CORNWALL, ONT – For the first time since the Fall Showdown last October, many racers, as well as their crews, family and friends, joined Cornwall Speedway’s promoters, employees and fans for the first on track event of 2022. This was also the first event for the track as an independent one, unaffiliated from any governing body. It was a huge success as a high number of teams, both old and new, answered present.
The ambiance was awesome as everyone was meeting people we hadn’t seen for a long time. And in addition, there were new faces we got to meet! Humans were not the only ones making new connections! When I arrived at the track, Justin Lalancette’s new puppy was getting introduced to Thomas Cook’s two dogs, who clearly displayed their allegiance to the #35 teams with their attire.
As for the new faces among drivers, local racer Marco McCarthy, from Alexandria, was making his debut on the Cornwall track. Having won multiple slingshot races at other tracks, he is now ready to graduate in Novice Sportsman. If you recognize him, it’s because he was present last season as part of Tristan Ladouceur’s pit crew. McCarthy is a two sport star who just finished his hockey season by being an integral part in his Casselman Vikings’s Junior B league championship, scoring 2 overtime goals including one when facing elimination. For those wondering, that team’s owner is none other than Ray Lavergne. One of his competitors in Novice Sportsman this upcoming year, Gavin MacFarlane, was also present at the test. If the name rings a bell, it’s because he was racing in Mini-Stock last season. Gavin’s experience in mini stock could make him one of the drivers to watch this season.
Speaking of drivers with experience in Mini-Stock, a few of those who drove their last week were present… in Pro-Stock. Brandon MacMillan and Justin Jodoin will make their debut in the series while James Clarke will enter his first full season, yet in a new Chevrolet car, the Toyota he drove last season having been sold back to Marc Lalonde. MacMillan’s #23B is actually the 11A car that Dave Seguin drove to the championship last season, while Jodoin’s car is the car that new teammate Eric Jean-Louis drove last year. With the 2 drivers having finished 1st and 2nd in last year’s championship now retired, Lalonde, MacMillan, Clarke, Jean-Louis and Jodoin, will all be drivers to watch this season, just like Denis Gauvreau who was also present. As always, Lalonde will consist of students from the high school in Plantagenet, where he works as a mechanics teacher.
As for Mini-Stock, we could see last year’s Weekend Warriors Champion, Pierre Picard, with a new paint scheme. This year’s car will be predominantly white, with a touch of red and black. Other returning drivers were present in Skylar Ladouceur and Marc Dagenais.
The Sportsman field was well represented, led by defending champion Ryan Stabler, who won everything there was to win last season, from the local series to the Race for the Cure championship. We can definitely expect him to be among the favorites for these two series again this season. Drivers competing against him will go from Thomas Cook, along with his grandfather Billy Cook, who always have many fans at the track. Speaking of popular drivers, young Tristan Ladouceur will make his debut in the regular sportsman class. He will still drive the #92T, but his car now has a lot more black on it than last year. Tristan stayed busy this winter by winning many races in iRacing, but I am sure he will be happy to get back behind the wheel of his sportsman. Accompanied as always by dad Joey and cousin/crew-chief Liam, Tristan also had grandpa Laurent present. Laurent even made some laps aboard his grandson’s car. Another local/popular driver present was Gilles Godard, who has probably the most striking difference in paint scheme between the 2021 and 2022 seasons. His 27A team is now predominantly black with some red and white accents.
Other drivers to watch are the brothers Gabriel and Justin Cyr, in their #94 and #88J teams respectively. It will be a big year for Gabriel, who is going to welcome his first child this year, while Justin enters his first full season in the category, again teaming with car owner Allan Dickie. Their new car will be black and orange, and Justin confirmed to me yesterday that the number is still 88J despite being incorrectly announced as #88L yesterday. Don’t forget Tyler Givogue either in his #85 TAS Racing car, as well as Adam Rozon who is back in his familiar #3 after taking some time off. Fire Swamp was also present in his #88S. The youngster is expected to have a busy schedule again this year, both in Canada and the United States. Sandy MacFarlane also made laps in his SS3, as well as Justin Lalancette in his #1, Justin Desrosiers in his #29, Justin Rose in his 18JR, Dale Gifford in his #78, Dominick Merkley in his #98 and Tammy Jalbert in her #95.
As for Modifieds, defending series and Canadian Nationals champion Corey Wheeler was present in his 47S car. We can all expect Corey to be the favorite to win the titles again this season, even if some of his competition was present in the form of last year’s runner up Kyle Dingwall, Brian “Slim” McDonald, Chris Raabe, Jonathon Ferguson, Dan Jalbert and Lee Ladouceur.
Lightning Sprint fans could see Guy Gosselin, who was the lone representative of the class at the test.
The test went relatively well without any major incidents. It was a successful start for the Lavergne family, who can expect another great racing season. Ray could be seen trackside all smiles, while daughter Claudie was as busy as she always is.
Fans are welcome to join us for the Opening night of racing on May 15th, where there will also be a memorial for former driver Marcel Lafrance, who sadly passed away this offseason.
For more information on the upcoming season at Cornwall, please visit the website at www.cornwallspeedway.com you can add us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cornwallspeedway , twitter at @cms_speedway, and now on Instagram under Cornwall Speedway, we will use these media platforms for results and contests over the summer.