Mother Nature was not a race fan in 2017 as she wreaked havoc at Claremont Speedway. Seven cancellations ripped apart a 20-week race season with one of those being a makeup from a previous rainout. Cancellations were called on May 5 and 26, June 16, 23, and 30, and August 3 and 17 resulting in numerous tour events to be rescheduled including the North East Mini Stock Tour, Street Stock Showdown Series, and Senior Tour Auto Racers as well as the Daddy’s Pizza Twin 30’s for the Casella Modifieds. 2018 can’t be anywhere close to 2017, can it?
Good things sometimes take time. Sunapee, NH’s Ricky Bly knows that all to well. After finishing as the runner-up in last year’s point standings and a couple times prior in past seasons, Bly captured his first-ever track championship this season in this 17th year of competition. Bly finished ahead of Dylan Bodreau by 37 points when the final checkered flag fell on the season.
On the way to the Super Street Championship, Bly won 3 feature races (T-1st), led 87 feature laps (2nd), won 3 heat races (T-4th), recorded an average finish of 3.86 (1st) and gained the most positions from start to finish with 117 – a speedway best. Ten podium finishes, 11 top 5’s and 13 top 10’s in 14 races highlighted the champion’s season. By comparison in 2016, Bly won 5 features, only seven podiums, nine top 5’s and 15 top 10’s in 17 races. Congratulations to Ricky on his first-ever championship.
While Claremont Speedway’s record books are elusive and hard to lock down, there is no doubt the Limited Sportsman champion is one of the youngest to ever be anointed with the title of track champion. Anointed you say? Well we are amongst royalty as the “Polish Prince”, Tyler Janovsky, at age 17 won his first-ever championship in the Limited Sportsman division as a high school senior.
The milk-drinking Jacksonville,Vt driver won this year’s title by only four points over Chris Colburn. Janovsky won two times during the 13-race season with eight top 3’s, ten top 5’s, and 13 top 10’s. Janovsky also led 65 laps (2nd) as well as recording an average finish of 3.38. Congrats, Tyler.
While our 2017 Modified track champion already has brought home the championship hardware for open-wheelers, Dana Smith joined the ranks of the “Tour-Types” with his championship. Winning three times during the season, leading a division-high 92 feature laps, and a having speedway-best average finish of 1.9 over the complete season, the Sunapee driver recorded one of the most remarkable seasons for the high-horsepower entries by defeating Nick Salva by 45 points. Never finishing worse than 4th, Smith logged six podium finishes in seven events to be declared champion. Congratulations, Dana.
No word if our Wildcat Track Champion is a Red Hot Chili Peppers fans but Zach Lyn was red hot during the 2017 race season. After starting the year with a 4th place finish on opening night, Lyn never finished worse than 3rd after that on the way to his first-ever track championship in the 4-cylinder division. Lyn also recorded a speedway-best six feature wins during the 14-week race season as well as 12 podium finishes and 13 top 5’s in 13 feature events. The second-year driver led 123 feature laps, won six heat races, and won the title by 96 points over Dale Squires Jr. He ripped off three wins in a row from July 29 to August 25 with his average finish being 2nd place over the course of the season and finished off the year with two in a row.
Congratulations, Zach. While his 2018 plans are still to be determined, he will be seen at Claremont Speedway whether in a Wildcat, Mini Stock, or something else.
One of the greatest modified drivers in the northeast to ever strap on a helmet, Ascutney’s Dwight Jarvis continued to visit Victory Lane in his 45th year racing with his feature win on May 12. The 13-time Claremont Speedway track champion won his heat race and started on the pole during the 30-lap feature event.
After fighting off challenges from TJ Bleau for the first 17 laps and eventual track champion, Dana Smith, for the final 13 circuits, Jarvis continued to add to his career feature win total. He also competed on June 9 finishing 2nd after starting 7th. Jarvis was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame on November 17, 2016 and also recognized by the Tri-Track Open Modified Series for his contributions to Modified racing during the Daddy’s Pizza Twin 30’s on September 8th.
The 2nd Annual Race Against Cancer Event at Claremont Speedway on August 25 proved to be once again, one of the most powerful events of the 14-week season. 53 race teams participated in the 2nd Annual Race Against Cancer Event to benefit the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. After the checks were recorded, the electronic transactions logged, and the cash counted, we were able to raise $ 15,500 for that organization. No small feat by any means.
Not many race tracks work to give back to the community as our race teams, fans, and speedway officials do each year. This race is special to almost everyone because of effect it has for people fighting cancer. Some have won the battle, others have unfortunately lost, and some are still fighting today. We will continue to do our part to help find a cure.
