Each week, this will be the column that takes a look at a division’s past weekend of racing, combined with the week ahead to highlight what should be on the minds of all race fans.
The Pro Late Model action has already begun in Ontario, as evident by Flamboro Speedway kicking off on April 30. It was not a big car count to start the season as only 10 drivers made the trek to be apart of the show.
Should that cause some early worries? Probably not, based on several other factors. It’s still early in the year, and a lot of builds have seen some delays with people re-doing or debuting cars, so it’s understandable if some weren’t ready. There’s also still a lot of buzz about the division, and it seems when the APC Auto Parts United Late Model Series kicks off, it normally only increases.
The low car count also did not dwindle the quality of the show, with eventual race winner Mark Burbridge and Kevin Albers putting on a good battle for the top spot. There were a couple early laps side-by-side, with Burbridge able to make the move that mattered. That said, he never drove away from Albers to keep you wondering if a comeback was possible in 50 laps.
Although Rick Burbridge was ranked 18th on our Drivers to Watch column, it’s his brother who scores the first checkmark of the year after being missed out upon. Neither Albers or Steve Laking were on the list, either, which does raise eyebrows if you look back now. Both have always been front runners at Flamboro, as evident by success the past several years. That said, Laking did not partake in action behind the wheel in 2021 with his focus on Samantha Shaw’s program.
You also can’t forget about Trevor Thompson when you think back to opening night, either. He proved he was fast last year in the OSCAAR Hot Rods with a couple checkered flags, and was no slouch behind the wheel last Saturday, either, holding his own for a top-five.
This week’s action at Flamboro should pick up, with J.R. Fitzpatrick (ranked 4th to watch) joining the show to get some laps behind the wheel of his brand new piece. Let’s not forget he capped off 2021 in victory lane at Frostoberfest. Combined with Rick Burbridge hopefully fixing issues, and it could be a more interesting night.
Sunset Speedway will also be in action this weekend, and that proves to be a very deep field of competition. The names inserting themselves into the field are big, and it is going to be a great preview of what’s to come for the APC Series season opener in a couple weeks.
Jordan Howse was ranked at the top of the drivers to watch pre-season after winning last year’s track championship.
Connor James (ranked ninth) hopes to build upon his late-season momentum after a podium at the Autumn Colours Classic. 2021 Limited Late Model Champion Rick Spencer-Walt (ranked 10th) makes the move to full-time Pro Late Model competition, hoping his new piece shines through to repeat his past success.
Coltin Everingham (ranked 17th) got his motor late, but it is in the car and he will be ready to see whether he can continue working his way to the top-five. Samantha Shaw (ranked 20th) embarks on her sophomore campaign after continuing to gain speed throughout 2021.
Ryan Kimball and Jade Franklin have also both posted they will be in attendance, as well. Kimball has previously won Pro Late Model races at Sunset Speedway, as recent as 2021, while Franklin, a past Frostoberfest Champion, continues to inch closer to being a steady top-five contender.
Early Power Rankings
As of: 1 Race Completed – April 30 at Flamboro Speedway
- Mark Burbridge
- Kevin Albers
- Steve Laking
- Trevor Thompson
- Ty Cavallin