By Tom Skibinski
CANANDAIGUA, NY-Let the celebration begin. Finally.
It took two extra weeks before the season-opening ‘Saturday Spectacular’ could officially launch the 70th Anniversary of motorsports at Land Of Legends Raceway. The milestone achievement reached by track promoter Paul Cole and his crackerjack crew in Canandaigua was just as memorable for Peter Britten as the popular Aussie held off a late-race charge by 9-time LOLR champion Matt Sheppard to capture the headline Pepsi Big-Block Modified 30-lap main.
“Saw (Sheppard) creeping up there at the end so I just did what I could,” remarked the popular pilot from Queensland, Brisbane, Australia following his 10th career Big-Block feature win circling the popular Ontario Co. Fairgrounds oval, outlasting Sheppard by just over a second in the 24-minute finale. “Don’t know how close to me he was or trying to make a pass, guess I got here (lead) first and got it done.”
Also cracking the winner’s circle in the first ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the season presented by Seneca Meadows Inc. and Jack Howell Properties LLC were second-generation standout Cameron Tuttle (Stirling Lubricants Sportsman), veteran wingman Bobby Parrow (MighTea Boba 305 Sprint Car), recent Canandaigua full-fender point champs Jimmy Grant (Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock) and Tyler Burnell (Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock), and racing mom Angel Sperring (Maguire Ford of Canandaigua New Legends Sportsman).
With the fund-raising effort spearheaded by 305 Sprinter Dan Craun’s son Caden, the University of Rochester Medical Center & Golisano Children’s Center was also a big winner on this night as the recipient of the weekly 50/50 benefit, with proceeds directed to help those kids who everyday fight the battle against many forms of Pediatric Cancer.
The ’23 lid-lifter originally scheduled for April 22 marked the fifth time in his six years at the helm that Cole fell victim to Mother Nature before the month of May arrived, with only last year’s 4/30 program not lost due to weather issues or prevailing CoVid-19 restrictions. Fans and racers responded in a big way on Saturday with 115 cars pulling pitside and a capacity crowd in attendance to kick off the new season under sunny skies at the historic half-miler.
With the top-three heat race qualifiers in all divisions re-drawing for their feature starting positions, Britten selected the pole. From there he would lead all 30 laps, ultimately holding off runner-up and 10th-place starter Sheppard by a half-dozen car-lengths in traffic with four caution periods keeping the field close behind the victorious blue #21A Pepsi-Beyea Custom Headers-AMI Racing/Bicknell entry.
“Starting next to the #3 of Justin, obviously you know there’s gonna be a battle right there and you never rule out Sheppard here no matter where he starts,” noted Britten, 35, who finished second to Haers in the final ’22 points standings with just one win yet 13 Top-5 finishes in 17 events. “On every restart I’m looking for that #9s (Sheppard) to see where he’s going.”
Britten diced with Haers and Zach Payne with Daniel Johnson Jr. and uncle Alan Johnson in the mix during the early going. Sheppard cracked the front-five by the midway mark and continued in pursuit of an eighth opening night win, stealing second from Haers on lap 19.
Yet that’s as far as ‘Super Matt’ could advance, with two-time reigning points king Haers settling for third ahead of 19th-place starter Erick Rudolph and all-time LOLR feature winner Alan Johnson.
“Don’t think we could get much worse luck here than last year,” remarked Britten, who also copped the recent season-opener at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in New York’s Capital District held mid-April. “Had some good draws tonight which obviously helped too. Big thanks to Pepsi for coming back on board this year and everybody that helps out on this car as well as all the sponsor support. Hopefully we can make this (victory lane) a regular thing.”
Tuttle’s appearance in the winner’s circle Saturday was anything but regular as the Western New York invader from Wilson matched Britten by leading the distance in the 25-lap DIRTcar Sportsman feature. Yet unlike his Big-Block counterpart, he emerged as the 125th different winner since the division was added to the Canandaigua card in 1987.
