A truck rounds the last turn at Summer Smash on Saturday during the first day of the annual event at the Hope Sports Bowl. A truck rounds the last turn at Summer Smash last Saturday during the first day of the annual event at the Hope Sports Bowl. (Greg Laychak photo)

Summer Smash makes big impression

Racers and fans enjoyed sunny weather and a revved-up atmosphere at the Hope Sports Bowl Saturday.

By Barry Stewart

Bad news must have happened somewhere else last weekend, because Hope’s two-day motorsports event was a smashing success.

Spokesman for the Hope Motorsports Group, Scott Medlock, said on Tuesday, “It was a fantastic weekend. We ran a mix of demolition derby, 4×4 races and mini stock car races over both days.

“We had a total of eight full-size demolition derby cars, nine mini stock race cars and a best-ever 37 4×4 entries.

“We sold 362 wrist-bands and kids [aged] 12 and under were free. With the participants and their pit crews, I’d say we had about 700 people, all-in-all.”

Crews set up sprinklers throughout the sports bowl on Friday, to control the dust and help reduce forest fire concerns, said Medlock, who works with friends James Talarico and Jim Lasser to organize local motorsports events.

“We did have to cancel, two years ago, because of fire season,” he said. “We were a little on edge this year but the crews did a good job of making sure everything was wet.”

The 4×4 event was split into six different classes, based mainly on vehicle wheelbase or competition level: long box, short box, bobtail, buggy, competition modified and powder puff. “We give the hard luck trophy to the driver that broke the most parts,” said Medlock. “This year, the trophy was accompanied by a gift certificate to North Shore Off Road, a popular 4×4 parts and accessories store.

“Trevor Peck, of Abbotsford broke his transfer case on his ‘86 Chevy long box. I would think that would be at least a thousand dollars to repair, not counting his labour,” figured Medlock. Add to that bill, his $40 entry fee.

“We gave him a big trophy, made out [of] some broken parts,” added Medlock. “James Talarico makes the Hard Luck trophy every year. Our group makes all the trophies out of old parts and tools. First, second and third place finishers get a decal that they can put on any trophy they choose.”

“The best overall driver went to Chris Stephens, of Hope, because he continually improved on his times and ran one of the fastest of the day,” said Medlock.

Long box winner was Lee Pemble, of Abbotsford and Hope’s Collin DeKerf won the short box in his Ford Explorer. Maple Ridge driver Jamie Darby took the bobtail class, in a Jeep Cherokee that he rolled on its side, Saturday and had to repair before besting the class on Sunday.

Rob Duf of Coquitlam took top honours in the competition modified and buggy events — and Hope’s Katie Talarico prevailed in the powder puff event.

“4×4 crowd pleaser was Dave Davies, of Langley,” said Medlock. “He’s got a 78 Malibu mud racer on a truck frame and he put on a good show for the crowd.

“We were fortunate to have the NWMRA (North West Mud Racing Association) use their timing lights for the 4×4 races,” added Medlock. “It’s a great system, that provided accurate timing and a large display digital time clock for the crowd to see. It was wonderful of them to come and volunteer.”

Mini-stocks are small front-wheel drive cars, running on a figure-8 course — with no stoplights at the intersection.

“The cars race for a total of 10 laps and the winner receives four points, second place gets three points and third place gets two points,” explained Medlock. “The more heats the cars run in, the better the chance they will accumulate points to win a trophy and prize money.

“We started out with nine cars but trying to keep them alive for six heats of racing was a challenge this year. We lost a couple after the first heat, another after the next heat and by the end, we were down to four cars.

“They break CV axles and tires pop often — and the steering goes because the front wheels are vulnerable to crashes from the side.”

In the end, it was Hope resident Maurice Peters outlasting the field, in his Toyota Tercel.

“Eight cars registered for the demo derby but each of the four heats we were down cars, for one reason or another,” said Medlock. “One driver, Dave Knoller, who used the name ‘Billy Sanders,’ couldn’t get his car started when he got it off the trailer, Saturday morning. He worked on it all day, trailered it home to Abbotsford Saturday night, changed the motor and brought it back to race on Sunday.

“He got second in the first heat on Sunday, which gave him a trophy and $100 in prize money. He probably spent more on gas — but he’s a big supporter,” said Medlock, laughing.

The big winner in the demo derby was Scott Meloshinsky, of Chilliwack. Medlock said Scott’s dad, Dan has had a big hand in guiding his son in the sport.

“Scott just graduated from high school last year,” said Medlock, “and he took home the most prize money at our event.”

Meloshinsky came second in the first heat, then brought back a different car on Sunday, to win two heats and the Crowd Pleaser trophy.

“The drivers put on a good show for the crowd. Hope Crime Prevention sold wristbands at the gates, Hope Search and Rescue helped with track safety and Hope Fire Department was on scene to put out any fires,” said Medlock. “And the Hope Lions Club kept the spectators and participants well fed. It was a great community-filled weekend.”

Stay tuned for news on the group’s plans for the Brigade Days weekend.