Friday, April 30, 2010

Vermont Motorsports Magazine Launches All-New Website

VMM releases new website, announces alliance with Times Argus

BURLINGTON, VT -- Vermont Motorsports Magazine has launched an all-new website for stock car racing coverage at The new VMM website is an easy-to-use, all-inclusive place for feature stories, on-site reporting, weekly columns, photography, video, and more.

Originally launched as a blog in February 2009, Vermont Motorsports Magazine has become a leading source for grassroots auto racing news, focusing on Vermont's weekly tracks and regional touring series. The new, built by Anthony Sweet Designs, has organized and streamlined VMM's coverage. Race fans will find the new website much more attractive and easier to navigate.

"I have been overwhelmed with the recognition Vermont Motorsports Magazine has achieved in such a short amount of time," said Editor Justin St. Louis. "The blog quickly outgrew itself and we found that functionality was decreasing radiply, so it was time to make a change for our dedicated readers. Anthony Sweet comes from a racing family, and he understood what VMM needed. I feel that the new website he designed will bring VMM to the next level."

Vermont Motorsports Magazine has also formed a partnership with The Barre-Montpelier (VT) Times Argus; St. Louis' popular weekly column will appear each Wednesday in the Central Vermont newspaper.

"It is such an honor to write for The Times Argus," St. Louis said. "To follow in the footsteps of writers like Dave Moody, Tom Herzig, and especially the late Pete Hartt really is a childhood dream come true."

Vermont Motorsports Magazine will offer on-site coverage of more than 50 short track events in 2010, providing in-depth coverage of events at Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl in Barre, Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, and Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven, events for the American-Canadian Tour and Modified Racing Series, and regional and national racing stories with Vermont interest. VMM also extends its coverage to social media including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

The new will debut Friday, April 30, as racing seasons open at Thunder Road and Plattsburgh, NY's Airborne Speedway on Saturday, May 1, and Sunday, May 2. VMM is online now at with links to the VMM blog, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages.

For advertising and promotional information, email or call (802) 355-3282.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Big Field Expected for Airborne Speedway Opener

(From track press release)

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Airborne Speedway begins its 58th stock car racing season this Saturday, May 1, at 5:00pm, and promoter Mike Perrotte expects over 130 competitors across five divisions.

“We had 90 race teams for practice [last] Saturday,” Perrotte said. “Our opener this Saturday is a Syracuse qualifier for the DIRTcar Modifieds [and] I think that will draw some extra cars that haven’t had much of a chance to race yet this year. Plus our own local divisions are looking strong.”

The headliner on Saturday’s race card, presented by Valcour Imaging of Plattsburgh and Hamilton Funeral Home of Peru, is a 50-lap event that opens 2009 Modified champion Martin Roy’s title defense. The Napierville, Qué., driver of the Gamache Truck Center No. 90 ran well at Syracuse last fall and seeks a guaranteed starting spot in 2010.

Roy is seeking to become the first Ernie’s Tools DIRTcar Modified driver to repeat as track champion. His opening night challengers will include each of the four previous champions: Leon Gonyo of West Chazy, N.Y., Mike Bruno of Castleton, and George Foley and Patrick Dupree of Saranac Lake, N.Y.

The J&S Steel Sportsman, Versatile Trailer Sales Renegades, NAPA Mini-Modifieds and Monster Energy Bombers will also be action. Gates open Saturday at 3 p.m.

ACT Post-Season Awards Top $100,000

WATERBURY -- The American-Canadian Tour sanctioning body will celebrate its 25th year in 2010, and is getting its race teams in on the festivities. For the first time, in the current Late Model phase of the ACT series, more than $100,000 in post-season awards will handed out.

“Our Late Model program has grown significantly over the past decade [and] ACT has tried to maintain the balance between keeping this division cost-effective, whether it is weekly racing or Tour racing," said ACT vice president Darla Hartt. "Most of our Tour competitors, and those weekly racers that have supported the ACT Late Model rules formula are primarily focused on winning championships, which is the way it should be. It is still great that we can reward the teams with some financial awards at the end of a long season of racing.”

Both the U.S.-based ACT Late Model Tour and the Canadian Série ACT-Castrol will pay their champions a bonus of $10,000 this season, part of a total of more than $80,000 in combined awards for the two touring series. The “King of the Road” at Barre's Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl will receive $5,000, with over $20,000 in total point fund money awarded to Thunder Road competitors.

In addition, the ACT Late Model Tour Racing Electronics Rookie of the Year will receive a $1,000 bonus, and the new Ford Blue Oval Challenge Cup program will make available an additional point fund of over $10,000 with $5,000 going to the champion among approved Ford teams.

“This should be one of the most exciting and competitive seasons in recent memory,” said seven-time champion Jean-Paul Cyr of Milton. “It looks like I picked the right year to return to the Tour. I have always liked a challenge and this year sure looks like it has all the makings of being just that."

The season gets underway at Thunder Road's Merchants Bank 150 on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Juice: We Need the Little Guys

-by Justin St. Louis
VMM Editor

Not having Eric Williams to watch on the track at the Merchants Bank 150 this weekend is a dose of reality. As the defending winner of the race, the Hyde Park driver certainly would have been considered a contender against the invading American-Canadian Tour teams, and as a controversial driver with a controversial fan base, Williams' character will surely be missed.

Williams' biggest issue in not being able to race this weekend was a lack of time while running the family business and building a Tiger Sportsman car for his son, Tucker, largely in part because he is struggling to find funding for his team and could not afford to take time off work to build his own race car. He realizes he's not the only one, too.

"I'd say that probably 75 percent of the guys running Late Models are going to find a bit of a struggle this year in terms of money," Williams said. "You've got your [Brian] Hoar teams and your other big teams that have enough money to have whatever they need, but the little guys -- and there's a lot of little guys -- are gonna have a hard time this year."

Tunbridge racer Doug Murphy, who stole his own share of headlines last year by running up front with likely the smallest Late Model budget under the ACT umbrella, said his pre-season practice session on April 13 may have been his only appearance of the year.

"I've got old tires and no money," Murphy said, leaning on the only open trailer left in the division. "I lost almost all of my sponsorship over the winter. The only way I was able to show up last year was by picking up my paycheck before I bought my pit pass and using that money to buy gas and two tires."

Murphy's thoroughly battered ride was among the fastest cars at the test two weeks ago, but he says that speed won't matter if there's no sponsorship: "If it comes down to making the choice between putting food on the table for my family and going to Thunder Road, well, there's not much of a choice to make there."

Middlesex veteran Dave Pembroke, who trounced the ACT teams to win both the Memorial Day Classic and Labor Day Classic events at Thunder Road last year, showed up with blank quarterpanels at the April practice and said he doesn't have any sponsorship names to put on them.

Even Milton's Jean-Paul Cyr has admitted that while he hopes to contend for his eighth ACT Late Model Tour championship this year, his schedule will depend solely on cash. "We'd like to run the whole schedule, but it all comes down to money and how we're doing [on the track]," Cyr said. "If we're doing well then we'll figure out how to keep going, but [money] will be tight all year."

A recent Thunder Road press release indicated that "over fifty" Late Model teams are expected to attempt the Merchants Bank 150 on Sunday. Given the anticipation of the season's first race, a growing interest in the touring concept from teams in both the U.S. and Canada, and the enthusiasm of the locally-based regular Thunder Road teams, it's a safe bet that around 50 teams will in fact put on what should be a very competitive event. The official ACT/Thunder Road roster is larger this year than in recent years, and sponsorship appears to be solid across the board, but the stories of local racers like Williams, Murphy, and Pembroke do cause legitimate concern.

A bump from 13 ACT races last year to 14 this doesn't sound like much, but increased travel that includes an extra trip south to Waterford, Conn., a new drive southwest to Albany, N.Y., and the long hike north to Ste-Croix, Qué., could be all that some teams can handle. Thunder Road's weekly Late Model program was stronger last year than in recent seasons, averaging 24 to 26 cars each week, but if the smaller teams begin to start falling off the map then the whole program will be in trouble.

It's great for any series to have marquee drivers like Hoar, Cyr, Joey Polewarczyk, or Brad Leighton, but when racers like Pembroke at Thunder Road, Jeff White at Oxford, or Guy Caron at Twin State begin to worry about money -- the strong local racers that hold their own when ACT is in town -- that's when we all lose.

Keep an eye on the "little guys" this year. We need them now more than ever.


