Steve Book. Paul Senior. Rob Bromley. Bill Zardo Sr. Tom Walters.
The 2022 OSCAAR Hot Rod season saw a bunch of veteran competitors on the grid on a weekly basis, hopeful of adding another chapter to their racing careers. There were also a couple young drivers, beginning to leave their mark in the province.
After earning experience in Bone / Pure Stock competition across the province, Connor Ellis made the jump to the division for the 2022 campaign. Progressively learning each week and gaining speed, everything came together at year-end as he shared co Rookie of the Year honors with Bill Zardo Sr.
“I thought it was a pretty good season,” he said. “The competition was pretty strong, and I can’t wait to get going again.”
The jump proved to be not all sunshine and roses, with Ellis beginning the season with four finishes outside the top-10.
“I got a lot more tire than I did in the bone stocks, so I can trust the car a lot more,” in comparing the Bone Stock to his Hot Rod. “(Also), the car was not as easy to spin out as I was expecting.
However, he began to find his groove following a ninth at Delaware Speedway, scoring two more top-10’s including a fifth at Brighton Speedway.
“I would probably have to say that night at I overheated the first time we went to Peterborough this year (in August),” Ellis said of his most memorable moment. “I defiantly think that was a memorable moment for me, just because I finally had speed and I was actually able to race with everyone. I was actually keeping up with Paul Senior, Zardo and all of them.”
With a seventh place finish in the points, Ellis now has his focus set towards the upcoming 2023 campaign, in hopes of continued success. The goal is simple – get into the top-five in points, and finish even stronger.
There’s also excitement for the variety of tracks on the schedule, including a return trip to Brighton. After admitting he was a little nervous going into his inaugural dirt race in 2022, it’s now the date he has circled for 2023.
For Ellis, his start behind the wheel came about 12 years ago, but not in the traditional sense you would expect.
“My parents just got back from their honeymoon and we went to Delaware and my sister saw these little Junior late models there,” he recalled. “She’s actually the one that asked to race. She was too young, but I wasn’t, so my parents figured, ‘Well, we’ll give them a really good Christmas gift this year.’ We walk to the garage and there was a junior late model. So that’s where it all started off from.
“The first couple years, it was probably more fun to watch paint dry on a wall. I was very, very slow at the beginning.”
Ellis ultimately has progressed since then, something everyone on the tour believes will continue into 2023 and beyond given the signs from the first year. Though for those trying to follow in the footsteps, the advice is simple as he said, “Make sure they focus on getting the set-up right first because just trying to nail everything together and go.”
By: Ashley McCubbin