Sometimes when you stick a microphone in front of a driver’s face, you have no clue what they may say and a couple of times you’ll hear something that surprises you or gives you a bit of a perspective.
Throughout the 2020 season, I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of different competitors. During those interviews, there were some quotes that stood out. So it seems only fitting we take a glance back through the year at what was said.
“We all work hard on our racecars, but you can’t drive that home enough. You have to work hard and persevere because there will be tough times along the road. And I think the biggest thing is just to focus on your own program. I see so many people on social media today talking and bench racing on social media and there’s obviously a time and a place for that, but I just feel that sometimes different racers get too caught up in that and I think that being surrounded an older generation of racers who have been in my life and continue to help me, that if I was me telling younger racers, it’s important you focus on your own program and how you can get better each week, and focus less on some of the things that people have to say about you and your presence on social media.” – A.J. Emms
“It means the world. We were just coming out here to get laps under our belt so to be competitive like we were means a lot to us. We’ll look over our notes and come back here in a month.” – T.J. Edwards on a runner-up in his debut at Jukasa
As Jason Keen got ready for his third season, he said the biggest thing his team needs to do is figure out the fine adjustments on the car to get it dialed in for each track on the schedule.
“That’s what we’re working on during the winter time and right now, too,” he said. “I’m hoping to have another good season. I would like to win a feature race; that’d be my goal, to try to get good feature finishes.”
“It is one of the fastest series in Ontario and you don’t have to spend big dollars to get that feeling of going fast. What makes the modified so special is the variety of different and amazing looking cars with great competitors that make it awesome to watch from the stands.” – Cory Horner
“Car counts are great, the cars look amazing, and most importantly, the racing on the tracks for the past couple of years, you would be hard pressed to find anything better. Any Mod driver will tell you that you would be hard pressed to find anything more exciting to drive, for the investment you need to make. I personally think our product is the best, the rules are locked in until the end of the 2023 race season, drivers know their investment is solid, they are not spending money in off season in silly rules changes that don’t need to happen.” – Dave Gainforth
“There’s a lot of strong teams and they are all improving. That just means we are in for a long off season to make sure our car is capable of being competitive.” – Bryan Batty
“I think my highlight of the year was the Iron Man 72,” Gary Elliott said. “That was such an unbelievable event, first of all to be created by Dave Gainforth, and between him and Brian Todish, they brought that together. We made it a twin 36 – well, how cool is that? And I’m 72 so 36 and 36 is 72, so it was just perfect.
“The first night everybody got lapped, I think, by the super late model, but on the second night, he won again – but I finished fourth, and I had an unbelievable run. I had by far the best race in that modified at Sunset Speedway in the second feature on Sunday. So that was really good. My family was there, I had cousins there, had a lot of fans there cheering and they were ecstatic. They wouldn’t had been any happier if I won; that’s how excited they were to see me be right in there. I drove on the outside the whole race, and that was my highlight of 2019.”
Elliott has been part of the OSCAAR Modifieds since 2014, and notes the most memorable moment was being able to score the 40th feature victory of his career at Sauble Speedway in 2018.
“But last year, the Iron Man 72 was a home run in every aspect, by all the people that supported and bought laps,” he added. “Maybe the other thing too that was really good about last year was I take a lot of pride in my racecar – always have since I started racing, and we won best appearing car at three different events last year with the modified – Rick Woolner Memorial, Velocity as Brad Pearsall presented us the best appearing car, and then the banquet. That’s the first time that I won best appearing car three times in one year; I had done it twice in one year at two different events but not at three events so that’s pretty cool.
“So those two things would be the highlight for me. The Iron Man twin 72 finishing fourth in the second feature – we almost could have gotten third, maybe second, if things would’ve fallen right, but we got fourth. But it didn’t matter; I was so excited. That was just a great race.”
“Racing against Junior Hanley, Don Biederman, Kim Wallace – all the guys that I grew up watching, racing side-by-side with them at Cayuga (now Jukasa Motor Speedway). That was back in the mid 90’s. I’m like a lot of people – I got spun out by Don Biederman; I got spun out coming out of two at Cayuga. I don’t know if I’m proud to say that, but it was a pretty cool thing. He showed up on a Sunday with no practice, started dead last, and he damn near won it. I think he ended up third.
“The guy – he wasn’t my favourite driver, but he was quite a wheelman. I grew up idolizing Junior Hanley and it’s been pretty cool to work side-by-side with him and to work with him at his shop on my car with his input, it’s quite a neat thing.” – Brad Pearsall
“I think that we have the second-best series in Canada, and I think it’s getting better and better, and I think it has a lot to do with (series president Dave) Gainforth and his crew. Basically, it’s their vision on rules and nothing is getting obsolete, and therefore, I think people are noticing fast racecars at a reasonable place and it gets people involved. They’re not a cheap racecar, but they’re not wildly expensive, and the speeds are high, and more cars breed more cars. Like, success breeds success, and I think that’s where we are. I think the overall health of the series is as good as it could possibly be.
“As a matter of fact, I’ll extend that to the Hot Rods that it’s the same thing. The rules are intact, and it’s growing and now you’re getting names like my wife Amanda, Tom Walters, and some other guys. I think OSCAAR In general is as healthy as I’ve ever seen it. It’s one of those snowball things, and it’s rolling downhill. OSCAAR is riding the wave and I think it’s mostly to do with the rules being solid and not fluctuating. You know you can buy a car and it won’t be obsolete in a year or two.” – Kelly Balson