The 2012 OSCAAR Super Late Model season is one of the most anticipated in the history of Ontario’s top touring series. And the anticipation certainly is not without reason. Some big name-veterans are returning to the OSCAAR schedule this season after various lengths of absence. And the rookie class is nothing to scoff at either. This season is all but guaranteed to be one of the most competitive seasons in OSCAAR history.
Returning to the series for 2012 is five-time OSCAAR champion Rob Clarke, the only driver to achieve the feat in an OSCAAR Super Late Model. Clarke made three starts in 2011 of which he won the first two. He will be a threat to win each and every night in a brand new chassis for 2012. Add to the mix 2007 Champion Derrick Tiemersma on a full-time basis who has been working hard to shake the bugs from his car after a one year hiatus. Mike Beyore in the #54 Cadillac also returns, who earned a third place finish in the 2010 points standings, after a one-year absence with a new outlook on his race program and a determination to win. Flying under the radar in this group is Shawn Chenoweth, who will pilot the #1 Outlaw this season. Let’s not forget that Chenoweth won just about everything there is to win in an Ontario Pro Late Model in 2009. The drivers returning to the series on a full-time basis coupled with the influx of new talent has created a highly competitive atmosphere.
Then there are a couple of other veterans of the series that will be running on a full-time basis for the first time. Fan-favourite driver Brandon Watson announced in April he would compete for his first OSCAAR championship, and will look to get his second OSCAAR feature win after he won the 2010 Autumn Colours Classic at Peterborough Speedway. In addition to Watson, George Wilson will make the long haul from Sault Ste. Marie for all 12 events as he competes for his first championship. Wilson was among the quickest cars to test at Sunset Speedway on May 13. Look for him to threaten for a win on opening day in his #77 Port City Race cars sponsored Ford Fusion.
Let’s not forget the new rookie class for 2012 either. Former Delaware Speedway Late Model Champion Jesse Kennedy will compete for a rookie title. Kennedy already has some experience in his Super Late Model after participating in 4 events last season, but has a new chassis for 2012. Former Sunset Speedway late model competitor Rob Poole is eager to get his season underway. Poole has been testing his #45 Chevrolet Impala car for over a month in preparation for opening day. Long-time Flamboro Speedway Late Model regular Jim Bowman jumps in full-time and will be a tough competitor as well in the #63 Remax Camaro. Paul Law, a former Mosport late model driver and Cup Lite veteran, was very quick on test day in his Jeff Hanley-built outlaw. He will be a top-five threat every week in his #72 Midas of Orangeville Chevrolet. Perhaps the most interesting Rookie will be teenage motocross sensation Quinn Misener. Competing out of the Passer Racing stable, Misener will have significant Super Late Model knowledge backing his 2012 efforts in the #5 Outlaw. The fresh blood in the series brings considerable racing experience to challenge the veterans.
What about the drivers that have been staples to the OSCAAR tour over the years? Collander, Ontario’s Jeff Dunford has a new chassis for 2012 and is as hungry as ever for his first OSCAAR feature win after finishing second in the overall points championship for two consecutive years. The ‘Orange Blossom Special’ of Lloyd Ritchie will be in search of his second career OSCAAR win after a spectacular win at Peterborough Speedway last season. Charlie Gallant’s #40P will be quick this season after he purchased the 2011 championship chassis from Glenn Watson. Gary and Roy Passer will also be competing on a full-time basis for 2012. With a year of experience under their belt, the 2011 rookie class will be quick again this season, including 2011 Rookie-of-the-Year Todd Campbell, Chris Burrows (who will pull double-duty with his OSCAAR modified), Brandon Vanderwel, Kyle Passer, and Tyler Hawn, who is sporting a new paint scheme for 2012.
And then there’s the driver everybody’s chasing. Four-time defending champion Glenn Watson begins his drive for five in a row. Watson has a brand new chassis from Port City Race cars and has been working hard alongside his crew to prepare the car that arrived as a bare chassis for 2012. Watson certainly has a target on his back for 2012, but don’t expect the four-time defending champion to roll over and die. The #22 team is hungry for that fifth championship that would tie Rob Clarke for most OSCAAR championships all-time.
With such little room for error, drivers will have to be ready from the drop of the first green flag which flies at 6pm. Do the math, and it’s easy to see the field will be more than twenty car strong. After 7 long months of anticipation, the wait is over. It’s time to turn ‘em loose and make some noise in 2012.
By Clayton Johns