Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – RANSOMVILLE, NY – ‘It’s great to see all the Canadians back! Welcome back; we’ve missed you!’
Those were some of the words Ransomville Speedway race director John Nelson exclaimed on the one-way radio before the 358 feature. For the first time since 2019, Canadians could cross the border into the US thanks to relaxed restrictions.
Last season, only one driver from Canada raced in the 358 Modified division. Mat Williamson, who could go back and forth due to a work visa and racing for multiple teams on series tours.
Friday night, Ransomville regulars in Pete Bicknell and Gary Lindberg, among notables, made the return and got housewarming welcomes.
“It sucks not being able to come over. We missed racing here. Thankfully, we got it (the border) opened up, and hope it stays this way all year,” Bicknell told RPW shortly before the driver’s meeting.
Immediately as Bicknell’s trailer showed up at “The Big R,” crew members, officials, and drivers stopped by to welcome him back.
“Lot of people thanked me for coming back, glad to see them again. It’s been two years.”
Was there ring rust for the Canadians when it came to off-throttle time and yawing the car in the corners? Gary Lindberg didn’t seem to have a huge issue. He had clocked 2nd in time trials the week before to lock him onto the front row for the 358 feature.
“It’s making me a little rusty for sure. Compared to the guys that have been running weekly still. We’ll see what we can do,” Lindberg said, who isn’t yet planning to run every week.
Bicknell compared it to riding a bike.
“You’re used to it; you get going again. It comes right back once you get back in the car. I’ve been racing long enough. It’s been like an old memory,” said Bicknell.
The two drivers spent last season running at Merrittville on Saturdays. They finished second and third in points, respectively, to Mike Bowman, also returning to Ransomville.
Williamson, a co-champion at Ransomville last year, was very excited.
“You add a few good cars to the mix; it’s gonna be tougher to win races. It should put on a good show for the fans with everybody here and get the Modified car count up, which is nice. We always need more cars,” he told RPW pre-race before his night’s win.
Bicknell finished 6th while Lindberg went 15th. Ohsweken Speedway regular Glenn Styres also traveled to Ransomville with his modified and finished in P8.
Last year averaged a car count of 14-15 cars. Friday night had 17 vehicles for the green.
This was also seen in the Sportsman division with James Friesen returning, who finished 5th.
Another notable track that saw the return of Canadians was Can-Am Speedway in LaFargeville. Ryan Arbuthnot, Jarrett Herbison, Brian McDonald, Yan Bilodeau, and Chantal Provencher returned to the 358 Modified division, putting 27 cars in the feature lineup. Arbutnot was the highest running Canadian, finishing 11th.