If you told Ransomville Speedway fans before this season that there would be six different DIRTcar Sportsman feature victors in as many races, and you asked them to take a guess at who they would be, surely the name of Don Spatorico would roll off their tongues.
Yet despite the fact that six race winners have emerged in the first six races, Spatorico's name is not on that list. He is a two-time Ransomville Sportsman champion who has amassed numerous wins over many seasons, including five in 2011 as he won the title.
He came very close to adding his name to the 2012 winners list last Friday, losing to Mike Williams by a mere foot in the 20-lap main event. Despite his winless status in 2012, Spatorico is the current points leader, sporting a 314-296 advantage over Jesse Cotriss.
"I would have thought we would have won at least one race by now," Spatorico said. "We're not doing anything too different from what we've done in the past. Over the last few weeks we've been trying to play with the carburetor and tweaking a few other things trying to get a little more speed to get that win."
Spatorico points out that he has had a good season going thus far, scoring five top fives as well as an eighth-place result.
When drivers have high finishes, the track handicapping system utilized for lining up the feature race results in consistently high-finishing drivers like Spatorico starting deep in the field each week, usually 12th-14th place.
"It's been an interesting year in our Sportsman division," he said. "Getting from toward the back to the front is not easy."
It appears that the winless streak is not a sign of there being anything wrong with Spatorico, his car or his team — it is more a statement about the reality of how very competitive this division has become.
"I don't think my team is lacking anything," said Spatorico, who was also the Ransomville Sportsman champion in 2007. "I just think that when I have to come through traffic each week and the cars are running closer lap times than ever before, it's going to be tougher for anyone to win. The track has been good, with a lot of room for passing every night this season except one.
"The better-handling cars go to the front. The competition is better and there also has been full fields of cars this season and I like that because when you do win it means more."
Spatorico is a former 358 Modified ?driver who amassed two victories in Ransomville's weekly headlining division before he made the move down to the Sportsman class in 2005. He has driven for most of his career in a car owned by his father, Ron Spatorico.
"My dad couldn't afford to have the Modified stuff anymore and I was offered a Sportsman ride with owner George Lebrun so that's why I ended up moving from the Mods to the Sportsman a few seasons ago," Don explained.
"Right now, as has been the case for the last few years, my father owns the Sportsman car and we don't have the funds to go back to Modifieds. If I got offered a competitive ride I would rejoin the Modifieds but I'm not going back in just any old car to run at the back of the pack."
Spatorico enjoys sharing his racing life with his wife, Jill, and their 17-year-old son, Colin, who races Go-Karts. The Spatoricos are grateful to their sponsors, including Patterson's Tuscarora Smoke Shop, GB Construction and Baker's Farms.
Crew members are Mark Sylvies, Cory Piechowski, Albert Zimmerman, Gary Bell and Tim Quarantillo.
> Fort Erie on track?
In a major development that would have a very large impact on both the town of Fort Erie, Ont., as well as this area's local auto racing community, it appears that the long proposed Canadian Motor Speedway may be becoming a reality.
Following approval by the Municipal Council on June 11, the Town of Fort Erie confirmed that at the June 14 Regional Council meeting, support for the Minutes of Settlement between the proponents of the Speedway, Citizen's Coalition of Greater Fort Erie, the Town and the Regional Municipality of Niagara was also received.
"This exciting project is going to have such a tremendous impact not only on Fort Erie but on all of Niagara and my fellow colleagues at the Region have recognized this fact and have placed their support in the project," Mayor Doug Martin said. "During the recent Niagara Week at Queen's Park, support from the Region of Niagara was also evident in ensuring this project moves forward."
The Ontario Municipal Board hearing began on Monday. Two weeks have been scheduled for the hearing, which will take place in the Council Chambers of Town Hall.
The proposed Canadian Motor Speedway complex will feature a one-mile paved oval sporting a 65,000-seat grandstand. A 2.5-mile paved road course along with a motocross/BMX/snowmobile/rental kart center, located within the road course, is also planned.
Other features include the "Innovation and Centre of Excellence," which would include post-secondary educational and professional facilities related to the research and development of automotive technology and manufacturing. The track will be located near Gilmore, Bowen and Laur Roads in Fort Erie.
> Pit stops
* Dunn Tire Raceway Park will showcase its second annual DIRT-On-Asphalt Challenge for 358 Modifieds and Sportsman Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Street Stocks and Casey's TQ Midgets will round out this program.
DTRP is offering a $3 discount for the Dirt-On-Asphalt Challenge event to any fan showing a ticket stub Tuesday at DTRP's ticket window from a race event they may have attended at any track this coming Friday or Saturday.
In addition, any fan who has attended a track hosting a Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour race this season, including this coming Saturday night's ROC 75 at DTRP, may also use those ticket stubs for a $2 discount when the ROC visits Holland for a 100-lap affair June 30.
* Buffalo-based Dunn Tire has been named the official tire retailer of Watkins Glen International. The company will also be the presenting sponsor for the Aug. 11 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Continental Tire 200 during The Glen's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Weekend.
"The racing heritage of Watkins Glen International is known worldwide," said Chuck Haring, director of marketing and advertising at Dunn Tire. "We're very lucky to have it right here in our footprint."
* The International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen will showcase the second event in its 2012 "America's Great Tracks Conversation Series" at 1 p.m. Saturday at the center at 210 South Decatur St., Watkins Glen.
Noted motorsports filmmaker, photographer and historian William Edgar will speak and make a presentation on the now-defunct Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. Light refreshments will be served. These events are free of charge.