NHMS' Gappens "humbled" by MacTavish Award
SOUTH BURLINGTON -- A crowd of some 500 honored Brian Hoar of Williston on Saturday night at the Sheraton-Burlington Hotel & Conference Center, celebrating Hoar's sixth American-Canadian Tour championship.
Hoar, 37, captured his first championship on the series since 2000, driving for RPM Motorsports and car owner/crew chief Rick Paya. Paya previously won seven ACT championships with driver Jean-Paul Cyr; Cyr left the team after 2008 to drive for Joey Laquerrre and challenge for the track championship at Barre's Thunder Road, which he did successfully.
"The irony behind it all is that probably if [Cyr] hadn't decided to go with [Laquerre], I might not have the opportunity to be where I'm standing right now," Hoar said during his championship speech.
Jerry Gappens, Executive Vice President of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, was presented the prestigious Don MacTavish Award by ACT President Tom Curley, for the speedway's contributions to ACT racing.
Dover, Mass. native MacTavish, the 1966 NASCAR National Sportsman (present-day Nationwide Series) Champion, was killed in a crash at Daytona Int'l Speedway in 1969. MacTavish won his national title racing weekly at places like Catamount Stadium in Milton, and New York tracks including Airborne Speedway and Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Past recipients of the award include NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr., Thunder Road founder Ken Squier, Curley, and drivers Robbie Crouch, Jean-Paul Cabana, Hoar, and Cyr.
NHMS hosted the first-ever ACT Invitational in September during Sylvania 300 weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. As a result, NHMS saw an increased Saturday crowd of 40,000 spectators, and ACT and its drivers gained national attention throughout the year.
"(The ACT Invitational) was a win-win for both parties," said Gappens, who grew up around the short tracks of Indiana. "Any time you get an award with Bill France, Sr.'s name on it, and all the other great people that have contributed to the success of short track racing, is quite an honor. I appreciate short track racing and haven't forgotten where I learned the sport from the grassroots up, so to get what I consider the highest honor, other than being the champion of the series, is very humbling and very much appreciated."
Shawn Duquette of Morrisonville, N.Y., was crowned with his first ACT Tiger Sportsman Series championship. Duquette earned the title after a tie-breaker with St. Albans driver Jason Bonnett.
John Doiron of Berwick, Me., was given the ACT Crew Chief of the Year Award; Doiron coached his son, 16 year-old Joey, to the ACT Rookie of the Year title.
Tucker Williams of Hyde Park won the Dr. G.R. Nielsen Rookie Achievement Award as the top-performing freshman driver across all ACT/Thunder Road divisions; Williams, 18, was a four-time Street Stock winner at Thunder Road in 2009.
Cyr, of Milton, was honored with his first Thunder Road Late Model "King of the Road" championship in the track's 50th season. Thunder Road's support division champions were also honored: Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown (Tiger Sportsman), Gary Mullen of Tunbridge (Street Stock), and Donny Yates of North Montpelier (Junkyard Warrior). Rookies of the Year were Dylan Smith of Randolph (Late Model), Erik Steel of Barre (Tiger Sportsman), and Williams.
ACT/Thunder Road announcer Troy Germain was given the Ken Squier Award for his decade-long contributions to the sport.
Seth Leavitt of WCAX-TV Channel 3 was named the winner of the first-ever Pete Hartt Memorial Media Award. Mike McCune, Leavitt's colleague, accepted the award on his behalf. Hartt, the Sports Editor at the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, passed away in March.
Sportsmanship and "Most Improved Driver" awards were also given out in each division. Sportsmanship award winners were Chip Grenier (ACT Late Model Tour), Brooks Clark (TR Late Model), Brendan Moodie, Jr. (TR Tiger Sportsman), Mike Martin (TR Street Stock), and Ken Christman (TR Junkyard Warrior). Most Improved awards went to John Donahue (ACT Late Model Tour), Craig Bushey (TR Late Model), and Derrick O'Donnell (TR Tiger Sportsman).