By Tommy Goudge (June 6, 2014) – Drivers and teams from Ohsweken Speedway are now fully immersed in the 2014 racing season, which continues tonight with Rochester KnightHawks night at the track. Ryan Hunsinger took some time just before the season began look back at his long history of racing at Ohsweken, share his thoughts on the new Strickland’s GMC Crate Sprint Car division, and much more in this edition of “Top 10”.
“The Gunslinger” Ryan Hunsinger grew up in a racing family. His grandfather Bob Slack owned and promoted Cayuga Speedway in Nelles Corners, Ontario during the glory days of that storied asphalt oval. Ryan was part of the very first race day at Ohsweken Speedway on June 16, 1996, and has visited victory lane there on numerous occasions. Included on his resume are 4 wins at Ohsweken in the Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Car division. His latest Ohsweken win came in the first event for the track’s newest division – the Strickland’s GMC Crate Sprint Cars – on May 23, 2014, and he leads the championship points standings after the first two rounds of the weekly Friday night racing series.
Ryan Hunsinger – FAST FACTS
Car #: 77x
Birthdate: August 31, 1975
Hometown: Caledonia, Ontario
Nickname: “The Gunslinger”
Sponsors: Iroquois Hereford Farms, Townline Variety, Bearpaw Convenience, M-One
TG: “It has been awhile since you’ve been in a race car at Ohsweken. What have you been up to since we saw you last, and how did the opportunity for your return come about?”
RH: “I’ve done a little bit of racing here and there, but not much. When you’re racing every week during the summer you don’t have much time for anything else, so having some time off allowed me to cross as many things off of my bucket list as possible, and do lots of ‘summer’ things that I didn’t really have time for before. Miles Hill and I kept in touch, and when this division was announced in the fall, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work together again. I am so grateful for the opportunity he has given me, and I can’t wait to get started.”
TG: “You’ve had a chance to run some laps in the Crate Sprint Car now. How did it feel, and what do you think the racing is going to be like, especially with the variety of track conditions Ohsweken presents over the course of a season?”
RH: “My crew chief Chris Teal and I spent most of the (test) session sorting out tuning issues and the usual ‘new car’ gremlins, but once we got going, the car felt good. I think that as the year progresses, and the teams get more and more experienced with these cars, the racing will get better and better. The varying track conditions will definitely be a challenge to the guys coming from pavement because a dirt track can completely change several times in the course of the night, but in my opinion that is the beauty of dirt track racing.”
TG: “As one of the only drivers in the Crate division with prior experience in a Sprint Car, I’m sure you know there is a natural expectation from many people that you will do well, and be in contention for feature wins each week. Having said that, we have some talented drivers moving into this new division. How do you feel about being the driver all those rookies are looking at as the man to beat?”
RH: “To a certain degree, I guess it’s a good position to be in, but at the same time no trophies are handed out for expectations. I put far more pressure on myself to win than anyone else could ever put on me, and I never underestimate anyone that I race against. I think that my experience will certainly be helpful initially, but with the cars being so equal, I think it’s going to get tougher and tougher as the season progresses.”
TG: “You’ve already competed on the pavement in a couple of Can-Am TQ Midget series races this year – your first in that type of car. It might be easier and shorter to list the types of cars you haven’t driven, but do you have any idea how many different divisions you’ve raced in overall, and at Ohsweken? Is there one that stands out?”
RH: “I sat down last night and wrote out a list and It blew my mind. I came up with 12-15 different types/divisions of cars that I’ve raced on both dirt and pavement, and I’ve been lucky enough to have won in most of them. I honestly can’t believe I’ve raced so many different types of cars over the years. Some guys can race one division for 30 years, but I’ve never been like that. Part of that can be attributed to my ADD, but I also feel that driving as many different types of cars helps you tremendously as a driver. As far as what I’ve raced at Ohsweken, I’ve raced in and won features in all 3 ‘Headline’ divisions at the speedway – DIRT ProModifieds (headlined in 1996), DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds (headlined from 1997-2007), and 360 Sprint Cars (headlined from 2008-Present).As far as one division that stands out, there’s no comparison – Sprint Cars are the ultimate race cars.”
TG: “You grew up at Cayuga Speedway – the track your grandpa owned – which is less than 20 miles from Ohsweken. What does it mean to you to be able to still race in this region, with a lot of the same people in the grandstands and pits?”
RH: “Ohsweken Speedway to me is like going home and, as the saying goes, there’s no place like home. I have so many amazing childhood memories of Cayuga, so to see a lot of the same people who played a part in those memories regularly at Ohsweken is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. The opportunity to race in the same area as I grew up is very special to me because it has allowed me to race in front of family, friends, my old babysitters, some of my former school teachers, etc…and I can’t do that anywhere else, so I absolutely love Ohsweken.”
