Andrew Reaume enjoyed his homecoming in a place he’s made home - Victory Lane at South Buxton Raceway.
The Blenheim native raced on his home track for the first time this year and won his third career Canadian Fall Shootout Late Model championship on Saturday night.
And he did it in a borrowed car.
Reaume drove the No. 38 car of Chatham’s Kirk Hooker to what appeared to be an easy ride, leading all 35 laps to collect the $2,000 pay check.
“It was not easy at all,” Reaume countered.
“I had to work for it. It (the track) got black and pretty slick, I had to really wheel it a few times around the cushion,” he said.
Reaume was prepared to sit out the Shootout as his familiar No. 88 was still undergoing repairs after major damage from a late crash in his 16th-place finish in the World 100 at Eldora Speedway earlier in September.
Hooker, who admittedly put little time into his dirt car this season as his race team concentrated on their Delaware Speedway asphalt program, turned to Reaume to “get the bugs out” of the No. 38 for the Shootout.
Knowing how much the Shootout meant to Reaume and how his fans would be disappointed if he didn’t run, Hooker offered Andrew his car.
“Who better to work on the car and drive it than the best Late Model driver in Ontario,” Hooker said of Reaume, who won back-to-back Shootouts in 2009 and 2010.
And obviously, Reaume waved his magic wrench as he turned Hooker’s car into a Shootout winner.
Reaume set the tone for the 21-car Late Model field by putting down a blistering pace in his heat race victory.
He started on the outside of the front row for the 35-lap Shootout and won the drag race with Charing Cross’s Chris Ross to take the lead entering the straightaway.
Dale Glassford ran second from laps three to 26 and while the Ridgetown driver was able to get a run on the bottom, Reaume was able to get a good launch off turn two to thwart all challenges.
“When the right rear hit that cushion, I could roll in the throttle and could feel my seat move,” Reaume said of his burst of power off turn two.
“I knew no one was going to pull off the bottom like that.”
Brandon Thirlby, the UMP regional champion from Traverse City, Mich., passed Glassford on lap 26 and assumed the futile chase position for the final nine laps.
Reaume said he lost track of the laps because he didn’t see the cross flags, signalling halfway on lap 17.
“It wasn’t until that last caution when I heard ‘three to go’ on the radio that I knew where we were,” he said.
Thirlby won the track’s Late Model season championship race with a daring outside pass of Glassford on the final lap the night on Friday night.
But Reaume held his line, denying Thirlby am opportunity to get a run on the high side.
“I knew Thirlby was there on that restart, and I knew he wouldn’t try the bottom,” Reaume said.
“But if it was (Brian) Ruhlman, he would have barrelled down on the bottom,” said Reaume, with a laugh.
“The right rear was giving up and I could tell I was slowing down but I knew it was going to be hard to pass me on the bottom,” he said.
Thirlby finished second, followed by the defending Shootout winner Ruhlman, with fourth going to Kevin Reeves, from Hanover, Mich.
Glassford was the top South Buxton regular in fifth followed by Ross, the 2008 Shootout winner, in sixth.
Hooker stood in Victory Lane like a proud father.
“I think I was more nervous watching him race than I ever was driving myself,” Hooker admitted.
“It was great to see Andrew and that Country View car in the Winner’s Circle.”
- Reaume finished third behind Ruhlman and Chatham’s Authier in the 2011 Shootout.
- Authier, who was up all night making repairs to his car following Friday’s championship, ran in the top five until more problems forced him out of the race on lap 20.
- Saturday’s win was the second in the month for Reaume, who won his first career U.S. feature on Sept. 1, an American Late Model Series race at Oakshade Speedway in Ohio.
- He will be in his own car for this weekend’s UMP Nationals at Eldora, along with several other local late model and modified drivers.
- Reaume closes out his season on Nov. 5-6 at the World Finals in Charlotte, N.C.
- Hooker was trying to decide whether he was going to join the locals at Eldora or take his asphalt car to race at Peterborough.
- Ross and Glassford won the other heats. With 21 Late Models in the field - up from 17 a year ago - all racers qualified for the ‘A’ Main.
- Six of the 21 entries were Americans, including Adam Thrush, from Mt. Pleasant, Mich., and Thirlby who also raced in Friday’s Championship Night.
- Derek Wagner, of Medina, N.Y., won the 20-lap TUSA Mod Lites feature in his first trip to South Buxton. Beamsville’s Paul Klager, who won the International Stars Mod-Lites feature last summer, was fifth. This year’s International Stars’ feature winner Rich Brubacher of St. Clements, finished ninth.
- Twelve Mod Lites made the trip, encountering rain from Hamilton to London, as all came from the Niagara Region.
- Wagner is the second driver from the state of New York to win a feature at South Buxton this season. Justin Barger, of Montrose, N.Y., won the first Northern Summer Nationals Sprint Series feature in June.
- Gerald Lozon, grandfather of the 2012 Sport Stock championship race winner Tyler Lozon, won the $1,206 prize in the 50-50. Amy Finn of Chatham won $505 a night earlier on championship night.
- Please check back to this web site for details on the annual Awards Banquet.