The Sparta Strip Summer Spectacular

by JP Matte

I’ll get right to it.  Summer’s flying by and there’s no time for literary subterfuge.  It was a spectacular day from a weather standpoint.  One of the best in years.  No oppressive heat or humidity and a gentle breeze.  On Saturday June 21st at the St. Thomas Motorsports Park in Sparta Ontario, it was a good day to be alive.  As usual, many of us met at the Tim Horton’s south on Trafalgar Road.  I had gone up to Eric Zondervan’s cottage on Bass Lake up near Orillia the day before to help him with some work which needed to be done on his Z in preparation for our epic 3 member journey to the San Diego Z-Car convention at the end of July.  More on that when we get back.  Despite our best efforts and even getting up a bit earlier than we had anticipated, we were still 15 minutes late.  Not that it mattered much as we loitered about the parking lot checking out each other’s vehicles and socializing for another 30 minutes.

The run down to the track was a pleasant and uneventful one. In addition to having their usual Test and Tune on Saturday, the track was also hosting members of the Ontario Nostalgia Drag Racing Association as well as a large number of motorcycles.  We ran amongst them.  Present were OZC President and speed aficionado Nigel White (08 Honda Accord coupe / 73 240 sidelined with possibly shattered piston rings in cyl #6), OZC Web Administrator Eric Zondervan (orig owned 72 240Z), me, JP Matte (71 240 sidelined with major re-wiring in progress), Peter Paumier (05 Anniversary 350Z ragtop),  Manolo De leon and son Leandro (72 240 stock), Chris Trace (70 240 definitely modified), Sean Fletcher (90 300 ZX TT stock), Rudy Boodoo (75 280Z Turbo very modified), Harry Wells (04 350z also very modified),  Casey Heemskerk (72 240 stockish).  Some ran, some took in the action from the sidelines.  All appeared to enjoy the spectacular day.


Nothing bad, and anything is possible when you roll out the vintage hardware, happened to the Z crew who rolled that day.  Well, at least nothing really bad.  While there were some on-track calamities; A Fuel Altered with a mountain motor blew apart its transmission at half track and another vehicle blew its motor up in the shut down area, both requiring at least 30 minutes of clean up.  Our guys got away relatively unscathed.  Chris Trace’s car ran strong, but well short of its potential as he was unable to pull more than 5000 RPM.  The reason for this has yet to be determined.  Harry Wells’ supercharged 350Z up and died shortly after launching.  The car was pushed to the rear section of the track and the troubleshooting began.  Ultimately the culprit behind this turned out to be a blown 15amp Ignition Control fuse which was buried behind a several panels of plastic cladding.  Once the fuse was replaced, all was back to 100%.  Now all that remains is to determine why the fuse blew.  Nigel White had new wheels and tires installed on Friday and on Saturday his Traction Control could not be turned off, severly hampering the car’s on-track performance.   Exactly what is behind these frustrating little problems is yet to be  determined.  Don’t you just love curling up with a good mystery?

A great variety of vehicles ran that day and provided ear shattering entertainment for all present. From early Sixties gasser styled racers, jacked sky high to facilitate better weight transfer, to modern low slung, drag shute equipped Pro Modified cars, to full on Drag Bikes and a bevy of wayward squids on a variety of sport bikes.  There was something there for everyone.  For Leandro De leon, a grade 10 student who bucks the trend and is into classic 50’s vehicles, hot rods and lead sleds, it was the perfect occasion to see many of these vehicles in action.


We wrapped it up shortly before 4pm and headed down to GT’s on the Beach in Port Stanley where me, Nigel, Eric and Leandro enjoyed a relaxing beach side dinner.  As I commented over dinner, the scene of the crowded outdoor restaurant, a beach area replete with sunbathers, volleyball players and watercraft scooting about, was very reminiscent of the fictional town of Amity in the 70’s blockbuster, Jaws.  Fortunately unlike the movie, there was no outsized Shark in Port Stanley that day.


I would like to thank all who came out and extend an invitation to everyone to attend round  2 on Sept 13th.  Nigel and I are both hoping to have functional vehicles by that time.  Rudy’s brother Michael and Drag Event regular Steve Novak will hopefully be mechanically able then as well.


Here is a breakdown of the day’s best Elapsed Times:

Rudy Boodoo (75 280Z, 11.33) Nigel White (Honda Accord coupe, 15.08)
Harry Wells (04 350z, 13.92) Casey Heemskerk (72 240, 15.82)
Sean Fletcher (90 300 ZX TT, 14.26) Eric Zondervan (72 240Z, 16.64)
Chris Trace (70 240, 14.87)

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