February is always a good month. In February we pass the ½ way mark of the winter season. Generally by now everyone has pretty much had time to hunt, vacation, attend banquets and either celebrate a great past season, or in some cases, forget about what is past and look with optimism toward the coming season.
Each February signals Daytona and the ‘unofficial’ beginning of the coming race season. Just the idea of seeing some racing after four or five months without it is enough to get the enthusiasm going. In an attempt to enter the 21st Century here at ACT and Thunder Road, I am going to try and write you some thoughts each season and post it on the ACT/TR internet site for a few days. Obviously, the winter quarter is the season of great expectation. Most race teams start looking forward to the Spring and a chance to ‘start over’ for another season. All of us pretty much do the same, although this has been a very, very busy ‘off season’ for us here at the ACT/TR office.
First we said good-bye to Justin St. Louis. Justin really missed the ‘pit side’ of the race business, and the 6-month – seven day a week schedule that most of the office staff keep during race season was not something Justin wanted to continue doing any longer. Who can blame him!!! Justin was a prolific writer and loved to write stories filled with facts and figures about your racing. He will not be easily replaced.
However, with the new season, we are very excited to have been able to bring back some old familiar staff to help with the ACT programs and the 50th celebration of Thunder Road. First, “Bubby” Wilder, the Chief Steward of ACT for 25 years, will be returning after a year off. Bubby started with Ken in 1960, was there for me in 1978 when I started at Catamount, and pretty much has been a part of racing for the past 50 years. He just couldn’t stay away for the 50th year at Thunder Road, and will be cruising the pits again in 2009. We also have been able to bring back Mary (Fitzgerald) Fortier, Carrie (Guyette) Mancini, and Laura Titus to their scoring seats. This will certainly bring a lot of experience back to our scoring staff, and will make things a whole lot easier.
Marvin Galarneau has joined the staff at the office this off-season. Marvin has been involved in racing beginning at Oxford Plains in 1961, and has been involved ever since. Many will remember Marvin as Manager of Riverside Speedway in Groveton, New Hampshire and later as Don Gove’s right hand man at the NEKC organization. Marvin will handle marketing needs and will also be an active member of the staff and officiating crew at Thunder Road and ACT. Nick Bigelow, an avid race fan from Lyndonville and a very informed statistician, will be joining the ACT staff this spring. Mike Rainville, from Littleton, NH will also be joining ACT in the 2009 season. Mike will assume some flagging and stewarding responsibilities.
This is going to be a special season at Thunder Road. In spite of the ‘doom sayers’ regarding the economy, we believe that short track racing should be one of the industries that does pretty well over the next couple years while we dig out from this global economic crisis. Going to the local short track races may be the only affordable and fun thing a family can do for entertainment.
Thunder Road 50th plans call for having two different Cup drivers race at TR in 2009. We have also invited many old time racing heroes to make appearances during the summer. We will be having three ACT TOUR events, including the return of the True Value Modified Series over the Mekkelsen Memorial Classic weekend; the Governor’s Cup and Milk Bowl will not be TOUR events, but they will take on some real importance. We will let everyone know whether they will be TR points races before the regular season starts.
There will be a couple of fireworks programs at Thunder Road unlike anything we have ever seen before at the ‘Nation’s Site of Excitement’. Incidentally, if you have not seen the Feb issue of Dick Berggren’s Speedway Illustrated, pick one up. There is a great story about what we all do at Thunder Road, and some fabulous photos. The Enduro will have fireworks of its own as we will post $5,000 to win in the annual people’s race.
Lots of surprises week in and week out will be the norm, not the exception this coming season. Fans, teams and officials are just going to have a hell of a good time this coming year at Thunder Road, guaranteed.
ACT LATE MODEL RACING
What a great year to be a Late Model racer. We just concluded a dinner meeting with some registered ACT crew chiefs last week and I can already feel the energy and excitement for the coming season.