“Don’t even know where to begin,” said Tuttle, 22, the 2020 Genesee Speedway (Batavia) points champ after claiming the Novice Sportsman title closer to home at Ransomville (NY) Speedway in 2017. “We decided to come here. We’re not that close and so don’t get here too often but when we do there’s great competition.”
“Takes a lot of work and a lot of effort. We struggled a lot here before with the track and the set-up. Tonight we were just outstanding, eighth to third in our heat, started outside-pole in the feature and the car was just great,” stated Tuttle, who finished no better than 16th in his initial three efforts at LOLR before placing seventh last season in a DIRTcar Northeast Region event.
Tuttle was fast from the start this time around, out-dueling front row partner Tim Baker at the drop of head flagman Scott Hixson’s initial green flag before turning back early race bids by James Henry aboard the Loren Lincoln team car. Two-time track champ Matt Guererri needed a lap 19 restart to move high around Henry for the runner-up position, yet fell 10 car-lengths shy of the winning mount at the end.
Henry, Baker, Nick Cooper and 2022 high point man Zach Sobotka followed across the stripe while Frank Guererri Jr., Nick Root, Kane Bristol and Mike Fowler figured in the Top-10 from the 25-car starting field.
“Have to dedicate this win to my grandpa, he passed away a couple months ago,” added the choked up winner, who continues to carry on the family tradition sporting his father Kirk’s #35 on the panels of his current DanChar Solid Surfaces-Christopher Allen Construction/Bicknell ride. “He was always at the races but when he couldn’t come anymore he was still able to watch me as I set up the ‘live’ streaming feeds on the computer before I left for the track.”
Top-two point earners from last season waited seven months to renew their growing rivalry and the lead duo didn’t disappoint with ’22 runner-up Parrow out-dueling champion Darryl Ruggles in the 20-lap 305 A-Main.
“The lapped traffic, they were going double-wide, sometimes three-wide, didn’t matter, they were all over the place,” commented Parrow, 54, after the Waterloo wheelman increased the final victory margin to 15 car-lengths at the line. Three triumphs last summer gives the former ESS stalwart eight career 305 wins at the fast LOLR layout.
“First start I thought I did really well on the outside. Then on the second or third one (Ruggles) got me pretty good. So I figured I better block after that, take the spot where I think I had a better shot at coming out front,” Parrow said.
Pole-winner Parrow and fourth starting Ruggles dominated from the outset, opening up a comfortable advantage on the big 24-car grid despite a handful of yellow flags delaying their bumper-to-bumper battle. Ruggles grabbed his lone lead on a lap three restart yet four circuits later Parrow authored a perfect slide job between turns one and two for the final exchange up front.
Parrow stretched Ruggles’ deficit to a half straightaway midway through although a pair of cautions for minor mishaps on lap 14 attempted to tighten the pack. Parrow proved untouchable in traffic during the closing stages aboard his #80 Seneca Meadows-Re/Max Revolution-Fletcher Racing/Shaw machine, taking the top prize by 2.1-sec. ahead of Ruggles with Jordan Hutton, Trevor Years and Kyle Pierce rounding out the top-five.
“I don’t come here for second-place” were the words echoed by Grant after the Penn Yan driver chased down all-time LOLR full-fender winner Mike Welch and coasted home for a satisfying 20-lap Street Stock victory. Trailing by 3/4-straightaway through five laps, sixth starting Grant ran down Welch over the next 10 circuits before cruising home for a comfortable six car-length win in the 7-1/2-minute caution-free affair.
“Don’t know if his (Welch) car went away or mine came in,” stated Grant, 37, after the ’21 LOLR points champion notched career win number 12 in wine country. Two victories came last season despite running 10 of 16 events to put him 12th in the final points chase. “I just diamonded the corners, my signature move, and kept gaining on him. Saw that lapped traffic coming out of turn four but didn’t want to show him my car, thought it would’ve been too early so I just waited for my time.”
The timing was just right with a handful of laps to go as Grant ducked under Welch exiting turn two on lap 15 and the black #36 Fratto Curbing-Washburn Excavating Chevrolet Camaro ran uncontested the remainder of the way. Veterans Welch and Carl Johnson followed with C.J. Guererri and Rick Crego securing front-five spots.