Monday I was walking the dog in shorts and a t-shirt. Wednesday morning I shoveled a foot of snow off my porch. By Friday I'll be back in shorts, and by Sunday night I'll be treating the second- and third-degree burns on my neck because I was too dumb to bring sunscreen to the track. Ah, racing season.

Despite the snow and wetness right now, Thunder Road officials have told VMM that they "don't expect to be roping anything off" in the parking lots this weekend due to mud and standing water.

Joey Polewarczyk might have said it best: "One thing I know about Thunder Road from all my years of going there is that I don't care if the forecast is for 100 percent chance of rain. We're all going to stand there under our umbrellas all day, but we're going to get that race in. Tom Curley and Ken Squier will make sure we get to race. They'll find a way to get it in, even if it takes all day and night."

Temperatures are expected to reach the high 70s and low 80s by this weekend aided by wind and sun, so everything should be good to go for race time.

But still, wouldn't it be kinda neat to see a Junkyard Warrior slide off the top of Turn 1 and into a snowbank?


I'm sorry, were you expecting the Capitals to sweep it in four games? #GoHabsGo


Looking briefly at the national levels, Québec native Derek White, who competed with the Série ACT-Castrol last year, will be racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Kansas Speedway this weekend, while Shelburne's Kevin Lepage will head to Richmond Int'l Raceway with the Nationwide Series.

David Stremme and Vermont's Latitude 43 Motorsports finished 27th in the Sprint Cup Series event at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend despite a mid-race crash, and will look to break back into the top-35 in owner points at Richmond. Stremme's average qualifying position in seven starts at Richmond is a solid 20.6. Latitude 43 ranks 37th in owner points, 162 markers behind 35th-place Front Row Motorsports' #38 car.


We're headed to Barre on Saturday morning for the annual Thunder Road car show and parade, then up to the track for practice. After that, we're taking a trip across the lake to Airborne Speedway for its season opener. Sunday morning, it's back to Thunder Road for the Merchants Bank 150. We're hoping to see y'all there, but make sure to keep an eye on the VMM blog, Twitter feed, and Facebook and YouTube pages for updates throughout the weekend!



Friday, April 30
Twin State Speedway, Claremont, N.H. -- 7:30pm (Season Opener)

Saturday, May 1
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Barre -- 9:00am (Car Show -- Downtown Barre, practice at track at 1:00pm)
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- 5:00pm (Season Opener -- Modified 50-lap Syracuse qualifier)
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 1:00pm (Open Practice)
Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 10:00am (Car Show/Open Practice)
Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 10:00am (Car Show/Open Practice)
Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Season Opener/Modified Racing Series)
Riverside Speedway, Groveton, N.H. -- 2:00pm (Open Practice)

Sunday, May 2
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Barre
-- 1:00pm (Car Show -- Downtown Barre, practice at track at 1:00pm)
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 1:00pm (ISMA SuperModifieds)
Big Daddy's Speedbowl, Rumney, N.H. -- 12:00pm (Open Practice)


ACT Late Model Tour: Sun., May 2 -- Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt. (1:00pm)
ISMA SuperModifieds: Sun., May 2 -- Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. (1:00pm)
Modified Racing Series: Sat., May 1 -- Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. (6:00pm)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Sun., May 2 -- Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan. (12:30pm)
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Fri., April 30 -- Richmond Int'l Raceway, Richmond, Va. (7:00pm)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sat., May 1 -- Richmond Int'l Raceway, Richmond, Va. (7:30pm)
Pro All Stars Series: Sat., May 1 -- Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Scarborough, Me. (3:00pm)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Ain't Quite Ready": Defending Merchants Bank 150 Winner Williams to Miss Thunder Road Opener

BARRE -- Eric Williams is a Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl champion. He's the defending winner of the American-Canadian Tour's season-opening Merchants Bank 150 at the track, and won the ACT season finale at Maine's Oxford Plains Speedway last October. He's a winner of the Milk Bowl and Labor Day Classic.

And on Sunday, he'll be a spectator.

Williams confirmed to Vermont Motorsports Magazine on Tuesday that he will not be competing at Thunder Road in the Merchants Bank 150, an event that he and son Tucker made history at last year by becoming just the third father-and-son duo to win at the track on the same day.

"I just ain't quite ready," Williams said. "That's just the way things panned out this year."

Williams took delivery of a new chassis from Michigan-based Howe Enterprises during the off-season, but says the demands of running a one-man auto repair shop in sleepy Hyde Park and focusing on his son's move up to the Tiger Sportsman division this year have forced his own racing to take a back seat, at least temporarily.

"I got a good deal with Howe, but I was pushed into doing most of the work on the car myself," Williams explained. "It was a bad winter at the shop until a couple of weeks ago, and now that the racing season is about to start and the car needs to be finished I've got a lot of business I need to take care of."

Williams said he's been getting up between 4:30 and 5:00 each morning to work on his and Tucker's race cars before the repair shop opens, and that lately each weekend has had a pair of 12-hour days spent entirely on race cars and trying to secure sponsorship. The sale of his old Late Model two weeks ago put some much-needed cash in the racing account, hasn't afforded Williams any time. "The body is almost done, and I just need to build the ductwork for the radiator," he says, "but the [sponsorship] money wasn't there during the winter and I couldn't close the shop down for a day or two to work on the race car and get it done then."

Sponsorship has been something Williams has struggled to find in rural Lamoille County since long-time backer Unicel was absorbed by telecommunications giant AT&T and forced out of racing in late 2008, and a lack of financial support last year allowed Williams to race in only 10 of the 13 ACT events, forcing him to give up a chance at back-to-back Thunder Road championships.

"David Storey (of Second Storey Homes) helped a little last year and he might do a little this year, but we haven't figured that out yet. Ward's Systems told me they're going to help at some point, but they can't commit to what they did last year. Other people have talked and done nothing. Some of them, I've wanted to tell 'em to get bent, but I guess that's when my saying of 'keeping it real' kind of goes wrong."

For now, Tucker Williams will campaign a full rookie season in the Tiger Sportsman class with Eric helping as crew chief, but the elder Williams' car sits idle. He said he is "hoping" to make the Spring Green event at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., next week, but is more likely to wait until the May 16 event at Oxford to make his debut for the year.

"Everything happened late this year, I guess," he said. "Late isn't good for me, but it is what it is."

Devil's Bowl 100 to Count in Thunder Road Championship Chase

(From Thunder Road press release)

West Haven –- There will be a new challenge for the American-Canadian Tour/Thunder Road Late Model teams when they begin pursuit of the 2010 “King of the Road” title. With the announcement of the Sunday, May 23rd opening event at the newly renovated and paved Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, the ACT Late Models from Thunder Road have been invited to compete at the historic speedway. It will be the first point-counting event of the season for the Thunder Road Late Models.

An announcement by the Champlain Valley Racing Association (CVRA) in the fall of 2009 said that the Richards family ownership intended to redesign both their dirt tracks for the 2010 racing season, converting them to asphalt. Sister track Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y., was completed late last fall, and Devil’s Bowl expects to have pavement down by the first week of May. It was a natural for the most popular asphalt Late Model division in the northeast to join in the opening day celebration at Devil’s Bowl.

“We had already committed to run the ACT Late Model Tour at the Malta track, and with the increase of ACT U.S. events, we were in some kind of bind when we found out Devil’s Bowl was also going to go through a conversion to asphalt," said Tom Curley, President of ACT. “We very much wanted to be a part of the Devil’s Bowl program, and the Thunder Road group of Late Model racers have all had plenty of touring experience over the years, so this became very doable. There are a lot of excited teams to be able to open the big ½-mile, and that is good for Devil’s Bowl and for asphalt racing in the region."

Three-time Thunder Road champion Cris Michaud of Northfield likes the new twist on having the Devil's Bowl race points awarded toward the Thunder Road championship. “I think it is kind of neat that we get to open the new track. It will certainly be a change from the high-banked ¼-mile to the relatively flat half-mile, but it should be fun. Our team is looking forward to the challenge,” said Michaud.

The 100-lap event will be a Devil’s Bowl traditional Sunday early evening twilight race for the opening of the new facility. “We wanted to make sure we scheduled it early enough so that the traveling teams and fans that come and support our opening at Devil’s Bowl can get home at a reasonable hour Sunday evening,” said Jerry Richards, a CVRA partner and General Manager at Devil’s Bowl. On Sunday, May 23, front gates will open at 11:00am and racing will begin at 2:00pm for the grand opening of the new Devil’s Bowl Speedway. Admission for the ACT Thunder Road Late Model 100 lap event is only $15 for adults and kids are free of charge. All the regular Devil’s Bowl divisions will also begin their season on opening day.

