A unique partnership out of the Spira Racing team will emerge for the 2019 racing season, with Erik Dalla Riva and Rich Schwartzenburg teaming up to share driving duties together.
The plan came together following discussions between the two drivers after this past year, with their plans for the upcoming campaign.
“The plan was to step away in 2019 to be honest. In the last race of the season,” Schwartzenburg admitted. “I caused a wreck that tore up my car pretty bad (as well as others). Pretty much the next day the team went to work on rebuilding the car, so when your team rallies behind you like that you can’t quit.
“Erik Dalla Riva approached me with the idea of combining our efforts for 2019 and bringing primary sponsor SDR Seating with him. This allowed me both the time and financially flexibility I was looking for, and strengthened the teams resources as well. I get to step away at more gradual pace and Erik gets to continue to race; it’s a win-win. With the Spira Green (No.) 86 mini (stock) off to Robert & Connor James in 2019, the deal with Erik is official.”
They plan to make Flamboro Speedway their home track, but Schwartzenburg states that it won’t be on a full-time basis with trips to Sunset Speedway, Sauble Speedway, and Full Throttle Motor Speedway on the possible radar.
“With the drivers working to get a Sauble Speedway August APC long weekend show on the Sunday, it will be a big event for all teams,” he added.” Also, with Flamboro looking at possibly doing something Labour Day weekend, it could be big summer for the division. With Spira Fire Protection, SDR Seating, Schwartzenburg haulage and Linda Olson @ Escarpment Realty back on-board for 2019, as well as the support of Gunk, Lucas Oil and Wix Filters, the team has never been on more solid footing and looking forward to fun year.”
Dalla Riva made a name for himself in his first season at Flamboro Speedway, scoring his first career feature victory on August 4 to go with 12 top-five’s and 20 top-10’s to take home the prestigious Rookie of the Year Award. He then capped the year off in victory lane by winning Frostoberfest.
“I still can’t believe it happened,” Dalla Riva spoke of Frostoberfest last month. “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.”
Schwartzenburg is also coming off a successful campaign in 2018 that saw him pick up four top-five’s and 20 top-10’s throughout the season at Flamboro Speedway.
“2018 was a great season for the entire team,” he commented. “My brother (Billy Schwartzenburg) had a another strong campaign on the APC series, Erik finished fifth in points and grabbed Rookie of the year, Sam(antha Shaw) finished second at Sunset in points and I managed third at Flamboro. I have always had the support of Spira Racing, but the last two seasons I have been running out of the main shop and the results show last year; was fourth and this year third overall.”
The success for Schwartzenburg came virtue of doing his homework in the shop prior to the season to put together the strong effort, all while staying on a budget of buying only six tires all season.
“I think the hardest part for us is with the team going in so many directions APC series, Sunset Points, Flamboro Points, Nationals, etc,” he admitted. “The resources are divided having guys like Ken Spira, Randy Shaw, Mark Dennis and Dave Mast around on a weekly basis I really think we could have been even better.”
Beyond his own personal success, Schwartzenburg feels his home track is also headed in the right direction with “concrete pads for all teams, paved pits, improved lighting and the three highest paying specials of 2018.” The growth was showed with the pair of SHORT TRACK NATIONAL events, which he helped in promoting the first one by putting together lap bonuses and specialty awards for the competitors to take home.
“The first Flamboro Nationals was big deal for me putting on the promoters hat for the first time and helping put together a race that paid out almost $10,000 was pretty special,” he commented. “The way the racing community rallied around the event was great. The racing itself was fantastic.”
It also doesn’t hurt when the track is putting together one of the best mini stock divisions across the province on a weekly basis, too.
“Simply put – the best field top to bottom in the province,” Schwartzenburg said of the division. “You had 10 different feature winners, four different makes, the championship came down to the last race on the last night. I hope that continues this year as they made some positives changes at the rules meeting that should encourage some cars to come to Flamboro.”