CA: Ontario Pro Challenge Sunset preview

2004 Ontario Pro Challenge Series kicks off this weekend! Sunset Speedway to host opener this Saturday night TORONTO, ONTARIO - After months of preparation, the teams of the Ontario Pro Challenge Series will kick off their 2004 season on...

2004 Ontario Pro Challenge Series kicks off this weekend!
Sunset Speedway to host opener this Saturday night

TORONTO, ONTARIO - After months of preparation, the teams of the Ontario Pro Challenge Series will kick off their 2004 season on Saturday May, 15 at Sunset Speedway. "It has been a long off season, now everyone is ready to go," says defending series champion Dennis Thomson, driver of the Young Drivers of Canada DriveFit Ford Taurus.

Thomson is the two-time Ontario Pro Challenge Series champion, but making it three in a row is going to be a challenge for the Dundas driver. Returning drivers Ken Nicholson (#99 International Truck and Engine Pontiac), Kevin Crowhurst (#53 O'Connor's Distribution Inc, Royal Export & Import Transportation Inc., Permatex, LA Truck and Trailer, JC Communications, Collision World Ltd., Directright Cartage 2000 Ltd., Keena Trucking, Atlantis Mobile Wash and Toronto Digital Imaging Dodge Intrepid), Thane Woodside (#5 Melitta Canada Monte Carlo), Josh Nicholson (#66 Nu-Gro 'Wipe-Out' Dodge Intrepid) and Paul Eggleton (#44 Marham Driveline Monte Carlo) hope to put a stop to Thomson's reign as champion.

In pre-season testing, all the returning drivers have upped their pace in an attempt to get on par with the two-time defending champion. "It has gone really well," says Josh Nicholson. "We have more of a handle on our Wipe Out Dodge in terms of setup, so it should be an exciting year."

There are also the addition of some serious 'rookie' challengers to the series this year, and given their speed in testing, wins and a shot at the championship isn't out of the question for this year's crop of talented rookie challengers. Tim Norris competed in the series finale in 2003, and he has been blistering fast in testing. Norris' Tirecraft Dodge should be a regular challenger for heat and feature wins. Joining Norris in his first full season of Ontario Pro Challenge Series racing is Uxbridge's Russ Bond (#23 CARSTAR/Dupont/ Impact Racing Products/Mobil1/Inside Track Motorsport News Monte Carlo). Bond won one race last year, and now with a full time ride, he should be a threat to win.

The series is also welcoming two up and coming teenage drivers to the series. Guelph's Robert Wickens (#15 SHIFT/Cameron Motorsports Ford Taurus) is a multi-time karting champion, and he is quickly coming to terms with his Pro Challenge racer. Also from Guelph is Danielle Wilson (#21 Da-Light , Shaw Motorsports, Systemsearch Consulting Services, and The Academy of Rockwood Chevy Monte Carlo). Wilson is the first full time female driver in the series, and she has shown good progress in pre-season testing.

With all the testing now completed, it is time to race. Gates open at Sunset Speedway at 5 p.m. and racing gets underway at 6 p.m.

Pro Challenge Quick hits; Robert Wickens announced a new sponsor in Cameron Motorsports (www.cameronmotorsports.com). Cameron Motorsports owns and operates a Hamilton based karting track and rookie series. The series has announced that Aaron de Heus has been assigned as 'series announcer' for the 2004 season.

Ontario Pro Challenge Series Fast Facts;
The Ontario Pro Challenge Series (www.prochallengeracing.com) is in its third season in Canada. The Pro Challenge Cars are spec 3/4 scale, tube framed Nextel Cup styled cars powered by sealed Kawasaki Ninja 1100cc engines. The 12 race series travels throughout Ontario's oval racetracks during the summer.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Robert Wickens