(July 3) - The clock is counting down to the Jim Albert Memorial Gold Cup race weekend at Castrol Raceway on July 21st and 22nd.  The Northern Provincial Pipelines Late Model Series will attempt to get its 2017 race season underway at this event.  "The Canada Day long weekend is over," says NPP Series announcer Gord Craig, "we've seen the fireworks. We've celebrated history.  Now it's time to see some racing." A lack of entries for the official season opener back on May 26th/27th forced NPP Series officials to cancel an appearance at Central Alberta Raceways in Rimbey.  A tentatively scheduled June appearance by NPP Series drivers at Sangudo Speedway was also cancelled less than a week later.  Track officials in Sangudo, Alberta announced they were postponing the start of their season till mid-July.  "A lot of race classes in Alberta are struggling for cars this season," admits Craig, "we're probably the only class that is admitting it publicly."  Having a decent number of cars for the Gold Cup race is crucial.  "We need at least eight teams confirmed," says Craig, "we're close but we're not there yet.  We'll have a decision of yes or no [for the Edmonton race] on July 19th." 

........................................................................................(PHOTO: Stpracing Memories)

This is not the first time a season has started this late in the year for NPP Series race teams.  "Several years ago we were several weeks into summer before our season started. The circumstances were totally different."  Back in 2013 the season start was delayed till July 19th thanks to five consecutive rainouts.  "The Gold Cup was the first race of the 2013 season for us.  Car count permitting, the Gold Cup will be our first race of the season this year."  The Gold Cup is Canada's oldest open wheel sprint car event first run back in 1954 at Edmonton Speedway.  "The NPP Late Model made its debut at the 1999 Gold Cup and has been part of this big show ever since."  Darrell Midgley, the three-time and defending season champion of the NPP Late Model Series, has swept the Gold Cup race weekend the last two years.  "Hopefully we'll have enough confirmed drivers for this year's Gold Cup race.  In a couple of weeks we'll have an answer to the car count question."


EDMONTON, AB. (July 18) - The year was 1999 and the NPP Late Model was making its official debut at Castrol Raceway and the Gold Cup event.  Since its debut, the Northern Provincial Pipelines Late Model Series has been the support class to Canada's oldest most prestigious open wheel sprint car race.  Unfortunately the lengthy appearance streak in Edmonton, Alberta is coming to an end after 18 consecutive years.  Due to a low competitor count, NPP Series officials have cancelled its scheduled July 21st/22nd appearance at Castrol Raceway and the Jim Albert Memorial Gold Cup.  "We needed a firm commitment from at least eight teams," says NPP Series announcer Gord Craig, "unfortunately we were several teams shy of the required number."  Back in May, a lack of entries forced NPP Series officials to cancel its official 2017 season opening weekend at Central Alberta Raceways in Rimbey.  "It's always tough to cancel race appearances," admits Craig, "but it's hard to put on a show when you only have four teams on the track."

........................................................... (Photo: Perry Nelson)

After announcing the cancellation of this weekend's Gold Cup appearance in Edmonton, Craig had more bad news.  "A difficult decision has been made to cancel the remainder of the 2017 season.  For the first time in almost two decades there will be no champion crowned in the Northern Provincial Pipelines Late Model Series."  The cancellation of the 2017 season will have many people questioning the future of the NPP Late Model Series.  "This is a major setback," admits Craig, "we may be done for this season but don't put a fork in us yet."  NPP Series officials know that escalating racing costs and the state of the Alberta economy have played a major role in the decline of NPP Series car counts the past several seasons.  "When you are a higher profile racing series, the spotlight does shine a little brighter on you.  I do know that we aren't the only racing class in Alberta that is suffering from low car counts." The NPP Late Model Series went from an average of sixteen teams per race to less than eight teams in just a few years.   "We've now experienced both ends of the spectrum as far as car counts are concerned."  The NPP Late Model Series went from nine teams to nineteen back in 2004. The cancellation of the NPP Series 2017 season will have no impact on the Team NPP Modified or Super Late Model. Lane Zerbin races the #81 Northern Provincial Pipelines Ltd./Alien Chassis #81 Modified at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Washington on July 29th and 30th. Darrell Midgley continue preparations for upcoming Super Late Model races in British Columbia, Washington State, Nevada and Arizona. A brand new Super Late Model is currently under construction and will make its debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October.

