Early in their careers, racers at every level are told that it’s not where you start a race, but where you finish it that matters most. Sunday, June 30th drivers were given the opportunity to earn the inside front row starting spot for their respective feature events during the 21st running of Thanksgiving Weekend’s Autumn Colours Classic – presented by Lucas Oil Products – at Peterborough Speedway by winning a feature race and anytime there’s the advantage of leading the pack to the green flag for one of the country’s premiere motorsports events, a full pit area is almost guaranteed.
Nearly perfect Canada Day long weekend weather conditions welcomed a strong crowd of competitors and fans as the afternoon’s opening round of qualifying rolled from the staging area. Ryan Oosterholt picked-up the day’s first checkered flag in the Battlefield Equipment Four Fun division, with John Baker Jr. and Todd Musker sharing wins in the Paul Davis Systems Thunder Car heats. Numbering 21 strong, preliminary action for the Peterborough Hyundai Mini Stocks was split into a pair of qualifiers won by Ryan Babin and Tyler Junkin. The Vanguard Self Storage Late Model division brought a couple of heat races to the line to close out the first session of qualifying, as cousins Jack Horner and Corey Horner posed for photos with the checkered flag.
The second round of Chase for the Colours pole position qualifying saw James Townsend hold off a late race charge from Oosterholt for the Four Fun win, while Travis Hallyburton and Donny Beatty took the Thunder Car wins. The 3rd and 4th Mini Stock heat races went to Ryan Oosterholt and Doug Butler. Todd Delisle and veteran Bill Zardo punched their tickets for the 75 lap Late Model main event by winning their second round qualifying events.
Feature race action began with James Townsend and Ryan Oosterholt pacing the field to the green flag for the 20 lap Battlefield Equipment main event. The pair swapped the top spots lap after lap, while everyone else worked their way around Canada’s Toughest 1/3rd of a mile oval. Oosterholt gained a car length’s advantage as the crossed flags – signifying 10 laps complete – were displayed. Lapped traffic gave the leader a bit of grief and that allowed James Townsend to slip past for the win. Oosterholt held on for the runner-up spot, with Andrew Massey, Ray Schoer and Jeff Scott completing the top 5.
The 40 lap Paul Davis Systems Thunder Car feature rolled the line with Matt Spence and Travis Hallyburton in control of the pack. Spence and Hallyburton continued to lead the way, until contact between Bob Kish and Cayden Lapcevich slowed the pace with 17 laps complete. Back under green flag conditions, John Baker Jr. began to show some muscle, but another yellow was displayed a lap later for debris on the front stretch. At halfway, JBJ had moved to second and less than a lap later, took over the lead.
With the #53 of Spence showing signs of smoke, Baker pulled away with Todd Musker, Hallyburton and Donny Beatty trying to work past the second place machine. As the lap counter rolled 27 down, Lapcevich and Dan Archibald came together entering the 3rd for the race’s 3rd yellow flag. John Baker Jr. held-on for the win and thanked track officials and his sponsors in Dart Heating and Air Conditioning victory lane. Travis Hallyburton, Dan Price, Bob Kish and Lane Zardo rounded-out the finishing order.
30 laps of Peterborough Hyundai Mini Stock action was next on the agenda, with Danny Benedict and Rob Flindall leading the way. After pacing the first 10 circuits, Benedict caught the tail of the field and began lapping slower cars with Chris Mulders in tow. While most in attendance were anticipating multiple yellow flags, the 4 cylinder crowd ran clean and green until 22 laps were complete before the first caution for a multi-car incident in turns 3 and 4. As the track went back under racing conditions, Chris Mulders, Benedict, Ryan Babin, Oosterholt and Doug Butler were the top 5 runners.
Benedict would gain a slight advantage over Mulders on the restart and even though the pair swapped the top spot back and forth, Mulders earned the win over a hard charging Butler. Benedict held onto 3rd, with Ryan Babin and Ken Townsend 4th and 5th.
The days final feature event was a 75 lapper for the Vanguard Self Storage Late Models, with Thayne Hallyburton and Corey Horner on the front row and a strong field looking for the preferred starting spot at the Autumn Colours Classic. Hallyburton took advantage of his inside line starting spot to take an early lead, forcing Horner deeper in the pack, but with just 5 laps complete, the yellow flag was displayed as Darren Kearnan was sent spinning in an incident that also involved Ryan Kimball.
Still pacing the field, Hallyburton was being tailed by Chris Mitchell, Kelly Balson, Bill Zardo and Todd Delisle. After restarting scratch, Kimball was 8th with 14 complete. A lap later, working around a slower car saw Hallyburton lose the lead to Mitchell and by the time the dust had settled, the #14 Chevrolet had dropped to 8th. Jack Horner’s solo spin coming off turn 2 slowed the pace again, with 24 laps in the record book and a pair of laps after the restart, Dale Laking rolled to a stop on the back stretch for the show’s 3rd yellow. Mitchell, Balson, Zardo, Kimball and Nick Goetz were running in the top 5.
Chris Mitchell stretched-out his advantage over Balson, while Todd Delisle rolled his #22 machine to a stop on pit lane with just over 30 laps complete. As the lap counter clicked-off lap 35, Jack Horner slowed on the backstretch, but after a quick stop, rejoined the field before the green flag. At halfway, it was Mitchell, Balson, Kimball, Zardo and Goetz pacing the field. 47 laps were complete when Nick Goetz slowed in turn 4 with a flat right front tire. On the restart, Mitchell was still leading with Kimball, Balson, Zardo and Hallyburton completing the top 5.
With only 15 laps remaining, Mitchell – the track’s most recent Saturday night Late Model feature winner – appeared to be a lock for the win, with Kimball destined to finish second. Then a slower car delayed the leader’s charge and gave Kimball the spot and the race win. Mitchell settled for second and although Balson was being challenged by Corey Horner, he held on for 3rd. Pole sitter Hallyburton crossed the line in 5th position.