There has been a concentric ring of smoke and dust roaring from Brighton Speedway for 50 years signaling nail biting, knee rattling, dirt eating, edge of your seat racing action.
At a special 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday July 15, Brighton Speedway is dedicating an action packed night to honour the fans, drivers and community that have made the track the fun family oriented home it is known for.
Mark Rinaldi looks out over the track with a gleam of pride in his eye surveying the 1/3 mile clay oval that he has lived and breathed since he was knee high to a grasshopper as it has been bringing families together like his for decades – all for the thrill of the chase.
Rinaldi was just six years old when his father Lou Rinaldi purchased the Saturday night Brighton mainstay in December, 1980 that has now become a legacy for their family and many others. From April to September, die hard race fans pack the grandstands every Saturday night and cheer with delight at the sight of Comp 4, Pro Stock, Canadian Modified and Late Model cars racing with engines growling for miles.
From Brighton Pro Stock champion in 2002 to co-owner with his wife Angela and now watching their two sons Nate and AJ race, Rinaldi said it’s been a good ride.
“It was a great place to grow up always being around family and friends,” beamed Rinaldi. “Racing is in your blood it’s something you do every weekend.”
Rinaldi’s most memorable highlights include the addition of the World of Outlaw Late Model nights in 2013 that have roared like thunder through the track three times since sending fans screaming for more.
Lou Reddom opened the original track in 1967 running three classes every Saturday night featuring six and eight cylinder Modifieds and Pro Stock. He even paved it. Reddom later built the new dirt track that sits adjacent to the original.
In 1977, the track was purchased by Bob and Pat Gibson. Bob Gibson, a racer at the time saw much potential in the track, constructing a canteen (the only original building still located at the track) and washrooms with running water to add to the spectator experience. Then without ever stepping foot onto a dirt track, mechanic, entrepreneur and now Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi decided to take the wheel and purchased Brighton Speedway. He moved his wife Diane and four young children Maria, Matthew, Mark and Michael to Brighton from Pickering where they would run the track for 10 seasons. He added many popular special nights including 4×4, snowmobile and bus races. In 2002, Lou Rinaldi made a successful run for provincial politics and passed the track down to his daughter Maria, son Mark and Angela.
MPP Rinaldi said it was a real family endeavour.
The opportunity to give back to the community they treasure is also a point of pride for the Rinaldi family, now one of the biggest donators to the Brighton Food Share Program with season food drives along with Heart and Stroke Foundation, Quinte Access, the Canadian National Autism Foundation.
“There are tons of things that we do and the racers do on their own to give back to the community and that’s also a special feeling,” Mark Rinaldi explained. “It’s really one big family for the most part. It’s one big family that comes together to make up what is Brighton Speedway on Saturday nights and Thursdays with the Go Karts. You see a lot of kids and grandkids of current and past racers that come together to keep the tradition going.”
— Nicole Kleinsteuber (@NewsualSuspects) June 11, 2017
That tradition will be celebrated at the Speedway on July 15 with 50th Anniversary Nostalgia night. Along with the community and current fans and drivers the Speedway is inviting past fans and drivers to take in the night and share speedway stories. Wear a Brighton Speedway vintage T-shirt and receive $5 off admission at front gate or pits. The night brought to you by Deerhaven Farm and Garden and Mix 97 night features OSCAAR Hot Rods, Eastern Ontario Vintage Stock Car Club, 50 Lap Late Model, 50 Lap Canadian Modified, 50 Lap Pro Stock and the Pro Stock Duel on the Dirt Qualifier 2.
There will be Wall of Fame Presentations at 6 p.m. A live band, classic race car display and memorabilia in the court yard from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
For Brighton Speedway’s full schedule visit http://www.brightonspeedway.ca