Whether they’re watching from the top rows of the grandstand or from the controls of a racecar, spectators and drivers alike share the same opinion. Competitors at the weekly short track level seem to get younger and younger every season. Peterborough Speedway’s weekly divisions are no exception. In the Battlefield Equipment Rental Four Fun division, Willow Barberstock has just started the 9th grade and just completed her first season of action with a solid point finish. Peterborough Hyundai Mini Stock drivers Danny Benedict and Brandt Graham – both of Orono, Ontario – are Clarke High schoolmates. Benedict picked-up a feature win in 2013. Graham is part of a 2 car team with his father Craig, who claimed the season’s Vanguard Self Storage Late Model title. Both drivers finished in the top 10 in points.
With the 21st Annual Autumn Colours Classic – presented by Lucas Oil Products – just around the corner for Canada’s Toughest 3rd of a Mile Oval, the ‘youngens’ have the same chance at having their name engraved on the championship trophy as their more experienced counterparts. As proof, you only need to turn back to 2009 in the history of the Super Bowl of Stockcar Racing. That was the season a fresh-faced 16 year-old Brandon Watson – who was using a couple of throw pillows to be able to see over the steering wheel – picked-up wins in the Limited Late Model and Pro Late Model Main events. As if that weren’t enough, the talented teen from Stayner, Ontario scored a runner-up finish in the OSCAAR Outlaw Super Late Model feature. Now at the ripe old age of 20, Watson won the OSCAAR ‘A’ main during the August 24th Peterborough Speedway finale and currently leads the tour points.
“There are some places where experience will help you, but an event like the Autumn Colours Classic is a level playing field,” said Peterborough Speedway owner/promoter J.P. Josiasse. “You roll the dice to land on the perfect set-up for the race conditions and if racing luck is on your side, this is a weekend where anyone can win. Age doesn’t make a difference. The right break at the right time can park any driver in victory lane.”
While the tight bullring on Mount Pleasant Road, west of the LiftlockCity has its share of up and coming young stars, some invaders have been making headlines for strong runs at their weekly home tracks. Just ask 17 year-old Lane Zardo, a regular at Sunset Speedway. He’s enjoyed a strong run in the Super Stock/Thunder Car field and will perform double-duty at the Autumn Colours Classic, steering his regular ride as well as an OSCAAR Modified. 13 year-old Cayden Lapcevich – who like Willow Barberstock – just started the 9th grade, also competes at Sunset. Zardo and Lapcevich each finished in the top 10 at their home track.
The 21st Annual Autumn Colours Classic – presented by Lucas Oil Products – gets underway Friday, October 11th with pre-race inspection and first round qualifying for the Four Fun, Mini Stock, Thunder Car, Limited Late Model, Pro Late Model and Open Wheeled Modified divisions.