Jake Watson Hopeful Speed Turns into Podium Finishes in 2021

Jake Watson

Last season when Jake Watson announced he was going to jump behind the wheel of a Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified, he was one of those rookies to keep an eye on in knowing the family history and his success in motorsports to date.

Ultimately, he did not disappoint in showing speed in both events at Jukasa Motor Speedway, including pacing a couple laps in his second showing. However, he would place outside the top-10 in both events as a result of mechanical gremlins.

“For this upcoming season, we just need to improve our car and get it running right,” he said. “Last year we showed the speed but had a lot of mechanical issues because it was a last minute deal.”

Watson plans to run the full schedule, along with a couple Mini Stock events on the side.

“My goals and expectations are to get a couple top-five’s under my belt and even a win,” he said. “We showed a ton of speed last year for not having a lot of luck and experience.”

With a couple wins under his belt at Flamboro Speedway in other cars, it’s no surprise he’s excited for Oktoberfest in October.

“The track I’m most looking forward to would be Flamboro,” he said. “I’ve only tested there a couple times and only raced at Jukasa with the mod, so it would be great to get out and burn some laps there and see how we do.”

While he has competed in Mini Stocks and Super Stocks in the past, Watson feels the appeal of the modifieds is the level of competition, in seeing the amount of talent and how close everyone is. That said, when it comes to his competition, he says he is keeping an eye on Andy Kamrath and TJ Edwards.

Watson will once again be behind the wheel of the No. 88, which comes from being a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. While he started his career in go-karts and Mini Stock with the No. 22 – also campaigned by both his uncle Glenn and father Wade, the switch to 88 came when he moved to Sunset Speedway with someone else having the number.

Based on his young experience to date, his advice to others who are hoping to reach his level is “to always keep your head in your shoulders, and be patient and never give up.”

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

Gary McLean – Modified Racing is “the fastest bang for your buck.”

Gary McLean OSCAAR Modified's Series

For Gary McLean, the draw to modified competition is simple – ingenuity, and the fastest bang for your buck.

It’s why he has been with the Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modifieds from the beginning, won five championships, and is still part of the competition. While admitting his plans are currently undecided, McLean would like to see the No. 8 out at a few modified events in 2021, with discussions about possibly running the full schedule.

“We love all of the tracks and it would be hard to miss any of them,” he commented. “Besides, I think the OSCAAR fans have had a long enough break from the (No.) 8 mod and I am sure most of the competitors miss us.”

When it comes to deciding their calendar, McLean says he likes all the tracks, but the possibility of returning to Kawartha Speedway is circled on the calendar.

“We have had a small amount of success there and didn’t think we would ever get another shot at such a nice place,” he commented.

When they do return to the track, the goal is simple in “always try to be the best we personally can be every time,” and they showed potential in that regard in their lone start at Jukasa Motor Speedway in 2020. Unfortunately after qualifying on pole, though, McLean would suffer a motor issue to take him out of contention.

“Obviously we need to race more,” he shared. “You can’t just show up in the middle of the year and expect to be as fast as the guys who are making laps and laps all year.”

Knowing they need to always be searching for more speed comes from knowing the depth of competition the modifieds process.

“The really cool part of modified racing is the fact that you can have a wide swath of competition due to the nature of the class so to pick one driver or even a few to watch would be hard without missing other potential ones,” he offered. “The LRR sponsored cars are always good, TJ is a varney trained guy so he has an advantage for sure but honestly there are another 5 -10 that can get things done on a given night with a few new faces coming in to try it out.

“I personally love watching quite a few of these guys and the talent they have, especially in the rear view mirror!!”

When they look in the mirror, it’ll be the No. 8 adorning McLean’s car, which goes back to when he took over for Rick Woolner behind the wheel of the car when it had the No. 08 on it. He’ll also be surrounded by family, which is fitting considering his father is his racing hero.

“He raced with no money and I mean none,” McLean recalled. “Times were tough on farmers back then – just hard work and talent.”

With having watched his father and taken his own journey to get to this point, it’s no surprise McLean advises those hoping to reach championship potential realize it takes a lot of hard work.

“Young racers just need to work hard and study everything,” he commented. “Races are won in the shop, so if you can find that one or two friends that want it as bad as you, then that’s what it is really about – checkered flags are a byproduct.”

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

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

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