Oyster Bed Speedway Surf & Turf ‘From the Stands To the Stocks’ Part 2
After winning all there was to win at his Local Track in Oyster Bed, Dave Gorveatt and Marv Dyer were pondering their future. Unsure of what to do until a surprise visit helped make that decision for them.
According to Gorveatt it was an unexpected, engine tech session at their local garage from track officials which wielded no wrong doings for Gorveatt and Dyer that would lead them to make the move full time to the Maritime Circuit for the ’91 race season.
The move, however, would eventually lead to the dismantling of the Championship team that dominated their local Island track for years. After running the tour for two seasons together the time came after the ’92 Race season when Marv would sell out his interest in the race team to his partner. Thus, bringing the end to an era between two friends, who on a whim decided to build a race car simply for the fact that they could. After 4 Oyster Bed Championships, countless Feature wins and more memories to last a lifetime, the two would part ways for good that summer.
“Marv and I ran MASCAR together for two years and he was finding it hard with the bigger commitment on the weekends, more time away from family and all the travel associated with a tour. It is a big commitment. Remember we used to run 18 races back then.”
In the summer of 93′ the future Hall of Famer would take a year off and drive the pace car for the MASCAR tour. He would begin to put the pieces together for the future including upgrading his sleeping quarters to drastically improve the comfort on the longer trips.
Everything seemed to be coming together but there was still a significant hole to fill with after longtime partner retired.
It wasn’t until a drive home from Riverside International Speedway from his weekend job of pace car driver, did Gorveatt find the missing piece of the puzzle, somewhere in the middle of the Northumberland Straight.
Gorveatt regales the tale of that first meeting. “Coming back from a race in Antigonish, Tom Scully came down and sat beside me on the boat. He asked me. Dave what’s the plan? Are you going to race? I said, I don’t have anybody lined up to help me yet, but yes it’s something I am thinking about that’s for sure. Well drop out to the garage and see me then. So I went out and saw him and we talked, and decided to go racing. And that was that”
With Scully now on as Crew Cheif and Spotter they would eventually add Dale Weeks to the team, and Tom’s two sons Stephen and Kevin. A tight knit group that were completely devoted to the team that would rarely let outsiders in.
In 1994 they would make their debut as a team and it was a constant struggle to achieve a level playing field he recalls. “We were up against the likes of Frank Fraser, Terry Clattenburg, Gregg Seaword, Scott Fraser, Rollie MacDonald, and Scott Kelly. These were professional drivers and we were up against 15 big money teams with full time crews on some nights .”
Still Gorveatt and Scully remained true to Dave’s core beliefs of keeping costs down.
“We had nothing. No money compared to these teams. And we built our own stuff. I remember Tom and I spending all winter building parts for the next summer.” Even during the races the duo were always conscious of their equipment. “Tom used to be on me and tell me where the rotors were and if they started to glow.” You may have to let a couple of guys go by to save the gear. You had to be around in the end.”
Despite running well and getting good finishes it wasn’t until 1997 that the team would register their first Tour Feature win in Antigonish, a track he always loved.
“We always had a super car at Riverside. I think the high banked corners reminded me of home and we always had success there. I sometimes had trouble on the flat tracks but the speed of that oval always suited me.”
As the 97 season wore on the team continued to plug away every weekend, not so much concerned about the points and the standings as they were concerned about the budget.
“On the points side of it we didn’t even bother looking. At that stage you just keep going. We were finishing top 5 90% of the time so as long as we kept cashing checks we could keep racing.”
With the Points Championship in their grasp heading into the final night of racing that season, the team knew it was going to be a long rough night ahead and that there would be plenty of obstacles before they could take home the Championship.
“They tried to take us out twice that night, early. The whole quarter panel was all tore up one side of the car after two drivers came at us. Then they were screaming on the radio for us to come in saying we had fuel leaking. But I knew the boys had tied up the tank up and there was no fuel leaking. The whole side of the car was torn up but we weren’t coming in.”
As always the now seasoned veteran had a plan.
I told Tom that there was only one way to beat these guys and that was to follow Kelly home and to stay on his back bumper. (Kelly was second to Gorveatt in points) As long as I stayed one spot behind him I was good to go and get the Championship by one point.”
Despite having overwhelming odds stacked against them the low budget team with a big heart became the first PEI car to take home a Maritime Points Championship. That was 20 years ago and they remain the only PEI team to win a Maritime Points Championship at that level.
The team wouldn’t stop there. Three years later they went on to win the International Pro Stock Challenge at Scotia Speedworld and for the final 6 seasons competed on the PASS tour. Success would continue to follow the team in the PASS tour. In 2002 they won a Feature race in Quebec.
No matter where they raced they were always the low budget team. At the Oxford 250 with somewhere between 60-70 of the biggest race teams in the region trying to qualify for the big race, Dave recalls pulling into the pits with the only open trailer at the prestigious event.
“There was some teams with more money invested in their trailer than we had our car. Some fella beside us in the pits decided to point that out. I told him well buddy I don’t think we took the trailer here to race so if it’s all the same to you we are going to use the car that’s on it.” Dave also had to add, “We qualified, he didn’t,”
Throughout a career that spanned 20 years patience was always what his team preached for the first part of the race but Dave asserts, “I would always make sure they would let me know when there was 20 to go, because then it’s time to go.
When asked what it was about their team that made them so special the Hall of Famer quickly replied, “We had a lot Grit and determination and most importantly we never gave up, no matter what.”
In the 20 years since 1997, Jonathon Hicken from Brudenell came closest to a Championship with a second place finish to 5 time Champion John Fleming in 2014. Hicken would take home 4 Feature wins that season including a win on the final night along with the Fan Favorite award and the TCM Power Performer of the year.” Maybe the second best season an Islander has put together since.
Gorveatt went on to speak very highly of the team. “I’d say if they were running full time they would be a team to be reckoned with. They have the equipment and the talent.”
After taking in a number of Pro Stock races this season Dave plans on making the trip to OBS Saturday night and he has his eye on one Island driver in particular.
“I really like the 91 (Dylan Gosbee) and what they are doing. They are the up and coming team. They are the next ones from PEI to challenge.”
Written By: Oyster Bed Speedway Track Announcer Jeremy MacDonald