A.J. Emms “Excited To Just Get Back in the Racecar and Turn Some Laps.”

A.J. Emms OSCAAR Modified Series

For A.J. Emms, racing is something that has always been a part of his life, met with summers filled with competition from the age of six. As he says, “I’ve never not been racing; I only know what it’s like to race and only know what it’s like to go to the track every weekend in the summer.”

So coming off a shortened season that seen some success, it’s not surprising he’s one of many Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified drivers excited about getting back to the track.

“I think it’s going to be a really strong year for the OSCAAR Modified division with a lot of good talent coming in and a lot of great racecars,” he said. “I think the competition will be the highest been in the series, and I know for us, and our entire team, we’re working at making sure we’re competitive this year. We’ve done a lot of work this off-season, like everybody else has, to make sure our car is prepared and be up to the task of competing.

“I think last year we learned a lot and were able to try some different things with the shortened season and not having points, and we’re hoping we can take some of the things that we learned last year and implement them. Hopefully we’re up for the challenge and I’m excited to just get back in the racecar and turn some laps.”

While known for consistency through his career, Emms suffered a DNF at Sunset Speedway for the first time in over 20 races. However, outside of that event, it was a pretty solid campaign for the 2019 series champion. He was able to visit feature victory lane at Sunset for the first time in his OSCAAR career, along with finishes of third and sixth at Jukasa Motor Speedway.

“In our last race of the year, we just didn’t have speed at Jukasa this year so really sat down, and picked apart why we didn’t have speed and what we can do different,” he admitted. “Although we had a really good car that raced well and did come out with some strong finishes, I think there’s a lot of room to improve on – places like Jukasa and Kawartha we just need to hunker down and think a lot on, and we need to make sure we step up our program at tracks that we excel at.

“I know our competition is working each and every day towards getting better and we need to do the same. I think it’s going to be minimizing mistake sand instead of just trying stuff, we need to bring a package that will be competitive each and every week so we’re not scrambling when we get to the race track.”

Emms knows having the program on par will be very important heading into 2021, with the competition in the series ever-evolving, from the veterans to the new faces. One of those whom he’s keeping an eye on is five-time series champion Gary McLean, stating while he hasn’t ran full-time recently, there’s a lot of experience between the driver and crew chief Greg Gibson.

“I think Gary is the type of guy that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes so he’ll be one to watch. He’ll be one that a lot of people undermine in how successful he could be,” Emms explained. “I think other guys that are going to be strong this year are obviously the (No.) 89 car – whoever is in that, will be strong this year. I also think they’ll be good competition all the way through. (Anthony) DiBello will be back as far as I heard, (Dale) Reinhart is always going to be strong,

“I think (Chad) Strawn is going to be good – I mean, there’s so many names that we could go through this field and I think the top-10 is at least going to be a battle each and every week.

Seeing Emms behind the wheel of a modified for the past five years comes as no surprise, in realizing he has spent the majority of his career driving open-wheel cars, whether go-karts or midgets.

“It almost feels like a sports car to me driving an OSCAAR modified,” he commented. “They’re light, you can see the wheels, they have good horsepower, they come up off the corner good, and they don’t feel big and bulky. A full body racecar, they are cool to drive as well, but they don’t just have the same feel as a modified as the modifieds are so unique to drive and watch. That’s the real draw to them, for me.”

Modifieds having “a special spot” for Emms goes beyond that, as he admits being a fan of watching great racers like Patrick Emerling, Mike Leaty, Andy Jankowiak, Andy Seuss, and Matt Hirschman in the various U.S. Modified classes.

Fortunately, he has been able to campaign the No. 14 on the car over the most recent seasons, which means a lot in knowing his father Jeff’s history with the number. His father has had a heavy influence through his career, from buying him a go-kart at the age of six, to traveling to the track twice every weekend so Emms could hone his skills.

“We have so many great memories spending time together, and doing a lot together,” Emms commented. “A lot of people maybe forget my dad raced because it was so long ago, but he definitely did it on his own – well, he had good people around him, but didn’t have parents or anybody involved in his racing and was able to do quite a bit of winning.

“I always reflect and am thankful to have his influence on the racing team and his drive, and some of the things he’s instilled in me through his experiences, I’m very thankful for. It helps me keeps my head down and working because I know this sport isn’t an easy one. He’s also been able to show me that work ethic of things I need to do to be able to be successful in the racecar and I’m thankful to have him part of the team.”

Emms went on to say his father’s advice has been critical in pushing him to be better, believing he wouldn’t been able to have the success they have had without that.

