Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame welcomes Class of 2016 inductees

Photo courtesy Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame
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Hockey may be Canada’s favorite sport, but drag racing isn’t far behind in terms of popularity and interest.

Saturday night in Montreal, 23 drag racing luminaries from north of the border were inducted into the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame in its second annual gala.

“It’s a privilege to witness the Class of 2015 welcome this year’s inductees,” says John Scotti, Founder of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame. “Seeing the positive reactions from members of the drag racing community at each annual induction, is truly a rewarding experience to be a part of.”

Inductees were enshrined for having been actively engaged in the top level of their respective drag racing categories for at least 25 years.

Categories for which they were inducted included racers, crew chiefs, engine and chassis builders, mechanics, track officials, track photographers, announcers, promoters and sponsors “who have made a lasting impact and significant difference in the development of the sport of drag racing in Canada and elsewhere,” according to a media release.

Among those inducted were former NHRA team public relations representative and International Hot Rod Association Media Relations Director Rob Evans, as well as Jeff Arend, who won several races in his career, including the 1996 NHRA event at Maple Grove Raceway.

Others inducted included former world champion Gianni Cantusci, who follows his father Frank Cantusci, who was inducted in last year’s inaugural Hall of Fame class.

“With each new induction, the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame Museum is expanding with new artefacts and memorabilia thanks to each inductee and the drag racing community,” said Hall director Bob Aubertin. “Not only are we recognizing some of our nation’s drag racing greats, it also shows today’s generation just how far the sport has really grown.”

The Hall is located in Montreal.

Here’s a list of Saturday’s inductees:

Ken Achs, Saskatoon, SK; Jeff Arend, Thornhill, ON; Bob Beazer, Odessa, ON; Vic Beleny, Welland, ON; Gianni Cantusci, Ottawa, ON; Guy Desjardins, Montreal, QC; Bob Elliott, London, ON; Rob Evans, London, ON; Geoff Goodwin, Prince Albert, SK; Charlie Haviland, London, ON;

Also, Vince Hazel, Windsor, ON; Ron Hodgson, St. Albert, AB; Richard Jones, Ottawa, ON; Bill Kydd, London, ON; Wayne Lang, London, ON; Abe Loewen, Regina, SK; Brian Mulligan, Cornwall, ON; Norm Noddle, Wasaga Beach, ON; Harold Parfett, Edmonton, AB; Venice Perno, Stoney Creek, ON; Rob Potter, Dundas, ON; Bert Straus, Kitchener, ON; John Waldie, Embro, ON.

2016-canadian-drag-racing-hall-of-fame-class
Here’s the 2016 Class of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame: 1st Row – From left to right: Richard Jones, Brian Mulligan, Ken Achs, Guy Desjardins, Vince Hazel, Rob Evans, John Scotti – Founder of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame – Gianni Cantusci, Jeff Arend, Rob Potter, Vic Beleny, Wayne Lang. 2nd Row – From left to right: Harolf Parfett, Ron Hodgson, Geoff Goodwin, John Waldie, Norm Noddle, Bill Kydd, Bob Elliott, Venice Perno, Charlie Haviland, Bert Straus, Abe Loewen and Bob Beazer.

 

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Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)