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Sunday Funday: Valley Raceway a Must See Attraction in Maritime Motorsports Industry

By Tim Terry

Not knowing what to expect last Sunday, former Scotia Speedworld Four Cylinder champion Kyle MacMillan and I made a last minute decision to head down to Valley Raceway to take in some dirt track action.

The track is just a few minutes outside of Kingston, Nova Scotia and if you are not from the area, there are signs that will guide you around so you can find the track in case you find yourself lost like we did. While narrow, getting down to a lane and change, the dirt road is maintained well that leads you to the track and runs you through the trees before the oval pops out. For those that want to camp, there is also a camping area on the road just prior to getting into the track.

The racing program starts at 1pm and features a heat, semi and feature for the three divisions at the track including the Four Cylinders, V8s and Unlimiteds. For a spectator coming from the Halifax area or the South Shore, it is a nice drive to get down to the track but the show does not run that long so you do not have to rush to get home. At a $10 adult admission for the grandstand, the nine races on the card and the action they provide is an affordable way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The show begins with all the cars coming out to the front straight so the fans can get a close look at them prior to racing. The grandstands begin where the admission gate is positioned behind Turn Four and stretch nearly to the end of the front straight and are positioned high above the track, and there is no bad seat in the house.

Four Cylinders kicked off the afternoon of racing with a ten lap heat race. The race featured the biggest car count of the year for the class with 14 taking the green flag, including Jamie Dillman, Brandon Watson and Dave Matthews from Scotia Speedworld. Once the cars are lined up behind the pace vehicle, the field does a pace lap before receiving the green flag the next time out of Turn Four. It wasn’t long before Jonathan Conrad found the dirt bank in Turn Four in the former orange #187 Lightning car he campaigned at Scotia Speedworld. The momentum put him over the hill and into the ditch on the other side, which drew the caution flag.

The clean up of Conrad’s car was unique, because no other race track in this region has a hill with a ditch behind it that a car would need to be retrieved from. The only thing I can compare it to is the field behind the back straight at Oyster Bed Speedway and a car finding its way into it. The team at Valley Raceway did a great job retrieving Conrad from the ditch and not causing any further damage to the car. The #187 even made it out to the grid for the main feature.

The heat was won by Jesse Deveaux, less than 24 hours after getting his first start in a Sportsman car on asphalt. While that race did not go the way he wanted to, the Four Cylinder champion for 2015 at Valley Raceway looked in top form on Sunday on the dirt. Justin Balsor won the semi after being pressured by Dillman in the late laps.

_2DS0384Jamie Dillman took his Lightning car to the dirt on Sunday and performed well in the September 20th race. The #158 car from Carroll’s Corner was second in the semi final before the feature was rained out. Photo by McCarthy Photographic

The Eight Cylinder heat featured a scary wreck after the #58 of Josh Rainforth and the #4 of Roddy Weir came together out of Turn Four. After the #58 made contact with the right rear quarterpanel of the #4 car, the #4 gets turned into the dirt bank on the front straight. The car then takes off, turning over, getting air an Olympic gymnast would be proud of. The car then slammed down on its roof, eventually coming to stop with the wheels up in the air.

Thankfully, the safety gear in the car did its work and Roddy emerged from the car under his own power a few anxious moments later. After being checked over by the infield personnel, Roddy was cleared and watched his car being towed back to the pit area off Turn Two.

PHOTO GALLERY: You can check out photos from the afternoon on Valley Raceway’s official Facebook page.

Jim Rankin was the driver to beat in the V8 Class, winning both the heat race and the semi final in his black #63 car.

Watching the V8s and the Unlimited class provides some great entertainment and those drivers put on quite the clinic on how to control a high powered car around the slick dirt track.

While there are some vast differences between the dirt racing at Valley Raceway and pavement racing in the region, one similarity remains – rain will wash out racing. A heavy mist that turned into a light rain set in just before the main features and would ultimately cancel the final three races once the Four Cylinders were lined up.

At the end of the day, from a fan perspective, and there were a lot of them there on Sunday, Valley Raceway is something you need to put on your schedule for 2016 if you do not get to their final non point race on Sunday, October 4th at 1pm. The admission price on the front gate is affordable, the racing program is smooth and the action provided is well worth the trip from the city.

From an outside driver’s point of view, Brandon Watson and Dave Matthews said they would be back but they would be back with other cars built specifically for the track. The dirt provides different characteristics than an asphalt track, including a bumpier ride that their Honda Civics weren’t ready for. If you are a stock car driver anywhere from Yarmouth to Truro and you want something different to do every second Sunday in the summer, put yourself together a dirt car for Valley Raceway for 2016. You’ll have a ton of fun, trust me. The smile on Brandon Watson’s face probably hasn’t left his face since Sunday.

When I go to a track for the first time, I have a bit of a different perspective from being behind the scenes at most tracks in the region. For a track just under two seasons old, they are doing a lot of things right. Their emergency response team, that was used once on Sunday, was quick. Their clean up crew is pretty good at cleaning up accidents and as quick, if not quicker than a handful of asphalt tracks in the region. The whole program looks great from a fan perspective, something Greg Banks and Peggy can be really proud of.

If I had to nitpick on one aspect, it would have been the afternoon’s announcers, Tim and Dylan, taking subtle shots at Scotia Speedworld and their previous night’s card failing to provide the excitement that the fans at Valley Raceway were seeing. From being on that side of the microphone a few times before, there is a way to build up excitement at your track, but to take anything away from Cole Butcher and Dylan Blenkhorn’s 180+ laps side by side in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour finale was not the way to do it. They did a great job otherwise keeping fans informed of the goings on throughout the day and introducing the drivers to those in the stands.

_2DS2600Comparing the action and excitement at Valley Raceway’s dirt track to the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour finale is like comparing apples to oranges. Both provide unique racing action, but to say the action at Scotia Speedworld on the night previous to Valley Raceway’s points finale was not exciting is stretching it a bit. Photo by McCarthy Photographic

The final race of the Valley Raceway season goes green at 1pm on Sunday, October 4th at 1pm and will feature Kid’s Rides with the drivers following the afternoon of racing. Trust me, if you are in the area or you are looking for a mini-road trip, which will be beautiful by the time October 4th rolls around with the leaves changing, you owe yourself to get down to the Kingston area and check out Valley Raceway. I know they have a new fan in me and it will be on my schedule more than once in 2015.

For complete, up to date information on Valley Raceway, please check out their Facebook page – and don’t forget to throw them a “like.”

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