“Like I always say, I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of good people around me and I think my dad hasn’t been just as great person to have around me, but to also help surround myself with good people which has been very good,” he added.

Looking back at his career in the series, it has been meant with a lot of success, though also realizing he was perhaps being a little naïve in how much he needed to learn, and the strength of the competition when he initially began in 2016.

While recognizing that he had a lot of laps behind the wheel as a driver from go-karts to midgets entering OSCAAR, it’s been learning the importance of set-up over the years that has been become beneficial.

“I think years ago, there was a lot of focus on my driving all the time and I think there’s a huge, if not bigger than the driver component, is the mechanics in setting up the car,” he shared. “I don’t really have any regrets in terms of the things we did in the past because they took them to where we are today. But as I reflect back, I think again, surround yourself with people who are good and put the time and work in and I think that’s pretty much what I would say – putting in the extra work and time, there’s no substitute to it.”

Be sure to keep up with OSCAAR by staying tuned to the series website at http://www.oscaar.ca. Also, make sure to “like” the official OSCAAR Racing Facebook page, while following both the Twitter and Instagram accounts (@OSCAARRacing) to keep up to date on everything you need to know.

OSCAAR’s 2020 racing season was supported by several dedicated partners including Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC, Knightworks Design, Living Lighting Canada, Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd., Touchwood Cabinets, Sauble Falls Campground, The Fyre Place & Patio Shop, Ohsweken Speedway, American Racer, and Grisdale Race Products.

By: Ashley McCubbin

Norman Newman Ready to Challenge for Victories in 2021

Norman Newman

Following a solid consistent Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modifieds presented by Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd. and The Fyre Place & Patio Shop season, Norman Newman has his eyes locked on the year ahead.
“We plan to run the full OSCAAR Modified series (schedule), as well as any special events that come up,” he commented. “I’d love to win a championship but I’d be very happy with a top-three in points, along with being able to challenge for wins every week.”
One of the tracks that’d mean a lot for Newman to pick up a checkered flag at would be Sauble Speedway.
“I have yet to race there in a modified,” he said. “I’m hoping COVID doesn’t affect the grandstands this year; with Sauble being so close to home, it would be nice to have my family and friends come spectate.”
Through the four events ran in 2020, Newman was able to finish inside the top-10 each week, with a season-best fifth at Sunset Speedway. While a solid campaign, it did not meet the expectations following a breakthrough campaign in 2019.
“2020 wasn’t a good year for us,” he admitted. “We had multiple small issues that could have been prevented back at the shop but we’ve learned from our mistakes going forward into 2021.”
Now moving forward in working to improve, he says it’s about taking advantage of the help surrounding him.
“I’ve been fortunate to have Brian Macdonald help me along the way with this modified,” he commented. “I’ve learnt so much over the last two years and am finally getting a good grasp on these Tour Mods. I’ve also got some very good tips from Dale Reinhart and Andy Kamrath on how to drive these cars. We’ve always had some issues with corner speed and hopefully this season we can pick up the pace to keep up with the top cars.”
Being successful behind the wheel certainly is a special feeling in the Modifieds, in knowing how competitive the series is, and the fact “open wheel cars are a blast to drive as well.”
You can expect to see Newman on track behind the wheel of the No. 11, which was chosen due to being the day he was born on. His first choice at a number, if not already chosen by Bob Franks, would’ve been 72 due to Junior Hanley being his hero.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Jr. Hanley ever since I was a little kid,” he expressed. “It’s been awesome to be able to work with Brian Macdonald over the last few years and get to hear all of his racing stories.”
For their support of his program, Newman would like to thank Family Funland – Kincardine Ontario, West Shore Stone & Brick – Kincardine Ontario, Jackson Construction – Tiverton Ontario, Somerhill Golf Course – Tiverton Ontario, Ultra Graphics – Chesley Ontario, D3 Offroad Fab – Kincardine Ontario, and Bar Down Kincardine Ontario
Be sure to keep up with OSCAAR by staying tuned to the series website at http://www.oscaar.ca. Also, make sure to “like” the official OSCAAR Racing Facebook page, while following both the Twitter and Instagram accounts (@OSCAARRacing) to keep up to date on everything you need to know.

OSCAAR’s 2020 racing season was supported by several dedicated partners including Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC, Knightworks Design, Living Lighting Canada, Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd., Touchwood Cabinets, Sauble Falls Campground, The Fyre Place & Patio Shop, Ohsweken Speedway, American Racer, and Grisdale Race Products.