TG: “You got tagged with the ‘Gunslinger’ nickname early in Ohsweken’s first season of weekly 360 Sprint Car racing. What are some of your favourite nicknames that you’ve heard for other drivers?”
RH: “‘The Doctor’ Danny Johnson and ‘Barefoot’ Bob McCreadie are two of my favourites – I like Danny’s because of all the opportunities it presents for t-shirts and stuff (‘The Doctor Is In’, etc…) and I like Bob’s because of the story behind it (he supposedly raced barefoot one time). There are so many cool racing nicknames out there that we could spend a week discussing them all, but those are a couple of my favourites.”
TG: “You drove in several 360 Sprint Car races for Quebec-based car owner Jake Langlois last year. What are some things to note about dirt racing in Quebec and eastern Ontario?”
RH: “The language barrier can be a challenge at times because it makes it tough to order food at the concessions or sign in, but, aside from that, racing in Quebec is really neat. They absolutely pack those tracks with like 5,000 fans who are nuts for dirt track racing, which makes the atmosphere absolutely electric. The fans chant things and cheer louder than anywhere I’ve ever raced, which makes it an absolute blast to race there. The Eastern Ontario dirt racing scene is as healthy as ever, with top notch places like Brockville and Cornwall leading the way.”
TG: “Who are some of your role models (racing, sports, or otherwise), and why?”
RH: “In racing, I have always looked up to guys who can race and win in anything – guys like AJ Foyt, Tony Stewart, and Kyle Larson. If you go to any Saturday night short track in North America, a good majority of the local racers will probably tell you that the only thing holding them back from success in NASCAR is money, to which I call complete BS. Anyone who has ‘made it big’ in racing has had some luck along the way, but guys like Tony Stewart or Kyle Larson are special talents that only come along once or twice in a lifetime. In life, my 2 biggest role model are my 2 grandfathers. If I can look back at my life and determine that I was half the man that my grandfathers were, then I will consider my life a success.”
TG: “You have called Ohsweken Speedway ‘the best dirt track in the world’. What makes Ohsweken the best, in your opinion?”
RH: “From a personal standpoint, like I said, Ohsweken Speedway is like home to me, and everyone thinks that their ‘home track’ is the best racetrack in the world (as they should). From a facility and promotions standpoint, it’s world class. I raced in the very first race at Ohsweken on a Sunday afternoon in 1996. It was literally just a track, a couple bleachers, and a garden shed in the pits, so to see what Ohsweken has become is amazing. The Styres family has done an amazing job with the track, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Ohsweken Speedway.”
TG: “What do you think the Crate Sprint Car division will be like in 5 years?”
RH: “In 5 years I think that the Crate Sprint Car division will be the biggest thing in Ontario racing. History has proven time and time again that racers are their own worst enemies in terms of controlling costs, and instead of fixing problems with existing divisions, promoters just keep creating new divisions that will inevitably get out of hand financially because the rules are flawed from the beginning – a perfect example of this is the fragmentation of pavement late model racing. The Crate Sprint rules are set up in a way that limits the cars enough that money will not gain you an advantage, which is what every racer wants.”
Do you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask your favourite Ohsweken Speedway personality, or suggestion for someone you’d like to see featured in a future edition of “Top 10″? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and stay tuned for future editions of “Top 10″ on www.OhswekenSpeedway.com!
About Ohsweken Speedway: Founded in 1996, Ohsweken Speedway is a motorsports complex which includes a 3/8 (0.375) mile clay oval track. The facility is owned by the Styres family, and located in the village of Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada. Ohsweken’s weekly Friday night racing program runs from May to September each year, featuring 360 Sprint Cars, Crate Sprint Cars, Thunder Stocks, Mini Stocks, and Bombers, while the season finishes each year with the annual Canadian Sprint Car Nationals. Ohsweken Speedway also hosts weekly Micro Sprint racing on Thursday nights, and has been a yearly stop on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car series schedule since 2007.
Visit the official Ohsweken Speedway website at www.OhswekenSpeedway.com, like us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/OHSWEKENSPEEDWAY, follow us on Twitter @OhswekenSpdway, and subscribe to our YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/user/OhswekenSpdway
Ohsweken Speedway thanks the following sponsors for their support: Arrow Express, Corr/Pak Merchandising Inc., Renway Energy, O’Neil’s Farm Equipment, McDonald’s Restaurants of Paris & Brantford, Nathan Ackland State Farm Insurance, Strickland’s GMC, Mobil 1, Burger Barn, Affordable Towing & Recovery, HRW Automotive, and Gale’s Auto Aftermarket.