Friday, April 23, 2010

0-For-2: Albany-Saratoga Postpones Sunday's ACT Season Opener

MALTA, N.Y. -- The American-Canadian Tour is having a bit of trouble getting Mother Nature to cooperate in 2010, and the season-opening race for the series has been postponed for the second-straight week.

Unfavorable weekend forecasts for the Malta, N.Y., area have forced Albany-Saratoga Speedway management and ACT officials to postpone the inaugural Albany-Saratoga 100 scheduled for Sunday.

A make-up date announcement is pending for the Albany-Saratoga 100, as is a make-up date for last week's rained-out New Hampshire Governor's Cup event at Lee USA Speedway.

The 12th annual Merchants Bank 150 at Barre's Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl becomes the new ACT season opener, scheduled for May 1/2.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hoar, Cyr Ready to Finally Battle for ACT Title

BARRE -- Goliath meets Goliath at Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl on Sunday. Williston's Brian Hoar and Milton's Jean-Paul Cyr -- the two all-time winningest drivers in American-Canadian Tour Late Model history -- will face each other head-to-head for the 2010 championship in the most anticipated matchup in recent memory.



Defending champion Hoar's 25 career wins top the all-time ACT Late Model Tour victory chart, while Cyr's 19 wins rank second. In 106 career starts, Hoar has 60 top-fives, 78 top-tens, and an average finish of 7.7. In 137 starts, Cyr has 60 top-fives, 86 top-tens, and a 9.3 average finish.

Hoar owns six ACT championships -- 1993, each year from 1997 to 2000, and 2009. Cyr's seven titles are an ACT record, having won in 1994, 1996, and each season from 2003 to 2007.

In addition to his ACT titles, Hoar was the track champion at both Airborne Speedway and Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl in 1999, was that year's ACT Overall champion, was the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Rookie of the Year in 2001, and won the 2006 New Hampshire Motor Speedway track championship.

Cyr won the Devil's Bowl Speedway championship in 1990 as a dirt track racer, won ACT's Am/Can Challenge title in 1996, is the reigning Thunder Road track champion, and is a successful off-road motorcycle racer, competing in the legendary Baja 1000 and Baja 500 events.

Hoar drove for his family-owned Goss Dodge team before joining Rick Paya's RPM Motorsports for the ACT championship last year. Paya was Cyr's crew chief from 2003-08, also serving as car owner the final two years. After a successful year driving for Joey and Jeff Laquerre, Cyr will race for veteran Gary Caron this season.



For one reason or another, Hoar and Cyr have raced the entire ACT schedule together just three times. As Cyr won championships in 1994 and 2007, Hoar endured tough seasons to finish a distant sixth each time. In 1996, the two entered the final event at Airborne Speedway in a tight battle with Dave Whitcomb. Hoar's car failed to come to life on the starting grid, though, and he was forced to watch from the sidelines.

"It's never really worked out," said Cyr. "The times he won it, I wasn't around. The times I've won it, Brian has either not been there or not been able to be up there with me."

Each driver won four consecutive ACT titles at different points, but each streak took place while the other was racing NASCAR. Hoar's 1993 and 2009 titles came when Cyr ran only weekly events at Airborne or Thunder Road.

"I think not being there at the same time as the other was good for our careers," said Hoar. "He made it look easy [in 2003-06], and I did in the '90s, but now there are a lot of new faces and it's going to be tougher. It's probably not realistic to think that we're going to be the only ones racing for the title, but it would be pretty cool."

And that championship in 1996? Cyr won by two points over Whitcomb. Hoar finished third on the trailer, 62 points back.



"There are a lot of things that have to go just right for it to happen, and I'm hoping it happens," Hoar says of a potential championship showdown between he and Cyr. "We're at points in both of our careers where we've each won lots of races and championships. The only thing we really have left to do is to beat each other."

"If Brian wins the title this year, he'll tie my record [of seven ACT championships]," says Cyr. "I don't really want him to do that. If I'm able to pull it off and beat him, it will personally be one of the more rewarding championships I'll have had."

That intense focus should not draw bitter conclusions, though. While fierce competitors on the track, the two are close off the track; Cyr and Hoar go motorcycle riding, go-kart racing, and snowboarding together in the off-season. Cyr also remains close with Paya, speaking with him "at least once or twice a week."

Still, the drive to be the best racer is too great to ignore: "Jean is a great competitor and a great friend, but it would really suck to lose to him," Hoar says. "It would suck worse to lose to him than anyone else."



Losing to someone else is a very real possibility for both drivers. Names dropped by Cyr and Hoar as potential race winners and title contenders included Scott Payea, Joey Polewarczyk, and part-timer Eric Williams, and both are concerned about Brent Dragon and John Donahue as championship spoilers.

Payea won the Spring Green 100 at Airborne and has finished second in each of the last three seasons, including to Cyr in 2007 and Hoar last year. He hopes that the potential battle between the two will work to his advantage.

"I'm sure it's going to weigh on Brian's mind and Jean's as well," Payea said. "That's fine with me. Let them have their own battle, and I'll go and try to steal the championship from both of them."

Dragon is also a three-time championship runner-up with nine career wins, including a score at Twin State Speedway last September and a pair of wins in Canada. Donahue won at White Mountain Motorsports Park in June and finished no worse than fourth in the final five championshp events of 2009, adding a win in the Milk Bowl and a fifth-place effort at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the process. Polewarczyk and Williams each had a win at Oxford Plains Speedway, and Williams also won at Thunder Road.

The list of top conteders -- full-time or otherwise -- also includes Brad Leighton, Patrick Laperle, Randy Potter, Dave Pembroke, Cris Michaud, Glen Luce, Jamie Fisher, Nick Sweet, and ACT newcomers Aaron Fellows, Travis Adams, Bradley Babb, and Chris Riendeau.



Cyr and Paya's long association creates advantages for both teams. Having won five of his seven ACT titles with Paya as either crew chief, car owner, or both, Cyr feels he knows Paya well enough to have educated guesses for each strategic decision Paya may make, but understands that Paya knows most Cyr's tricks behind the wheel, too.

"Rick is very clever, very methodical. He brings a whole different dimension to the Tour because he eats, breathes, and sleeps racing," says Cyr. "I've never actually competed against him because I've always been with him. It's going to be fun if there are any races where [Hoar and I] really running at par with each other. Rick has an advantage knowing how I drive, but I know his strategies. If he one-ups me I'll be able to look back at it and I'll know why and how he did it, but I think I can call his bluff, too."

Hoar doesn't see the Cyr-Paya familiarity as a problem. "I know I'm with a great team," he said. "Rick has had two very different styles of driver in me and Jean, and he's had similar results with both of us. The team does a great job, so it's up to me to work my [butt] off behind the wheel."

Cyr thinks this will be his best shot at challenging Hoar head-on. "I know the equipment he's in is great, because I used to drive it," he said. "The equipment I'm in this year is pretty aged and it's been around the block a few times, but I'm really optimistic. We tested at Canaan and I'm really pleased with how it went. Keith [Williams] and Kyle [Caron] did an unbelievable job putting the car together. It's up to the standards I'm used to. I wouldn't be racing this car if I didn't believe it could win."

(PHOTOS: 1. Brian Hoar; 2. Jean-Paul Cyr; 3. Scott Payea. Photos by Justin St. Louis/VMM)

Brent Dragon: ACT Albany-Saratoga Speedway Race Preview

(From team release)

Brent Dragon of Milton, Vt., opens the 2010 ACT Late Model Tour season in the Albany-Saratoga 100 at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y., on Sunday, April 25. The track was renovated from a dirt track in the offseason and made into a flat, .400-mile asphalt oval in time for this year, and this will be just the second event held at the new speedway. The originally scheduled season-opening NH Governor's Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H., last week was postponed by weather. Dragon, who has competed in the series since its inception 18 years ago, will be making his 175th career ACT start. Though he's yet to win the championship, the 3-time Airborne Speedway track champion has finished second in the final ACT standings on three different occasions and owns nine career wins.

WHO: Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt.
TEAM: Beverage Mart/Furniture World of VT/Charlebois Freightliner/Newton Pellets No. 55 Chevrolet
LAST RACE AT ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY: 2010 event is first ACT event at track

WHAT: ACT Late Model Tour Albany-Saratoga 100
WHERE: Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. (.400-mile oval)
WHEN: 1 p.m., Sunday, April 25

ACT Late Model Tour
NEXT RACE: Sunday, May 2, Thunder Road International Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.



