Parker shines at Norm Carr Classic in Belleville

August 23, 2011

For John Parker, the annual Norm Carr Classic ½ mile in Belleville, ON is a special event and one that is close to the heart. He is the only rider still active in dirt track racing today who actually knew Norm Carr personally.

They started out racing together in the amateur ranks in the early ’70s and continued their rivalry in the pro division right up to Norm’s untimely passing in a traffic accident in 1977.

In 1978, when the first Norm Carr Classic was held, Parker was on the starting line and he hasn’t missed an event since then. Over the years he has accumulated numerous podium finishes including three Norm Carr Classic trophies, which are awarded to the winner of the Open class. In 1999 and 2010 he won both the 600 and Open class; in 2003 he was second in the 600 and winner of the open class. This year he claimed third in the 450 and second in the Open.

“I’m not a nostalgic by nature but the Norm Carr Classic means a lot to me, not just because I’ve raced it since day one, but because I knew Norm and had a lot of respect for him. He was a great guy as well as a great racer. He left us way too early in life. It was a personal loss as well as a loss for the Canadian dirt track racing scene,” Parker said.

The 2011 edition of the race, Round 9 of the CMA Dirt Track National Championship –held on August 6th – proved to be another successful ½ mile outing for Parker.

He grabbed the holeshot in both his qualifiers, taking the win in the 450 and second place in the Open, giving him optimum front row starting positions for the finals.

Having the pole position for the 450 final proved of little value for Parker, however. A disastrous start saw him get off the line in a tepid seventh place. Undaunted, he put his head down and poured on the gas to pass several riders on the first lap.

Staying in the groove, Parker deftly clawed his way into second place before the halfway point of the race. But Chris Evans, who had led the freight train from the start, had enough of a gap that reeling him in was next to impossible.

Although it looked like Parker was going to finish in second place, a last lap pass by Don Taylor resigned him to third at the checkered flag.

“I made two unforgivable errors that cost me a possible win. I changed the bike’s gearing after the heat race and then blew the start in the final. I was not a happy camper. But regardless, I still finished third and picked up some valuable points towards the championship,” Parker said.

By the time he lined up for the Open final, Parker had regrouped. When the green light signalled the start of the race, he shot off the line like a rocket and nailed the holeshot.

An on fire Don Taylor, who ran a close second to Parker going into turn one, managed to stick a pass on him on the back straightaway. At that point the number one and two finishers were decided.

Track conditions favoured Taylor’s 750, leaving a 600-mounted Parker to race his own race. Chris Evans, winner of the 450 final, found himself running in third but he was unable to challenge Parker for second place.

“It would have been nice to come out of Belleville with two more wins under my belt, but all in all it was a good weekend. Three holeshots and podium finishes in both finals made up for the poor decisions I made in the 450 final,” Parker said.

After 9 of 12 rounds, Parker sits in a solid third place in the points chase in both classes. With three rounds left on the schedule, mathematically he still has a shot at finishing the season in second, especially in the Open class.

Going into the season, it was Parker’s goal to finish in the top three and he is currently on target, despite some lukewarm results on the ¼ mile oval of Niagara Raceway in Welland.

“I think right now we’re looking at finishing third. I’m riding to defend that position over the last three rounds, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be going for the win at each event,” Parker said.

Parker and his crew are currently busy prepping a brand new fuel-injected 2012 Kawasaki KX 450 for dirt track competition.  He will debut the bike for Canadian Kawasaki Motors at Niagara Raceway in Welland on September 10.

“We’re all very excited about the new KX.  Normally we do all the major bike prepping during the off-season. There is so much to do converting a motocross bike into a flat tracker,” Parker said. “But when Claude (Gagnon) asked me if I’d be interested in debuting the 2012 KX 450 for Kawasaki, I couldn’t resist. I consider it a real honour to be the first Canadian racer to campaign the new bike in a competition setting.”

Top five Pro Open points after 9 rounds

1. Donald Taylor 164 pts

2. Chris Evans 126

3. John Parker 104

4. Doug Lawrence 87

5. Doug Beattie 84

Top five Pro 450 points after 9 rounds

1. Donald Taylor 172 pts

2. Chris Evans 161

3. John Parker 102

4. Doug Beattie 94

5. Doug Lawrence 67