By: Ashley McCubbin

OSCAAR Releases 2021 Tentative Schedule

Since the completion of last season, OSCAAR officials have been preparing for the upcoming 2021 season, set to put on another year of stellar racing across the province.
 
The 2021 season promises to be the biggest yet, as OSCAAR continues to see growth in both the Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modifieds presented by Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd., and the Fyre Place & Patio Shop, and Knightworks Designs OSCAAR Hot Rods presented by Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park. Both divisions will see several new faces, as well the returning drivers that fans have grown used to.
 
The schedule (at this time) will consist of 11 events for Mods and 12 events for the Hot Rods, with both divisions doing battle across the province at 8 different venues.
 
Currently, the schedule is marked as tentative and subject to change, given COVID-19 restrictions across the province of Ontario. For fans of Jukasa Speedway, the recent passing of Mr Hill has resulted in the plans for 2021 to proceed a bit slower. Fans can rest assured when the management is ready to discuss the upcoming season that OSCAAR will be there to support. OSCAAR encourages our fans to stay tuned to the OSCAAR website and social media for updates as we near closer to the first green flag of 2021.
 
 The 2021 season will kick off on Victoria Day weekend on May 22nd and 23rd, with both divisions competing in the Spring Velocity event at Sunset Speedway. The Hot Rods & Modifieds will qualify on Saturday, followed by their features on Sunday. Notably, it promises to be a jam-packed weekend at the Innisfil-based oval with the APC Auto Parts United Late Models in action on Saturday, along with the NASCAR Pinty’s Series on Sunday.
 
The following month will see both the Modifieds and Hot Rods head to the beach, to be a part of the season opening event at Sauble Speedway on June 19th. It will mark the first time that the modifieds have been there since 2018, with the Hot Rods looking to follow up their stellar inaugural appearance in 2018 that ultimately saw Billy Alderson Jr. visit victory lane.
 
The Canada Day long weekend will be busy, kicking off if off “OLD SCHOOL” with a return to Kawartha Speedway on Friday, July 2nd, for both the Modifieds and Hot Rods. This will be the first event at the ½-mile oval since 2018 and will take place alongside the Outlaw Super Late Models. Following the tradition, a classic car and motorcycle show will take place along the front stretch during the event.
 
 Hot Rod teams will then make the short haul on Saturday, July 3 to Peterborough Speedway. It is a must-attend night for any race fan as there is a fan appreciation autograph session and it is toonie night – meaning it will only cost you $2.00 to enjoy the action.
 
The following weekend on July 10 will see the Modifieds get their first taste of Jukasa Motor Speedway, in what promises to be an action-packed night of open-wheel action as the IMSA Super Modifieds will also be attendance. The half-mile played host to a pair of events in 2020, with rookie T.J. Edwards coming out victorious in September after a race-long battle alongside veterans like Andy Kamrath, Kelly Balson, and Chad Strawn.
 
The two divisions will come back together on July 16, set to head to Delaware Speedway for the first time in 2021. It will mark the first appearance for the Hot Rods at the half-mile oval, while Dale Reinhart dominated the Modified’s last event there in 2019 to win over Jason Keen and A.J. Emms.
 
The Modifieds will complete the month of July with a trip to Peterborough Speedway on the 31st. Canada’s toughest 1/3 mile has always proved to be a challenge for the open-wheel stars, though has put on a bunch of stellar shows through the past eight years.
 
There may be suspicions out there about Friday the 13th, but it will not stop OSCAAR from being on-track in August as the Modifieds, Hot Rods, and Outlaw Super Lates make their second appearance of the season at Kawartha Speedway. A race car show will take place along the main straight. Racers of any division of car in Ontario, dirt, pavement, road course, drag car, off road will receive discount admission to have their cars on display and promote their racing. As always classic cars and bikes are more than welcome to join the fun.
 
It will mark another busy weekend for the Hot Rods, as they will make their annual dirt trip to Brighton Speedway on Saturday, August 14. Since being introduced to the schedule, each year has seen an exciting event put together as the drivers tackle the challenge of sliding around the clay oval.
 
The divisions will come back together a week later on August 21, with their second appearance of 2021 at Sauble Speedway as drivers compete for a coveted surfboard trophy in victory lane. The month will then finish off on Sunday August 29th with the Hot Rods in action at Peterborough as part of their Canadian Legends Nationals.
 
Year end specials will close of an exciting season starting with Fall Velocity on September 19th.  It will be a bust one day show for the Mods and Hot Rods as they qualify and run their feature the same day. The Mods and Hot Rods will then return to Flamboro Speedway to Oktoberest classic weekend on October 2nd. This is the longest running year end special and one event every driver would like to take home the checkers in.
 
