For fans who attended Kawartha Speedway, they will remember seeing a red and white No. 35 Mustang. There was success experienced there, with Chance Isherwood taking home the track championship.
The significance marks an important part of Isherwood’s return to racing this season, he will be jumping behind the wheel of the very same car he drove that season and touring across the tracks in Ontario with a throwback paint scheme.
“Other than being excited to get back into the racecar, I’m pretty focused,” he told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “My mind is set on winning more than anything. I have to keep telling myself that I am going to win or I’m going to do nothing. But I’m just excited. I can’t wait to get back in the car.
“I’ve driven Late Model, Super Stocks, and everything I’ve driven, I just keep coming back to these Mini Stocks. They’re the funnest cars to drive, they’re the hardest cars to drive, and I’ve been doing Mini Stocks since 2001 and I just seem to keep coming back to them.”
The opportunity comes about through the car’s current owner, Dave Middel, who has been known for campaigning a program at Sunset Speedway the past couple seasons.
“Dave has offered me to this since he owned the car,” Isherwood commented. “I could’ve jumped in this car any night that I wanted to since Dave has owned it. it just didn’t feel right. I just didn’t need to be back in it. This year, I don’t know what it is, but at the end of last year, I got a hold of Dave and said, ‘Okay, now I want to drive your car. We’re going to go out and win.’
“I get my old crew chief back, too. My championship crew chief that helped me with my mini stock and then into my super stock career, he left because it wasn’t for him anymore. Now since I’ve been talking to him about it, he is saying that he may come out. So I get my crew chief back, some of my crew back – we’re going to have fun this year.”
Although they are now focused on a points run this year due to not wanting to commit every single night at one particular track, it doesn’t mean they are not looking to be successful this year. No matter when and where they unload the car, Isherwood says the goal is to run upfront.
“I mean, I wouldn’t settle for anything us; my competitive nature I guess,” he commented. “But my goal when I show up is if I’m at the race track, my goal is 100% to put that car on the start-finish line every night with a checkered flag. I just want to win.”
While Sunset Speedway is on the radar for the team’s schedule in 2019, they also plan to hit up other tracks across the province.
“I’d like to get to Full Throttle Motor Speedway a couple times – one time for sure, but I’d like to get there two or three. That is probably the funnest race track in Ontario to race on,” he said. “I know Sauble (Speedway) is doing one mini stock show, so I’m definitely going to support that, and Mark Dilley, and what he’s doing out there.
“Jukasa (Motor Speedway) – of course. I mean, that is. If I had the choice of running just Jukasa or all the other tracks in the province, I’d run to go run that Jukasa race. And we’re also going to be around for the playoffs. I had a shot at Peterborough (Speedway) way back in the day when I won my championship at Kawartha, but we got rained out halfway through the feature so I’ve got a bit of a vendetta with Peterborough Speedway.”
Isherwood knows what it’s like to win at Peterborough, having won the track’s most prestigious event, the Autumn Colours Classic, behind the wheel of a super stock. Despite all teh success through his career, he still calls that the most memorable moment.
“I stepped out of that car at the start-finish line and to see the stands absolutely packed – I still can’t get that thought out of my head,” he said.
For Isherwood, his interest in racing was sparked by a friend of his asking him if he wanted to join him at Barrie Speedway one night in the pits in 1999.
“We were there and helping out Steve Penny; that’s who my friend was crewing with,” Isherwood recalled. “I showed up on a Saturday night in early June and I haven’t left since. It just hooked me. I was there every night after that and I just kept learning and meeting people, and it just kept progressing.
I got my start by just getting invited to a race by a friend of mine that said, ‘Hey, I’m going to the speedway tonight. Want to come hangout?’ My mom thought it was a great idea because it got me off the streets of Utopia. I wasn’t running around being a little butthead; I had a safe place to go every Saturday night and it kept me out of trouble. I can thank racing for a lot of things growing up.”
Being at Barrie Speedway in it’s prime, Isherwood was exposed to some of the best racers in Ontario’s motorsports history, including Kevin Reynolds.
“Even before I knew him and started helping Steve Penny, I went to the race track and loved watching that 90 car of Kevin Reynolds,” Isherwood said. “Then I got to meet him, then we became friends, and then he built me cars. So my hero would have to be Kevin Reynolds.”
With having been around racing for 20 years now, he has seen the progression across the board, some of which may have gone further than it should’ve in his opinion.
“I believe it has over-progressed,” he spoke of the mini stock class. “It has gone far beyond what it needed to be, and what the actual division was meant to be. We kind of lost sight of what the Mini Stock division was there for. We kind of lost sight of that and just kept progressing and getting faster and allowing more stuff that shouldn’t be allowed in my opinion. But I mean, I guess that’s the natural progression of racing, but I think it’s gone too far.
“That’s kind of what pushed me into super stock originally when I left mini stock was it was going to cost me just a little bit more to race super stock. So why would I spend all that money on a mini stock when I could spend a little more and go race with the big boys? When we had 45 mini stocks a night, we were driving $2,000 cars. Now we have 12 mini stocks a night, and we’re driving $10,000 cars.”
There is some hope for the future of motorsports and keeping budgets in mind, with having seen the success of the Bone / Pure Stock class to date.
“That’s why I think the bone stock division is what the mini stock division should’ve been – well, basically what it started out as,” Isherwood continued. “This Bone Stock division is getting a lot of attention now and growing pretty big.”
With all the experience under his belt, Isherwood’s best advice to the new crop of drivers looking to get their start – be patient.
“It took me four years to make my first ‘A’ feature in a mini stock, and it literally just came down to patience and just sticking with it,” he said. “You can’t get frustrated, you can’t throw in the towel; you just have to go there every Saturday night and keep bettering yourself and learning the car and what goes on. Just be patient.”