Delaware Speedway is a half-mile paved race track that is one of the oldest continuously operating tracks in Canada. It is located a few minutes west of London, Ontario northeast of Delaware, Ontario. It hosts stock car racing every Friday night during the summer. The track opened in 1952 as a quarter-mile dirt track and was later expanded to the 1/2 paved oval of today.
|Canada's Home Town Track, Canada's Finest Short Track|
|Location||1640 Gideon Drive|
|Owner||DeMelo & Spivak Families|
|Former names||Brodie's Delaware Speedway|
Delaware International Speedway
|Major events||NASCAR Pinty's Series|
Choko/Fast Eddie 250
OSCAAR Outlaw Late Models
Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup
APC United Late Model Series
Great Canadian 200
|Length||0.8 km (0.5 mi)|
|Banking||Turns - 5-7 degrees (Estimated)|
The track hosts seven different divisions as part of its home classes (Late Model, Modified, Street Stock, Truck, Enduro, Junior Late Model) as well as one entry-level class, the Bone Stock Chaos Cars. They also host the King of the Hill spectators races.
Late Models are purpose-built race cars. They are the fastest weekly class at the speedway and drivers in the series make occasional trips to other speedways in the province for large special events. The signature event for the Late Models is "The Great Canadian Race" held annually.
This class is made up of mid-1970s through mid-1980s North American vehicles. The cars are sometimes described as "The Late Model of Yesterday" in reference to their similar look to the old Late Model class. The cars have been modified with safety and performance in mind but still retain a stock frame, body and many chassis components. The division was known as the "Street Stock" class until its name was changed to "Super Stock" several races into the 2007 season. The change occurred as a result of gradual improvements to the quality of the cars in recent years and the signing of a new sponsor to the division. The speedway announced that more modern muscle car body packages will be introduced for the 2011 season including Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro, and Ford Mustang.
Considered an entry level class that is a proving ground for future street stock, modified or late model drivers. The trucks use automatic transmissions to be easier to drive. The trucks were the largest division at the speedway in the 2005–2006 seasons before being regularly overtaken by the Super Stock class. By 2010, the Super Stocks and Trucks had comparable vehicle counts a trend which continued through the 2011 season.
The endurance division runs on a separate day from the regular divisions with an emphasis on staying out and making as many laps as possible. The division sees upwards of 80 drivers competing at the same time on the track. The minimum length for an enduro race during its prime was 250 laps. Several times a year the top drivers face off in a Friday 25-lap format "All-Star Race" or "Challenge" event.
At its height in the mid-1990s the enduro class boasted races of almost 200 cars competing in a single race. Today's enduro car has evolved from the original in significant safety strides but experienced a decline in vehicle count to between 60-80 cars. Many drivers and fans have offered different explanations for the decline, but many see the decrease in cars a result of lower availability of affordable rear-wheel drive V-8 cars which were used cars that were available in the early 1990s. Speedway officials hinted during the 2008 season that steps were going to be taken to correct imbalances in the class. The result was the "Next-Generation" program which introduced a separate payout for drivers running cars with six or less cylinders, the introduction of 30-lap heat races and a 150-lap main event. The program did not see significant changes in vehicle count as a result of the "Next-Generation" program or format changes, but counts remained stable. In the 2011 season officials have signaled their intention to revisit the "Next-Generation" program and make adjustments to the class aimed at improving the class. Minor format tweaks were introduced which allowed for a tighter restart format and improvements to rookie driver incentive programs.
Junior Racing LeagueEdit
The Junior Racing League races on Wednesday nights on a special roadcourse in the infield. The drivers (aged 8–17) years old race 1/2 scale late model stock cars. The program was formerly known as the "CASCAR Junior Program" and was founded in 1997. Racing is divided into two divisions - Junior (8–12 years old) and Senior (13–17 years old). The program has seen many drivers graduate to higher divisions in racing, including J.R. Fitzpatrick.
Chaos Cars / Bone StocksEdit
In an effort to create an easy entry level and add additional entertainment value to the track, the speedway announced in the 2008 Rule package the introduction of a 4-cylinder "Chaos Car". The division was developed by track announcer John Houghton. The class ran in "Novelty" type events before Enduro races and occasionally at the conclusion of the Friday program. Over ten different vehicles were entered into competition in the first year. Race courses included "barrel turns" where drivers had to drive 360 degrees around a barrel before continuing, weaving cones, stop boxes as well as small launch ramps in the season finale. The inaugural "Chaos Car" champion in 2008 was "SnotRod", built by Mark Thyssen and piloted by Tyssen Toll. In 2009, Spencer Rabideau in "Bush Bomb" claimed the title at the season finale in which nine drivers competed. The car count held steady into the beginning of the 2010 season, which finished the year with 12 vehicles competing in the finale in which the championship was won by "Blue Thunder". The 2011 season built on the success regularly starting more than 10 drivers and finishing the year with 15 drivers at the season finale.
The series experienced the largest single-day growth of a division in speedway history with the introduction of the "Bone Stock" format, which updated the Chaos Car rules to fit an old-school 1990's Enduro-type race. The Bone Stock 75 made its debut on October 15, 2011 in which 30 drivers arrived to compete, nearly doubling the size of the division.
