At short track speedways across the nation, victory lane can almost be considered as sacred ground. Throughout his career – beginning in the Thunder Car division at Kawartha Speedway – Willie Reyns has been no stranger to the winner’s circle. The Port Hope, Ontario native – who now makes his home about 20 minutes away in Baltimore – picked-up a number of qualifying heat and main event wins on his way to track championships in 2008 and 2010. Not content to rest on his past accomplishments, the 31 year-old – who along with his wife Cheryl, recently welcomed the arrival of a daughter – hit the road for selected starts with the touring Street Stock Nationals Series and logged a runner-up finish during a 2013 stop in Newton, Iowa.
In 2015, Reyns took his skills to the inaugural season of the APC Pro Late Model Series, where he recorded some solid results, including a 5th place finish in last year’s running of the Autumn Colours Classic. Seeing that performance as a solid footing in a new racing venture, he spent the off season reworking his equipment for a solid attack on the new schedule.
“My experience in the Thunder Car gave me a taste for what it was like to win and made me hunger for more,” said Reyns, who earns a weekly paycheque as an Ironworker with Aecon. “As much as I hoped we’d be successful, I knew we weren’t likely to win with the Pro Late Model right out of the box. As long as there were some decent runs and we learned as much as we could about the new car, some different tracks and drivers, the team and I could be happy while we figured things out.”
With 116 laps on the table for this year’s main event at the Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing, Reyns took the initial green flag from inside the 4th row on the grid. While some drivers choose to take an aggressive approach while chasing a checkered flag in a marquee event, the driver of the #87 machine put together a well thought-out race. He’d moved into 3rd spot with 14 laps on the board, took the runner-up position as the field logged the 31st circuit and was in control of the field – a position he’d never relinquish – after a pass on lap 54.
“I learned early in my career that you can’t win any race on the first lap,” admitted Reyns. “From the start of the race, I knew I had to just drive my car and not worry about anything else. I don’t know if there has ever been a perfect race car, but mine was the best I’ve ever had. I think Chenoweth was trying to cool his tires, but I was paying attention to what was happening in front of me and my spotter did a great job of telling me what was happening elsewhere on the track. I had to run some consistent laps and keep hitting my marks over the closing stages of the race. Being able to celebrate my first Autumn Colours Classic win with my daughter at her first race and along side me in the victory lane photos is an unforgettable experience.”
Willie Reyns and the #87 team – including crew chief Andre Reyns, Cole Abrams, Leo Reyns, Brian Stacey, spotter Ryan Carr, Zack Symons and Matt McMillian would like to thank their families, friends and fans for their support throughout the season. 2016 sponsorship was provided by Cobourg Development Services, Spray On Linings of Durham, Don Stacey Electric, Boundy Roofing, Port Hope Carstar, NAPA Port Hope, Axalta Coatings, Pursey’s Yacht Portage and www.ironworkers.ca.