Even though preparations have already began for the 2020 campaign, there was still some left over business from last year as the Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC, Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd OSCAAR Modified drivers and crews together to celebrate everybody’s accomplishments.
Since their inaugural campaign seven years ago, the OSCAAR Modifieds have seen steady growth on a yearly basis, becoming a staple on Ontario’s racing scene.
The 2019 campaign saw numbers hit some new record-highs, with 33 different competitors running at least one even over the course of the year. The car counts on a weekly basis increased, too, with several events seeing over 20 starters.
“I’m very lucky that you’ve believed in the vision that I’ve had for OSCAAR,” series president Dave Gainforth said at the banquet. “You spent your hard earned money to build these cars, to come to the race track each week, and support the vision that I have for racing here in Ontario. That’s something that I take great pride in doing this for you each and every week, being there to give you a chance to race in the division that you love each week.
“This season was one with great emotions throughout the season, each and every week. As a group, we gathered at a race track to say goodbye to our good friend John Harper. As a group, we then went out and raced in his honor, and I know we made John proud, and his family. As a group, we honored one of the greatest drivers in Gary Elliott with one of the biggest modified races of the year. As a group, we’ve raced on the hottest of days, endured rain outs and cold nights, and still put on the best racing each and every week, even green to checkered features in all three of our divisions this year. As a group, we are here to celebrate the season, to dance, and to have some drinks with our friends and to look forward to the 2020 season. And for all those reasons, I’m proud to be your president.”
With seven heat wins and three feature victories, it was A.J. Emms leading the way for his fellow drivers over the year en route to being crowned the series champion.
“First off, I would really like to thank OSCAAR; the entire division – they’ve made the entire series possible,” Emms said at the banquet. “And without OSCAAR, Dave, Bruce, Gord, and everybody’s support – this series would not be possible. They brought the series to Ontario and it’s been really great. That goes the same with the Hot Rod division and the Pro Sprint division. OSCAAR is a division that I’m proud to be a part of and proud to be represent, and hope to represent moving forward.
“My dad always taught me to surround myself with good people. He said that no matter how good you are, there’s somebody that will be better so you always should do your best, and surround yourself with the best people possible. My dad helped me surround myself with good people this year, and himself included – and that’s what helped to make this championship possible. Those people are everybody in this room that makes OSCAAR better. Those people are the people that are sitting at table six.
“I want to thank each and every one of you for being here, and your contributions to the sport, and especially those people over there and their contributions to me, my family, especially my fiancé Cassie, and everybody else that made it possible as it means the world to me. So thank you very much.”
Emms wasn’t the only driver to visit victory lane, with six different driver scoring feature wins throughout the course of the season. As a result, there were a lot of awards to hand-out at the banquet for everyone.
As the highest finishing rookie in the MavTV Canada Rookie of the Year standings, Anthony DiBello took home the Rookie of the Year Award. DiBello showed speed on a weekly basis, ranking second in the year-end standings.
Fellow rookie Norman Newman was fast on a weekly basis, ultimately earning him the inaugural John Harper Hard Charger Award.
“It’s a new award that we started this year, and it’s a new award that we named in our friend John Harper’s memory this year,” Gainforth said. “If you ever watched John race, he was a hard charger from the green flag to the drop of the checkered flag, doesn’t matter what it was for – he wanted to get to the front. So I thought it was fitting to name this award after him in his memory, because it’s based on passing cars. You earn points for passing cars every week and that’s what the most important thing.”
On top of being awarded the inaugural honors, Newman placed fifth in the year-end standings.
“First off, I would like to thank all the staff at OSCAAR and all the hard work that you put into everything,” he commented. “It was an interesting year. From never sitting in a car and not knowing what three pedals is in there – pro sprints, we have two, go and stop.
“I’d like to thank my parents, my brother that holds down the fort at the family business during the week. Hawn Motorsports, Stanley Motorsports. Brian MacDonald and Adam Hagen – I couldn’t have done anything without those two, and the work that they put on the car through the off-season. That Brad guy over there that pushes me around, jokes around. Ashley, my spotter, thanks.“
As one of the great young spokespeople for the division and a clean competitor on a weekly basis, Dale Reinhart was given the Don Hawn Sportsman of the Year Award.
In his final season racing in Ontario, Gary Elliott took the time to present his IronMan Award, which is presented to the driver that overcome and faced adversity throughout the year to always be at the track, with a perfect attendance as a requirement to be eligible.
“He wrecked a few times to the point that they were almost going to quit, and they say I can’t keep doing this,” Elliott stated. “It is frustrating – back when I started, I wrecked five weeks in a row; it was so discouraging. But we always come back out because by Sunday afternoon, you’re feeling okay and you want to work on the car; Saturday night, you’re not too happy.
“This one goes to the modified driver who had to do this a few times to get his car back out and it was the 56 of Jase Cornell.”
It marks the second year in a row that Cornell took home the award, following five feature top-five’s and nine feature top-10’s en route to placing seventh in the year-end standings.
Elliott, meanwhile, got to take home an award of his own, as he was voted for the Best Appearing Car by his fellow competitors for the second year in a row.
“In my 51st year to race with you guys has been such a pleasure and honor for me,” Elliott commented. “When I see in 2013, I was racing a late model at Flamboro and I saw the No. 7 modified in the pits, I thought man oh man when did they start allowing troyer modifieds? I’d love the troyers forever, so I talked to him and he said, ‘Yeah, we’re allowed these.’ So the next year, I bought one. I sold my vintage modified which I ran for 33 years and bought an OSCAAR modified, and I honestly will say that racing a modified has been the best ride that I’ve had – so far.”
Elliott ultimately capped off the OSCAAR chapter of his career on a solid note, placing sixth in the year-end standings with eight top-10 finishes, including a season-best fourth at Sunset Speedway’s Iron Man 72.
“Thank you very much OSCAAR for all you’ve done,” Elliott reflected. “I really had fun this year; it’s really been my best ride in the modified. I just love it, and I love running with all the competitors.
“Thank you very much Quaker State, PPG, Permatex, and thank you very much for one of my sponsors that is here tonight – Grindstone Landscaping. I just thank you so much. I just wish you the best in 2020 and I just say thanks to God for all the people that he’s brought into my life, as racing is about the people.”
Bryan Batty did not have the season that he wanted with several mechanical issues and a couple wrecks, which led to him being given the Hard Luck Award.
On the flip side, Wally Wilson’s third year behind the wheel of a modified saw him continue to show improvement on a weekly basis with more speed. As a result, he was given the Most Improved Driver Award.
With a solid season in the books, OSCAAR is now putting full focus forward on the upcoming 2020 campaign, which should be filled with great racing, lots of competition and racing across the entire province of Ontario, based on early indications.
Be sure to stay tuned to the OSCAAR website for details leading into the season.
Be sure to keep up with OSCAAR by staying tuned to the series website at http://www.oscaar.ca. Also, make sure to “like” the official OSCAAR Racing Facebook page, while following both the Twitter and Instagram accounts (@OSCAARRacing) to keep up to date on everything you need to know.
OSCAAR’s 2020 racing season was supported by several dedicated partners including Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC, Knightworks Design, Living Lighting Canada, Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd., American Racer, and Grisdale Race Products.
By: Ashley McCubbin