Last week we had a ‘workshop’ session with New Hampshire Motor Speedway regarding the promotion and marketing of the inaugural ACT Invitational at NHMS during the initial NASCAR Chase weekend at Loudon this coming September. There is overwhelming support for this project with the NHMS folks and it will all start at the EXPO in Springfield, MA in a few weeks. Brent Dragon will be in the NHMS booth, Joey Pole and Cris Michaud will be in the ACT booth at EXPO. Next up on the tentative NHMS schedule for teams will be:
(schedule subject to change)
April 7,8 — Goodyear Tire Test
August 25,26 — Invitational Test and Tune —
Friday 9/18–5 pm– Registration/Tires/ACT tail gate party
Friday evening, 9/18 approx 8 pm – Infield Garage entry
(tentative race day schedule)
Sat-9/19- 8 am-Scuff/ short practice
Saturday 9/19 – Modified race-Truck race-ACT Invitational
Sunday 9/20 1st event of NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase
Beechridge and Twin State Speedway join the list of new tracks for 2009. Both tracks have hosted many ACT events in the past 30 years, but 2009 should be very memorable when the Late Models make their July and August appearances at these terrific New England race facilities.
Airborne is going to be one of the best treats of the coming season. The redesigned Airborne should provide racers in our region a very special track. It will be fast, smooth, wide and progressively banked. The addition of an improved pit road will make it one of the premiere stops on the TOUR for the coming seasons. Bringing back the historic ‘300″ will become the ultimate test of our teams and should provide fans from both sides of the border with big time racing on a state of the art short track. With tracks like Kawartha, Airborne, Oxford, Beechridge, Lee, WMMP, Waterford, Twin State and Thunder Road … this has the makings of a dream season for Late Model racers.
There will be a meeting for Late Model teams on March 19, 2009 in Burlington at the Doubletree Hotel. More info will be available, as the date gets closer.
The third year of the ACT Serie Castrol should provide our Canadian teams with one of the best schedules ever. The five tracks hosting the 2009 schedule will see a great mix of our veteran teams and the emergence of some of our younger stars. With the added incentive of getting a chance to race at NHMS in September, there is little question that our Quebec and Ontario teams will have a great season. I especially like the opportunity that our Castrol Serie teams have to compete at races like the non-point “Shoot Out” at Chaudiere, the Kawartha 200, both events at nearby Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh and, of course, the Oxford 250 and the Milk Bowl at Thunder Road.
We are very much looking forward to heading back to Riverside Speedway in Ste Croix. The fast 5/8ths speedway, under new management, should be a great addition to the schedule. The tough ‘250’ at Montmagny will test the best teams, as will the 300 at Ste. Eustache in September. A favorite stop is always the bullring at Chaudiere and this year should be no exception.
The ACT Serie Castrol is positioned to have its best season ever and the teams will have a vast selection of long distance, well paying events to choose from.
There will be an informal meeting with ACT Castrol teams at the Quebec City car show over the weekend of April 3,4,5. More info will be sent, as the event gets closer.
Beyond the information above under the Thunder Road section, the Tiger/Sportsman will have a series in 2009. With the cost of travel and uncertainty that the coming year brings, we will try and limit the Series for the coming season, but we do plan to give the T/S teams some organized events other than Thunder Road. We will discuss the details at a meeting for Tiger teams on February 24th at the Armory in Berlin at 7:00.
Street Stocks/ Warriors
There are some plans in the works for both divisions that we would like to discuss on February 24th at the Armory in Berlin at 6:00. At that time we will discuss schedules, rules, handicapping and other programs that we thing will interest both the Warriors and Street teams.
The office is busy getting things ready for the coming season. Please take a little time to fill out the various forms and registrations that are mailed to you as that will not only keep you included in the mailing list, added to program lists etc., but will stop the girls from complaining here in the office.
Tires will be available around the first week of April in all divisions. Early tires will be available for picking up at Thunder Road only. Practice and set up tires for Late Models should be available by the last week in March. Please call for an appointment to the ACT office at 802.244.6963 and Tina will put you on a list or inform you of the times for tires to be purchased.
Gas will become available at Thunder Road at the first practice.
PRACTICE is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14, 2009 weather conditions permitting.
Enjoy the remainder of the winter and we all look forward to seeing you in the spring.
Sources: ACT Tour PR