The race to a season points championship is nearing the finish line for Thunder Mountain Speedway drivers.
With just three races left in the bone stock class and two races left in the street stock division to acquire points, Saturday night’s annual Memorial Race at the local speedway promises to bring competitive, fast-paced racing as drivers jockey for position leading up to September’s season final and, ultimately, a championship.
“There’s just this weekend, then the Doug Larson Memorial and sprint cars on Aug. 24, then Sept. 7 is the points final and the big Day of Destruction,” said TMS president Bob Lowen.
“But the street stocks won’t be racing at the Doug Larson Memorial, so for the streets this is one of the last races for points, and they’ll be racing hard because there’s just the two left.”
Tim Westwick, who is currently leading the street stock division in first place with 77 points — 17 points ahead of second-place Tyler Yuille — said he considers the Memorial Race the most prestigious event of the season.
“All the fast guys will be there,” he said. “We’ll have to have it really dialed in. I’m fortunate right now I’ve got a bit of a point lead over Tyler so we’ll need to race smart and see if we can clinch out our second straight season championship.”
Westwick is coming off a win during TMS’s Christmas in July last month where he managed to take the checkered flag, despite driving with a wrecked transmission.
Apart from Westwick and Yuille in first and second, respectively, Doug Gerow currently holds down the third-place spot, Arnie Kunka is in fourth, Garnet Grimard is in fifth, Garnet Schiller sits sixth, Corey Price is seventh, Gilles Cyr is eighth and John Ashley is in ninth.
On the bone stock side of things it’s Mitch Rollo leading the field with 109 points to date. Damien Fisher is in second (84), Brian Bettles and Steve Panta are tied for third (79 points each).
“The bone stocks are alive and well,” Lowen said. “That class is driving really well right now.”
During Saturday’s Memorial Race, special black flag laps will be held to honour and recognize racers, volunteers and those involved with the race track.
In particular, TMS is honouring longtime volunteer Colin Sanford, who lost a lengthy battle with cancer on June 26.
Sanford was a volunteer, racer, TMS director with the club and first got involved around 2009.
“He got his start when George Giesbrecht brought him up and he started volunteering as first aid,” Westwick said of Sanford. “Then later we put him in my sister’s mini stock and he did pretty well.”
Sanford also worked in the race tower, volunteering his time recording lap times on race nights, and worked with the Tri-City Race Series. He was also the voice on the radio communicating with drivers in their headsets during race nights.
“He did a lot for the club,” Lowen added. “So we’re focusing on him a little bit and also all the many others over the years. Every single person that’s up there, whether the fans or people in the pits, has somebody special in their hearts because they’re all part of the racing family. Everybody has someone special they’ll be thinking of. That’s the way I look at it.”
Racing gets underway this Saturday, Aug. 10, with qualifying laps beginning at 4 p.m. and racing to follow at 5 p.m.