-by Justin St. Louis
Well, we've already stolen a column idea from Shawn Courchesne once this year, why not steal one from our boyhood hero, Bones Bourcier? You might remember the "Nobody Asked Me, But..." theme from the old Stock Car Racing Magazine (when it was good, like '80s and '90s) and Speedway Illustrated, when Bones used to write a monthly column. He might still, but honestly, it's been forever since we picked up a copy of Speedway Illustrated and we really have no clue. So, paying tribute to Bones Bourcier, here we go.
The Late Model division at Thunder Road has left me scratching my head this year more than it ever has. And that's a good thing.
There may not be any more exciting weekly racing going on right now in this area than the Sportsman Modifieds at Bear Ridge. Strange to say it, but sixteen cars in that division is almost too many for that track, and the resulting three-wide action is just outstanding.
That said, give the Sportsman Coupes six or eight more cars, and you'd have two fantastic features every week at Bear Ridge.
The Junkyard Warriors racing backwards at Thunder Road last week was unbelievably entertaining. That type of stuff is what the Warrior division should be doing every week. I say ramp races next. Then office furniture obstacle courses. Then a "ring of fire". And barrel racing. Oooh, and a pie-eating contest! Tell me you wouldn't be proud to win that championship.
I'd still rather see the Warriors racing with the Street Stocks as one big, combined, rolling pile of mayhem.
I tried watching "America's Got Talent" last night. I tried. It failed.
What ever happened to Joey Porciello? Wasn't he winning PASS races, like, two years ago? And for that matter, is Sammy Sessions just totally gone now?
I'm a big fan of the Mustang and the Challenger being in the Nationwide Series next year. Now, if only we could get Toyota to build a muscle car.
Keep your eyes peeled over the next couple of years for the following youngsters: Shawn Knight, Travis Stearns, Brandon Watson, and Aaron Bartemy.
There are only 33 entries for the Camping World Truck Series event at Nashville Superspeedway this weekend. Among them are superstars including Jason Young, Jason White, Ryan Mathews, Brandon Knupp, Tayler Malsam, Timothy Peters, Nick Tucker, Tommy Joe Martins, Wayne Edwards, Norm Benneig, and John Jackson. So enjoy paying $58 for a granstand ticket to watch that. Or, $111 for the "All Access Pass", whatever that is.
Congrats to Jim Rice. Now please go remind those Red Sox boys how to win games.
Didn't I just meet Richard Petty at Thunder Road 17 years ago?
Brian Hoar's ACT Late Model Tour win at Beech Ridge last weekend is significant for a lot of reasons. First, it ends Hoar's winless streak that dates back to a Busch North Series win six years ago, and finishes his nine-year ACT drought. Second, it solidifies Rick Paya's RPM Motorsports team with its new identity as a group that can win with someone other than Jean-Paul Cyr behind the wheel. Third, the win -- along with his performance at the Oxford 250 -- reminds people that Brian Hoar is, in fact, still one of the top talents in the northeast.
I think of Pete Hartt almost every day, and I find that I still don't want to sit in the spotter's section without him. Pete would tell me to grow up and get over it.
Gary Siemons flipping end over end at Bear Ridge -- think somersault, not cartwheel -- was one of the most terrifying and also one of the coolest things I've ever seen at a race track. Terrifying because the crash was so fast, so violent, so high in the air, and because there were cars racing underneath Siemons as he approached orbit. Cool for all of the same reasons, and for the fact that he plans to have the same car back this week.
Surprise of the year: Shawn Fleury is only 15th in Thunder Road Tiger Sportsman points. A close second is Tony Andrews being 20th in the Late Models.
I like the fact that the True Value Modified Racing Series is confident enough in itself to boast in its most recent press release that it is New England’s "premier" Modified racing series. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing by any means, I just like that the TVMRS has arrived at that point.
Who would have expected The Tragically Hip to sell out at an outdoor show in Shelburne, Vermont? Not me. Dude, the show at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington in October '07 was barely half-full. I won't miss the show in Albany, N.Y. this fall, you can count on that.
Hey, has anyone heard from Dan McKeage? Wasn't he supposed to race ten ACT events this year? He wasn't even at Beech Ridge, his home track, for crying out loud. And where did Jeff Zuidema go?
I miss watching Robbie Thompson on the track, and I think anyone that really paid any attention would agree with me.
