Thursday, August 18, 2005


Courtesy Jim Irvine

THOROLD, ONTARIO … Merrittville Speedway is preparing to celebrate the Labour Day Weekend with a special Autograph Night when Garden City Auto Complex presents the final full DIRT Weekly Racing Series Event of the 2005 Season - Saturday September 5th.

On track excitement will feature the John Spencer Memorial for the L. St. Amand Enterprises 358 Modifieds which traditionally signifies the final night of points for the division as well as for the Original Pizza Logs Sportsmen.

Point races for the other DIRT Weekly Racing Series divisions – Dwarf Cars/Mod Lites, Hoosier Stocks and the Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinders will continue on into the season finale J&S Heating Weekend that begins a triple-header Friday September 9th.

A break during the hectic pace of a race night will be scheduled so that race fans of all ages can meet drivers from all divisions and see their cars up close as part of the Autograph Night. The cars will leave the Pit Area taking over the front-stretch creating the world’s fastest traffic jam. Fans will be let out onto the front-stretch.

Race fans in the Grandstand area can look forward to lots of free giveaways throughout the night.

Families that purchase a family pass will also receive a special bonus as the economical night out will include two bags of fresh hot popcorn September 3rd also.

“It’s just our way to say thanks for a great year,” relates GM Erica Bicknell, “ many of our sponsors will be out that night and many of them will have donated prizes … I’ve got to thank them as well for all they do.”

The Garden City Auto Complex will have quite a display set up inside the front gates as they support several race teams. Owner Dan Miller competes regularly in the L. St. Amand 358 Modified division and his # 22 will be out front as will the #3 of Sportsmen Rookie sensation Alan Sleight. Sleight has won twice in his first year in the division and if it hasn’t happened yet – will be looking for his third in the final event of the season.

Garden City also has quite a presence in the Hoosier Stock Division as well as sophomore driver Danielle Landry was joined this season by former champion Dolf McCready in Garden City sponsored vehicles.

Tuesday Nights this season has also seen Garden City involved as Travis and Kyle Miller have Karts. The younger racers will also have their Karts on display.

Garden City Automotive and A/C Niagara opened in 1997, expanding to their current St. Catharines location – 76 Hartzell Road as Garden City Auto Complex in March of 2001. Emissions Niagara was also added which is a full test and authorized repair center to service all vehicle emission requirements. In 2002 a full line of Goodyear/Dunlop Tires were added and in 2003 an alignment machine was added to offer customers complete service under one roof. Race fans can book their next oil change or repair by calling 905-934-5664.

Merrittville Speedway’s Reunion Committee will once again present the John Spencer Trophy to the 358 Modified Feature Winner – an award that dates back to 1953 at the famed Thorold track.

“Since 1999 it has signified the close of the Modified points,” relates Chairman Rick Kavanagh, “ it has provided some great action for the fans.”

John Spencer was an up and coming driver in the early days of the sport who was lost his life in a racing accident at Stamford Park in Niagara Falls in 1953. His pit crew created the trophy in his memory and it was awarded that year at Merrittville until 1965 when it was lost.

Merrittville Speedway’s Reunion Committee – currently Kavanagh, former drivers Ted Renshaw, Terry Huffman and the late Bruce Swartz as well as Bruce Swartz Jr, Mark Swartz, Jim Irvine and Erica Bicknell – located the lost trophy and reinstated it.

Bruce Van Dyke had won it 5 times until it was lost and leads the winners but in the Modern era – Pete Bicknell has won it four times – in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and then again in 2003. Fred Carleton is the defending race winner.

For further information on the final events of Merrittville Speedway’s 2005 Season including the Garden City Auto Complex Labour FAN-tastic Night of action - call the Speedway Office at 905-892-8266 or visit

John Spencer Memorial Winners:
1953 Jerry Winger
1954 Murray Stricker
1955 Murray Stricker
1956 Bruce Van Dyke
1957 Bruce Van Dyke
1958 George Winger
1959 George Winger
1960 Bruce Van Dyke
1961 Bill Rafter
1962 Sandy MacPherson
1963 Bruce Van Dyke
1964 Bruce Van Dyke
1965 Lloyd Holt
1999 Pete Bicknell
2000 Pete Bicknell
2001 Pete Bicknell
2002 Chad Brachmann
2003 Pete Bicknell
2004 Fred Carleton


Thorold, Ontario … “It all started with some bantering back and forth with two of my employees – both who are stock car racing enthusiasts,” says Joe Dennison, President of Daytona Automotive Equipment in Brighton Ontario.