Zero. I probably went there with my dad back years ago, but I don't remember the place at all. I really look forward to going, because it's one place I haven't raced at yet.

It's flat. Oxford (Plains Speedway) is as flat as anywhere we go; I don't really know of any flatter track than Oxford that I've raced on. I like flat tracks now -- but if you'd asked me five years ago, I would have said no. I've learned how to drive them a little bit differently.

You don't use hardly any brakes at all. I really am the kind of driver that wants to go as hard as I can into the corners and then get the car to turn and go again, but I've learned not every place works like that. I was following (Ben Rowe) in practice up to Oxford four or five years ago, and I realized what he was doing. That made a huge difference for me.


We've got an idea of what it looks like and what we'll go with for a setup. I'm glad we'll have a few hours of practice on Saturday to kind of figure things out. The gears are the biggest thing, probably, that you'll want to get right.

I like going to new tracks, so I like going to the races where it's new for everybody else, too. I think trying to figure them out is the challenge, and it's a challenge that I like.


No, not at all. We're pretty excited. We had everybody here at the shop again (on Tuesday) night, and we went through the car.

When the weather forecast looked as bad as it did (for Lee), I was glad they called it. When they called it on Friday, it saved us a lot of money in terms of travel and food.

We're just approaching this week like it's the first race of the year. It's like I told my guys, "Hey, we're still tied for the points lead. We came out of the box just like we wanted to, you know? We didn't get off to a slow start."

Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.: ACT Albany-Saratoga Speedway Race Preview

(From team release)

Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., will try and earn Ford Racing its first ACT Late Model Tour victory when he opens the 2010 season in the Albany-Saratoga 100 at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y., on Sunday, April 25. The track was renovated from a dirt track in the offseason and made into a flat, .400-mile asphalt oval in time for this year, and this will be just the second event held at the new speedway. The originally scheduled season-opening NH Governor's Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H., last week was postponed by weather. Polewarczyk enters his sixth season with ACT and has four career wins, including two at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Maine, and he has finished inside the top-5 in nine of his last 24 starts.

WHO: Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Hudson, N.H.
TEAM: Pole's Automotive/NH Precision No. 97 Ford
LAST RACE AT ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY: 2010 event is first ACT event at track

WHAT: ACT Late Model Tour Albany-Saratoga 100
WHERE: Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. (.400-mile oval)
WHEN: 1 p.m., Sunday, April 25

ACT Late Model Tour
NEXT RACE: Sunday, May 2, Thunder Road International Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.



Not at all. We're going at this weekend with the same attitude we had last weekend (before the Lee USA Speedway race was rained out). This is our sixth year on the Tour, and we want to be right there no matter what the track is. We want to go out and win the championship and get a win for Ford.


It's definitely flat. Obviously, on a flat track, the biggest thing is overdriving the corners. A big track like that, it's easy as a driver to overdrive the corner because you have so much straightaway speed going in -- and you overdrive the flat corner and go right up the bank.There will probably be a lot of cars racing single-file. It will be like a big freight train coming if you overdrive the corners.


I know that a couple of guys have tested (at Albany-Saratoga Speedway), but we're all still on an even playing field here. No one's really raced here, and I think our team really excels at taking on tracks that are new to us. Obviously, we would have loved to have opened at Lee USA, but we're just as excited about going somewhere new, too.

I think last year at Twin State Speedway (Sept. 4) was the last time I went to a track I'd never seen before. It was that mid-part of the season where we were struggling for some reason, anyway, but it was kind of where we got things turned around for us. We struggled really bad in practice, and I had to go through the consi to qualify. We started like 23rd or something, but we went out and finished seventh.

We're usually pretty close setup-wise at new tracks, and that's what I'm hoping we'll be -- especially with the long practice session they're giving us on Saturday. We'll be well-prepared, no matter what.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Juice: It's Head-Smashing Time

-by Justin St. Louis
VMM Editor

It seemed like it was only a matter of time. Patrick Laperle coming back to the American-Canadian Tour, that is. After all, it seemed like it was only a matter of time for his falling out with Tom Curley last September.

Laperle made it adamantly clear at the beginning of his career that he was going to do things his way, and to his credit, he has stayed one hundred percent true to that. Unfortunately for Laperle, Curley did the same thing twenty years earlier, and has stuck to his guns ever since.

The result? A total win-win for ACT fans.

There are spats between drivers here and there -- Brian Hoar vs. Mike Bruno in the 1990s, Hoar vs. Joey Polewarczyk last year, Cris Michaud vs. Brad Leighton the year before, and Laperle vs. Donald Theetge, well, forever -- but the rivarly between Laperle and Curley is a horse of a different color.
A battle like this gives fans something new to cheer for -- The rebellious cog upsetting the dictator's machine.

Curley, a fiercely independent Irishman from the Maine seacoast, is arguably the most successful short track promoter in the history of northeastern racing, and is in the elite crowd of the Bob Harmons, the Rex Robbins, the Hugh Deerys, and the Humpy Wheelers of the world. He has been called a maverick, a rebel, and, by his own admission in a Stock Car Racing Magazine article some twenty-odd years ago, "a pain in the ass." It's his way or the highway.

Laperle, a very focused, very talented, very popular Frenchman from suburban Montréal, has been a house afire since virtually the first race he ever drove at Airborne Speedway in 1998. He has won races and championships almost everywhere he's been from Québec to Florida, and is without question the most controversial racer in these parts.

When you put the two together, it's a recipe for a sort of magical disaster. The magic is in watching Curley set rules in place and create an entertaining racing product, and in watching Laperle at times make that product his own personal stomping ground. The two are among the very best in their chosen fields. The disaster comes when they challenge each other -- and they've been doing that since the beginning -- and feelings get hurt.

Remember, Laperle left racing full-time with ACT in 2005 and 2006 after repeated disagreements with Curley. He came back in 2007 and won the Série ACT-Castrol title, the ACT Late Model Tour title the next year, and nearly won the Castrol title again last season. When everything came to a head at St-Eustache last September, Laperle swore Curley off and said he'd be gone for two years, unless he felt like "smashing [his] head off a wall" again in 2010.

Apparently, it's already head-smashing time. We'll sit back and watch at Albany-Saratoga Speedway this weekend for anything that may or may not come out of the next chapter of Laperle vs. Curley.


Don't forget: If you can't make it to Albany-Saratoga Speedway this weekend (or even if you can!), follow VMM for raceday coverage of the ACT Late Model Tour opener, presented by RPM Racing Engines. We're here on the blog, but we're also on Twitter and Facebook!


How Hollywood-perfect would it be if Laperle was to win in ACT's first go at Albany-Saratoga this weekend?

History is a bit on his side, too. Of Laperle's 16 career ACT Late Model Tour wins, four have come in the series' first-ever appearance at a track: Lee USA Speedway in 2003, Twin State Speedway in 2004, and both Autodrome St-Eustache and Kawartha Speedway in 2007. He also won last year's Fall Foliage 300 in his first start at Airborne Speedway since the track was redesigned, and won the first-ever Coors Light 200 Showdown at Autodrome Chaudière in 2008.


Hey, if you haven't checked out the total facelift done on the new Big Daddy's Speedbowl in Rumney, N.H., you need to. Holy cow. Congratulations to Mike Rivers and his crew.


One more bit on Laperle -- We spoke with him again on Wednesday morning, and Laperle praised Curley and ACT for moving to electronic scoring this season. Laperle said that the decision to come back to ACT was helped largely because of the switch.


Kudos to both ACT and the Modified Racing Series on their decisions regarding the weather last weekend, for very different reasons.

Facing a total washout on Sunday, ACT and Lee USA Speedway called their event in southern New Hampshire off two days in advance. The result was a lot of travel, time, and money saved.

Up against the same thing in New York, the MRS troops tried to get their combination event with the Race of Champions Tour in at Albany-Saratoga, but were unable to do so. With nasty weather in the forecast on Friday, A-S management called Saturday's events off but played a wait-and-see game for the Sunday race, hoping the forecast would improve. It did, and they kept on schedule for Sunday and were even able to get a couple of heat races in. Unfortunately, the forecast is only a prediction, and the skies ultimately opened up anyway.

Valiant calls by both groups, we say. Pro All Stars Series officials have been blasted by fans and competitors for years over calling off events early due to unfavorable forecasts. They've also been blasted for waiting too long by the same groups of people. We're of the opinion that both ACT and MRS did the right thing -- an actually, so did PASS, having also been rained out at Speedway 95 in Bangor, Me., on Sunday -- by working with the options they had.



