In Ontario racing circles, there are certain debates that come up from time to time, over and over again regarding in lots of discussion. One of those debates surrounds the pair of late model divisions in Ontario.
Depending what track you race at in the province, you either compete within the Limited Late Model division, or within the Pro Late Model division. Though will there ever be a day when the divisions become one?
This was a topic that was talked about amongst the all-star Late Model Panel at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Show, garnering some interesting opinions across the scale.
Currently, both divisions are healthy in their respects. Sunset Speedway currently boasts a Limited Late Model division with a complete field of 24-cars on a weekly basis, sometimes sending cars home during qualifying.
“Limited Late Model has a home track on a Saturday night,” Tom Walters stated. “We have 30-35 of the best cars in Ontario. Yes, a lot of the other speedways closed down and we gained those cars – but I still feel as far as a car count goes, a limited late model has more cars available.”
Scott Wylie went on to add that unless car counts were down at Sunset Speedway, there’s no reason to make a shift in the rules.
“I have been fortunate to race in the States up and down the east coast, and it’s some of the best racing that I’ve been a part of at Sunset Speedway,” he added. “If you’re off, you’re 10th to 20th and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s side-by-side good racing, nobody is wrecking or taking each other out of all the time and I don’t know why you’d want to break that up.”
On the flip side, the pro late models have shown a lot of health recently. It seemed in the past couple of years that they were on the decline. However, Luke Ramsay debuted the APC Auto Parts United Late Models of Ontario Series, bringing the pro late models together with unified rules. The result was over 30 cars at some events trying to qualify for the field throughout the entire eight-race series last year, with the same interest there for this season.
The ups and downs of the divisions is something that seems to come and go, as it happened previously with the thunder cars. There were tracks that were down to 10 to 15 thunder cars/super stocks. However, with the influx of kids moving up from Mini Stocks, it seems that the super stocks are now back on the rise in discussions this season.
Though while simply combining the divisions is the easy fix, Thayne Hallyburton believes the biggest thing is beginning to aligning the Limited Late Model division rules across the different tracks, so that way the rules at Sunset Speedway, Sauble Speedway and Peterborough Speedway are equal.
“I think where we have it wrong is so many different sets of rules in these late model divisions,” he commented. “Until that gets sorted out, one of them is going to get called, whether it is super lates, pro lates or limited lates. I think one will have to be called for racing to stay sustainable and healthy.”
The sustainability and health of the division in the long run is the obvious reason for the discussion to continue to come up, as everybody wants to work on ways to make it better.
The suggestion of moving to a more straight rail, pro late model program is one that Derek Lynch has always believed in to therefore make it easier for guys to travel outside of Ontario to race, and vise versa.
“That’s where we have to get to,” he stated. “Dirt Late Model racing is strong is because you can unload the same car at Brighton, as you can at Knoxville or Eldora. It might be a different motor, and four different shocks, but it’s the same racecar. But at some point, we have to get to that to survive.”
Lynch also believes that moving towards a program of this nature will help in keeping the costs in line for everyone. He stated that he went to an ACT Late Model program when he was promoting Kawartha Speedway for that very reason.
“We were looking at a group of cars that were 300, 400 deep as far as a pool,” he commented. “So we had guys that got done with racecars that we could buy cheaply that were good, competitive cars. Mike Wallace, Ryan Kimball, Norm Mayhew – I’m not sure they would’ve gone late model racing if not for that. My point is when you go on racing junk or any of the classifieds sites, all you see for sale for good money are straight rail pro late model cars.”
Instead of paying anything from $30,000 to $60,000 for a limited late model currently, Lync states that this option allows someone to go to Indiana and buy a car for $10,000, and then drop a $6,000 crate motor and be ready to hit the track. The ACT rules were what allowed Mike Wallace to get into the sport as he was able to pick up a car for a decent price, turn-key.
“I still had to do a lot of work, but I could get something to take to Kawartha on Friday night to race it, whether competitive or not,” he commented. “I turned that car around and it was competitive at the end.”
Wallace recently sold that car and bought a true limited late model, in which he says is “a big step for me because now I’m worried of all the parts that bolted on that are twice as much as my ACT car”.
Even though it may seem that one side of the argument seems stronger, there are always reasons to make the other side stronger. What do you think of the discussion? Be sure to comment either via facebook, twitter or the website with your thoughts.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the debate later on this week as we discuss new equipment vs old equipment, and continuing to build the talent pool.