Moving On Up! Pro Stocks to Headline at Oyster Bed Speedway in 2018
Placed at a cross roads after the 2017 season with a dwindling car count in their top division, Oyster Bed Speedway has decided to go down the Pro Stock road.
Confirmed by track owner Bill Kinney to Tim’s Corner Motorsports, the current headlining Late Model division at Oyster Bed Speedway will be replaced with a Pro Stock division in 2018. The announcement was made to drivers and teams at Outriders Cookhouse on Thursday, October 12th in Charlottetown and was well attended by over 40 within the racing community on the Island.
The rules package will be based off the one used on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour with a broadened rule on shocks and amendments to grandfather in the current Island Late Model cars. The division will run on Hoosier 1070 tires. Complete rules will be released by the race track in the coming weeks.
The schedule is expected to include in the ball park of eight races for the class ranging in lap distances from 50 to 100. The schedule will be planned with big races in the region in mind, like the IWK 250 and the Atlantic Cat 250, so teams can take part in those events if they wish.
Of course, there has been a lot of talk since the meeting that formally announced the change less than a week ago.
Allison MacKinnon has been racing at his home track for nearly three decades and believes the move it is something the track needed to do for the future of racing on Prince Edward Island.
“I think its the way the track needed to go,” said MacKinnon. “The Late Model division has been great for the track over the years and we have seen some awesome racing. A lot of drivers have gone on to do some great things in this sport that all cut there teeth in that division. The rules and style of cars kept you on the Island though, buy a older Pro Stock car, cut it apart and turn it into a Late Model. The cars were different from anything in the mainland.”
It will be a new adventure for all involved, says MacKinnon.
“I expect it will be a learning curve as the owners are allowing the cars that are there now to make changes so the older car can still be used which is great. Hopefully as the season goes on the two cars can run together to provide some tight racing action.”
The 2016 Oyster Bed Late Model Champion and current Pro Stock competitor Chris Hughes echoes that statement.
“With the introduction of the Pro Stock chassis to the class last year I think it gives the class a great chance to expand,” said Hughes. “The old (Modified) cars were a bit of a one off car and there’s less than a handful left running full time. It’s a natural progression.”
Hughes, a veteran Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour competitor with 43 career top tens, says a local Pro Stock division at home opens options for 2018.
“I have been a Tour supporter for a long time,” said the part time Tour driver in 2017. “We haven’t made our plans yet, but running the series at home is definitely an option if sponsorship and other things dictate that. We have a Moncton sponsor as well, so we still have many things to consider.”
For the reigning Oyster Bed Speedway Late Model champion, he is looking forward to defending his title while moving up a class at the same time.
“I think it’s the best thing to do to get more cars out there and I’m happy that the track is doing this,” said Mark LeClair. “We could go and do some racing over across the bridge with the Tour too with the rules being close. I’m looking forward to moving up.”
Many former Oyster Bed Speedway Late Model stars have worked their way up the ranks to the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, including the likes of active drivers Robbie MacEwen, Dylan Gosbee, Terry Dougay, Darren MacKinnon, Jonathan Hicken, Greg Proude, Allison MacKinnon and Kent Vincent, just to name a few. Troy Burke was the latest to make his Maritime Pro Stock Tour debut after the team purchased a Pro Stock car.
The Oyster Bed Speedway Late Model division saw nine cars compete in 2017, with the biggest car count on a night of racing being eight cars. LeClair took the championship for the first time in the Late Model class over Matt Palmer and Randy Millar. Millar is one of those that has already announced via social media he will be running in the class in 2018.
Allison MacKinnon believes it will help grow the sport on the Island as well.
“Guys will be able to now buy cars that are being sold and get on the track way easier. Now the car count can grow. You can get cars from all over the Maritimes to come and race here and give the Island fans some great Late Model racing action. Teams from Speedway 660 or the Pro Stock Tour cars on off weekends can now come and add to the field.”
“I have raced at Oyster Bed Speedway since 1990. Three years ago we started racing on the Tour and we are enjoying what we are doing. It’s always fun to race at your home track and I wouldn’t rule out seeing us do a couple of dates at Oyster Bed either.”
The 2017 season will officially be closed for Oyster Bed Speedway on Saturday, November 4th at the Winsloe Lions Club with the annual Awards Ceremony.
Photos by McCarthy Photographic