Saturday, April 24
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- 1:00pm (Open Practice)
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 1:00pm (Open Practice)
Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 11:00am (Open Practice)
Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 11:00am (Open Practice)
Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. -- 12:00pm (Open Practice)
Riverside Speedway, Groveton, N.H. -- Tire Sale & Track Clean-Up Day

Sunday, April 25
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 1:00pm (ACT Late Model Tour/Modified Tri-Track Series)
Big Daddy's Speedbowl, Rumney, N.H. -- 12:00pm (Car Show)
Twin State Speedway, Claremont, N.H. -- 12:00pm (Open Practice)

ACT Late Model Tour: Sun., April 25 -- Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. (1:00pm)
Modified Tri-Track Series: Sun., April 25 -- Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. (1:00pm)
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Sat., April 24 -- Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, Ala. (2:30pm)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sun., April 25 -- Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, Ala. (1:00pm)
Pro All Stars Series: Sat., April 25 -- Orange County Speedway, Rougemont, N.C. (7:00pm)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Laperle Returning to ACT at Albany-Saratoga

Albany-Saratoga 100 coverage presented by RPM Racing Engines

MALTA, N.Y. -- Come Sunday, Patrick Laperle's self-imposed exile from the American-Canadian Tour will be over before it ever really started.

Laperle, the 2008 ACT Late Model Tour champion and 2007 Serie ACT-Castrol champion, defected from ACT last September after a falling out with series president Tom Curley, threatening to leave the series for "two years".

A controversial move by Laperle at Autodrome St-Eustache in his native Quebec at the 2009 Serie ACT-Castrol finale left him penalized by Curley and ACT, effectively costing him his second Castrol title by just a single point to Donald Theetge. Laperle skipped the Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl at Thunder Road the following week -- a race he had won three times in the previous four years -- and the ACT Late Model Tour season finale at Oxford Plains Speedway in October.

Tuesday night, though, he told Vermont Motorsports Magazine that he'll be at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y., for the ACT Late Model Tour season opener on Sunday.

Laperle said he has little interest in racing with Curley, but feels competing this weekend is something he owes to his family team.

"I don't want to go," he said. "I haven't talked to Tom and I don't want to. My brothers Eric and Daniel want to test the car, and we're usually pretty good at new tracks, so we're going."

The Albany-Saratoga 100 is the first event for ACT at the newly-paved track. Laperle has previously won inaugural ACT events at Lee USA, Twin State, St-Eustache, and Kawartha.

"It's a track nobody has really been to, and we'll probably have a good chance to win," he said. "Beyond this weekend, I'm racing a dirt modified once at Granby this year, but other than that... when, where, we don't know.

"But we're going to Albany this weekend. We're not doing it for Tom Curley. We're doing it for us."

Monday, April 19, 2010

RPM Racing Engines to Present VMM Coverage of ACT Opener

RPM Racing Engines of Georgia, Vt., will present Vermont Motorsports Magazine's coverage of the inaugural Albany-Saratoga 100 stock car race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y., on Sunday, April 25. The race will be the first-ever event at the track for the American-Canadian Tour, and is the opening round for the 14-race asphalt Late Model series.

RPM Racing Engines is Vermont's top performance engine builder, specializing in stock car racing, drag racing, street rods, and marine engines. RPM is a licensed dealer of PowerMist Racing Fuels, Synergyn Racing Oil, and AR Bodies, and offers a full line of engine performance parts, service, and machining.

Vermont Motorsports Magazine is quickly becoming one of the northeast's leading sources for stock car racing news, and will provide online coverage of the Albany-Saratoga 100 through its popular blog, Twitter feed, and Facebook page.

"Vermont Motorsports Magazine is thrilled to have RPM Racing Engines come aboard for the first-ever ACT race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway," said Editor Justin St. Louis. "RPM has earned the respect of racers all over the U.S. and Canada, and VMM is working hard to do the same thing. It's a privilege to work with RPM Racing Engines." St. Louis also said that Vermont Motorsports Magazine will promote RPM Racing Engines through the 2010 season.

RPM Racing Engines is among the nation's top builders for short track, crate, and "spec" engines, with winning programs in place with NASCAR, the American-Canadian Tour, the Champlain Valley Racing Association, Bear Ridge Speedway, Canaan Fair Speedway, Devil's Bowl Speedway, Monadnock Speedway, Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Twin State Speedway, and White Mountain Motorsports Park. RPM is a top builder of NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series spec engines, and saw Andrew Ranger win six races and the 2009 Canadian Tire Series championship with RPM powerplants. Rick Paya of RPM Racing Engines is an accomplished car owner and crew chief, winning five ACT Late Model Tour championships with driver Jean-Paul Cyr and the 2009 ACT title with Brian Hoar.

For more information on RPM Racing Engines, call (802) 524-7406 or visit

Vermont Motorsports Magazine will offer on-site coverage of more than 60 short track events in 2010, including the Albany-Saratoga 100. VMM is online at and is also on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Modified Racing Series at Albany-Saratoga Postponed

MALTA, N.Y. -- The inaugural "East-West Showdown" for the Modified Racing Series and the Race of Champions Modifieds at Albany-Saratoga Speedway has been postponed by rain.

A tentative make-up date has been set for Friday, May 21.

Showers in Malta, N.Y., halted qualifying during the third of four heat races; RoC regular Pete Brittain of Oakhurst, N.J., won the first heat, with MRS rookie Norm Wrenn of Nashua, N.H., winning the second heat. Modified Racing Series officials reported that a combined 50 MRS and RoC teams were to attempt qualifying.

Ascutney rookie Joey Jarvis finished second to Brittain in the first heat, with his uncle Dwight Jarvis, also of Ascutney, in sixth place. The May 21 program will begin with a complete restart of the third qualifying heat.

Friday, April 16, 2010

ACT Opener at Lee USA Postponed

LEE, N.H. -- Heavy rains and an unfavorable forecast have forced the postponement of Sunday's New Hampshire Governor's Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway, the opening event of the American-Canadian Tour's 2010 schedule.

The ACT and Lee USA websites both indicate that the race will be made up, and that negotiations for a make-up date are under way.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Juice: Practice Was Actually A Lot Of Fun

-by Justin St. Louis
VMM Editor

For most racing folks up where we're located, this weekend is a big one. For Late Model fans, the American-Canadian Tour kicks its 25th season off at Lee USA Speedway on the New Hampshire seacoast on Sunday, while the open-wheel fans can enjoy the first-ever Modified Racing Series/Race of Champions Tour showdown at the all-new Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, New York. A bit further east, the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models open their North schedule at Speedway 95 near Bangor, Maine.

As much as we'd love to be in two or three places at once, VMM is headed to Lee to find out who the first qualifier for the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be.

Now if only Mother Nature can cooperate.


Getting back to Thunder Road for Tuesday's practice session -- strangely enough -- did this soul a whole lot of good. Yeah, we started the season a few weeks ago with an actual race at Waterford, but it was cold, windy, wet, and far from home. In fact, there was a pretty decent snowstorm that we trudged through on the way back north.

But the weather at Thunder Road was pretty close to perfect for mid-April in Vermont, and the ride home was about three-and-a-half hours shorter. In fact, I even got back in time for supper, in time to tell my new puppy, Witten, that no, this was my spaghetti, not his.

We got a pretty-much-complete list of the Late Models and Tiger Sportsmen that were there, but God help me if I was going to get all of the numberless and even paintless Street Stocks and Warriors.

Late Models we counted: Norm Andrews, Joey Becker, Cody Blake, Nathan Brown, Craig Bushey, Brooks Clark, John Donahue (two cars), Aaron Fellows, Jamie Fisher, Grant Folsom, Reno Gervais, Chip Grenier, Brian Hoar, Joey Laquerre, Cris Michaud, Doug Murphy, Scott Payea, Dave Pembroke, Chris Riendeau, Phil Scott, Nick Sweet, Dave Whitcomb, Matt White.

And Tigers: Eric Badore, Mike Billado, Jeff Bousquet, Jason Corliss, Josh Demers, Alex Ferno, David Finck, Shawn Fleury, Neal Foster, Kevin Godfrey, Troy Gray, Jimmy Hebert, Joel Hodgdon, John Lambert, Mike Martin, George May, Derrick O'Donnell, Matt Potter, Tim Potter, Ricky Roberts, Tucker Williams, Mike Ziter.


John Donahue had both of his cars at Thunder Road, including one with the new Ford crate engine. Donahue was happy with the switch and basically echoed the thoughts of others that have tried out the new powerplant.