Wildcatter Samantha Stoddard was the top fundraiser overall recording $ 1,936 worth of donations. Super Street driver Jack McClay won the pole with a $ 1,550 donation, just $ 50 more than Hayden Scott. Joe Tetreault was awarded the pole in the Limited Sportsman division with his $ 600 contribution as Dana Smith did the same in the Modifieds. The Super Street division was the top fundraiser with just shy of $ 7,500. Winners in the race events were Dana Smith (Modifieds), Ricky Bly (Supers), Kenny Thompson (Limiteds), and Zach Lyn (Wildcats).
23 or 24 years? Does it really matter when it comes to visits to Victory Lane? Kenny Fowler piloted the Green Goblin to KIXX Victory Lane on September 1, his first win in over two decades. It was also 80’s Night to boot. Fowler took a number of years off from racing between wins as well.
Fowler started on the pole but dropped to third on the opening circuit behind Joe Brown and Hayden Scott. As they paced the field, contact was made between the top 2 sending Fowler to the front, a position he would relinquish for the final 24 laps holding of challenges from Ben Poland and Jack McClay. Congrats to Kenny and the entire crew on this accomplishment.
Nine different Super Street feature winners celebrated in KIXX Victory Lane this past season, and it took until July 7 when Jack McClay became the first repeat winner. Joining McClay with that honor was Ricky Bly (3 wins) and Hayden Scott (3 wins).
Scott opened the season with the Richardson Memorial Race win after taking the lead on Lap 46 of the 75-lap event. Scott also won on September 8 and 29 to bookend his season. Mark McClay led all 40 laps in the Green Goblin in Week 2 to take home the checkers. “Radical” Russ Davis ran a limited schedule in 2017 but recorded his win in Week 3 passing Bryan Town on Lap 32.
2015 track champion Jack McClay joined his brother with top honors on June 2 taking the lead on Lap 24 of the Dean Smith Memorial 52-Lap Race. McClay also carried the checkers on July 7. Newport’s Craig Smith won on June 9th in his father’s favorite car with the throwback 52 paint scheme leading the last 2 laps of the event.
2017 track champion Ricky Bly won his first of three feature wins on Week 7 (July 21) holding off the competition on four restarts to win. Bly also won on August 25 in the Race Against Cancer Event after starting 5th. His last win came on September 15 where he started 16th and moved to the lead on Lap 16.
Rookie of the Year Craig Smith won his first career Super Street feature event on July 28 after starting 10th taking the lead on Lap 11 holding off Bly for the win. 3rd generation racer Dylan Bodreau grabbed his win on August 11 to become the 8th different winner on the year moving him to the runner-up spot in the point standings at that point in the season. He led the last 10 laps. The ageless Kenny Fowler was the 9th different winner with his win on 80’s Night on September 1. Fowler held of Jack McClay for the win.
Not often do you find a core of drivers who were as successful as this threesome was in their first race season in their division, including 2 who had never raced before. Craig Smith (Super Streets), Chris Colburn (Limiteds), and Dr. Sam Giveen (Wildcats) each enjoyed different levels of success during their 2017 seasons to be crowned Rookies of the Year.
Unity’s Craig Smith joined the Super Street ranks after a successful Wildcat career with 5 wins during the 2016 season and a 4th place finish in points. Smith adapted quickly to the rear wheel drive with two top 10’s in his first 3 events. His first podium finish, a runner-up, came in Week 4 with his first career win recorded in Week 8. Smith finished 4th in points with one win, four podium finishes, six top five’s, and 11 top ten’s. Smith’s average finish was 6.57 (4th), led 30 feature laps (7th), and logged five heat race wins (T-1st).
The Limited Sportsman Rookie of the Year, Chris Colburn, is no stranger to being around race cars. His father, Gary, was a former track champion having turned the keys over to his son to begin the 2017 season. The younger Colburn nearly pulled off a track championship but fell short to Tyler Janovsky by four points. Colburn’s season started inauspiciously due to a radiator hose mishap sending his mother to the hospital for treatment during Week 1 prior to Colburn finished sixth. Colburn caught fire starting in Week 4 with this first of 7 podium finishes on the season. A runner-up and then his first career win followed on June 9th. He finished with three feature wins (T-1st), 11 top five’s, and 13 top ten’s. Colburn led 68 laps (1st), won three heat races (T-1st), and his average finish was 3.31.
Dr. Sam Giveen waited until his 60th birthday to get behind the wheel of a race car and was awarded Wildcat Rookie of the Year honors by finishing 8th in points, only 2 points ahead of Zachary Morse. Giveen ran in 11 events during the race season, his best finish being a 4th on July 7. Giveen finished with eight top 10’s on the season, led 10 laps (7th), and recorded an average finish of 8.67. A gentleman racer and one who spent many a Wednesday night improving his ability behind the wheel, Giveen raced for the fun and we hope he returns to pilot the 41 next season.