“Next thing I knew I had the cheque book out and ‘Daytona Duel in the Dirt’ was a reality,” explains Dennison, “ it seemed almost natural that the only way to solve the dispute between my two guys – Terry and Dave - as to which track had the best drivers was a team challenge between the two tracks – Merrittville and Brighton Speedways.

Terry Kaiser is the Niagara area representative for Daytona Automotive Equipment while Dave Culford – who races a car at Brighton, is a Daytona Service Advisor.

The end result is a 100 lap challenge race for the Daytona Champions Flag between the best Hoosier Stock drivers from Merrittville Speedway and Pro Stock drivers from Brighton Speedway. The 100 laps will be split between 50 lap events at Merrittville Saturday September 10th after the opener at Brighton Sunday September 4th.

“Originally, I was thinking that if we sponsored this event it might put the bantering to rest,” says Dennison, “ but I can see that one of the guys is going to want a rematch about five minutes after the Champions Flag is presented.”

“Merrittville Speedway is the oldest and best 3/8th’s mile dirt tracks in Canada, regularly attracting some of the finest racers from Southern Ontario and the eastern US … Dave,” boasts Kaiser.

“Hold on to your hat Terry,” Culford steps in,” you aren’t a real driver until you have won a Pro Stock feature at Brighton Speedway.”

“ I think we have the edge,” informs Erica Bicknell, General Manager of Merrittville Speedway, “ we have great drivers and the fans in Southern Ontario to cheer them on.” As Bicknell completes her words, Mark Rinaldi, owner of Brighton Speedway responds that he has found the perfect spot at his facility to hoist the Daytona Champions Flag for the coming year.

Daytona Automotive Equipment has posted a $1000 Team Challenge Fund that will be awarded to the winning Merrittville Hoosier Stock or Brighton Pro Stock Team. All of the Merrittville Speedway Driver points will be added up as will all of the Brighton Driver points for the two races. The team with the most total points will win the $1000.00. To be included in a team’s total - a driver must have attempted to qualify for both events.Daytona Automotive Equipment is also providing a Champions Flag that will fly at the winning Speedway the following season.

Daytona Automotive Equipment – with Head Offices and a warehouse facility in Brighton Ontario – manufactures a line of automotive lifts, tire changers, wheel balancers and auto body frame machines for the automotive service and repair industry.

Daytona Automotive Equipment is distributed across North America. For further information call 1-866-219-9991 or visit

In addition to the $1,000 Daytona cash award, more than $2,000 will be awarded to the top 10 drivers in the two race series in a Point Fund donated by Environmental Remediation Contractor D.L. Services and Lawns We Do – two Brighton Speedway area companies.

The two race event has to be the most lucrative event for grass roots racers in Ontario and all of Canada. If a driver was to win each 50 lap $1000 to win event – with the bonus money the winners share would reach over $3,000.

“The corporate support for this event has just been phenomenal and it keeps getting bigger,” relates Merrittville co-owner Nancy Bicknell, adding “ last year some of Hoosier Stock Drivers went to Brighton and did well and Mark and I have been working on this challenge since then.”

Merrittville Speedway’s Duel in the Dirt portion September 10th is part of a 3 day Season Finale that features Friday Night and Sunday Afternoon action. The Rose Webber Memorial presented by J&S Heating attracts top Mod Lite and Dwarf Car teams from across Canada and the US for Friday and Saturday’s events while a 100 lap Enduro and Demo Derby close out the weekend Sunday – a presentation of Konzelmann Estates Winery.

Free Camping is available for the entire weekend.

Merrittville Speedway is located just south of St. Catharines in Thorold Ontario. For further information call 905-892-8266 or visit l

Brighton Speedway event info - call 613-475-1102 or visit

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