From Go-Karts to Modifieds, A.J. Emms “very thankful for each and every opportunity”

With having spent over 20 years behind the wheel of a racecar, there has been a lot of checkered flags and championships along the way for A.J. Emms. Though reflecting back to when he started, it wasn’t always thought the road would take him to where he is today.

For each driver behind the wheel, the want to drive comes from being a fan of the sport first, which Emms is included among those in having attended several events through the years.

For him, the coolest highlight was heading down to Pennscola, Florida for the Snowball Derby at 5 Flags Speedway. the trip stood out in seeing the technology utilized in the sport, the money being spent, and the amount of talent the marquee event draws.

“In addition to that, the World Series at Thompson Speedway is another one that comes to mind as a very cool event that I’ve been able to go to,” he added. “Thompson is a historic race track with a lot of cool, even NASCAR history, at it. It was cool to be a part of that event, and even watch. I would say the third one I thought was really cool was going to Jukasa and seeing the $75,000 to win. I thought that was really cool event on Canadian soil that brought out a lot of really strong competitors at a beautiful facility.

“So when I think back, I think of those three events as some of the coolest and I guess you can’t really knock down Autumn Colours Classic as a crown jewel event in Ontario and one that’s always action-packed.”

With a passion for the sport engrained within and his father Jeff Emms (pictured right) involved in racing, the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a go-kart came at a young age. Although it started out as having fun, it quickly grew into a multitude of success along the way with over 50 plus wins, five championships, and the 2007 Canadian National Go-Kart Championship.

The success came from being surrounded by great people, including Lon Herder who runs Karts and Parts out of Stoufville.

“He really drove home the emphasis of minimizing mistakes on the race track, consistency, and never being satisfied, and always trying to improve yourself,” Emms commented. “Lon also taught me how to really reflect on my driving to pull out the successes to focus on the next steps, and how we can get better on those next steps. I think for me go-karting was well at teaching me to minimize mistakes, but also gave me a lot of race sense which some of my competitors may disagree I have sometimes.

“But I feel like go-karting helped support what I have, and also really gave me a good ability to be smooth with a racecar, which I hope I do well.”

While it produced a lot of lessons that still hold true in his career, there are other fond memories cherished from that time.

“I spent a lot of weekends racing both Saturday and Sunday with my dad and then going to the stock car races on Saturday night,” he recalled. “So my fondest memories from go-karting are those times that my dad and I spent camping out, just him and I, in a trailer racing on Saturdays at Goodwood Kartways, going to the stock car races on Saturday nights, and then driving over to race Mosport on Sundays.

“So that’s some of my best memories and those are some of the times that I’ve raced against really great drivers, who have then turned into great stock car drivers and great road course racers in Formula cars. Looking back, those memories were great, and of course running at Shannonville Motorsports Park and capture a bear which is a coveted trophy in go-karting is another thing that comes to me as a big accomplishment.”

From there, he was able to work his way up through the racing ladder, including victories in Hurricane Midgets for Mike Westwood. He then got behind the wheel of a Pro 4 Modified for Cliff Hodgkinson and Westwood, which produced wins and a championship in 2014.

The opportunity to move up to the OSCAAR Modifieds came in 2015, through a partnership with Allen Adams and ADAMS Motorsports. The following year, Emms branched out on his own, with him and his father buying a car together.  Over the past six seasons, the success has come with victories in both the Autumn Colours Classic and Rick Woolner Memorial, as well as a championship in 2019.

While the Modified is fun to drive and race now, it has been a fun road with great cars to drive to get to this point. As Emms pointed out, the T.Q. Can-Am Midget is “one of the funnest cars to drive.”

“At the same time, racing it was fun, but I always more enjoyed driving them,” he added. “I obviously both enjoy driving and racing my OSCAAR Modified. Another car that comes to mind is the Pro 4 Modified, driving a Stryker Chassis for Mike Westwood and Cliff Hodgkinson was a great opportunity, was a lot of fun. The car handled great, and we had some success with it. that was a lot of fun for me. I have enjoyed driving a lot of different things over the year, and each is unique, and I have been able to learn driving everything.