"It's got a longer power curve," he said. "I feel like all my speed is at the end of the straightaway, rather than out of the corner with the Chevy motor." Donahue said he thinks it will be very interesting at shorter tracks like Thunder Road. He also practiced the engine at White Mountain Motorsports Park last week and was pleased with the performance of it there.


Our favorite Tweet of the week: "@LaxSpeedway: We are proud to announce that Festival Foods' Oktoberfest Bratwursts are the Speedway's official Bratwurst this year."

Gotta hand it to LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway for constant promotion. The Wisconsin track's annual Oktoberfest is a national short track happening, and to me, the Bratwurst thing seems like a fantastic year-long reminder of that event. (And honestly, who wouldn't want to eat a couple of those every Saturday night at the races?) Good work, LaCrosse.

It's been suggested that VMM should sign some sort of endorsement deal for an official food.

I wonder if I can get Mike Perrotte to get on board with this. Eight Airborne Speedway Michigan Dogs a week and you've got a deal.


Check out these cool videos produced by the Air National Guard in association with Vermont's own Latitude 43 Motorsports. And while you're at it, check out some cool videos we put together from Thunder Road.


An interesting deal: Jay Webb will be back behind the wheel of a Tiger Sportsman car this season. Webb struck a deal with car owner Chris Burnett that brings a new engine under the hood of the #19 car driven weekly at Thunder Road by Neal Foster in exchange for a seat in the car at the four ACT Tiger Sportsman Series races at White Mountain, Canaan, Thunder Road, and Riverside. Webb will also turn some wrenches on the car when Foster drives.

The Milton racer won the 1997 Renegade championship at Airborne and was one of the Tiger division's top racers in the early 2000s with six feature wins there and in long-distance series events. He and Burnett have each spent the last few years as crew members for RPM Motorsports on the ACT Late Model Tour, winning titles with both Jean-Paul Cyr and Brian Hoar.

I'll say it now: it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see Jay Webb snare a win or even contend for the Tiger Sportsman Series championship this year. On top of that, Foster made big gains at the end of last year, and his program should improve quite a bit more this season with Webb in the pits.


Notably absent from Thunder Road Late Model practice: Jean-Paul Cyr, Tracie Bellerose, Brent Dragon, Eric Chase, Mike Bailey, Tony Andrews, Rich Lowrey, Dylan Smith, and Tom Tiller.

That's right, Tom Tiller was not there. Come to think of it, he's missed the last few practices, too. Hmm.


The best moment from practice was a conversation with Cris Michaud, who has become a gold mine for instantly classic quotes. You see, Michaud is as much a hockey fan as he is a racer, loving specifically the Montréal Canadiens. (He's a smart man. Habs over Washington in six. Ovechkin who?)

While we can't reprint everything from the conversation, it started something like this:

VMM: "Hey Cris, how are ya?"
Michaud: "(Expletive) Canadiens... They can't (expletive) get one (expletive) win before the (expletive) playoffs?"

...and it went on from there. We feel your pain, Cris Michaud, we feel your pain. Hang on to 1993. It could happen again.



Saturday, April 17
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- 1:00pm (Open Practice)
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 12:00pm (Quarter-Midgets, NETS Trucks, Enduro)
Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 9:30am (Tire Sale)
Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. -- 12:00pm (Open Practice)

Sunday, April 18
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 1:00pm (MRS/ROC Modifieds)
Big Daddy's Speedbowl, Rumney, N.H. -- 12:00pm (Car Show)
Lee USA Speedway, Lee, N.H. -- 1:00pm (ACT Late Model Tour)
Twin State Speedway, Claremont, N.H. -- 12:00pm (Open Practice)


ACT Late Model Tour: Sun., April 18 -- Lee USA Speedway, Lee, N.H. (1:00pm)
Modified Racing Series: Sun., April 18 -- Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. (1:00pm)
Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Series: Sat., April 17 -- Can-Am Speedway, LaFargeville, N.Y. (4:00pm)
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Sat., April 17 -- Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Tx. (9:00pm)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sun., April 18 -- Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Tx. (3:00pm)
Pro All Stars Series: Sun., April 18 -- Speedway 95, Hermon, Me. (1:30pm)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

VIDEO GALLERY: Thunder Road Practice

Here are some videos of the pre-season practice on Tuesday night at Barre's Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl. The first video is a general recap of the day; the next two are uncut footage from our in-car camera experiments with Tiger Sportsman racer Eric Badore and Late Model rookie Cody Blake. Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We're Headed to Thunder Road Practice!

We're on our way to Barre for the first practice of the season at Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl! We'll have occasional updates on our Twitter page, with notes and photos coming tonight and tomorrow.

Grandstands are open to the public, free of charge. Gates open at 3:00pm, practice is from 4:00pm-7:00pm.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The New Devil's Bowl... coming together pretty well. We figured you might enjoy a peek at the photos of the recent and ongoing dirt-to-asphalt conversion process at Vermont's fastest half-mile.

Donahue Joins ACT Ford Blue Oval Cup Program

WATERBURY -- The American-Canadian Tour announced on Monday that Graniteville driver John Donahue has become the latest driver to join the new Ford Blue Oval Cup Challenge, a contingency program designed to reward teams using the newly introduced Ford Racing S347JR crate engine.

Donahue was very strong in 2009, finishing third in ACT Late Model Tour points. He scored a dominant win at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H., in June and finished the championship season with five-straight top-four finishes. He was also fifth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September and picked up a win at the Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl at Barre's Thunder Road in October.

"I have always been a Ford man, and it was driving me crazy hearing about all the good teams that have gone to a Ford motor program for the coming season," said team owner Kendall Roberts in an ACT press release. "I just had to get on the bandwagon. We plan to give Ford and our National Guard Ford Fusion the ACT title."

Donahue becomes the tenth driver in the Ford Blue Oval Cup program, joining ACT drivers Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Joey Laquerre, Glen Luce, and rookie Austin Theriault, Oxford Plains (Me.) Speedway driver Jeff Taylor, Lee USA (N.H.) Speedway racers Wayne Helliwell, Jr., and Mike Johnson, and Wiscasset (Me.) Raceway driver Jerry Williams.

Sacred Power Finds Value with Latitude 43


Sacred Power Corp. is riding NASCAR into the big leagues. This year, the Albuquerque solar energy company became the first American Indian-owned firm and the first solar enterprise to sponsor a NASCAR team.

Sacred Power logos adorned the #26 Ford in five of the top Sprint Cup Series races in February and March after striking a barter deal with Latitude 43 Motorsports, a NASCAR team owned by Vermont businessman Bill Jenkins.

Friday, April 9, 2010

ACT Invitational Increases Starting Field, Distance, Purse at NHMS

LOUDON, N.H. -- The American-Canadian Tour went big in 2009 with its inaugural ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In 2010, it'll go even bigger.

ACT announced on Friday that the second annual ACT Invitational will see an increase in its starting field, race distance, and purse on September 18.

The field will be increased from 36 starters in 2009 to 43 this year. Ten laps will be added, bringing the distance to 60 laps around the 1.058-mile speedway, and the prize purse has been increased throughout the field, from just over $65,000 to more than $73,000. The 2010 ACT Invitational winner will receive a minimum of $4,000; inaugural winner Eddie MacDonald won $3,500.

The race distance was increased to offer race teams the choice to make a pit stop. A mandatory caution period will take place between laps 28 and 38, and teams will be allowed -- but not required -- to change tires and make adjustments.

"This format really sounds like a lot of fun," said Milton driver Brent Dragon in an ACT press release. "I think it will certainly add some strategy to the race and make for some tough decisions about whether to pit or not."

ACT also anounced that over 60 teams will be invited to test and "audition" for a starting spot in the Invitational in August; 2009 "At Large" invitees Nick Sweet and Brandon Watson both finished on the podium.

Like 2009, all 14 ACT Late Model Tour events and all 11 Serie ACT-Castrol Edge events will be Invitational qualifying races that award the winner an automatic starting berth in the race. Also like 2009, four special events will award starting berths: the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic (May 30) and CARQUEST Vermont Governor's Cup 100 (June 24) at Barre's Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, the TD Bank 250 at Maine's Oxford Plains Speedway on July 18, and the third annual Coors Light 200 Showdown at Autodrome Chaudiere in Quebec on August 28.

In addition, the 2010 track champions and/or point leaders at Thunder Road, Oxford Plains, Lee USA (N.H.) Speedway, Twin State (N.H.) Speedway, White Mountain (N.H.) Motorsports Park, Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway, Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl, Capital City (Ont.) Speedway, and Kawartha (Ont.) Speedway. Each point leader or champion will receive a $400 bonus for competing at NHMS, and a $400 bonus will be paid for each qualifying race win.

