Thursday, 04 August 2011 09:35

Wolff Pack Run ends a day late, but enjoyed by racers

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By Aasa Marshall — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

It took three days to complete instead of the usual two, but the Wolff Pack Run at Speedy Creek Raceway thrilled audiences and drivers for the second year in a row.

The International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) event was scheduled to run July 29-30, but the final two races — the Last Chance Qualifier and Big Money Race — were moved to Monday afternoon due to rain.

When the final race was complete, Davin Raynard of Estevan drove away with the $5,000 prize. Bob Heffer of Swift Current took third place, bracketed by second-place Mike Hagen of Williston, N.D., and his son Travis Hagen who placed fourth.

This year marked the seventh anniversary of the race, and the second time it has been held in Swift Current. Though previous years the dirt-track event has been held in Wetaskiwin, Calgary, and Lethbridge, Swift Current’s ability to put on a good event coupled with the growing interest in the sport in the area made it an ideal place for organizers to hold it again. Thirty-eight competitors brought
their IMCA modified cars to the track, with the top 24 competing in the final race. 

The biggest draw for competitors is the Wolff Pack Run’s pay-out: it is the biggest Canadian IMCA race on dirt, with $40,000 in prizes up for grabs. The race’s founder, George Wowk, puts up $20,000 of prize money, with Speedy Creek Racing matching the amount through fundraising and sponsorship. Though the winner’s cut is $5,000, each competitor who makes it to the final race is guaranteed $1,000. 

Drivers like the Wolff Pack Race for a number of reasons other than the prize money, said Speedy Creek Racing’s media liaison, Colin Johnston. 

“It’s one of the most exhilarating races, your adrenaline’s going,” he said, adding there’s a spirit of camaraderie amongst drivers that doesn’t exist at all races. “Everybody helps everybody else; you’re borrowing parts off one guy you’ve never met before and giving parts to another guy.”

George Wowk started out in the sport building and racing a modified car with his brother in 1992; after five years they stopped racing, but Wowk sponsored two individual drivers. After that, he decided to sponsor a race, “because it’s more fun,” he said.   

For Jason Silliker, a driver who usually races on pavement, the dirt track was a new experience. 
 “It’s a whole different driving style, it’s not even close to what we’re used to,” said the
New Brunswick native. “ ... Pavement is smooth, there’s no noises in the car, the only noises you hear is the engine. These things clank and bang and I think the tires are always flat; I’ve just not got a handle on this thing yet.”  

The IMCA modifides aren't elegant vehicles, but they do know how to move. With their steel or aluminum bodies and 600 to 750 horsepower engines, they tend to kick up a lot of mud. 

 “You go down into the corner and even doing 120 mile an hour you don’t touch the brake, you just crank the wheel and start sliding sideways, and it slows down a bit and you hammer on the gas again,” Silliker said.

Trent Guest from Medicine Hat has taken part in four Wolff Pack Runs, but said Saturday’s competition was rougher than he’s seen in the past. 

“There was lots of beatin’ and bangin’, more than usual,” he said, adding his car needed about five hours worth of repair work after Saturday’s races.

For Johnston, the reasons behind the popularity of IMCA racing in Swift Current are pretty straight forward.

“I think we all just have the same quest to go faster and faster,” he said, “and these cars give us the ability to go as fast as we want.”

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