...........................................................................................((Photos: Patriot Photography / Fletcher Motorsports)


ELMA, WA. (July 23) - A limited race season would hamper many drivers on-track performance but not Canada's Lane Zerbin.  In only his 5th start of 2017, Zerbin drove the Northern Provincial Pipelines Ltd./Alien Chassis Modified to a dominating win at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Washington Saturday night.  "I was focused the entire race," says the Victoria, British Columbia driver, "it was a little rough going at times but we made it through."  Of the 22 Modifieds that were racing at GHR, Zerbin was third quickest in hot laps.  Despite finishing third in his heat race Zerbin's lap times were the fastest on the property.  "The car was set up. It really felt good. We started 7th in the Feature so the rest was up to me."  At the drop of the green for the 25 Lap Feature, Zerbin clearly had one goal in mind and that was to get to the front. 

............................................................ (Image: AR RACING)

By Lap 3 Zerbin moved himself up to second behind race leader Tyson Blood of Olympia, Washington.  By Lap 5, four cars began pulling away from the rest of the field.  Blood, Zerbin, Zach Simpson (Aberdeen, Washington) and Doug Davenport (Vernonia, Oregon).  Caution flag came out on Lap 8 for a single car spin near the back of the pack.  At the exact same time of this caution flag, Zerbin and race leader Tyson Blood came together in turn four.  Track officials gave Zerbin the race lead for the restart.  On the restart, Zerbin was briefly challenged for the lead by Simpson.  Zerbin however powered away from the field and built up a commanding five car length lead approaching the halfway point of the Feature.  Yellow flag would fly for a slowing car down the front straight.  This caution bunched up the field  once again for the restart.  "I was driving my own line this race and it was working but those cautions were killing me.  I knew I'd built up a pretty good lead during the green flag runs."  The final caution flag of the Feature waved with 10 laps to go for another slow moving car. 

.................................... (Image: AR RACING)

As the green flag flew and with the finish line in sight, Zerbin distanced himself from the field as Davenport and Tom Sweatman (Cosmopolis, Washington) battled hard for second.  Zerbin drove on to grab his first Feature win of 2017. Margin of victory for Zerbin was just over one and half seconds as the checkered flag flew.  Next event for Lane Zerbin and the Team NPP #81 Modified is back at Grays Harbor Raceway on Friday and Saturday night July 28th and 29th.  More than 50 Modified teams will compete at the 18th annual Shipwreck Beads Modified Nationals.                

Elma, Washington
> Saturday, July 22, 2017
1. #81 Lane Zerbin - Victoria, British Columbia

2.#11 Tom Sweatman - Cosmopolis, Washington
3. # 8 Doug Davenport - Veronia, Oregon
4. #26 Scott Miller - Shelton, Washington
5. #14 Kyler Moore - Seabeck, Washington
6. #12 Zack Simpson - Aberdeen, Washington
7. #28 Brian Harding - Oakville, Washington
8. # 6 Don Jenner - Vancouver, Washington
9. #43 Shane Kerrigan - Aberdeen, Washington
10.#88 John Gamell - Brush Prairie, Washington
11. #10 Clark Tenney - Scappose, Oregon
12.#47 Austin Kerrigan - Aberdeen, Washington
13.#34 Gene Miller - Olympia, Washington
14.#86 Dave Howard - Olympia, Washington
15. #8 Steve Bullpit - Port Orchard, Washington
16. #47 Steve Signal - Olympia, Washington
17. #97 Tyson Blood - Olympia, Washington
18. #17 Brian Izzy - Washington
19. #46 Jeremy Miller - Montesano, Washington