"The great success we had with the inaugural ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last year has given us the confidence to invite several more teams to make up the starting field for this year's race," said ACT president Tom Curley. "We will soon be announcing another great promotion for all the fans that attend weekly affiliate ACT tracks and all touring events during the upcoming season."

Centre For Speed Brings ACT Late Model Division to Maritimes in 2011

SHEDIAC, N.B. -- Nearly a year's worth of rumors and talks were confrimed Friday: the American-Canadian Tour Late Model division is headed to the Canadian Maritimes. The Centre For Speed -- a 3/8-mile oval in Shediac, New Brunswick near the city of Moncton -- will introduce the division into weekly competition in 2011.

"The time is right for our race facility and race teams to join forces with what has become the most successful form of weekly and touring racing in the northeastern United States and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario," said Centre For Speed general manager Tim Wile. "We are happy and excited to be the first organization in the Maritimes to introduce this very successful type of Late Model racing to our region."

The Centre For Speed will become the 11th weekly track to utilize some or all of the ACT Late Model rulebook, joining Barre's Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, New Hampshire's White Mountain Motorsports Park, Twin State Speedway, Lee USA Speedway, and -- new in 2010 -- Canaan Fair Speedway, Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine, Waterford Speedbowl in Connecticut, Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts, and Ontario's Kawartha Speedway and Capital City Speedway. The ACT Late Model Tour and Serie ACT-Castrol also use the rulebook in the U.S. and Canada.

"We designed the ACT Late Model division with a high priority on weekly racing as a base to our business model," said ACT president Tom Curley. "The philosophy was, and continues to be, to provide a cost-efficient for race teams, tracks, promoters, and fans. We now have over 400 teams who use the ACT rules and we continue to enjoy expansion. We are eager to work with the Centre For Speed on this expansion project."

ACT, Thunder Road Announce 2010 Rookie Classes

WATERBURY -- The American-Canadian Tour and Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl in Barre announced their 2010 freshman classes on Thursday.

Six drivers intend to compete for ACT Late Model Tour Rookie of the Year honors, led by multi-time track champion Aaron Fellows of Croydon, N.H. Fellows has been a standout in Late Model, Pro Stock, and Modified divisions at Twin State, Canaan Fair, and Monadnock Speedways for several years. He competed with ACT in events at Twin State and Thunder Road in 2009.

Like Fellows, 17 year-old Chris Riendeau of Ascutney leaves behind Twin State and Canaan Fair Speedways to chase the ACT Late Model Tour. Riendeau made his ACT debut at White Mountain Motorsports Park last June, and finished 15th at Twin State in September. Reindeau was a winner in Late Models at Twin State and Pure Stocks at Canaan last year, and also competed in open-wheel Modifieds.

Other drivers contesting the ACT rookie title are 18 year-old Wiscasset Raceway regular Dave Farrington, Jr., of Jay, Me., Beech Ridge Motor Speedway standout Bradley Babb, 17, of Windham, Me., 16 year-old Austin Theriault of Fort Kent, Me., and Milton veteran Dave Paya, a regular at Thunder Road last season. Babb and Theriault each made their ACT debuts at Oxford Plains Speedway last October, finishing sixth and 18th, respectively.

Thunder Road's Late Model division will see hometown driver Cody Blake compete for rookie honors. Blake will drive a former Steven Legendre car owned by Mikeljon Mascitti.

The Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman class adds 2008 Street Stock champion Jason Corliss of Danville, 2005 Junkyard Warrior champion Mike Martin of Craftsbury Common, former Street Stocker Jason Allen of Northfield, former White Mountain Motorsports Park racer Alex Ferno of East Montpelier, and former Canaan Fair Speedway driver Brian Gosselin of Littleton, N.H. Corliss, Martin, and Allen each raced in a handful of Sportsman events last year, and Corliss finished second in the Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl season finale.

Junkyard Warrior champion Donny Yates of North Montpelier jumps to the Street Stocks full-time in 2010, along with former Warrior racers Alex Whitcomb of Montpelier, Keith Fortier of Hinesburg, Jayme Lee of Barre, and Mike Gay of South Burlington.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Juice: A Bunch of Random Stuff. Seriously.

-by Justin St. Louis
VMM Editor

April what? Feels like June. I'm in shorts and a t-shirt as I write this column, and my lawn is as green as I've ever seen it this time of year. By the way, this week's "Juice" has no real direction, but rather it's just a mindless collection of thoughts and notes I've taken during the last few days. Then again, I guess that's pretty much what this column is every week anyway. Enjoy.


We continue to watch Kevin Lepage in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Since missing the cut at Daytona, the Shelburne native has easily made the starting field in all four events, qualifying no worse than 28th in Jack McNelly's #56 MacHill Motorsports cars.

Alas, Lepage is forced to "start and park" his car each week due to a lack of funding. A botched sponsorship deal with distributor Revolucion World Wide and its START Natural Energy Drink brand left the team scrambling for money to go racing. McNelly is funding the now-sponsorless operation out of his own pocket at this point, and can't afford the costs accumulated by completing the entire distance of each race.

On Wednesday, this post came from Lepage himself on a message board dedicated to his fan base: "First of all, the MacHill Team is a better team then what I'm showing," he wrote. "We need to take care of these two cars so I can be at the track each week. Second, until we get a sponsor we will continue to [start and park]."


Go support the Autism Puzzle Foundation's "Casino Night" fundraiser at the Barre Auditorium on Saturday. This is the fifth year that the benefit will have the stars of the American-Canadian Tour and Thunder Road on hand to deal Black Jack, Craps, and Roulette, and it's a great time for a great cause.

Over 150 items will be auctioned off, including trips to Ireland and Las Vegas, and $1,000 cash. The dealers will be ACT Late Model Tour champion Brian Hoar, "King of the Road" Jean-Paul Cyr, top dogs Phil Scott, Robbie Crouch, Dave Pembroke, John Donahue, Nick Sweet, Joey Laquerre, and Eric Chase, and ACT/Thunder Road president Tom Curley.

Click here for more information.

We got a nice response from Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl race director Scott Tapley regarding our comments on Keith Rocco's restarts on March 28. After suggesting that Rocco was kinda-sorta getting away with jumping the gun a little bit in last week's "Juice", Tapley responded with this:

"No special treatment for Rocco, in fact, his first three restarts were perfect. Our rule is that leader must maintain pace car speed and the leader, and only the leader, well be the first car to fire at the restart line in the middle of turn 3.

"His next restart, however, was a brake check at the line (I know because I race direct at the line), and I immediately told our spotter official to tell Rocco's spotter that that was his one and only warning on the brake check. He maintained his correct restarts for the remaining restarts with absoultely no question in my mind.

"[At] our season finale last year ... Keith's team argued for "extra" caution laps when the rule is four laps no matter what ... because of our pit in/out blending problems. (Editor's note: Waterford has a very odd pit road; the only entrance from the track surface is a swinging gate on the backstretch that can only be opened by an official during a yellow flag period.) We went green at our normal four laps and it took the Rocco team 18 laps to complete the change. A broken track bar braket cost him the title, as he entered the event the leader. The team claimed that we could have provided a "courtesy" [lap] but I my opinion it would nullify any rule ever made.

"If you dont have ruling consistency than you have no crediblity, and I'm proud of the fact that I and our officials have shown that in our first year of operation, much different than the Speedbowl I attended when I first moved to Connecticut in 2005."

So there you have it. Thanks to Scott Tapley for reading VMM, and thanks even more for the response.


Sad news comes with the passing of pioneer racer Ronnie "Satch" Hunt on Easter Sunday. Despite his youth, Hunt was a top driver in the barnstorming days of the open-wheel Coupes in Vermont and New Hampshire, winning multiple features in the #59 and #60 cars at Barre's Thunder Road and Northeastern Speedway near St. Johnsbury. At the time of his first win at Northeastern in 1960, he was just 19 years old.

Satch owned and operated Hunt's Auto Repair and AKM Recycling in his native Franconia, N.H., and was an active member of the community; he had roles with the Franconia Board of Adjustment and the Franconia Planning Board, was a town selectman and firefighter, and was a member of the LaFayette Lions Club. He also attended the Northeastern Speedway 50th reunion last July.

Satch was 68.


That NCAA title was one of the best basketball games you'll ever see. And thanks to Duke, I won a basketball hoop of my very own. #bracketology


There's something about Dale Brackett that you can get behind. Most small teams -- especially when they're based more than a thousand miles away from most of the action -- don't make it in the big leagues of NASCAR. I don't know whether or not Brackett's new NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team will, but at least he's got the right attitude about it.

