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Mully: Old Timmins race track photos spark trip down memory lane

The Timmins Rock picked up custom-made boards, a gesture that's continuing the legacy of J.P. Bickell
Evan MacLachlan presents a custom-made CoachMate dry-erase coaching boards to assistant Timmins Rock GM Eric Paquette

This past Friday night Evan MacLachlan and I attended a highly entertaining Rock game.

Evan was there to present some custom-made CoachMate dry-erase coaching boards to assistant GM Eric Paquette. The Rock logo is not a decal but part of CoachMates custom program. This is the second time the MacLachlans have donated these custom-made boards (the first set was presented by Evan's dad Graham) in memory of family member J.P. Bickell.

The gesture is a continuing legacy of giving back to the community that Bickell was endeared to. The MacLachlans are based in Calgary, but Evan works in Timmins. The family has close ties to the community and spends a fair bit of time here.

Thanks for your ever-present contributions to our community.

I guess I owe the L.A. Kings an apology. A while back, I waxed about how the Kings were a burgeoning power in the west of the NHL. Guess I hexed them as they have been free-falling down the standings of late. Some players have publicly lamented a lack of commitment and self-serving interests by some other team members. During the all-star break, the team fired their coach as well. (A knee-jerk reaction at best. That's not the problem.)

I hope the Kings can find a way back to being a serious threat in the west. It's within their reach if they can get it together.

I've got to admit I'm not one for watching all-star games and such. But this year I thoroughly enjoyed the skills competition. And it was even better when you saw how excited the players were about participating. The mini-games were at least fun to watch and provided some highlight reel play. 

One suggestion I'd like to see though. Instead of naming the four all-star teams after their captains, wouldn't it have been cooler and more fitting to name the teams after Toronto legends? You know, like Team Mahovlich, Team Keon, Team Bower, Team Sittler or something like that. Include the former greats with the current to continue the memory of those who were there before.

When the all-star game is in a place where the team is relatively new to the league and may not have a rich tradition of hall of famers or all-stars, you could use the names of people who helped get the team a franchise or the name of the first coach or general manager, etc. Just a thought.

While the Majors continue to creep up on first overall in the Great North there has been a great story of perseverance and commitment taking place in the league the last little while.

The Soo Junior Greyhounds started the season abysmally and were floundering in the basement. Not much was expected from the group this season. My how things have changed. The team is on a nine-game winning streak. A nine-game streak is a big deal for the league's top teams at any time. More so for a team that had its struggles.

The Soo now finds itself in fifth place and only two back of North Bay for fourth with a record of 12 -10-1-1. Their 2.917 GAA is the third best in the league. The club has also recorded the most number of shutouts in the league.

The team has beaten the top teams in the league during this streak. They are full merit for this heater.

A few months ago I mentioned to some close hockey friends to "keep an eye on the Soo. They will be better". And they are.

There were a lot of reasons as to why the team struggled early. Too many to list here.

But in the fall when Denny Lambert was named to take over the team, you knew the club would get better with each outing. The players and staff have done just that and deserve to be commended.

The season is far from over but the Jr. Hounds are really making some noise right now.

The Majors meanwhile had an excellent weekend sweeping a home and home with the New Liskeard Cubs. The two clubs are in a battle with Sudbury U18 for first overall, so the two wins were vital to the Majors.

This is a huge weekend for The Majors as they play Friday against the U18 Wolves in Sudbury, Saturday in Sturgeon Falls versus North Bay and back here at home against the Soo on Sunday.

Timmins sits in second, four points back of Sudbury with two games in hand. They are up two points on the third-place Cubs and also have two games in hand there.

The other day I was looking at some old pictures of my dad and some uncles during their days of stock car racing. And I started to remember old stories about some of the tracks we had in the area. For many years, Timmins was a hotbed of stock car racing. But the last 10 or so years we have become bereft of such.

The first track I can recall and have pictures of was Hillcrest Speedway on what is now Jaguar . As its name implies, it was in the area where the road rises up. For many years you could see the old outline of the track as you were getting ready to land at the Victor M. Power Airport. I don't know if you still can see it today. I checked Google Earth and it appears as it is well grown in.

In the early ‘80s there was a beautiful track on Laforest Road. I went to an event where they were running “Champ Cars” — small indy-style cars powered by snowmobile motors. The well-groomed track was shortlived as I believe noise may have been an issue.

Up until a few years ago there was Bristol Speedway just out on Highway 101 on the left past Mallette Road. It is still easily visible on Google Earth.

As far back as the 1930s there was apparently a track called the Cyanide Grounds where the Hollinger Ball Park stands. It had some motorcycle racing and some car races way back in the day. Many people still remember the huge snowmobile races held on the running track at the Hollinger as well.

There was another track on the east side of Highway 655 in the ‘70s that was originally built for snowmobiles and dirtbikes and slated for stock cars I believe as well. It didn't last too long, but I remember getting laps in there as a 13-year-old on my sled before it closed.

Riverside Speedway was a going concern in the early ‘80s and provided some good racing for years. It was down at the end of Norman Street. Apparently that site was also a home to the Lion's Club Speedway in the 1950s.

I know my Dad and his buddies built a track for high performance go karts called Cook's Lake Cartway in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s. I have pictures of that and can only assume it was in the Cook’s Lake area.

I am not sure where but there was also a kart track down Pine South that may have been big enough for stock cars. My uncles told me about it when reminiscing about their old racing days.

And last but not least, the one I spent the most time at and remember the most is Frenchy Cloutier's Timmins Raceway Park. With its modern amenities and well-laid-out track, it ran from the mid-’90s for a few years.

There were probably more dirt oval tracks built over the years in the Timmins area. But these are the only ones I have info on.

With the passing of the beloved Vic Power many have related stories about him. I knew Vic for many years and was always dumbfounded by his amazing ability to remember everybody's name and his powerful sense of recollection.

One story I fondly recall about Mr. Power was a story he told me about my Uncle John at his wake. Mr. Power knew I was going to do the eulogy the next day and shared an example with me of my uncle's strong commitment to his faith and his determination. I would tell that story the next day and the amazing part is that none of us Mulryans had ever heard that beautiful tale until Vic told it to me.I am forever thankful for him sharing that with me and our family.

Mr. Power had a way of making everyone he talked to feel they were very important and feel good about themselves. Only a very few, special people can do that. And one of them was Vic.

Our deepest condolences to his family.

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