The last time I went to Twin State Speedway, Joey Laquerre wrecked three times and still got a top-ten finish. The last time I went to Canaan Fair Speedway, I saw two drivers collapse because of the heat. And the last time I raced at either place, um, it didn't, uh, go all that well. Let's hope it's cleaner at Claremont and cooler at Canaan this weekend, and someone let the officials know that I should be kept off the track at all costs.
In 'The Juice' on June 10, we did this little thing called 'The Top Ten Through Ten', evaluating the ten best drivers we've seen with any degree of regularity after our tenth race of the year. We just hit race #20 last Saturday, so it mush be time for the 'Top Ten Through Twenty'. The criteria are: 1. Overall performance; 2. Comparison against other teams with superior or inferior equipment; 3. If you haven't raced at an event we've attended, you're out of luck, sorry. Here we go...
1. Dan Eastman, Thetford Center, Vt., Bear Ridge Speedway -- The first time around, we left Eastman off the list because he was winning races with five cars in them, which, really, isn't that hard to do. But the car counts and the competitiveness of those cars at both Bear Ridge and Canaan have increased, and Eastman is still winning. Ten times this year, to be exact. That's pretty stout.
2. Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass., Late Model -- You find a driver that has any more raw talent behind the wheel, combined with the guts it takes to run 100, 150, or 250 laps three-wide, and... well, you probably can't.
3. Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass., True Value Modified Racing Series -- We're continually impressed with Jon McKennedy's ability to win and his ability to use his head and save his car until it's time to pull the trigger. And at 22 years old, he's got all kinds of time to get even better.
4. John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt., ACT Late Model Tour -- For years, he was one of the very best Flying Tiger/Sportsman drivers on the track, and although it took a bit longer than expected, Donahue's beginning to reach the same level in the Late Model class. His victory at White Mountain was utterly dominant, and his Oxford 250 performance was outstanding.
5. Tom Placey, Bradford, Vt., Bear Ridge Speedway -- We understand that having a four-cylinder driver this far up the list might be unpopular, but just once, go and watch this kid race. He can be patient, he can be rough, he gives what he gets. And he's won four-straight features as of this writing.
6. Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt., Thunder Road -- A new car, a new crew, and a new challenge... and it's all clicking right now.
7. Reno Gervais, Island Pond, Vt., Thunder Road -- An old car, an old crew, and a new challenge... and that's clicking, too.
8. Brendan Moodie, North Wolcott, Vt., Thunder Road -- We remarked during a Sportsman feature at Thunder Road several weeks ago that our money is on Moodie for the season title, and there's been little indication that we should believe he isn't a threat.
9. Wayne Stearns, Thetford Center, Vt., Bear Ridge Speedway -- Maybe one of Vermont racing's best-kept secrets, Stearns has been running well everywhere he goes, and leads the Bear Ridge Modified title chase.
10. Tucker Williams, Hyde Park, Vt., Thunder Road -- Our comment the last time around was that we figured 18 year-old Williams' story would change. It has -- instead of one win, he now has five this season, including a 100-lap score. At this rate, Bobby Therrien's 2007 rookie records won't stand long.
Making this list the second time around was actually quite a bit harder, so here's an Honorable Mention list, too: Thunder Road drivers Craig Bushey, Jason Corliss, Cris Michaud, and Dave Pembroke; Bear Ridge Speedway drivers Chris Donnelly and Josh Harrington; ACT Late Model Tour drivers Brian Hoar, Brad Leighton, Scott Payea, Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., and Randy Potter; True Value Modified Racing Series driver Dwight Jarvis; and Oxford Plains Speedway drivers Mike Short and Justin Karkos, who each took three podium finishes in two days on Oxford 250 weekend.
AROUND THE REGION:
Time to take a look at the top Vermonters from the past weekend...
ACT Late Model Tour: Brian Hoar of Williston snapped a nine-year winless streak at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Me. on Saturday night, beating Eric Williams of Hyde Park, Cris Michaud of Northfield, Randy Potter of Groveton, N.H., and Ricky Rolfe of Albany, Me.
Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh, N.Y.): Mike Bruno of Castleton finished fourth in the Modified feature on Saturday night, with Sheldon's Aaron Bartemy eighth and Milton teenager Cody Benoit, by way of Fort Myers, Fla., ninth in his debut at Airborne; Benoit is the son of the late Dan Benoit, and grandson of Sportsman driver Bill Sawyer, each of whom is a past Airborne champion. Milton's Larry Underwood finished ninth in the Tiger Sportsman feature. Swanton drivers Kevin Boutin and Dave Rabtoy finished 1-2 in the Renegade feature, with Rob Gordon of Milton third and Mike Terry of Grand Isle sixth. Billy Jenkins of Milton was fourth in the Mini-Modifieds.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway (Malta, N.Y.): Friday's races were rained out for the second week in a row.
Bear Ridge Speedway (Bradford): Ryan Avery of Thornton, N.H. won Saturday's Sportsman Modified feature over Chris Donnelly of Piermont, N.H., Bryan King of Corinth, Thetford Center's Wayne Stearns, and Bob Shepard of West Topsham. Avery is the seventh different winner in the last seven Modified races at Bear Ridge. Bradford rookie Jason Horniak earned his first career Sportsman Coupe victory over Melvin Pierson of Topsham, Richie Simmons of Bradford, point leader Josh Harrington of Topsham, and rookie Billy Simmons of Bradford. Dan Eastman of Thetford Center won his seventh Limited Late Model feature of the season over Bradford's Jeremy Hodge, Will Hull of East Montpelier, Shane Race of South Strafford, and T.C. Forward of Lyme, N.H. Kevin Harran of St. Johnsbury earned his first Fast Four victory of the year over Sharon's Mitch Durkee and Andy Johnson of Wilder. Bradford Hornet driver Tom Placey won his fourth consecutive feature over Bobby Bell and Karl Sheldon, both of St. Johnsbury. Melissa King of Corinth won the Hornet Queen feature.
Canaan Dirt Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Friday's program was rained out.
Canaan Fair Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Kris Lyman of West Hartford finished second in the Pro Stock feature on Saturday with Mendon's Chris Wilk tenth. Bradford's Arnie Stygles was fourth in the Super Street race with Colby Hodgdon of Windsor ninth. Chris Riendeau of Ascutney won the Pure Stock feature. Chris McKinstry of Thetford won the Outlaw Mini race over Chris Lyman of Hartland, and Josh Sunn and Bobby Prior, both of White River Junction. Mike Parker of Bradford won the Bandit feature with Ascutney's Tyler Lescord second, Bruce Jaycox of Hartland third, and Quechee's Kyle Small fourth.
Devil's Bowl Speedway (West Haven): Kenny Tremont, Jr. of West Sand Lake, N.Y. won his fifth 358 Modified feature on Sunday, but was trailed across the line by Brandon's Vince Quenneville, Jr., Todd Stone of Middlebury, Jimmy Ryan of Whiting, Tim LaDuc of Orwell, and Rob Langevin of Londonderry, with Middlebury's Gardner Stone ninth. New Yorkers Derrick McGrew and Jack Swinton were 1-2 in the Budget Sportsman race over Seth Howe of South Londonderry, Hunter Bates of Middlebury, and Jon Bates of Mendon. Cale Kneer of Troy, N.Y. won his second-straight Pro Street Stock feature, with Fred Little of Salisbury second, Jeff Washburn of Benson third, and Chuck Towslee of Manchester fourth. Justin Perry of Hampton, N.Y. was fifth. Bill Duprey of Hydeville won the Limited feature over Dave Emigh, Lou Gancarz, Paul Braymer, and Garret Given. Justin Lilly of Castleton won the Mini Stock/Duke Stock race, and Mike Kiser won the Empire Lightning Sprint feature.
Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, N.H.): Peter Jarvis of Ascutney finished ninth in the Modified feature on Saturday night in his first start of the season at Monadnock. Putney driver Dana Shepard finished 12th in the Super Stock race. Joe Rogers of Ludlow was eighth in the Mini Stock feature, with Ricky Bernard of Whitingham tenth. Dick Houle of West Brattleboro was second in the 4-cylinder Enduro.
PASS North Super Late Models: Cassius Clark of Farmington, Me. won the Summerfest 150 at Riverside (N.H.) Speedway on Saturday night over Kelly Moore of Scarborough, Me. and Donnie Whitten of Biddeford, Me. Teenaged Danville rookie Steven Legendre finished eighth.