“But I would have to say reflecting back, the three-quarter midgets, Pro 4 Modified – they’re light, they’re quick, feel like a sportscar and that’s what I like.”

Having fun behind the wheel of something that is fast should come as no surprise, considering he has dreams of wanting to get behind the wheel of a Super Late Model. The aspirations go back to when he was younger, watching the likes of John Fletcher Jr. and Glenn Watson.

“I think that they’re a badass machine and I would love to get the opportunity to get behind the wheel of one,” he said. “I think I could do well in it. They’re very similar to my modified, just with a lot more horsepower. I think it’d just be a dream come true to drive one, and drive a competitive one. That’s kind of something that I would love. Whether it happens or not, we will see, but my aspirations are there.”

It’d certainly be great to see a dream come true, but no matter what happens, it’s safe to say where he has ended up now is a lot further than he could have envisioned back in the beginning years racing go-karts.

“During that time, we were just barely able to afford racing go-karts,” Emms reflected. “My dad sacrificed a lot for me to race go-karts. My dad not only sacrificed a lot of time, but a lot of money, and he did a lot of things for me to not only support my career, but to spend time with me. At that time in my life, I didn’t even know if I’d be able to race go-karts the next year, I didn’t even know if I would be able to race a stock car.

“When I got the opportunity to race with my dad and Mike Westwood to race Hurricane Midgets, I thought that could be it. When I got an opportunity with Cliff Hodgkinson and the Pro 4 Modifieds, I thought that was the furthest I could go. Allan Adams is the same sort of opportunity, and it’s been a real pleasure to be buy a car with my dad and co-own it together, and do it all together, because it’s something that both of us look back on and can’t believe we’ve made it here, just because of the financial stress we’ve been through in the past with racing, and not only that, just the years of commitment and learning.

“It’s been a great process of learning, and reflecting back on that, it’s something that we’re both proud of. Although my dad raced stock cars, nothing is given, and it wasn’t like I was going to do it. We didn’t ever think that was going to be within reach, and I’m very thankful for each and every opportunity to jump in a racecar.

“I think that’s one reason I put a lot of pressure on myself because I know that you can go from hero to zero in no time and like Don Biederman used to say, you’re only as good as your last race. I always take that to heart. I try to race every one like it’s my last.”

Stay tuned for the 2022 season preview article later on this week as we head into Spring Velocity at Sunset Speedway.

Emms Racing is proud to be supported by BAE Environmental, Bromley Automotive, TL Tire, FMR Scrap Buyers & Recyclers, Speedy Glass Orillia, Klotz Canada, Creecher’s Designs, TSS Top Shops, Peter Built Racecars, and Short Track Musings for the 2022 campaign.

Fans are encouraged to stay tuned to the Emms Racing website at http://www.ajemms.com, as well as the team’s facebook page via https://www.facebook.com/ajemmsracing/.

By: Ashley McCubbin/AM Marketing – ashleymccubbin17@gmail.com

4th In Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified Points – A.J. Emms

Despite some rocky moments throughout the 2021 Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modifieds presented by Just Foam It season, consistency ultimately led A.J. Emms to a fourth-place in the year-end series standings.

Ultimately, the year started off with the most memorable moment of the season in a whirlwind of a season opener. After getting married on Saturday, Emms elected to have Taylor Holdaway behind the wheel for qualifying at Sunset Speedway. Holdaway was able to get the job done, scoring a heat victory and runner-up.

Emms would get to the track prior to the start of the feature, getting behind the wheel of the modified – though having to start from the tail of the field due to the driver change. The climb to the front came quickly, though, as he put himself inside the top-five with 20 laps to go and was able to capitalize late to score the victory.

Read the full season recap on the OSCAAR website at https://oscaar.ca/2022/01/15/4th-in-queenston-chevrolet-buick-gmc-oscaar-modified-points-a-j-emms/. 

