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A driver awaits the checkered flag following a Legends Car victory at Eastbound Park. (Photo/ Eastbound Park)

Eastbound Park: The Legacy of Pat Squires

For the longest time being a racing fan in Newfoundland was no easy task.

While racing has been present in Newfoundland as far back as the 1960s, most drivers found themselves either racing on dirt, airport runways or heading off the island to pursue their racing goals. For over 20 years Newfoundland had lacked a proper NASCAR-sanctioned speedway for its drivers. Ideas and plans had been tossed around for decades, until one man finally decided to take action and do something.

Local businessman and long-time NASCAR fan Pat Squires formed AME Enterprises, with a dream to build a brand new state of the art facility. His team bought the existing land of the old Avondale Speedway dirt track and announced the plans to finally bring NASCAR racing back to the province Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I’ve listened to so many people talk about building a new speedway for so many years, that I just got sick of listening to people say they were going to do stuff and didn’t do it” said Squires.  “So I made an offer to buy an existing dirt track that was there because we had made plans to build a NASCAR oval track there but couldn’t get the proper permits. So I bought the old Avondale Dirt Track and I just went ahead and did it.”

Squires was revolutionary in building up the racing scene on the island, constantly importing race cars to keep them in Newfoundland. This helped a lot of drivers get the necessary equipment they needed in order to race and make names for themselves.

“The motivation was that I’m a NASCAR fella,” said Squires. “I’ve have been going to races for over 25 years, going to places like Daytona and New Hampshire and really anywhere out of the province because we had no place to go in Newfoundland.”

RACING REFERENCE – NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES NATIONAL STANDINGS:

DIVISION I: National Top 500 Points | Division I: U.S. State & Canadian Province Points

Beginning construction in 2012, Squires had a vision for the site. Plans included a NASCAR-sanctioned .375-mile asphalt oval, a 1/8-mile NHRA drag strip, special configurations capable of hosting Monster Truck rallies, FMX and Snow Cross events and a world-class concert venue. This project was unlike anything that had been seen before in the province.

Squires added that: “In order to build a track you got to be a little crazy. First off, it takes a lot of engineering and understanding safety features. Engineering proper drainage so you got proper turns so you can maintain the speed on the track. The second thing is making sure if doesn’t cost more money than your initial investment. Things like proper drainage is definitely one of most important things.  Also, making sure the people can see the track without any problems and see the entire field at a time, and really making sure the fans get a good feeling when they are at the track.”

Since opening the track, Squires’ efforts have received much fanfare and have been changing the racing game in Newfoundland ever since. With seating of up to 4,500 passionate race fans, the track received NASCAR sanctioning becoming just the second track in Atlantic Canada to join NASCAR’s prestigious family.

“The name of NASCAR alone turned on a big light switch in some people who didn’t know a lot about the sport. Everybody sees it on TV and they’ve never had opportunity to see people compete in a sport, where it’s so competitive and now at our track we are seeing very experienced drivers coming up and moving on different levels of NASCAR, especially with the kids.”

With Atlantic Canada becoming one of the largest emerging racing markets in Canada, drivers in Newfoundland often found themselves excluded due to the lack of a top level racing facility. Most late model and legend car drivers made their way to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and even as far as the United States and Quebec. One of the main benefits of the project was to give some of the talented racers in Newfoundland a place to race, and the much needed exposure they desired. Two of the biggest names being Placentia’s Josh Collins and Conception Bay South’s Waylon Farrell.

“There is no doubt that these two [Collins and Farrell] have gotten a lot of exposure in the newspaper, lots of exposure on our website and lots of exposure everywhere. It is bringing Newfoundland to a whole new level and people are saying ‘man, they’re able to compete.’ ”

Today, Eastbound Park serves as a premier entertainment destination in Atlantic Canada. Hosting such series as Divisions I and II of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the NAPA Auto Parts Sportsman Series, the Islander RV Bandolero Series, the Hanlon Realty US Legends Series and the Atlantic Dodge Dealers Hobby Stock Series. They also own another race track, a small quarter-mile track in Central Newfoundland.

For Squires, this project serves as a dream come true and a reminder of what hard work and careful planning can accomplish. Eastbound Park will further cement Squires’ legacy in not just the Newfoundland racing scene, but in all of Canadian motorsport.

Despite all that the project has accomplished, Squires still big desires for the race track in the future. With drivers like Collins and Farrell trying their hand at running in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series and gaining national exposure, it has only further fueled Squires’ dream to finally bring Canada’s top racing series to Newfoundland.

“We have been pursuing a Pinty’s race for the last few years now, when Alex [Nagy] was involved with this. I know that Mike has been working with the Pinty’s guys as well. The drivers are all pretty excited about it but I guess the Pinty’s people haven’t made that commitment yet because they only have so many races a year. It’s not cheap to come to Newfoundland and race either. Pinty’s should be here, Newfoundland is a place where NASCAR should be.”

Collins ran a combined six races in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series for CBRT with a best finish of seventh at 2016 Leland Industries 300 at Sunset Speedway. Waylon Farrell made his lone start at the 2016 Bumper to Bumper 300 at Riverside International Speedway, finishing 15th in a car prepared by 22 Racing.

It is safe to say that Squires revolutionized the world of motorsport in Newfoundland. Bringing it back from a 20-year hiatus and opening it up to the world. Giving plenty of racers across Newfoundland and eastern Canada the exposure they need to grow in their careers and move forward with their racing dreams. The construction of Eastbound Speedway did more than just give Newfoundlanders a venue at which they could race, it gave them a place they could finally call their home track.

Eastbound Speedway’s first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event was the Islander RV Victoria Day Weekend Speedfest held on May 21. In Division I, Josh Collins was victorious in race No.1 and Ross Thorne took the victory in race No.2. In Division II, Shane Collins scored the win in race No.1 and Andrew Morgan captured the checkered flag in race No.2.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will return to action at Eastbound Park, Sunday, June 17 for the Father’s Raceday: Outdoor Pros 75.

Eastbound Park boasts a 3/8 mile asphalt oval, go kart track, 1/8 mile drag strip and configurations for concerts and dirt events. (Photo/ Eastbound Park)

NATIONAL POINTS UPDATES

A pair of Modified drivers made their moves this week in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings.

Former NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Burt Myers finished third and fourth in twin features in the Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series at Bowman Gray Stadium Saturday night, to increase his total to nine top fives in 11 starts to go with three wins. And former Whelen All-American Series national champion Keith Rocco won at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in the Sunoco Modified Division last week.

Myers jumped from sixth to fourth in the national rankings, while Rocco moved from eighth to fifth.

Philip Morris swept the Late Model Stock Car features at Virgina’s South Boston Speedway to increase his Division I leading total to 505 poins.

 

Morris, a four-time national champion, has 12 wins and 14 top fives in 17 starts at Virgina’s South Boston, Dominion Speedway and Langley Speedway, as well as North Carolina’s Southern National Raceway Park and South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Teenages Lawless Alan and Jagger Jones are second and third, respectively. Alan has 363 points on five wins in 13 starts, while Jagger Jones picked up his third win to go with 12 top fives in 16 starts. They both race in the Super Late Model division at California’s Irwindale Speedway and Kern County Raceway Park.

Mitch Keeter (Salinas Highbanks Speedway and Kansas’ Humboldt Speedway) picked up a pair of wins to move three spots to No. 6. He’s followed by a trio of Bowman Gray drivers: Jason Myers, Tim Brown and Jonathan Brown. Brandon Farrington of Tucson Speedway rounds out the top 10.

RELATED: BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM MODIFIED POINTS

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I drivers are ranked by their best 18 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an additional two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower.