Insider Report: Doing it in the dirt close to the GTA

Gary Grant

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Even though I get to do all sorts of cool automotive things, there are still many I haven’t had the chance to experience. Until last Thursday, one of those things was visit a dirt track oval. A few months ago, Mark Rinaldi from Brighton Speedway contacted me and asked if I would have any interest in coming to cover a World of Outlaws race at the track, which is located less than an hour and a half from most of Toronto. The speedway is under an hour from my place in Whitby, so I was excited to head out to see some dirt track action on a school night.

When I heard World of Outlaws, my first thought was that I was going to see winged sprint cars, but I was incorrect. This was the World of Outlaws Late Model Series that features V8 powered cars that can best be described as a sideways flying door wedge. I’m not sure what “late model” refers to, but they certainly don’t look like any late model production car I’ve ever seen. These purpose built machines are unlike pretty much any other car. With a healthy roll cage at their heart to keep the driver safe, these machines are fast and extremely loud. To say they border on violent would be an understatement. It was super cool to see these monsters in action, drifting around the dirt oval. I learned that most of the drivers, like Bub McCool from Mississippi, are working drivers who earn their living travelling around small towns in North America and putting on a show for the locals while living off of prize money. Some guys, like McCool, put on a better show than others in the hopes of becoming a fan favourite. Bub is the guy with the yellow mohawk in the photo gallery above. I couldn’t help but compare these guys to the classic 1983 racing B-movie featuring Burt Reynolds, Stroker Ace. The biggest difference was that Dolly Parton wasn’t flouncing around the paddock.

Surprisingly, the best racing of the evening was found on the local card. The Comp 4 class features local drivers, most of them being young ladies and men from their early teens to early Twenties driving four cylinder cars like Honda Civics. Twenty year old Shelby Mills, from Brighton, kept her nose clean and her pedal to the floor as the boys let their testosterone get the better of them. Mills drove past spinning cars in her heat race, where a third place finish put her in the third spot on the podium. In the main, the driver started mid way through the twenty car field and by managing other driver’s mistakes, pulled off a second place finish.