In the closest finish of the night, second-generation chauffeurs Burnell and Marc Minutolo traded paint throughout the 15-lap Hobby Stock feature before the outcome was finally decided. Swapping the lead twice over the second half of the race, Burnell held the high line exiting turn four on the last lap with Minutolo nearly pushing him across the stripe to earn opening night accolades.
“Great race, a lot tougher at the end getting through that one hole there and I ran out of brakes,” divulged Burnell, 21, the 2020 division points champ now with 10 career entry level stock car wins at the fairgrounds. He took three checkered flags last year, finishing second to his father Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell on the final points chart. “Lost my brakes with about 10 to go, just kept pushing it and tried to be patient. Heard (Marc) behind me, just tried to make my bumper as wide as I could because I knew he had brakes and I didn’t.”
Tyler jumped out early steering the #57jr. Scott French-Peck Electric-Phelps Cement Products Chevrolet Camaro, but a quick caution flag flew for father Frank after his own self-built machine slid up high to the turn four wall on lap one. The order remained intact with Minutolo shadowing the Waterloo upstart back under green.
Two more caution periods prevailed by lap five although the final two-thirds of the race ran non-stop to provide the dramatic ending. The lead twosome crossed the stripe side-by-side on lap seven with Minutolo given the nod the next time around. Burnell returned the favor under the starter’s stand on lap 13 yet the margin was miniscule. Minutolo threw his black #25B Chevy low entering turn four eyeing the checkers but Burnell never retreated as he swept high exiting the final corner to secure the thrilling 0.196-sec. victory.
Eighth starting Nate Peckham had the best view in the house coming home in the show position followed by ’21 season champion Justin Eldredge and reigning high points man Bubba Burnell.
“Have to thank my dad for helping me build this car from scratch,” Tyler added. “Has a monster of an engine, the best one I’ve ever had.”
As the curfew closed in on opening night at the fairgrounds, Sperring fittingly brought the curtain down with the checkered flag waving over the #56A Schwartz Excavating-Batzel’s Automotive-Cam’s Pizzeria-Rochester Ice Center/Bicknell after her first-ever Legends victory.
“I thought the track was great tonight, just perfect except for that little hole in turns one and two,” beamed Angel, 46, who was the last to leave the pits on this festive night along with her sons and fellow open-wheel drivers Troy and J.T Sperring from Williamson. Her second season contending at Canandaigua marks the first utilizing a ‘coil over’ set-up after running a ‘bar’ car throughout 2022.
“Don’t know if its the track that’s different or the car that’s different, but I absolutely love it, the combination worked. Have to thank everybody that helped make the switch over the winter, especially Troy, he worked his butt off and we won!”
Division rookies Bruce Batzel and Brad Sawyer crossed the line next after 10 circuits with Kennedy Payne and Dillon Adamczak filling out the score sheet. Making a last lap bid to claim her own first win, Payne slapped the uke tire down low entering turn one resulting in a broken front-end on her newly sponsored no. 31K SVN Realty Performance-Speed Connection/Troyer entry and a disappointing tow truck ride back to the pits.
The second ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the month continues the first full month of competition May 13 with A-Verdi Storage Containers backing the six-star card headlined by the MighTea Boba 305 Sprint Cars contending for top honors in the first of three CRSA tour events scheduled at the fairgrounds.
Pepsi Big-Block Modified, Stirling Lubricants Sportsman, Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock, Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock and Maguire Ford of Canandaigua New Legends Sportsman classes join the action with the first qualifier going green at 6:30pm. Pit gates open at 3:30pm, spectators gain entrance at 5 o’clock and hot laps start at 5:30 on the fast fairgrounds half-miler.
Round two of the DisBatch Brewing Company CRSA mini-series in Canandaigua is slated for July 3 with the third leg on tap Aug. 5. Check out the most updated info regarding the series, schedule, results and points by visiting www.crsasprints.com throughout the season.