Tradition continues as the 2021 OSCAAR Champions will then be crowned at the Autumn Colours Classic, which is scheduled for October 9-11 at Peterborough Speedway. The three day show has it all camping, live bands, and the most live racing you will ever see in one weekend.

Be sure to keep up with OSCAAR by staying tuned to the series website at http://www.oscaar.ca. Also, make sure to “like” the official OSCAAR Racing Facebook page, while following both the Twitter and Instagram accounts (@OSCAARRacing) to keep up to date on everything you need to know.

OSCAAR’s 2020 racing season was supported by several dedicated partners including Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC, Knightworks Design, Living Lighting Canada, Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd., Touchwood Cabinets, Sauble Falls Campground, The Fyre Place & Patio Shop, Ohsweken Speedway, American Racer, and Grisdale Race Products.

By: Ashley McCubbin

Dan Rothwell Renews Love of Motorsports with Hot Rods

Dan Rothwell

At the age of 15, Dan Rothwell got first chance behind the wheel of a racecar, competing at a dirt track.

While he took some time away from being a competitor, he never left cars alone – opening up a restoration shop with fellow current Knightswork Design OSCAAR Hot Rods presented by Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park competitor Jim Blackwell.

The pair would make the decision to visit the race track a few years ago together, getting their first taste of a current growing division – the Hot Rods.

“It was just like someone turned a light on when we saw the Hot Rods running,” Rothwell recalled. “We looked at each other and said, ‘Geez, these may be a series for us to get back into.’ I haven’t done exceptional or anything like that, but we’re having fun. It’s a hobby – and we’re still having fun.”

For Rothwell, the appeal of the series is simple – the ‘ol school body styles.

“I think people appreciate what people bring out and what they want to show off in the different body styles,” he commented. “There are so many different vehicles that can be put in the series, and they’re neat to see. The cars are much like the old late models of the late 60s, early 70s. It almost offers a rebirth with some of these guys, and a good example is Peter Schotanus.

“I work pretty closely with Peter – he gives me a lot of help and direction. He really, really enjoys the series, too. He’s always enjoyed the sport and been really creative, but I think this is kind of a showcase for him, as it is for a lot of other guys, too.”
Once involved in the series, the love has only grown from there, as Rothwell appreciates his competitors, noting there’s a camaraderie with everyone.

“ People don’t play their cards to the chest as much; they’ll help one another,” he commented. “You really seem to be able to strike up some sort of bond wherever you’re pitted that week. It’s a much more laid back situation I find.”

It’s why the veteran will be part of the tour once again this year, admittedly entering this year with optimism, thanks to a new engine program. With the power under the hood, it’s no surprise he’s looking forward to the biggest track on the tour – Jukasa Motor Speedway – as well as Kawartha Speedway and Delaware Speedway.

While the current love of the sport is huge for Rothwell, you’d be wrong to forget how far he has come from where he started – or the memories along the way. The fondest of those, though, comes from one of the roughest moments.

“Well, I’ve had lots of wrecks – you know, years ago at the old North Bay Speedway, I was hurt in a wreck and what was most memorable for me was people that might’ve been arch rivals really stepped up when I got hurt to really help me out,” he recalled. “It was one of those things that was kind of touching to think that you were very competitive, and when the chips were down, they were going to step up and help you.”

With all his experience under his belt, his advice to those looking to get started is enter with real enthusiasm, but keep your options open for other things, too.

“Over the years, I’ve ate, drank, and dreamed of racing and the automobile, and it’s a good way to do things, but do a few others things as well,” he shared. “Like the other day – I have a restoration shop with Jim Blackwell and build Hot Rods for people. Right now I’m doing a restoration job on a 1954 GMC Truck. The customer came over with a couple of friends and the one guy asked how I had been doing this. Without hesitation, I said 55 years – and then I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s longer than I’ve dreamed of,’ but the number just came to me.”

Be sure to keep up with OSCAAR by staying tuned to the series website at http://www.oscaar.ca. Also, make sure to “like” the official OSCAAR Racing Facebook page, while following both the Twitter and Instagram accounts (@OSCAARRacing) to keep up to date on everything you need to know.

OSCAAR’s 2020 racing season was supported by several dedicated partners including Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC, Knightworks Design, Living Lighting Canada, Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd., Touchwood Cabinets, Sauble Falls Campground, The Fyre Place & Patio Shop, Ohsweken Speedway, American Racer, and Grisdale Race Products.

By: Ashley McCubbin

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