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Can-Am Speedway 2024! Article 6/50

Can-Am Speedway 2024! Article 6/50

LAFARGEVILLE, NY - A lot of drivers have passed through the gates at the Can-Am Speedway and as we look back on the past 50 years, one driver left a lasting impression with the fans and was also one of the most well respected drivers in the pits, her name is Laurie Handschuh.

Jubilee Schedule Highlights

Jubilee Schedule Highlights

LAFARGEVILLE, NY - On June 14th 1974 the doors opened for the very first time at the Can-Am Speedway (then called Winner’s Circle Speedway) in Lafargeville New York. Jim Clark won the first ever Modified feature event and Gordie Dobbins won the Stocker feature and helped lay the foundation for the speedway, which is still going strong heading into its 50th year.

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Golden Jubilee: To Win the Modified Title, You had to Beat the Canadians
1478
2/1/2024

2/1/2024

Can-Am Speedway


Golden Jubilee: To Win the Modified Title, You had to Beat the Canadians

The 50th season opener at the Can-Am Speedway in Lafargeville New York is on its way and we look back at the history of the speedway and the impact that Canadian drivers had.

The first ever track championship in the Modified class was awarded back in 1975 and that year a veteran driver named Gary Reddick out of Watertown New York, claimed the title by 22 points over Canadian Roy Makinson.

What’s interesting is Reddick was not the first American born driver to win the championship as Reddick was born in Monkland Ontario near Cornwall.

Tommy Wilson became the first American born driver to win the Can-Am crown in 1978, but from there the Canadians took over and owned the title.

From 1979 to 1990 seven different Canadian born drivers claimed the Modified track championship at Can-Am and claimed the majority of the feature wins.

Another interesting fact is that the Modified track championship never left the Kingston area from 1981 to 1989, with Tony Corcoran, who lived in nearby Elginburg Ontario, winning three in a row from 1981-1983, Sydenham Ontario’s John Dahm won back to back in 1984 and 1985, Doug Carlyle went back to back in 1986 and 1987 and Pat O’Brien wo the title in 1988 and 1989. Alexandria Ontario’s Laurent Ladouceur, who won the 1986 Late Model title, would break the Kingston area strangle hold on the Modified crown, winning the title in 1990.

Finally in 1991 a young star by the name of Jimmy Johnson Jr. would break the string of Canadian dominance by claiming the track title in his famous 711 machine over the top Canadian cars. Just to prove it was no fluke, he went out and did it one more time in 1992.

To close out the 90s and start the 2000s however, Dave Heaslip and Pat O’Brien would go on to win 7 of the next 8 titles only to be interrupted by Plessis New York’s Bill Gill in 1999.

2001 going forward is when the American drivers took top honors. Drivers like Billy Wilcox, Pat Ward, Lee Gill and Rob Galloway would claim titles the next four seasons with Gill making history, winning the first Big Block Modified title in 2003.

Much like what the Canadians did in the early days of the speedway, the American drivers started to own the Can-Am title whether it be Big Block or 358 Modified crowns. Drivers like Frank Caprara, Billy Dunn, Larry Wight, Vic Coffey, Willy Decker and Bill Gill would claim track titles through 2012.

Four times in that span the title went back to Canada with Pat O’Brien winning Big Block crowns in 2004 and 2005, while Tim O’Brien and Chris Raabe won the 2010 and 2012 358 Modified championships.

Since the return of the Modifieds in 2016 at Can-Am, American drivers like Billy Dunn, Tim Fuller and Michael Maresca have all hoisted the 358 Modified track championship. Ryan Arbuthnot from Renfrew Ontario would take the title back across the border one more time in 2019 and is the most recent Canadian to do so.

Canadians in other divisions have also seen the top of the mountain. Bill Plooy and Chris Raabe won track titles in the DIRTCar Sportsman division.

Laurent Ladouceur and Charlie Sandercock were champions in the Late Model class.

Gananoque Ontario’s Ryan Scott also claimed a title in the IMCA Modified division.

Canadians have certainly left their mark on the speedway over the years with several of our Modified titlists going on to be inducted into the Northeast Modified Hall of Fame.

The Golden Jubilee season at the Can-Am Speedway is almost here, soon the snow will be gone and the racing action will be heating up.

Stay tuned to our website at racecanam.com or our Facebook page as the 2024 season schedule will soon be announced.


Article Credit: Tim Baltz

Submitted By: Tyler & Michelle Bartlett

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