Wednesday, September 21, 2005

VMS Team Spirit Survives Soggy Finale

Courtesy Jim Van Domselaar

September 19, 2005, Vernon, BC – CASCAR Western Series teams were forced to contend with dreary weather conditions at last weekend’s LORDCO 200. A forecast of persistent rain caused the series finale to be postponed, and the return of the rains on Sunday, September 11th significantly affected the outcome of the 200 lap event.

CASCAR officials made the call early to postpone the race to Sunday, and so teams were able to use part of Saturday to make any last minute adjustments to the cars before the rain began in earnest Saturday afternoon. Teams returned to the track Saturday night for what would have been the post-event wind up party, held in the skybox area above the Sun Valley Speedway main grandstand. The #14 crew made it an early night, anticipating that the wake-up call for Sunday’s compressed race schedule would come early.

Sunday morning’s weather was only slightly more promising, with overcast skies. Crew members got out their brooms and worked together to sweep away Saturday’s puddles. Teams practiced under the threat of rain, but the downpour held off. The VMS team members worked to contain their frustration during the two practice sessions. Numerous changes were made to the car’s setup, but just like at the previous event in Wetaskiwin, it seemed that nothing would make all four tires stick to the pavement. When the time came for qualifying, the #14 machine logged the 12th quickest time. Dissatisfied with the qualifying result, the # 14 team decided to pull the car out of the impound field and make further adjustments. This meant that Jr. would start the feature event at the back of the pack, in 16th spot.

The changes that were made after qualifying helped improve the car’s handling, and by Lap 26 Jr. and the SouthFort Chevrolet Monte Carlo were in 11th position overall. By Lap 29 the first caution was called and Jr. came in for another quick adjustment and a fuel top-up. The green flag came out again on Lap 40 and by Lap 50 Jr. had worked his way back up to 11th spot.

Another caution flag was flown at Lap 77 and the #14 machine returned to pit road for yet another chassis adjustment and some extra fuel. The SouthFort entry now had more than enough fuel to make it to the end of the 200 laps, but would still need to come in for a tire change. On Lap 122 the third caution flag was flown, due to what appeared to be a blown engine in the #76 car, so Jr. entered the pits one more time to take a right rear tire. The caution came out one more time when a wheel dislodged from the #21 machine and bounced around Turn 2 and the back straight, and so the VMS team came in for one final chassis adjustment. By this time the #14 had been lapped, but the team decided to enter pit road early, and paid the penalty of being sent to the end of the longest line for the next restart. But the SouthFort machine was now handling well, and Jr. was eager to work his way up through traffic.

While circling the track under yellow the rain that had threatened all day began to fall. On Lap 187 the teams were stopped on the track under red flag conditions. In short order the cars were directed back into the infield, and drivers were allowed out of their cars for what seemed would be an extended rain delay. This delay created problems for some teams’ crew members, who had planes to catch or who faced lengthy overnight road trips home. Ultimately, four of the seven VMS team members departed during the rain delay, leaving a barebones team of James Jr., James Sr., and Pit Crew member Herma to finish out the event.

After a ninety-minute delay drivers were called back to their cars and were sent out to help dry the track for twenty-five laps. Track conditions were still questionable when the green flag was thrown, and rain had started to fall once again. Jr. was shown in 7th position on the single-file re-start. After only five more laps another caution was thrown for debris on the track. The last re-start occurred on Lap 194 and on the white flag lap the #30 and #26 cars got together and crashed into the outside retaining wall. Track conditions remained green however, and the #14 was counted 6th across the finish line.

Looking back over 2005 the VMS team has run a solid season with several top-10 and some top-5 finishes. While the #14 team didn’t make a podium appearance this year, the crew solidified its position as a regular top-flight contender in the CASCAR Western Series. James Jr. would like to thank all the members of the #14 team for their ongoing dedication: “Without the effort of the whole team, and especially the countless hours of work by Jim Sr. and Herma, we would not be as competitive and professional as we are."

The driver and crew of the #14 SouthFort Chevrolet Monte Carlo sends their congratulations to the #35 team of Kevin Dowler who won their 5th CASCAR Western Series Championship. Congratulations also go out to the #21 team of Jason White who achieved the title of Rookie of the Year. The #14 team considers it a pleasure and a privilege to compete with these and all the other talented and hard-working teams of the CASCAR Western Series.

The VMS team would also like to thank Canadian motorsports fans for their enthusiastic support both on and off the track. Heartfelt thanks also go out to the team’s dedicated sponsors, without whom racing at this elite level would not be possible: SouthFort Chevrolet (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); Dewar Western, Inc. (Edmonton, AB); Boston Pizza (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); Advantage Signs (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); Quality Group (Edmonton, AB); General Auto & Ag Supply (Lamont, AB); Hydro-Scotford (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); Fort Welding & Mechanical Contracting (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); RCS Sheet Metal (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); TriStar Collision (Edmonton, AB); Camtec Inc. (Edmonton, AB); Sears Appliance Outlet (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); MacMillan Photography (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); L & W Automotive (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); Aldon Auto Salvage (Lamont, AB); Ellis-Govenlock Accounting (Edmonton, AB); Daytona Composites (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); CanTorque, Inc. (Edmonton, AB); Remax – Zucht Realty Team (Fort Saskatchewan, AB); Deciding Factor Investigations (Edmonton, AB), Noyen Construction (Fort Saskatchewan, AB) and H.E.D. Liner Power Boats (Sherwood Park, AB).

For more information on the VMS racecar and team, please access their website at:

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