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Mark Dilley wins Big Z Memorial Race at Sunset Speedway

'To win this race in Bill's honour is bigger than any NASCAR race I've won,' says Dilley

This past weekend marked the third weekend of the 2024 race season at Sunset Speedway.

Sunset celebrated their annual Spring Velocity weekend taking place on both Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19, with Sunday’s Big Z Memorial Race for the hot rod division headlining the card to honour the late Bill Zardo Sr.

For the single-car time trial Rick Spencer-Walt (#8SR) timed in fastest driving for car owner Paul Bogensberger Sr. In Zardo’s name, it was a twin 46-lap feature for the hot rod division with the lowest combined score of both feature finishes determining an overall winner.

For the first feature race, Dwayne Baker (#47) was third overall, with Mark Dilley (#64) in second and Rick Spencer-Walt (#8SR) taking home another first-place position for the weekend. Spencer-Walt also came first during the OSCAAR modified feature on Saturday.

“This thing is so incredible to drive. To have the opportunity to drive for people like Paul Sr. and Allen is incredible and to work with great people tops it off. Terry Snyder at HRE built this motor and it’s incredible and Tommy Walters with the setup, we only had to make a few small adjustments to get it where I liked it,” an excited Spencer-Walt said in NAPA Auto Parts Victory Lane.

The second feature for the hot rods saw a complete invert of the finishing order of the first feature. On the opening lap trouble arose on the back straight-away as Tyler Sagan (#31), Tyler Ecker (#00) and Dean Jessop (#7) got together with Jessop needing assistance from B&B Towing bringing an end to his evening. Once the race resumed it would be run caution free with Mark Dilley scoring the win over Cory McAllister (#71) and Rob Bromley (#6).

An exhilarated Dilley had this to say in Parry Automotive Victory Lane: “This means a lot for car owner Tom Walters to wrap this car like my first race car. When I walked in the shop it took me back 40 years and to win this race in Bill’s honour is bigger than any NASCAR race I’ve won. We were close friends and this means the world to be celebrating with Sharon and Pete and the whole Zardo family here.”

Josh Davenport (#30) and Wyatt Sprung (#92) came in first place in their junior late model heat races. In the 20-lap feature, Keegan Moat (#52) came third, Davenport in second and Cole Kamrath (#51) claimed Round 1 of the Elmer’s Flighting Supply Big 3 Series for the junior late models.

“It was a great battle with Josh through the back half of the race. He got by me with two laps to go and I wasn’t sure I had enough to make the pass back. I got the run and was able to clear him and it’s great to win Round 1 of the series,” Kamrath said with a smile in Ideal Supply Victory Lane.

Bone stock heat races saw Jordan Owen (#68) and Kris Khan (#48) in first place and for the evening’s 20-lap feature Chris Allard (#76) came third in behind Phil Givens (#0) leaving Aidan Harper (#42) to come in first place for his first feature win of the 2024 season.

“To win one of these is big. The competition in this division is incredible and to hold off guys like Chris and Phil is a huge accomplishment. There has been so much learning even as a mechanic by trade to figure out what it takes to get a car around a racetrack. Now that we have a race-winning setup hopefully there is more to come,” an exasperated Harper commented from Parry Automotive Victory Lane.

The mini-stock division overall saw the most cautions and restarts for the evening with the majority being in the 25-lap feature race. For heat winners, it was Cameron McGlashan (#83) and Jacob Sutcliffe (#27). In the mini-stock B main race, Peter Wakeling came first.

Sutcliffe not only came first in his heat race, but he also finished his feature race with a first-place win. Coming in second to Sutcliffe was Shawn Taylor (#76), with Blaise Shaw (#81) taking the third-place position. In victory lane, Sutcliffe was surrounded by loved ones in a flurry of celebration.

“To be able to battle wheel to wheel with Shawn Taylor and get the win I don’t have any words. We have been working closely with Dale Shaw and he’s been coaching me telling me, ‘If you are going to run the top you have to stay tight on the car to your inside and not give up track space.’ Those last four laps I held it as close to Shawn as I could without touching and it worked,” Sutcliffe said elatedly in NAPA Auto Parts Victory Lane.

For the outlaw midgets, heat winners were Jason Metcalfe (#29) and Kevin Spiesz (#98). The midgets’ 25-lap feature had Nick Spiesz (#77) in first, Kevin Spiesz (#98) (#98) in second, and Mike Homewood (#17).

Finally, for the superstock division, the heat winners were Paul Pepper (#29) and Lane Zardo (#46). For the 30-lap feature race, Johnny Morrison (#83) took home his first feature win of the 2024 season, with Gord Shepherd (#10S) in second and Lane Zardo (#46) in third.

“This car is the best it has ever been and it’s incredible. I feel bad knowing how bad Lane wanted to win but as the race went on my car kept getting better and it looked like he used up his right rear tire. Getting this win before heading into the Flyin Frank brings a lot of momentum to this team and we are ready for the big race,” a pumped-up Morrison said in Ideal Supply Victory Lane.

Coming up next weekend Sunset is hosting the Flyin Frank 49 Super Stock Invitational in honour of Frank Davey. As well, twin pro late model features, mini-stocks, and the bone stocks are all on the card.

As well, intermission will be the debut of power wheel drags. Heads-up drag racing on pit road for young fans who are able to bring their Power Wheels to the track.

Racing gets under way at 3 p.m. with grandstand gates opening at 1:30. All the information is on the website

— By Danielle McPherson