The lakecity was well represented during the weekend at the Penticton Speedway for its Summer Sizzler Showdown.
Ryley Seibert and Donny Kunka both competed in the fast Late Model Sportsman class both Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8, and both finished among the top of the 13-car field.
Seibert, after finishing second in the 75-lap main event on Saturday, then third Sunday in the main, brought home a second-place overall finish.
“I’d never been racing at that track before,” Seibert said. “We showed up Saturday morning, I unloaded everything and went through the day, tweaked the car a little here and there, then qualified sixth.”
That put Seibert in the second row, outside starting position to start the main event.
“I think it was about lap eight and I took the lead,” he said. “I led the entire race up until about 12 laps remaining, then the second place driver, the local track champion Tim Graham, caught me and kind of used his bumper to get me loose out of turn two and was able to take the position from there.”
Upon lifting the hood after the race Seibert discovered his car’s A-arm was falling off, causing his car to handle less efficiently during the late stages of the race.
“I guess that was the reason he caught me,” Seibert said. “I had pulled about a five-car-length lead over him when he reeled me in.”
Back on the track Sunday, Seibert said it was a fairly uneventful race, with Mike Sproule in first, Graham in second and Seibert in third.
“I’m very happy with the finish,” he said, and thanked his sponsor, Superseal for their support in getting him on the track. “To go to a speedway I’ve never driven and to challenge for the win, I think it’s a successful weekend, and I hadn’t sat in a late model since the Wescar finale of 2016, so we pulled it out of the shop where it’d been collecting dust and threw a setup on it and changed the oil and the motor, so to kind of just come out of the box and have fun and challenge for the win is a success story in my books.”
Kunka, 22, who competes in the local street stock class at Thunder Mountain Speedway, was driving in his very first late model race.
“I’m hooked now,” he said. “I think I did a lot better than expected.”
Kunka, who started racing when he was 14 years old, finished fifth in the Saturday night main event, then fourth on Sunday.
“I found the late model easier to drive and nicer to adjust, and just the speed difference, and the horsepower, is phenomenal compared to what I’m used to,” he said, adding he received many compliments from fellow racers on his driving.
“Everybody that has raced at that level has always told me I’d do well at that level just because of the way I drive. Everybody seems to tell me I drive really smoothly, and that’s the biggest thing with those race cars.
“I have a pretty nice street stock and I’ve been getting a little frustrated with all the crashing and smashing. I don’t know if it’s because these cars are worth a lot more, but everybody seems to have a lot of respect for each other out there and it makes for some pretty clean racing.”
Kunka was driving the No. 3 car owned by Rob Zimmer of Zimmer Wheaton in Kamloops.
Asked how the transition was into the faster late model car, Kunka said he’s had a good teacher all his life, so he’s prepared.
“My old man (Arnie Kunka) taught me everything I know,” he said. “He won a championship in the Wescar series in one of those late models back in 2005. The game’s changed a lot but he still has a good idea what’s going on and what needs to be done.”
Kunka said he plans to race again on July 21 in Quesnel during Billy Barker Days.
“I just want to thank Rob (Zimmer) for what he’s doing and the sponsors,” Kunka said, adding Zimmer Auto Group, Lordco Racing, A&W and UnderWraps Advertising Solutions have all been tremendous helping him out.
Seibert, meanwhile, said it was nice to see a fellow Williams Lake auto racer on the track in Penticton.
“It’s always good to see more lakecity racers out there, and it was great to be back out,” he said.
“Bag thanks to my crew, my family and friends, and it was great to see the Kunkas down there. He (Donny) drove really well.”