Led by award-winning executive producer Art Rorick, the LOLR TV broadcast team embodied by production assistant Makenna Hansen, graphics coordinator C.J. Miller, chief camera operators Mike Yawney, Jim & Michelle Mullen, and veteran voices Steve Ovens (PA announcer) and Doug Elkins (pit reporter) are once again on-site to provide LIVE video coverage of every event through Land of Legends TV, with LIVE streaming continuing to be offered FREE in 2023. On-line registration at https://landoflegendstv.com/
Also available for download is the LOLR mobile app found at Google Play
In addition to LOLR’s weekly racing being simulcast on Land of Legends Raceway TV, each show will also be broadcast live on DIRTVision and highlighted by the mighty DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. To watch, sign up for an annual Platinum FAST PASS with DIRTVision and experience every event either online or through the DIRTVision App.
2023 TICKET BUNDLES & PIT PASS PACKAGES AVAILABLE
General Admission Ticket and Pit Pass bundles continue to be offered to LOLR fans and race teams while providing a great opportunity to save money in the process. G.A. packs of 20 ($200) or 50 ($450) and Pit bundles of 20 ($700) or 50 ($1700) must be pre-ordered to be used during the upcoming season.
Regular weekly ticket prices remain set at $15 Adults, $13 Seniors, Kids 16 yrs. and under FREE. Pit passes are $40. For those youngsters needing pit access, Child Season Pit Passes are $50 for 2 yrs. & under and $150 for kids 3-13. Camping is FREE at all race events.
To purchase ticket and pit pass bundles or discuss marketing opportunities available at the track in 2023, please contact LOLR Director of Marketing & Operations Tana Robinson via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or cell 716-799-5669.
Check out www.landoflegendsraceway.com often as the latest news and season schedule information will be posted right up to raceday.
Land of Legends Raceway is located on County Road 10 at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, just 1-1/2-miles north of Routes 5&20, and is easily accessible from the NYS Thruway (I-90), taking Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) traveling from the east or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) coming from the west.
Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – May 6, 2023
70th Anniversary Season Celebration
Seneca Meadows & Jack Howell Properties LLC present ‘Opening Night’
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 21a-Peter Britten ($3,000), 2. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 3. 3-Justin Haers, 4. 25-Erick Rudolph, 5. 14j-Alan Johnson, 6. 39-Kyle Coffey, 7. 34-Kevin Root, 8. 19w-Justin Wright, 9. 42p-Pat Ward, 10. 29-Matt Caprara, 11. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 12. 132-Dalton Martin, 13. 15-Todd Root, 14. 27j-Danny Johnson, 15. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 16. 7-Troy Sperring, 17. 29ny-Greg Birosh, 18. 63-Adam Roberts, 19. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 20. 8h-Max McLaughlin, 21. 7z-Zach Payne, 22. 82-Wally Wade, 23. 11n-Ricky Newton, 24. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 25. 27z-Dylan Zacharias, 26. 11j-James Sweeting , 27. 70a-Alex Payne, 28. 88-Dave Allen.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Wright, Tegg, Z.Payne, Sheppard, D.Johnson, Roberts, Rudolph, Ward, Sweeting, Allen.
#2: Britten, Haers, Martin, K.Root, T.Root, Zacharias, Dinkins, Birosh, Podsiadlo.
#3: D.Johnson Jr., A.Johnson, Caprara, McLaughlin, Coffey, Newton, Sperring, Wade, A.Payne.
Stirling Lubricants Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 35t-Cameron Tuttle ($750), 2. 12g-Matt Guererri, 3. 21-James Henry, 4. 9-Tim Baker, 5. 35-Nick Cooper, 6. 38-Zach Sobotka, 7. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 8. 30-Nick Root, 9. 31-Kane Bristol, 10. 410-Mike Fowler, 11. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 12. 32c-Kasey Coffey, 13. 7j-JT Sperring, 14. 7-Paul Guererri, 15. 34-Behr Grover, 16. 21j-Justin Liechti, 17. 42-Colby Adamczak, 18. 51-Tim Lafler, 19. 28-Mark Potter, 20. 25n-Evan Nugent, 21. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 22. 63-Jessica Kriegisch, 23. 18h-Justin Henderson, 24. 10-Karl Comfort, 25. 26-Greenley George.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Kimble, Cooper, Tuttle, F.Guererri, P.Guererri, Root, George, Fowler, Liechti.
