Cars lined the top of Carmi Road near Penticton Speedway on Sunday.
It was a sign that spectators didn’t want to miss out on the final race, Halloween Day of Destruction. The stands were packed as well as the areas surrounding the track with 3,000 fans and engines roared. The lineup of entertainment for Sunday was hornets, streetstocks, late models and wrapping up with hit-to-pass boat and trailer race. It was the ninth sell-out of the season for their best one in 19 years.
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The latemodels didn’t waste time completing its 40-lap race. The 25 drivers showed off their skills in just over 10 minutes.
“Those cars are fast. We want to get them back,” said Speedway owner Johnny Aantjes, who was very happy how the day unfolded. “We were involved with the series for 12 years in B.C., the Katana Sportsman Series. Unfortunately it changed a little after we got out of it. I think we’re going to see the late model class come back to life a little bit in the Okanagan. This was a good indication of it.”
The streetstock class, which had 25 drivers, had a few crashes slowing things down in the 75-lap race. That was eventually shortened by 10 laps. Winning the championship was John Revell. Aantjes said that class featured fast cars and good competition.
In the hornet class, Jordann Schyrbiak took the A group championship. Aantjes said she did “an awesome job.”
“She is great for the sport. A young female driver which everyone loves to cheer for,” he said. “Nice to see her win the championship.”
“Chase is racing for first in his points class today. The car’s all good (decorated as Still Dead) and ready to go, so hopefully he can keep his lead,” said father Russ.
Things worked out for Clermont.
“(He) didn’t have such a great race day yesterday, but he had a great season,” said Aantjes of his step son. “Really proud of him too. Had some great racing in that group and it finished strong.”
The event also attracted out of town visitors. Jeremy Floer “We came down from Prince George, and couldn’t be having more fun,” said Jeremy Floer, who drove car 91. “It’s been awesome.”
The hit-to-pass championship was won by Kelly Milroy. The drivers in that class didn’t disappoint with how their vehicles looked.
“Dave Tenborg did a phenomenal job with that boat. Dale Breit did an incredible job with Tow Mater,” he said.
Aantjes was also impressed with a Dumb and Dumber-themed vehicle and Mutt Cutts from Kelowna.
“The kids loved it. It was just great entertainment.”
Thom’s last call
Sunday marked the last time Alan Thom, 72, was in the announcers booth after 13 years. Aantjes said they are going to remember all the years of dedication and service he has given.
“He gave stability to the announcing job at the race track. He loves racing,” said Aantjes. “He’s done a really good job. I think there were a lot of times that were good with Alan being at the race track. Some of the things that I always appreciated is how enthused he gets when there is a spectacular crash, or something that is going on. He relives it like a lot of the drivers do.”
“I really enjoyed the show. A pretty nice day considering the time of year,” said Thom, adding there will be a little bit of regret.
“It’s not like I’m not going to be around the race track. Being in the middle of it, you get all the information before other people do. You kind of have an insight that people don’t,” said Thom, who plans on hitting the track next season as a spectator. “I really enjoy the race people. The families and all the whole thing. That’s the part I’m going to miss. Being close up to the people is probably the best part.”
A highlight for Thom, who loved working for the Aantjes’, was getting into a car during hornet practices. Hornets class captain Pieter VanDerbroek let Thom in a car a few times.
“One of the reasons I was in the tower is because I’d really like to have a race car and be running around racing every weekend,” said Thom, who moved to Penticton in 1975 after growing up in Blind River, Ont., near Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. “I know how difficult it is and how dedicated you have to be to be sucessful. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do that.”