Riverside Speedway (Groveton, N.H.): Tucker Williams of Hyde Park won the Jake McDowell Memorial Street Stock 100 on Friday night over West Burke's Jesse Switser, Danny Doyle of Hancock, Dean Switser of Lyndonville, and Rick Utley of Wheelock. Steven Hodgdon of Danville finished fifth in the Late Model feature with Bob Ailes, Sr. of St. Johnsbury sixth, and Paul Schartner, III of Lyndonville eighth. On Saturday, Dilyn Switser of West Burke finished seventh in the Super Stock feature with Michael Smith of St. Johnsbury tenth. Andy Simpson of Lyndon Center won the Cyclone feature.
SCoNE 360 Sprint Cars: Clay Dow of Ossipee, N.H. won Saturday's feature at Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford over Shawn Lawler of Mason, N.H., Tunk Berry of Center Ossipee, N.H., Si Allen of West Windsor, and Mark Cole of Lebanon, N.H.
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl (Barre): Cris Michaud of Northfield won Thursday's Late Model feature over Tunbridge racer Doug Murphy, Reno Gervais of Island Pond, Trampas Demers of South Burlington, and Jerry Lesage of Winooski. Milton's Eric Badore took his second Tiger Sportsman win of the season, with Ray Stearns of East Corinth second, Middlesex drivers Shawn Fleury third and Pete Ainsworth fourth, and Brian Delphia of Waterbury fifth. Tucker Williams of Hyde Park earned his third Street Stock win of the year over Northfield's Jason Allen, M.C. Ingram of Essex Junction, Troy Gray of Fairlee, and Billy "Weiner" Hennequin of Morrisville. John Prentice of Northfield took his first career Junkyard Warrior win over Kevin Streeter of Waitsfield, Ken Christman of Cabot, Kevin Wheatley of Williamstown, and Kevin Dodge of Barre.
True Value Modified Racing Series: Thursday's event at Thompson Int'l Speedway in Connecticut was rained out for the second time this season.
Twin State Speedway (Claremont, N.H.): Rutland's Dallas Trombley won the Late Model feature on Friday night over Dola Holland of Ludlow; Chris Riendeau of Ascutney was fourth. Ascutney rookie Joey Jarvis scored his second-straight Modified win with Riendeau second, Nate Kehoe of Windham third, Peter Jarvis of Ascutney (Joey's father) eighth, and Leo Martin, Jr. of Windsor ninth. Mendon's Chris Wilk was third in the Super Street race with Russ Davis of Cavendish fifth, Dave Davis of White River Junction sixth, and Bruce Jaycox of Hartland ninth. Josh Lovely of Barre won the Strictly Stock feature with Tara Tarbell of Springfield third and Jeremy Blood of West Hartford fifth. Jeremiah Losee of North Springfield won the Wildcat race over Cody Small of Hartland, Rob Leitch of Cavendish, and Rob Olney, III of Ludlow.
White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, N.H.): Norm Andrews of Northfield won the make-up Late Model feature from July 11 on Saturday night, while Stacy Cahoon of St. Johnsbury finished fourth in the Late Model nightcap. Stevie Parker of Lyndonville won the Strictly Stock feature with Milton's Gordie Stone seventh, and Concord driver Rubin Call won the Strictly Stock Mini race.
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl in Barre welcomes NASCAR legend "King" Richard Petty on Thursday night. The ACT Late Model Tour and NEMA Midgets are at Twin State Speedway on Friday night, with regular events at Albany-Saratoga, and Canaan Dirt. Saturday has the Série ACT-Castrol at Autodrome Montmagny for the previously postponed Montmagny 250, while the ACT Tiger Sportsman Series is at Canaan Fair Speedway, the All-Star Race Trucks and the Canadian Super Trucks are at Airborne, and regular events are held at Bradford's Bear Ridge Speedway, Monadnock, and White Mountain. The PASS North Super Late Models are at Unity Raceway on Sunday, while Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven will have a regular program along with a 50-lap Enduro, and Thunder Road has the 25th Annual M&M Beverage Enduro 250 with $5,000 to win. Sunday also has the Bond Auto Parts 4-Wheel Jamboree at the Champlain Valley Fairgroudns in Essex Junction.
(PHOTOS: 1. Yeah, that's me in the blue #3, destroying myself at Canaan in 2002; 2. Danny Eastman getting it done.)