 

A.J. Emms Reflects on Roller Coaster Season En Route to Top-Five Points Finish

A pair of heat wins. Six Heat Top-Five’s.

A feature victory. Four Top-Five’s. Six Top-10’s.

Despite some trying times throughout the course of the 2021 Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modifieds presented by Just Foam It season, the consistency for Emms Racing led them to a solid top-five finish in the final standings.

“Overall with the year, I felt we had a roller coaster season with some really good highs like the first race at Sunset Speedway, and some pretty good lows with an accident also at Sunset Speedway in a heat race,” A.J. Emms commented. “That’s just a testament to a difficult year of racing. It really speaks to how racing can be such a humbling sport.

“I think we learned a lot this season although we struggled. We try to learn a little each year and hopefully we’re able to put some of that learning this off-season into use and try to find a little bit more speed.”

Ultimately, the year started off with the most memorable moment of the season in a whirlwind of a season opener. After getting married on Saturday, Emms elected to have Taylor Holdaway behind the wheel for qualifying at Sunset Speedway. Holdaway was able to get the job done, scoring a heat victory and runner-up.

Emms would get to the track prior to the start of the feature, getting behind the wheel of the modified – though having to start from the tail of the field due to the driver change. The climb to the front came quickly, though, as he put himself inside the top-five with 20 laps to go and was able to capitalize late to score the victory.

“He’s been a childhood friend of mine,” Emms spoke of Holdaway. “He’s a guy that I grew up a couple blocks from, we raced go-karts against each other, we go to Bristol, Tennessee each year together, and spent a lot of time together growing up racing, and it was really special for me to have him in the car.

“He did a great job when I wasn’t there for my heat races and then getting the car dialed in so we could start last and make it up to the front for the win. It has to be one of the most memorable moments of the year, if not my racing career.

“Another memorable moment would be getting put into the wall pretty blatantly in a heat race and destroying the car. That’s one that I definitely won’t forget moving forward.”

Returning back to Sunset Speedway two weeks later, the second heat event would not go according to plan. Battling for the runner-up spot in the early stages, Emms was pushed against the outside frontstretch wall, ultimately forcing him up on two wheels and stuck on the wall.

Despite the heavy damage to the car, the team did not give up in the face of adversity, making the necessary repairs – with help from others, to get the car back out for the feature. Starting from the tail of the field, Emms was able to make his way back through for a 10th-place finish.

“For me, I have such confidence in our team and the people that we have around us,” Emms commented. “I’m very thankful to have my dad working so hard on the car in terms of preparation. Ryan Ward, Peter Schotanus, Josh Lahay – everybody that puts in work to the car, I have confidence in them and know that they’re going to bring each and everything they can to the races every week and in doing so, it was great to see us rebound just to affirm some of those feelings.

“But definitely after the heat race woes at Sunset Speedway, I was incredibly proud of our team and all the people that came to help us out to get the car back together to get out on the race track. And with a green to checkered race, I thought it was very impressive to come from last even still with a bent-up racecar and finish 10th, especially with the field as stacked as it is.

“Like I said, I have a lot of confidence in the team and it was really positive to see the resiliency.”

The middle four races of the season ultimately kept the roller coaster feel going, as there were some positives, as well as a couple lows. A fifth-place finish at Sauble Speedway and a third-place finish at Delaware Speedway were ultimately countered with a 20th at Sunset Speedway following contact on Lap 1, and eighth at Flamboro Speedway after getting stuck on the outside to start.

The year would end off on a good note, though, as Emms scored a heat victory before running inside the top-four all feature long at the Autumn Colours Classic en route to a third-place finish.

“It was good to end the year at Autumn Colours with a third-place finish, especially with how competitive the OSCAAR Modified division is and not only a field stacked with great drivers, but also a field full of great cars,” he commented. “That third-place finish will help carry momentum into next year, and confidence in running up front most of the race. Ultimately, hopefully like I said, moving forward, we can minimize our mistakes not only on my driving end, but on the mechanical end so we can continue to be fast next season.”

