BY DON SIMPSON
On Sunday, May 21, the Cornwall Motor Speedway’s 2023 season gets underway. This night marks the first round of the Race For The Cure Sportsman Series followed by the inaugural round of Clyde Slinger Pro Stock racing.
T he biggest draw of the night will be round one of The Fat Les’s Chip Stand Canadian Nationals Modified Series, which is one of the oldest race series for 358 Modified drivers in the nation.
Previously known as the Lucas Oil Canadian Dirt Series, it featured multiple tracks, each of which hosted an event. The Canadian Nationals became the new name, with Cornwall hosting all events. The chance came about in 2011, Ron Moran’s idea was given its present name when the original series importance declined as a result of conflicts among the hosting tracks.
Over the years, the Canadian Nationals grew in popularity and became a leading competition for racers. Some of the best 358 Modified drivers from Ontario, Quebec, and New York State have answered the call to challenge for the championship title.
Along with local racers Brian McDonald, two-time series champion Stephane Lafrance, and the three-time winner and current champion Corey Wheeler, there have been some other top drivers like Dale Plank, Danny Johnson, Mario Clair, Eric Rudolph, Brett Hearn, and Matt Sheppard who have all competed. Each of these drivers have taken the green during the Canadian Nationals.
This year’s version of the Canadian Nationals will be its 13th season and is one of the main events at the Cornwall Motor Speedway. The series will once again be sponsored by long-time supporter Les Winters of Fat Les’s Chip Stand.
Les Winters explained, “I spoke to track owner Raymond Lavergne at the speedway, and we will be back to continue to support the series again this year. For me, the Canadian Nationals is one of the best series around. I have been going to Cornwall Motor Speedway since I was a young boy, as my dad used to race at the track back in the day. Loved to go and watch the action each Sunday, and I would tag along. Over the years, I grew to love the sport. ”
For the Winters family, Cornwall Speedway has a special place in their hearts. On the very first day of the track’s existence, Les’ father Merv started competing there. Merv recalls being one of the first cars to hit the track on the opening night. The Queen of the Speedway that opening evening was Merv’s niece who drove his car during the parade lap for the opening ceremonies.
Merv would race at the Cornwall Motor Speedway for some ten years. Fifty-three years later, he still comes to the track each week with his son Les to watch the races.
Track owner Raymond Lavergne is appreciative of all the support the Winters family has brought to the Speedway over the years by sponsoring this premier series.
Raymond said, “We are once again grateful to have Les Winters sponsor our biggest and longest-running series at the Cornwall Motor Speedway. I am looking forward to this season’s opening event, which will host the first round of the Fat Les’s Chip Stand Canadian Nationals on May 21. Myself and all the team at Cornwall Motor Speedway are very excited to get the season underway, and having the Canadian Nationals kick off our 53rd season is a great way to get the season underway, But we will also have the Race For the Cure Sportsman alone with the Clyde Slinger Pro Stock Series. So for fans, this year’s season opener will be an action-packed event.”
For series sponsor Les Winters, who has a series of 12 chip stands dotted over Eastern Ontario, he is also the main sponsor of three-time Canadian Nationals champion Corey Wheeler, who this year will be striving for his fourth championship of the series and challenging for the track championship.
Corey Wheeler stated, “It would mean a lot to be able to win the Canadian Nationals again. It’s not something we take for granted. It means a lot to us because Les is the main sponsor and we are very proud of the series he has been a part of. There are so many great drivers that have won it and that compete in it. It’s just an honor and a dream to be out there!”
Two thousand and twenty-three will be the thirteenth year that Canada’s Modified Nationals have run, with some truly great champions. The following are the previous Canadian Nationals Modified series winners:
2022 Corey Wheeler
2021 Corey Wheeler
2020 Corey Wheeler
2019 Steve Bernier
2018 Luke Whitteker
2017 Chris Raabe
2016 Carey Terrance
2015 Danny Johnson
2014 Stéphane Lafrance
2013 Brian McDonald
2012 Dale Planck
2011 Stéphane Lafrance
The 2023 version of the series gets underway on May 21. Who among the talented racers will compete for the championship this year and who will manage a win?
Could it be Mario Clair, who has more series feature wins than another driver with six wins? Or could be Luke Whitteker who has four series feature wins, or Steve Bernier who also has four series feature wins plus a Canadian Nationals championship on his resume. Carey Terrance, one of Cornwall Speedway’s most prominent drivers, doesn’t need mentioning. It might be one of the up-and-coming drivers who will shine this season.
May 21 will host the first round of the Fat Les’s Chip Stand Canadian Nationals with 75 laps and $4,000 to win. Round two will be on August 6, with 75 laps and $4,000 on the line. The Third round will have $10,000 on the line and will draw in some of the biggest names in the sport for this 100-lap event. The final and fourth round will be on September 3, with another 100-lap feature with $5,000 on the line.
This season, Fat Les’s Chip Stand Canadian National is scheduled to help draw in the best in the sport and with such a large purse on the line for the feature winners. This will definitely attract the big players in the sports.
The year’s start at Cornwall will “be a must-see” with Fat Les’s Chip Stand Canadian Nationals getting things underway. Also, on the card that night the Race for the Cure Sportsman Series, as well as Clyde Slinger Pro Stock will take place. Yes, it makes for an exciting coming event that one should not miss out on.