American-Canadian Tour Champion Patrick Laperle will not be present at the series' 2009 season opener at Lee USA (N.H.) Speedway this weekend. Laperle announced in February that he would not defend his ACT Late Model Tour title and confirmed Thursday that he won't be making the five-hour haul from his St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, Que. home to the New Hampshire seacoast this weekend, but will likely be at the next two events at Thunder Road and Airborne Speedway in May.
After winning the Série ACT-Castrol championship in 2007, Laperle ran a part-time schedule with the Québec/Ontario-based tour last year. One of the races he ran was the season opener at Autodrome St-Eustache, which he won. He will not repeat the feat this weekend with the ACT Late Model Tour at Lee.
"(Lee is) two days with practice on Saturday and the race on Sunday, and it's a long trip for us. It would cost us a lot, and it only pays $2,000 to win," said Laperle. "We want to win at Thunder Road for the 50th anniversary, I'm saving my car for Thunder Road. I can't wait to see the new Airborne, plus it's the closest track to home in the U.S., and we'll be at St-Eustache (the Castrol opener on May 23) for sure."
Laperle had originally planned to hit only big-money events on both sides of the border with the ACT Late Model Tour, the Série ACT-Castrol, and the Pro All Stars Series. His Super Late Model car intended for PASS competition, however, was badly wrecked in Florida during New Smyrna Speedway's World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing two months ago and is still in need of repair. And like several drivers in the northeast, Laperle has a new Late Model car under construction, designed specifically for the inaugural ACT Invitational event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September by short track legend Junior Hanley.
With his plans changing due to the Super Late Model's current state, Laperle said he may return to the Série ACT-Castrol full-time. Plans right now hinge on the level of support his sponsor, Normand Girard of JPN Racing, will commit to.
"I don't know what he wants to do, so I guess we will see," Laperle said of Girard. "If he wants to run the whole season in Québec, I will. We're supposed to be having a meeting about it soon."
(Photo courtesy ACT)