Looking back over the course of the season, Emms says it emphasized the importance of having everything together. While some weeks they were great handling-wise, you need to also have the rest of the package to go with that.

“Honestly, the division now is so tight; like, you really need to have a car that’s going to be able to do everything and handle at all different tracks, especially with how our invert works now,” he explained. “You have to have that whole package so you can pass cars and try to get closer to the front especially when there’s fast cars starting at the front. So it’s really getting back to crossing all of our Ts and dotting all of our Is, and not that we weren’t doing that before, but we also have to step it up a little bit just because the competition is also doing that.

“I think it also helps with having a lot of great names in the division now, like Brian MacDonald is at the track working on cars, and you see Hanleys working on the car. You see so many great people that have a lot of great knowledge in our garage area so that just tells us that we need to everything that we can to be there each and every week.”

Emms Racing is proud to be supported by BAE Environmental, FMR Scrap Buyers and Recyclers, TL Tire, Klotz Canada, Speedy Glass Orillia, Mike Westwood Fabrications, Peter Built Racecars and Short Track Musings.

Fans are encouraged to stay tuned to the Emms Racing website at http://www.ajemms.com, as well as the team’s facebook page via https://www.facebook.com/ajemmsracing/.

By: Ashley McCubbin / AM Marketing – ashleymccubbin17@gmail.com.

A.J. Emms “Excited To Just Get Back in the Racecar and Turn Some Laps.”

For A.J. Emms, racing is something that has always been a part of his life, met with summers filled with competition from the age of six. As he says, “I’ve never not been racing; I only know what it’s like to race and only know what it’s like to go to the track every weekend in the summer.”

So coming off a shortened season that seen some success, it’s not surprising he’s one of many Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified drivers excited about getting back to the track.

“I think it’s going to be a really strong year for the OSCAAR Modified division with a lot of good talent coming in and a lot of great racecars,” he said. “I think the competition will be the highest been in the series, and I know for us, and our entire team, we’re working at making sure we’re competitive this year. We’ve done a lot of work this off-season, like everybody else has, to make sure our car is prepared and be up to the task of competing.

“I think last year we learned a lot and were able to try some different things with the shortened season and not having points, and we’re hoping we can take some of the things that we learned last year and implement them. Hopefully we’re up for the challenge and I’m excited to just get back in the racecar and turn some laps.”

Read the full interview on the OSCAAR website.

30th Anniversary of OSCAAR – A.J. Emms

Throughout the past eight years, four different drivers have been able to call themselves a Queenston Chverolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified presented by Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd., The Fyre Place & Patio Shop, and Touchwood Cabinets Champion.

One of those being your 2019 title holder, A.J. Emms

Read the latest feature as part of OSCAAR’s 30th Anniversary series featuring our driver by clicking here.

OSCAAR Season on Postponement Until July Due to Covid-19

With the current phase of reopening for the province and tracks remaining closed to competition, the 2020 OSCAAR season opener has been tentatively scheduled for July.

As of Friday May 15, the first five original dates on the schedule have been cancelled for the time being. There is a chance of the June 6 event at Jukasa Motor Speedway could possibly be ran later on this summer, as well as the Knightworks Design OSCAAR Hot Rods presented by Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park being added to the August 15 date at Delaware Speedway.

Read the latest update from OSCAAR on the COVID-19 situation by clicking here.

A.J. Emms Ready to “Continue to Build Our Program” After Championship Campaign

After putting together a memorable Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified presented by Scott Reinhart Trailer Sales Ltd., Touchwood Cabinets, and The Fyre Place & Patio Shop season in 2019, it’s back to business as usual heading into this year.

“My thoughts going into this year are pretty much the same as my thoughts going into every year,” he said. “With the last couple of seasons, we’ve been really fortunate to learn from some of our mistakes and continue to build our program. We’re just going to continue to try and move in the same direction this year in terms of learning, getting better, trying to minimize mistakes.

