PHOTO: Joe Grabianowski

358 HUNTER: Williamson Raced Across Ontario, Quebec, and New York for DIRTcar 358 Hoosier Championship

Mat Williamson topped the DIRTcar 358 Modified Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship in 2020

ST. CATHARINES, ON – Race fans love to spend time debating who the best of the best drivers are. Over the last few years, another name has emerged alongside Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Brett Hearn, and others; Mat Williamson, the Canadian star from St. Catharines, Ontario, won the 2019 Super DIRTcar Series championship plus crown jewel after crown jewel.

It wasn’t easy for Williamson to maintain his streak of excellence this season but thanks to support from Hoosier Racing Tires, he was able to chase down DIRTcar 358 Modified races for a chance to win the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship for 358s.

“When we started the year and we knew the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship was still going to go on it gave us the motivation to travel more,” said Williamson of his 2020 plan. “The whole championship is a great incentive to travel down the 401 (east to west highway across Ontario, Canada) and get these races in.”

After accumulating nine wins, 14 top fives, and 17 top tens in 20 DIRTcar 358 Modified starts, Mat Williamson won his first Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship (formerly Mr. DIRTcar). All of his wins came at Canadian tracks including Humberstone, Cornwall, Merrittville, Brockville, and Autodrome Granby and he collected $3,000 for his efforts.

“There were a lot of cool races that we went to this year that we wouldn’t normally have had the chance to go to. We went to Cornwall quite a bit. Raymond and everyone at Cornwall are some of the best people in racing,” said Williamson.

Autodrome Granby is an exciting ½ mile speedway in Quebec, Canada. It poses a unique challenge for those who do not frequent the track but Mat Williamson showed it can be done.

“We also went to Granby in Quebec twice which isn’t something we normally do unless it’s a Super DIRTcar Series race. It was cool to get our first win in Quebec,” Williamson said. “It’s probably a little too much race track for the 358 motors. You almost feel like you are running a Sportsman at Canandaigua. It’s definitely a Big Block track.”

Unfortunately, Williamson and his team did not fare as well racing in the United States. The No. 6 machine made starts at Can-Am Speedway, Utica-Rome Speedway, and Thunder Mountain Speedway during the summer.

The bizarre circumstances of 2020 actually made starting races in Canada more enticing for Williamson.

“What we figured out this year is that the Canadian tracks didn’t handicap their Heat Races because they didn’t race enough to have points and handicapping,” Williamson noted. “When we went to Thunder Mountain and Can-Am we’d ended up starting deep in the field. If it’s a 100-lapper you might not mind starting back there but in a 30-lap Feature starting 18th at Thunder Mountain, you have a real uphill climb.”

In October, DIRTcar scheduled three DIRTcar 358 Modified Series races to take place at Utica-Rome Speedway, Can-Am Speedway, and Fulton Speedway. Williamson and his team were ready for the challenge but unfortunately, mechanical gremlins under the hood kept the front-runner down. They pulled down a tenth-place finish at Can-Am Speedway and fourteenth at Fulton Speedway.

Williamson recapped his OktoberFAST: “We struggled with a carburetor fumble both nights. We went to Can-Am where we drew poorly and couldn’t pass. We were looking forward to Utica but that got rained out and then at Fulton we started in the back and got into some stuff, spun out doing a 360, and still headed up charging up quite a few spots even still fighting the carburetor.”

With the DIRTcar 358 Modified Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship under his belt, Williamson is looking forward to working at the Bicknell Racing Products shop, spending time with family, and enjoying the great Canadian outdoors.

“Right now at Bicknell Racing Products, I am putting a car together for Jeff Behrent that we will hopefully run in Florida if the border opens back up. I work here as much as I possibly can. It’s my family’s business and anything I can do to help out when I am not racing I try my hardest”, Willamson said of his workday. But even when it’s pure fun, Williamson is all about speed.

“When I am not here I am snowmobiling. My girlfriend’s parents live up in Barry’s Bay and the snowmobiling is great around there, We do that and go ice fishing and just spending time in northern Ontario the way you should.”

Next year the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship will go on unchanged for all four DIRTcar Northeast divisions. Be sure to subscribe to the weekly newsletter and check out the Hoosier update every week on DIRTcar.com. Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

PHOTO CREDITS: Don Romeo (Top), Don Simpson (Middle), Matt Sullivan (Bottom)