ELMA, WA. (July 30) - Just six days after scoring his first Feature win of the 2017 season, Lane Zerbin was back in Elma, Washington to compete in one of the biggest Modified races of the season.  Over 40 race teams jammed the pits at Grays Harbor Raceway for the 18th annual Shipwreck Beads Modified Nationals race weekend.  Heat race action Friday night saw Zerbin grab a win and a 6th place finish.  In the Feature, the Victoria, British Columbia driver piloted the Northern Provincial Pipelines Ltd./Alien Chassis #81 to an 11th place finish.  "We raced pretty well Friday night, " exclaims Zerbin, "we locked ourselves into the Saturday night Feature from the points earned which was a huge bonus."  The top 16 drivers from Friday night points automatically transferred to the Saturday night Feature.  Zerbin was 14th in points.  "Since we locked ourselves in, we only had to worry about one race Saturday night."  Twenty-six teams would do battle in 'C' and 'B' Mains for the remaining eight spots in Saturday night's Feature.  "Running the extra races are tough.  We didn't have to do it this year." 

............................................. ..... (Photo: Fletcher Motorsports)

The Saturday night Feature saw 24 cars take the green flag for the 40 lap Feature.  It didn't take long for Zerbin to make his move to the front from his 14th starting spot.  With just two laps complete, Zerbin had already moved up to 11th.  Just one lap later, Zerbin gained two more positions as he powered between two cars down the front straight.  "If there were openings I was taking them," says Zerbin, "the car felt really good."  By Lap 16 Zerbin was running 7th.  "I wasn't taking too many chances.  I would only make a pass if they would present themselves."  The forward march for Zerbin took a brief break approaching the halfway point of the Feature.  Zerbin was under tremendous pressure from Port Hardy, British Columbia's Lawrence O'Conner.  Zerbin held off the two-lap charge from O'Conner then took resumed his march to the front.  On Lap 19, Zerbin made an outside pass down the back straight getting by two drivers for fifth.  Zerbin then took over fourth from Selah, Washington's Blair Shoemaker on Lap 21.  Zerbin held onto fourth for three laps.  Collen Winebarger from Corbett, Oregon then began puttting huge pressure on the Team NPP driver.  Winebarger got by Zerbin with 14 laps to go knocking Zerbin back to fifth.  Zerbin would finish fifth  in the Shipwreck Beads Modified Nationals Saturday night Feature.  At last year's Modified Nationals Zerbin finished 21st.  Nick Trenchard from Klamath Fall's Oregon dominated the Saturday night Feature and drove on to victory.


1. #54 Nick Trenchard - Klamath Falls, Oregon
2. # 5 Collen Winebarger - Corbett, Oregon
3. #21 Matthew Drager - Albany, Oregon
4. #11 Tom Sweatman - Cosmopolis, Washington
5. #81 Lane Zerbin - Victoria, British Columbia
6. # 5 Jesse Williamon - Coburg, Oregon
7. #14 Kyler Moore - Seabeck, Washington
8. #27 Lawrence O'Connor - Port Hardy, British Columbia
9. #11 Blair Shoemaker - Selah, Washington
10. #12 Zack Simpson - Hoquiam, Washington
11.# 7 Kevin Williamson - Coburg, Oregon
12. #21 Riley Simmons - Susanville, California
13. #10 Clark Tenney - Scappoose, Oregon
14. #75 Graham Cooke - Parksville, British Columbia**
15. #28 Brian Harding - Oakville, Washington
16. #15 Jeremy Richey - Phoenix, Oregon
17. #99 Jeremy Martin - Warren, Oregon
18. # 7 Kevin Smith - Sedro Woolley, Washington
19. # 8 Rick Smith - Mt. Vernon, Oregon
20. #45 Tiana Berkeley - Colville, Washington
21. #97 Tyson Blood - Olympia, Washington
22. #51 Craig Moore - Seabeck, Washington
23. #31 Don Martin - Yakima, Washington
24. #47 Austin Kerrigan - Aberdeen, Washington

** Graham Cooke raced in the NPP Late Model Series more than a decade ago. In 11 NPP Series starts (2004 - 2008), Cooke had 1 Feature win.