“Fortunately, I think everybody is in the same boat as to not knowing the next day, or the next race is to bring. But I think with that being the case, we just need to continue to stay positive, continue to prepare, and hope that we can get in as many races as possible this season.”

Read the full article on the OSCAAR website by clicking here.

Emms Racing Welcomes Aboard Speedy Glass Orillia

Emms Racing is proud to announce a new partnership, as Speedy Glass Orillia has joined as a sponsor of the No. 14 Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified in 2020.

Located at 315 West Street South, Speedy Glass Orillia can repair or replace any type of auto glass whatever the make, model, and age of the vehicle. They will always try to first repair your existing windshield, usually saving you both time and money.

They also offer additional products and services including trailer hitches, bike racks, camera recalibration, deflectors, truck bed liners, side bars, water repellent and weatherproofing treatment, car floor mats, windshield wipers, mirrors, and tinted windows.

The Speedy Glass name has been linked to window repairs since 1934, with a focus on delivering top-shelf service, expertise, and product quality through each of their service centres across the country.

You can learn more about Speedy Glass Orillia on their website at https://www.speedyglass.ca/en/service-centre/ontario/orillia/247-315_west-st-s-.html. They can also be reached at (705)325-3500.

Emms is coming off a successful season that was consistent all the way through, highlighted by a four feature wins and seven heat victories – including both the Rick Woolner Memorial and Don Biederman Memorial. Everything would culminate together with being crowned the 2019 OSCAAR Modified Champion.

“It means a lot – not only to me, but my entire crew, and my family,” he said in October. “My dad, myself, Ryan, and Peter Schotanus have put in a ridiculous amount of work so many years to get in this position and I was just very fortunate to have those people around me and capitalize on the opportunity that was given to me. So I mean, for me, it’s a big deal.

“Being in racing my whole life, you see guys winning championships. One of my heroes as a kid was Tom Walters, and to see the amount of championships that he’s won, that’s something that I’d obviously strive to me and elevate myself to that level. So starting off with an OSCAAR Modified Championship and it’s a great way to cap off a year where we didn’t expect to have these things happen.”

Speedy Glass Orillia joins previously announced partner BAE Environmental on the No. 14 Modified in 2020. The full plans for the Emms Racing team, as well as additional marketing partners, will be announced at a future date.

Fans are encouraged to stay tuned to the Emms Racing website at http://www.ajemms.com, as well as the team’s facebook page via https://www.facebook.com/ajemmsracing/.

By: Ashley McCubbin / AM Marketing – ashleymccubbin17@gmail.com

Emms Racing Welcomes Back BAE Environmental

Emms Racing is proud to announce BAE Environmental will be back on-board as a sponsor of the No. 14 Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified in 2020.

Located at 18 Park View Ave in Oro-Medonte, BAE & Associates Environmental Inc. serves all of Ontario providing complete, hands-on, environmental consulting, concentrating on Phase I, II & III ESA’s, specializing in the remediation of Brownfields using the latest of technologies.

Emms is coming off a successful season that was consistent all the way through, highlighted by a four feature wins and seven heat victories – including both the Rick Woolner Memorial and Don Biederman Memorial. Everything would culminate together with being crowned the 2019 OSCAAR Modified Champion.

“It means a lot – not only to me, but my entire crew, and my family,” he said in October. “My dad, myself, Ryan, and Peter Schotanus have put in a ridiculous amount of work so many years to get in this position and I was just very fortunate to have those people around me and capitalize on the opportunity that was given to me. So I mean, for me, it’s a big deal.

“Being in racing my whole life, you see guys winning championships. One of my heroes as a kid was Tom Walters, and to see the amount of championships that he’s won, that’s something that I’d obviously strive to me and elevate myself to that level. So starting off with an OSCAAR Modified Championship and it’s a great way to cap off a year where we didn’t expect to have these things happen.”