#2: Bristol, Baker, M.Guererri, Ridley, Coffey, Grover(DSQ), Sperring, Adamczak.
#3: Henry, Comfort, Henderson, Sobotka, Potter, Nugent, Lafler, Kriegisch.
MighTea Boba 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 80-Bobby Parrow ($500), 2. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 3. 66-Jordan Hutton, 4. 13t-Trevor Years, 5. 9k-Kyle Pierce, 6. 10p-Nathan Pierce, 7. 14-James Layton, 8. 99-Adam DePuy, 9. 8-Dillon Paddock, 10. 21-Scott Kreutter, 11. 29h-Dalton Herrick, 12. 77-Matt Rotz, 13. 20k-Ed Kelley, 14. 29-Tori Kaplin, 15. 4-Cliff Pierce, 16. 85c-Cam MacKinnon, 17. d9-Dustin Sehn, 18. 21b-Blake Warner, 19. 28-Ronnie Greek, 20. 18c-Dan Craun, 21. 2-Randy Years, 22. 10-Johnny Kolosek, 23. 44-Robbie Kapal, 24. 30-Kirsten Dombroski, 23-John Smith(DNS), 18-Timmy Lotz(DNS), 17e-Ethan Gray(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Parrow, Ruggles, Hutton, T.Years, C.Pierce, Sehn, MacKinnon, Smith, Lotz.
#2: Paddock, Kolosek, Kaplin, Rotz, DePuy, N.Pierce, Warner, Kelley, Craun.
#3: Herrick, Layton, K.Pierce, Greek, R.Years, Kreutter, Kapal, Dombroski, Gray(DNS).
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Jimmy Grant ($500), 2. 00-Mike Welch, 3. 87-Carl Johnson, 4. cj1-CJ Guererri, 5. 5c-Rick Crego, 6. 22-Carl Cleveland, 7. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 8. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 9. 12-John Burritt, 10. 63-Mike Fellows, 11. 9-Aksel Jensen, 12. 7d-Joe Dyrbala, 13. 57j-Nick Dandino, 7-Josh Pangrazio(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Welch, Johnson, Grant, Hobbs, Dyrbala, Fellows, Pangrazio(DNS).
#2: Crego, Dandino, Jensen, Cleveland, Minutolo, Burritt, Guererri.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 2. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 3. 90-Nathan Peckham, 4. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 5. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 6. 61-Daniel Kerrick, 7. 13b-Brian Lloyd, 8. 36x-Brighton Grant, 9. 54m-Scott Mack, 10. 11-Dan Korpanty, 11. 22-Craig Dingy, 12. 55b-Blane Smith, 13. 55p-Parker Smith, 14. 88-Justin Jacoby, 15. 718-Phil Barone, 97-Kevin Schrader(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: F.Burnell, Eldredge, Lloyd, P.Smith, Dingy, Grant, Jacoby, Korpanty.
#2: B.Smith, Minutolo, T.Burnell, Peckham, Kerrick, Mack, Barone, Schrader(DNS).
Maguire Ford of Canandaigua New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (10 laps): 1. 56a-Angel Sperring, 2. 57j-Bruce Batzel, 3. 87-Brad Sawyer, 4. 31k-Kennedy Payne, 5. 55-Dillon Adamczak.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: Sperring, Adamczak, Batzel, Payne, Sawyer.
NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, May 13 @ 6:30pm; A-Verdi Storage Containers presents Big-Block Modified/Sportsman/CRSA 305 Sprint Tour/Street Stock/Hobby Stock plus New Legends Sportsman with Girl Scout Troop 40030 Benefit.