Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NHMS "Invitational" is Just That

The northeastern stock car racing community has been abuzz about the first-ever American-Canadian Tour Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, and justifiably so. But it seems that some of that group has overlooked one stipulation of the event: the word "Invitational."

Green-White-Checker's Travis Barrett is reporting that ACT President Tom Curley wants to make perfectly clear that the event is essentially open to all teams running an ACT-legal Late Model car, provided they gain the approval of ACT to compete in the 50-lap, $65,000 all-star race.

Race winners and point leaders or champions from the ACT Late Model Tour, the Série ACT-Castrol, and nine weekly Late Model tracks in the U.S. and Canada, including Barre's Thunder Road, as well as winners of three special non-championship events at Thunder Road, Maine's Oxford Plains Speedway, and Québec's Autodrome Chaudière, will be invited to compete at New Hampshire as long as they meet a level of previous experience and have a car with the proper safety equipement required by ACT to race at the fast 1.058-mile NHMS superspeedway.

"(The ACT Invitational) is not and never was intended to be an 'open house' for the 400-plus Late Models in our region to get to play around for an afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway," Curley told Green-White-Checker. "By original design, we will put the most experienced and highest quality teams into New Hampshire to give us the maximum opportunity to have some success."

The potential for a rookie driver or backmarker with very little on-track experience but the right amount of luck to earn an NHMS starting berth exists, but raises many concerns.

"We cannot allow this to be a lark for someone who just wants to race at NHMS but has neither the equipment, the experience or existing knowledge to be successful both personally and for the good of the initial project," said Curley. "There are legitimate safety concerns that ACT must be aware of in issuing invitations. We must have confidence in the teams we are asking to participate in the event.

"Automatically giving an invitation to a (driver) that has very little experience in a Late Model, or may be in his first year of competition, would be irresponsible."

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