The modified class is similar to the Late Model class but are open wheeled. The maximum speed of the cars is slightly slower than their late model counterparts. The class struggled for drivers in the early 2000s (decade), but briefly bounced back in the years that followed with the introduction of a more aggressive body style, as well as increased participation in invitational events. By the end of the 2009 season the number of drivers participating dropped to below 10 cars per race. The collapse in count left the speedway and drivers searching for a solution for the open-wheel class. In 2010 the speedway reduced the number of races for the Open Wheel Modifieds in hopes of making the competition more affordable. The drivers formed an association known as the MRA (Modified Racing Association) with the goal of promoting Open-Wheel racing in Ontario. At their first invitational held at Sauble Speedway on July 3, 2010, the MRA drew 23 competitors. The MRA continued to enjoy strong success in invitational events throughout the 2011 season, however struggled to find competitors for weekly events held at the track. After 21 years as a weekly series with a home track schedule, in 2012 the division was discontinued as a weekly class. The modifieds continue to run at the speedway at special invitational events.
The track was opened in 1952 by Hugh Brodie as a 1/4 mile dirt track.
Super Modifieds (1970s)Edit
The 1/2 Mile asphalt surface is said to have been specifically built to accommodate super modified racing. The "Supers" raced at the speedway from the 1970s through 1980s before being dropped from the racing card and replaced with Super Late models. Super Modified racing did not return to Delaware Speedway until 2006 when the International Supermodified Association (ISMA) touring series made a stop. The series continues to attend the track each season, currently running two-day race weekends.
CASCAR era (1981–2005)Edit
The history of CASCAR and Delaware Speedway are very closely connected together. Delaware is widely recognized as the "Birthplace of CASCAR". The promoter of CASCAR, Tony Novotny was simultaneously promoter of both CASCAR Operations and Delaware Speedway before selling the track in 2001.
The track hosted CASCAR Super Series races from 1986 until 2005 when Delaware Speedway dropped CASCAR from its schedule in the same year the track left the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series after a two-year membership. The reason for the drop was delays in the delivery of the CASCAR schedule, prompting Delaware to fill the 2 annual CASCAR dates with its own events. Observers also cited strained relations between the track and CASCAR over the series' operations being controlled by its impending buyer NASCAR. All of the CASCAR Super Series' races in 1986 were held at the track, Ken Johnston was the champion.
NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series (2004–2005)Edit
Delaware Speedway became the first Canadian track to be member of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series in the 2004 season. At the conclusion of the 2005 racing season the speedway cancelled its NASCAR sanctioning at the same time as it dropped its CASCAR Super Series events. During the period after a series of rainouts and under the NASCAR rules at the time, the speedway was forced to run a number of double feature nights to make the minimum number of races required under the NASCAR program. With double feature nights increasing the weekly payout and not increasing the number of fans, the speedway reconsidered its place within NASCAR.
Independent period (2006–2008)Edit
Following the end of NASCAR sanctioning the speedway management set about a focus on building the profile of its weekly racing programs. The track worked with the Ontario-based inter-speedway organization Weekend Warrior Series (WWS) in an attempt to increase travel between Ontario-based speedways and also introduced new Late Model events such as the annual Canada Day PartSource 140 and giving the former CASCAR 300-lap Labour Day race to the division.
At the beginning of the 2007 racing season the track General Manager and Operations Director resigned from the speedway. Jeff Wilcox was put in place as Operations Manager and the 2007 race season went ahead as scheduled. Wilcox would remain operations manager until the conclusion of his term at the end of the 2008 racing season.
New ownership and return to NASCAR (2009–2011)Edit
On January 21, 2009 the speedway formally announced that one of the business's part owners, Arlen Scherba, had bought out the other business partners to become the sole owner of the speedway business. In the same release the track announced its return NASCAR weekly sanctioning under the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banner. The release also indicated that the speedway land lease was no longer a concern.
A new operations manager had been put in place before the new year, Paul Houghton, who had previously directed the track's Junior Racing League (JRL) program. Jeff Wilcox continued his role as Race Director, and John Houghton continued as Public Relations manager. Joe Czernai would later be added as the track's general manager, part way through the season.
The speedway successfully executed its first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event on Saturday, June 6, 2009 and repeated the event one year later on June 5, 2010. D.J. Kennington was the winner of both events. The 2009 season also featured numerous track renovations including repaving the majority of the front stretch, new corner lights, and electronic timing and scoring as well as a new ticketing system.
The 2010 Delaware Speedway season schedule was similar to that of 2009, with the addition of a special Summer Showdown featuring NASCAR drivers Kyle Busch, David Reutimann, and Jason Leffler. The event was won by Kyle Busch and was his first win in Canada. The 2010 schedule reduced the Open Wheel Modified series to a smaller schedule as part of retooling efforts for the weekly program, while increasing the number of races for Late Models, Super Stocks, and Trucks.
In 2011, the track hosted a NASCAR Whelen Modified event in September. It also announced plans to expand seating capacity by 600 and replace a number of grandstands to accommodate larger events, but the installation of those grandstands was put on hold shortly after the announcement to make additional preparations. Ron Sheridan, champion in the track's Late Model class, took over as race director in December 2010.
DeMelo–Spivak partnership (2012–present)Edit
On December 1, 2011, Arlen Scherba withdrew as owner of the track and the DeMelo and Spivak families became owners of the speedway. The change in ownership was considered historically significant as it represented the first time the lease-holding Spivak family was to have a direct interest in the speedway business.
In celebration of the track's 60th Anniversary in 2011, a speedway museum was opened in the base of the track's broadcast tower. The exhibition included original programs from the opening of the speedway, original posters, as well as reproductions of photos and other items.