The full plans for the Emms Racing team, as well as additional marketing partners, will be announced at a future date.

Fans are encouraged to stay tuned to the Emms Racing website at http://www.ajemms.com, as well as the team’s facebook page via https://www.facebook.com/ajemmsracing/.

By: Ashley McCubbin / AM Marketing – ashleymccubbin17@gmail.com

Getting to Know…. Ryan Emerson

For Ryan Emerson, he was always a NASCAR fan growing up, and had watched A.J. Emms run a T.Q. Midget a couple times at Barrie Speedway. His involvement with the team, though, did not begin until Emms started racing in the Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modifieds.

“It wasn’t until we were in college and University in North Bay he approached me and asked if I was interested in helping him and Jeff (Emms),” Emerson recalls. “He was going to drive Allan Adam’s No. 99 modified. At first I thought it was a joke and kinda played it off saying, ‘Ya sure, why not?’ Then one day, I went to Allan’s shop with AJ and I really enjoyed myself and did a race or two and realize this racing thing isn’t too bad. I’ve been here ever since.”

For Emerson, the best part about being involved with the team is the family-oriented atmosphere.

“You have a father and son duo (Jeff and A.J.) that works tirelessly getting the car ready and you have the wonderful wives that put up with them,” Emerson jokes. “No, the wives are amazing. Jayne and Cassie always make sure we all have full belly’s at the track, water, and specially me to remind me about sunscreen on those hot sunny days. Jayne also is amazing with her everyday job making the shirts and hats and accessories that makes Emms Racing one of the best looking teams at the track!”

With now having traveled all the tracks on the tour, Emerson notes that “all the tracks are special in their own way,” but three of them stand out in particular to him – Full Throttle Motor Speedway – Varney, Jukasa Motor Speedway, and Delaware Speedway.

“Varney because it’s like a small dome very tight, a Bristol kinda feeling too it, and one mistake your pulling fenders back or worst packing up early,” he explained. “Delaware – yes, a long drive to get there, but it’s a very cool track. You’re parked in the infield just like a NASCAR race and with how old the track is with the bumps. It’s cool being on pit road and seeing the cars come off turn four, and hit the little dip in the track and keep going like it was nothing.

“Jukasa – well that’s explains itself. If you have ever been there you’ll understand – big, fast , and super exciting (hopefully you’ll get to see us in victory lane there this year).”

With having been here through the whole ride, it made winning the championship last season that much more memorable, with Emerson calling the year as a whole ‘incredible’.

It didn’t ultimately start out that way, as Emerson recalls being a little bummed following a phone conversation with Emms in early January.

“He was saying because of his commitments to building his and Cassie’s house that it was just going to be a part time schedule,” he recalls. “To be honest, it sucked hearing that, but at the same time I knew where he was coming from and I understand and am also excited for them.”

Though with each passing race on the schedule, the attitude seemed to change as Emerson said he noticed the fire changed, with both A.J. and Jeff Emms getting hungrier to win races and chase the title.

“After having a little lady luck in the first couple races virtue other guys getting DQs, we were right there in the top three,” he continued. “As soon as we dominated Varney and then went to Delaware and drove away, it was like, ‘Alright, we’re this far, let’s go and win this!’ I think it really didn’t hit us, or at least me that AJ was 2019 OSCAAR Modified Champion until ACC (Autumn Colours Classic) driver intros when I went on the radio and did my thing wishing him good luck and it slipped out when I said, By the way, congratulations champ!’ Pretty unreal moment and I couldn’t imagine doing that with any other group of people.”

Even though the championship was cool, one of the most memorable moments for Emerson comes from a couple season ago at Delaware Speedway when they were having battery issues.

“AJ was on pit road just about to head out for a heat race and he died so we were going to bump start him,” Emerson recalls. “So myself and few other people started to push. Well I didn’t realize they let go and I was still pushing the car. It jerked and took off, and I face planted in the middle of pit road in front of a packed grandstands at Delaware. That was awesome, for everyone but me.”