We have well established that the 2020 campaign was successful for plenty of drivers, despite the shortened schedule. However, there are several other Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modifieds presented by Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd. and The Fyre Place & Patio Shop competitors that should be mentioned as well.
Making a Splash
A couple drivers did not reap the headlines with checkered flags or podium finishes, but their appearances behind the wheel left an impression.
Jeff Walt made his series debut in style at Jukasa Motor Speedway, setting the quickest time in qualifying. He backed it up with a solid performance in the 50-lap feature en route to placing sixth.
Unfortunately, his season was cut short with a blown motor at Sunset Speedway. Though if he returns to the series in 2021, he could become someone to watch.
Jeff Showler has not spent the past couple years behind the wheel of the No. 4 Modified, with Geoff Chant taking over the reigns. Showler returned when the series took to Sunset Speedway, and proved he could still got the job done with a fifth-place finish.
The current direction for the team’s future is not known, especially with Showler’s kids also involved in motorsports. However if the previous race winner was to put more starts under his belt, there easily could be some more checkered flags.
The OSCAAR Modifieds have been fortunate to have four different drivers hoist the championship trophy at season’s end since the series’ first year in 2012. A couple of those competitors stepped away from the sport, but made their return this past year.
All-time win leader Gary McLean came out swinging in his lone start of the year, laying down the quickest time in qualifying at Jukasa Motor Speedway. He ran up front to start the event, but succumbed to engine issues on Lap 15. You have to wonder what could have been otherwise, though.
Cory Horner ran three of the five events in 2020, and proved that he has not missed a beat. The 2018 OSCAAR Champion was able to score three top-eight performances, including a fourth at Sunset. Now it’s just a matter of what could be possible with a return to full-time competition.
When Wally Wilson made the switch from Midget competition to the OSCAAR Modifieds, it was his first opportunity to get behind the wheel of an eight-cylinder vehicle. Though in each year, improvement has been seen as evident by winning the Most Improved Driver Award at the 2019 banquet.
The progress carried forward into the 2020 campaign as he was able to score a career-best eighth at Sunset and showed progress in gaining speed at each track on the tour. With the team expanding to having two cars on track each week this past year, there’s a chance that the progress could build into bigger things for 2021.
A lot of people are used to seeing the name Gruntz in OSCAAR competition, as evident by the familiar orange and black 31 made famous by Josh through the early seasons.
The family tradition grew a chapter this past year, with Josh’s brother Ben making his series debut following experience in the Pure Stock division at Peterborough Speedway. The events went solidly, too, a best finish of 12th at Sunset Speedway.
If the team continues to regularly appear at events in 2021, a top-10 could easily be in hand as Ben Gruntz gets used to the tracks and open-wheel style.
Age is Just a Number
One of the unique aspects when it comes to a walk through the modified pits is seeing the variety of experience under each of the driver’s belts, with everybody joining the division from varying backgrounds. There are also various ages for the drivers, whether that young or old.
Mark Hamacher and Bob Franks are in the veteran category when it comes to the discussion, but they both have proved that you can still have a lot of fun racing amongst the open-wheel stars in 2020. On any given day at the track, a smile can be seen on their faces as they’ll assure you that the modifieds are still the coolest cars to drive.
They both have also put together solid finishes at times throughout their careers, with a couple top-10’s for each of them, including a 10th for Franks at Sunset Speedway.
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., Touchwood Cabinets, Sauble Falls Campground, The Fyre Place & Patio Shop, Ohsweken Speedway, American Racer, and Grisdale Race Products.
By: Ashley McCubbin