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Maritime Abuzz About Sydney Oval Re-Opening

Ever since the evening of Tuesday, January 14th, the Maritime racing scene, especially the one in Cape Breton, has been on fire with the news of the former Island Speedway re-opening.

Since that announcement three weeks ago, there has been lots of movement around the Sydney oval. New owners Bill and Lynne Vasil have been busy looking over the land and making a renovations list, perusing marketing partners, talking to drivers and teams and preparing rules and procedures for their track among many other projects. With six months from the purchase of a track that had sit dormant since 2010 to the highly anticipated green flag, the Vasils are expected to be two of the busiest individuals in Maritime Motorsports leading into the racing season.

The track has been renamed Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway, which was selected from numerous entries in a contest ran in the week following the announcement. Nathaniel Smith of Sydney was the youngster who sent in the name, which reflects the mining history of the Island, and won a prize pack which includes a $100 gift card to the Mayflower Mall, a season pass for Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway and the chance to drop the green flag on Opening Day.

The racing community is restless as they count the days to the Saturday, July 5th opener. Response from local race teams and fans has been very positive, with a number of teams signaling intent to compete at a meeting held on Saturday, January 26th. The announcement of the re-opening garnered nearly 3,000 unique visitors in a 24 hour period on, peaking as the busiest off-season story in the history of the Tim’s Corner Motorsports website to the date. The website has also heard from race fans and teams as far away as the Fredericton and Miramichi areas in New Brunswick as they keep an eye on what goes on in Cape Breton for 2014.

When it comes to the schedule for the 2014 season, the Vasils have set aside four race events for the upcoming season. There are numerous upgrades needed to the facility to make it race ready for the season, which is the reason for the mid-Summer, July 5th opening date. Renovations on the list include a concrete wall around Turns Three and Four, paving around the facility including part of the racing surface and upgrading to infrastructure around the track, including fencing, grandstands and canteen and tower buildings. With a Canadian winter being unpredictable and the list of upgrades being lengthy, the track favored the mid-Summer opening date to ensure everything would be ready for teams and fans alike.

The track will follow up the date in early July with July 26th, August 30th and September 27th dates. All will take place on Saturdays and will feature an afternoon, mid-evening start time with complete race day schedules to be announced closer to the race season. Each event will be highlighted by a 100-lap Late Model Sportsman event. Cape Breton is well represented in the Sportsman class around Atlantic Canada and the management of the track does as well with Bill and Lynne Vasil overseeing the NAPA Sportsman Series in James River. In 2013, a dozen of the full-time competitors at Riverside International Speedway were from Cape Breton Island and many of the mainland cars, along with those from Cape Breton, are expected to make the trek to Sydney this season to test their skills on the Sydney layout.

Rounding out the card in the first year of racing at Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway will be the Street Stock/Truck division and the four cylinder Mini Stock class. Many Street Stock and Four Cylinder teams have ventured to the mainland in select starts since the track last saw competition in 2010 – and have fared well. Mike McLeod won the most recent Atlantic Championships for Street Stocks at the CENTRE For Speed in Shediac, New Brunswick and has had success at Oyster Bed Speedway in Prince Edward Island. Stephen Bennett’s #5 Street Stock car was driven to victory at Petty International Raceway in River Glade, New Brunswick in 2012 by Joey Rudderham. The recipe for success in the combination is expected to continue in 2014 with Bennett’s #5 already pre-registered for the upcoming season.

One of the most anticipated debuts may be that of former Mini Stock standout Lynden MacDougall as he makes the big jump to Late Model Sportsman in 2014. MacDougall, who has had much success off and on Island with his #18 Safeway Civic, had been rumored in the past couple of seasons to be making a jump up the racing ladder and his early registration in the Sportsman class confirms what some have been hearing for many months.

At the end of the day, it’s huge news. Track re-opened. Cars being built. Drivers registering to compete for the season. Renovations are on the horizon. Fans dreaming of burning rubber, sparks flying and the smell of gas. You may still be wondering how you can get involved? Here’s how.


The easiest way to get involved if you want to be a part of “the show” is to get in the action. Get a team together, look over the rulebooks and begin building a car. This is going to be a historic season for racing on Cape Breton Island, and around Atlantic Canada for that matter, how cool would it be to be on the grid for that first race and say that “I was in the first race of Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway!”

Teams from outside the region – rules at Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway are built with you in mind as well. The track is hoping to accommodate every car that comes from the mainland with some having to make minor adjustments to their cars. The goal would be if you are hauling from Halifax with a Civic or a Neon and want to race at Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway, you can. If you have a Street Stock car and want to haul from Petty Raceway or Oyster Bed Speedway, you can do so with minor adjustments to be competitive, like has been the case in previous years when Island cars have gone to visit tracks on the mainland.

Once you get that car in the building process, register your car for the season at the track. Registration forms are also available on the track website. The earlier you register, the less hassle you’ll have on race day when the back gates swing wide open!


It’s not hard to see that motorsports continues to be one of the fastest growing sports in North America. Unpredictable entertainment of cars flying around corner at breathtaking speeds brings fans out to the track by the thousands. Atlantic Canada has been the destination of the finest short track racing in North America – just ask Brad Keselowski, who competed at Riverside International Speedway in 2013, fresh off his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title the year prior.

As if being a part of the inaugural season at Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway and supporting the brand loyal race fans and teams of the stock car racing sport wasn’t enough, picture all the exposure you’ll be getting! Not only will your company name have the possibility of reaching local readers in the Cape Breton Post and all other local print and media material, but thousands of race fans in Atlantic Canada on Maritime Racing News website and hundreds of thousands when the race results are mentioned on Race Time Radio on Sirius/XM Radio.

All levels of advertising are currently available – from track signage to race and division sponsorship. For more marketing information, please contact Bill Vasil at (902) 971-0416 or Lynne at (902) 971-0419.


Yes, the easiest way and one of the most effective ways to support a short track is to go through their front gate on a Saturday night, park your butt on a plank and watch the cars and stars put on a show. When tickets and season passes go on sale, be sure to sweep yours up early to not only avoid lines at the track on race day but to also show your support for racing in Cape Breton and that you want it here for many, many years to come!

The biggest way to support the racing product away from the track is social media and web presence. A like on the official Facebook page of CBMMS and a follow on the CBMMS Twitter page not only gets you the latest news and information about the track as it breaks but in turns helps the track gauge interest leading into and from events and helps them work marketing strategies and web promotions that, in turn, you would be a big part of! The best part? It only takes a few seconds to click “like” and “follow!”

For a complete list of places to visit on social media, find our social media fan guide included below.

For all the latest news and information on the Speedway, be sure to visit


Saturday, July 5th

Saturday, July 26th

Saturday, August 30th

Saturday, September 27th



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Photo: Brian MacLeod was one of the first official Sportsman registrations for the new Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway. He is seen here at Scotia Speedworld this past August during qualifying for the Dartmouth Dodge 100. Photo by McCarthy Photographic

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