Classic Player’s Challenge Racing in the rain


Few who were around to experience the Player’s GM Challenge will argue that there has never been a more exciting racing series in North America. The cars were stout, fast and came out of a showroom. The drivers were talented, fast and tenacious. The fans were drunk and rabid.

As the series took place from the late Eighties to early Nineties, before the age of digital cameras, there is a sad lack of media material available from the series. Hopefully, more fans will start scanning their old photos soon.

Through a friend on Facebook, I just came across this fantastic (for the era) in car video from a race at Shannonville in the rain. The driver is not identified. Do you know who is driving this machine?

Update: Canadian racing legend and top competitor in the series, Ron Fellows, has weighed in on the video. Ron believes that this is one of the Motomaster cars, which he drove himself at Shannonville in 1987. That was a dry race, so Fellows thinks this is David Empringham in the ’88 race.

Peter Thomson wins Shannonville Stages Rally

Yesterday marked the running of the 2010 edition of the Shannonville Stages Rally at Shannonville Motorsport Park, just east on Belleville, Ontario. This is a completely flat road course that is tight and twisty with a long straight at the north end which doubles as a drag strip. I have to say that it is one of my least favorite tracks!

This round of the Ontario Performance Rally Cup proved to be uneventful other than the fact that many teams underestimated the demands of a race track on regular rally brakes. It may seem hard to believe, but many rally cars run stock brakes as the braking effort on gravel and snow isn’t all that taxing. The funny thing is that when we ran the same event in 1994, many of the larger cars had the same issue then. 16 years later and guys still haven’t learned!

2005 Canadian Rally Champion, Peter Thomson with Frank Sprongl co-driving, won the event overall in a Mitsubishi Evo VIII. Second place went to Glen Clarke and Ray Felice in their Porsche 911 which ran out of brakes with 5 laps left. There was actually a battle for 3rd place, which was won by Nicola & Massimo Narini in their Subaru.

Regular readers will recognize the 4th place finisher. Chris Martin and Phil Narini and their Subaru have appeared in our pages a number of times.

After the break, we’ve got some exclusive shots of the event courtesy of Dean Campbell and
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Sneaking home

Back in 1979 Judy was racing in the Honda BF Goodrich series with her 78 Honda. It was also her daily driver but she trailered it to the track. Tow vehicle was a 73 GMC 1 ton heavy duty van with 3 in the tree. Column mounted gearshift for the youngsters. It was pretty rough as it had been a hard used work van. We later converted it into a pretty neat camper van but that is another story.

A good friend from Ancaster, Steve Ray, drove his Honda to and from the track. How he managed to get everything including his wife into the Honda was a puzzle to everyone. Remember these were the first generation Civics and pretty small. Crammed into the car were his racing tires and wheels, his tool box, a tent, foam mattress, cooler with food, libation, pop, stove, cooking and eating utensils and other camping gear including a water container. Of course you had to use street BF Goodrich tires but the ones that were raced had been well and truly shaved and would never pass a DOT inspection so everyone had a separate set of ‘race’ tires. Fully treaded tires not only squirmed too much they threw treads. Your regular road tires were the rain tires.
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