By JASMINE JESSO
Special to The Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE – It was a dreary ol’ week in Stephenville, and some would say it’s been feeling more like Spring lately as opposed to Summer. But on Sunday morning, July 25, The Joe McNeil Antique Car Show drew large crowds on a warm and sunny morning.
A wide variety of cars were lined up down Main Street, including antique trucks, a rare Model T, and high performance sports cars. Local vendors set up booths, offering wares and refreshments to the crowd and visitors posed happily with their favourite vehicles. The Town square featured live music, and plenty of people were gathered to enjoy the performances.
Later that afternoon, Western Speedpark, held a Burnout Competition. Along the ramp, rows of parked vehicles stretched up and down the road, seemingly far more than had even been on display at the car show.
“There were around 200 spectators outside of the Speedway fence, and about 600 inside,” estimated Western Speedpark’s President, Scott Simms.
The crowd’s enthusiasm was almost palpable.
“We were set up for about 300-400 people,” added Simms. “We almost doubled what we were expecting to have, so we had to lengthen our barricades, so that everybody could have a look at what was going on.”
Spectators screamed and cheered at the sound of tires squealing on the tarmac, and massive clouds of grey smoked engulfing the vehicle. The smell of freshly burned rubber assailed the senses. As tires blew apart under the onslaught, the crowd grew increasingly louder.
One breathtaking moment took place when a Scott Simms’ vehicle started to smoke from what appeared to be the interior. Members of the Stephenville Fire Department rushed over to ensure all was OK, and Simms exited unharmed. All safety protocols and precautions were taken. In such an unpredictable, dangerous sport, safety remains a top priority for the organizers.
Simms hopes that this event will continue to take place bi-annually, following the Joe McNeil Car Show. Other future goals for the Speedpark include repaving the ramp for drag racing, more autocross events, a derby, and hopefully acquiring an official announcer and a videographer.”
Simms says that the event’s huge success due in large part to the Joe McNeil Car Show. Spectators and drivers came from across the island to compete.
A few of the burnout participants like Barry Cass, Chloe and Lily Lambert, came all the way from Lewisport. They took First Place. Second Place was won by Ryan and Melissa Tourout from Piccadilly. Taking home Third Place was Matthew Rice of Stephenville. Western Speedpark also presented Melvin Hussey of Stephenville with their very first Choice Award at the Joe McNeil Car Show.
Rice said the best part of being involved was, “Freedom to drive my car to the limit and help set up the track.”
He also volunteers his time to the Speedpark’s Autocross events.
Like many events in our community, Western Speedpark relies a lot on the support and time of their volunteers. It takes a lot of time and preparation to plan such a large scale event, including last minute adjustments to accommodate everyone’s needs.
Videos from the competition are currently available online via the Western Speedpark YouTube page.