"We're trying to make our own opportunity here," he said after failing to qualify for his debut at Martinsville on March 27. "It's a huge jump from where we've been, and we know that. There's no real way to prepare for it. But you've either got it or you don't."

Amen, fella.


Some numbers from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this year. Just for fun.

Races: 2
Winners: Darrell Wallace, Jr. (Greenville), Max Gresham (South Boston)
Oldest winner: Gresham, age 16 years, 11 months, 4 days
Number of starters: 30 (Greenville), 26 (South Boston)
Number of rookies: 16 (Greenville), 16 (South Boston)
Average age of Top 10 finishers: 22 (Greenville), 21 (South Boston)
Average age of Top 10 finishers at South Boston without Matt Kobyluck (age 40) and Eddie MacDonald (age 29): 18
Drivers younger than Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., (age 20) at South Boston: 13

My, how this sport has changed.


Our many thanks to Dave Parker and Subway of Barre, Montpelier, Waterbury, and Northfield for the live updates at Hickory Motor Speedway's Easter Bunny 150, part of the PASS National Championship series. Dave made it possible for us to get photos, interviews, and mid-race updates from North Carolina (much as he did for us at New Smyrna in January).

Unfortunately our northern drivers didn't fare too well overall, but what can you do?

Tarheel racer Preston Peltier won the race over Jay Fogleman and young Ryan Blaney. Maine's Cassius Clark led a bunch of laps before finishing fourth and Ben Rowe turned in a "miracle" performance to finish in eighth place, but that was the best we could get. New Brunswick racer Lonnie Sommerville was 25th, with Maine racers Johnny Clark 26th and Ryan Moore 28th, New Hampshire's Brad Leighton -- who entered the race as the National point leader -- 30th, and Danville, Vt.'s Steven Legendre a crashed-out 31st.

We had it all covered on our Twitter page on Saturday, including quotes from Moore and Legendre, and photos of guys like David Ragan and Max Papis, who were moonlighting from their regular gigs as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers to have a little short track fun.
If you're not on Twitter, you'll be missing some good stuff this year that you may not find on the VMM homepage, like in-race updates, photos, quickie interviews, contests, and who knows what else!



Saturday, April 10
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 1:00pm (Open Practice)
Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 2:00pm (Open Practice)


NASCAR Nationwide Series: Fri., April 9 -- Phoenix Int'l Raceway, Phoenix, Ariz. (9:00pm)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sat., April 10 -- Phoenix Int'l Raceway, Phoenix, Ariz. (7:30pm)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Brackett Encouraged by Truck Debut at Martinsville

Despite failing to qualify, Mainer plans 6 more NCWTS events

STRONG, Me. -- Dale Brackett may not have qualified for his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway two weeks ago, but it doesn't have him down. In fact, he's thinking much more positively now than he was before the event.

"I was in the back of the hauler on the way down to Martinsville, really down on myself and doubting everything," Brackett admits. "But that's gone now."

The 31 year-old Maine racer took what he described as "a huge jump" by breaking into the Truck series. His wife, Valerie, purchased two trucks from Tim Bainey, Jr.'s team with the modest goal of her husband -- a former asphalt racer at Unity (Me.) Raceway and dirt Late Model driver in the Carolinas -- simply qualifying for races and getting approved to run bigger tracks.

During practice sessions in his first attempt at the Martinsville half-mile, Brackett was only about a second off the pace of eventual winner Kevin Harvick and point leader Timothy Peters. Even better, in Brackett's mind, is the fact that his truck was not in faster "qualifying trim" while virtually every other truck was.

Brackett has made some connections that he thinks will help, including former Truck and Nationwide Series champion Johnny Benson.

"My crew chief is Shain Romanoski, and his brother Vern races [ISMA] Supermodifieds. Johnny Benson is into the Supers, and we've gotten to know him pretty well throught that. He's helped us a bit," said Brackett. "We ask a lot of questions. We've got a huge learning curve and the guys on the team are all volunteers. They all bought their own NASCAR licenses at $550 each, they paid for their own drug tests, and they took time off work and used up vacation days just to go to Martinsville."

Brackett fell victim to the NASCAR rulebook when qualifying was cancelled by rain, and as a first-timer with the series and no provisional starting spot to fall back on, he was sent home to Maine.

But, Brackett and his team came back with confidence. "We belong there," he said. "We have good equipment and we ran well. We have a ton of passion, focus, and determination, as corny as that sounds. We're hoping that [NASCAR, teams, and sponsors] will take us as seriously as we take it."

Brackett finshed 12th in the first leg of the five-race Pro All Stars Series National Championship at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida in January, but decided after Martinsville that he will forgo his plans to complete the entire PASS National schedule; he did not make the trip to Hickory, N.C., for last weekend's Easter Bunny 150. Instead, he will focus on returning to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in six more events: Dover Int'l Speedway (May 14), O'Reilly Raceway Park (July 23), Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 18), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 18), a return trip to Martinsville (Oct. 23), and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19.

"We're running Homestead so that NASCAR can hopefully declare us eligible to run the superspeedways," Brackett explained. "I don't want to be a big talker, and it all depends on sponsorship of course, but we're looking at racing the full schedule in 2011."

He said he is still considering running occasional PASS events this season, including the PASS North opener at Speedway 95 in Bangor, Me., on April 18.

Brackett understands that his goals are big, but he says he and his team are willing to work hard to find out what they're made of.

"We're trying to make our own opportunity here. It's a huge jump from where we've been, and we know that. There's no real way to prepare for it," he says. "But you've either got it or you don't."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

YEAR OF THE DRAGON: Brent Dragon Sets Sights on First ACT Championship

(From team press release)

MILTON, Vt. -- The goal is simple for a driver who carries a surname synonymous with stock car racing in the region. Brent Dragon wants to win the ACT Late Model Tour championship in 2010.

"It's been that way for the last 25 years it seems," Dragon said recently.

This year, though, there is even more optimism coming from the Dragon race shop than in offseasons past. For starters, Dragon finished the 2009 season as one of the hottest Late Model drivers in New England, winning three times after June 1 and finishing fifth in the final ACT standings.

Dragon, who has been on the tour since its inception 18 years ago, has three times been the ACT bridesmaid. He's started more ACT races than any driver in history and owns nine career victories on tour. The son of Beaver Dragon and nephew of Bobby Dragon, Brent believes that last year's strong finish could lead to this year finally being his year.

"This will be the first year in about six years that we haven't started with a new car," Dragon said. "We were really good from about midseason on last year, and we have our notes to go back to this year."

Those notes should translate into a stout race car. With a chance to win both the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway and the prestigious Milk Bowl at Thunder Road International Speedbowl, as well as being one of the first invitees to the inaugural ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, Dragon was among Late Model racing's elite performers a year ago.

To help his No. 55 team clear the hurdle and finish the job with more wins and that elusive championship, Dragon's employed the help of noted northeast crew member Buster Bean. Though it's not full-time help at the shop, Dragon believes delegating responsibility to crew members other than just himself will pay off.

"We already have a good tire guy in Steve More, too, so Steve's moved into the crew chief role for us now," Dragon said. "Buster's going to work with us and help us on that end if we have questions.

"I used to do everything myself, but it's just gotten to a point where it's harder to do that. It started to work better with Steve taking over some of that responsibility last year. We're looking forward to having Buster now and Steve as the crew chief and then all of the same guys back again on the crew."

Dragon plans to run the complete 14-race ACT schedule, as well as open Late Model events like the Oxford 250 and the Milk Bowl, as well as the Showdown at Chaudiere (Que.) 200 and the ACT Invitational at NHMS. Toss in select ACT Castrol Series races north of the border, and Dragon expects a busy summer to top out with 22-24 races.

But the most important of the races on such a tight schedule are the first ones. The ACT Late Model Tour features five races in less than a month's time from April 18-May 16.

"You've absolutely got to start the year off right," said Dragon, a three-time Late Model champion at the old Airborne Speedway. "We always seem to start off slow, and it always seemed to be because we were starting off the year with a new car -- and you've really got to start off those first two or three races really good.

"I haven't. I haven't done that for years. We always seem to get going later in the year -- but hopefully because we finished so strong last year and we're bringing back the same car with all those notes to work from, we should be pretty close (to a winning setup) when we get to the track."

Get off on the right foot, and Dragon could finally hoist that ACT championship trophy high overhead.

(Photo by Leif Tillotson)