve the facility with new concrete pads and the paving in the pits and along with their rules package, I see more cars coming in the future to make it even more competitive.”
Whether Dalla Riva will be in the Mini Stock field next year is yet to be seen, with his plans for 2019 currently up in the air as the No. 86 Spira Racing Mustang is currently up for sale.
“The No. 86 Frostoberfest winning car is for sale right now as it came off the track as I require financing for a business venture I am getting involved with as well as looking to purchase my first house,” he revealed. “I will definitely be racing a car in 2019. Once the car sells, I will be able to work out the other details, so unfortunately there isn’t too much to share with you just yet but stay tuned!”