ESS: Cornwall race report 2001-06-24

Empire Super Sprint Win at Cornwall to 63 Year Old George Ely. CORNWALL, ONT. - In one of the most feel good stories in the 18 year history of the Empire Super Sprints (ESS), 63 year old George Ely passed budding star Ryan Coniam on lap 22 to...

Empire Super Sprint Win at Cornwall to 63 Year Old George Ely.

CORNWALL, ONT. - In one of the most feel good stories in the 18 year history of the Empire Super Sprints (ESS), 63 year old George Ely passed budding star Ryan Coniam on lap 22 to win his first ever ESS sprint A-Main. The victory came before one of the largest crowds ever at the Cornwall Motor Speedway on Sunday night in Cornwall, Ontario.

The quiet veteran who has wheeled a race car for the better part of four decades was all smiles after the exciting event. Many of his ESS peers came to his pit stall afterwards offering the Jordan, N.Y. pilot their well wishes in a truly amazing feat. The Cornwall magic continued in 2001 as Ely joined Dan DeCracker, Chris Shuttleworth, Gary Drum and Alain Bergeron in collecting their first ever ESS wins and with the exception of Bergeron, it was their only win in their ESS careers.

"This is just incredible!" said the veteran driver who raced DIRT modifieds most of his career. "I don't know, I guess I just got lucky tonight. But, this is one of the biggest moments in racing for me., it's just nice to get a win."

Ely lead most of the early stages in the 25 lap A-Main but it was Coniam's pass on lap 13 that many thought was the winning move for the second generation driver who won earlier at Brockville. However, Ely never left his outside line and as the laps clicked on, his Clark Rigging #90 closed back in on Coniam.

"The outside was good all race, I felt real comfortable up there and I wasn't going to leave the top." noted Ely on his line on the quick quarter-mile. "I think the bottom just went away on him (Coniam), I just stayed in my groove and was lucky to get him back."

After Don Sharp Jr. lead the first lap, Ely made an outside sweep to lead the field on the second tour of the Cornwall facility. While Ely was having fun up front, Coniam's VSM Abrasives sprinter made a strong charge from it's 11th place starting position. Into fifth on lap three, fourth on lap four, third on lap 10, second on lap 11 and then on to the front spot with a lap 13 pass.

Coniam opened up a good sized lead and many of his fellow Canadian fans were ready to hail one of their own in victory lane. It was to be a "nice try" by Ely. Oh how many were going to be wrong on this night.

As laps were knocked off, Ely slowly started to catch Coniam back never abandoning his outside lane. Then just as they were coming down to score lap 22, Ely swept back by Coniam as the huge crowd cheered. The last three laps went by without a hitch and this night belonged to the non-flamboyant, gray haired sprint car driver.

Ely won with Coniam coming home in second place over three of ESS' best. The Lane's Yamaha #5 of Lance Yonge took third with Mike Woodring fourth and Dan Kaszubinski in fifth. Fourth place URC point man Doug Emery returned to ESS action to place fifth with his own Patterson Masonry #32 over seven-teen year old Justin Barger who has run just four ESS events in his young career and finished in the top ten in all four events. B-Main winner Brian Dumigan came through to finish in eighth followed by Scott Holcomb and Randy Years.

One red flag and four cautions in the 25 lapper kept the fans interest. Lap three was the most serious of all as R.C. Faigle and Mike Stelter did a double flip in turns three and four. Also involved were Dumigan, Rick Wilson, Tom Taber, Alain Bergeron and Erin Crocker. All cars did return to the action although Stelter ran the final 22 laps without a top wing, Faigle was back minus a front wing and Bergeron would lost nine laps in the pits making repairs. Lap 12 saw a spin by Bill Coffey, on the restart, second place running Sharp Jr. lost power end his strong run. Lap 18 saw Bergeron and Ray Preston spinning and on lap 20, Tim Zimbardi was spun around.

Taking the Brodix Cylinder Heads heat events were Zimbardi, Rob Dietrick and Yonge. The Plooy's Performance Products/Walt's Hobby Dash was won by Dietrick and the KSE Racing Products B-Main was won by Dumigan.

ESS NOTES: A Cornwall record field of 29 sprinters filled the pits at Ron Morin's immaculate speed palace...Shawn Felt flipped wildly in the B-Main. His car suffered heavy damage but he came out without a scratch...Rick Wilson won the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus with his charge from 24th to 12th...After the event, Coniam retains his lead in the Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar/LaBrie Design Canadian Invasion points...Mike Woodring holds a slim lead over Dan Kaszubinski in the season long points with Lance Yonge in third...Both Friday night's event at Autodrome Granby and Saturday's at Drummond fell victim to rain. That lead to 28 ESS teams running wild in Granby and Montreal areas as many stories can be told in the 48 hours waiting for the Sunday night date at Cornwall..."America's Race Cars" and the ESS Tour 2001 will kick off the 4th of July week in Central, N.Y. with trips to Canandaigua and Cayuga County on Sat. and Sun.

-ESS

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Erin Crocker , Justin Barger , Bill Coffey