The Birth of the ACT Late Model Tour
The 1992 seasons saw another dominating performance from ACT Pro Stock Tour Champion Junior Hanley, who won his second straight championship. He earned 10 wins during the season including 3 victories in the first four events. Other winners included Randy MacDonald (4), Robbie Crouch (3), Dave Dion (2), Bob Randall, Kevin Lepage, Rollie MacDonald and Mike Johnson. For the second year in a row Hanley also set the record for the most money earned in a single season with $271,205, topping his $236,505 earned in 1991.
1992 was also the first year of the ACT Late Model Tour, which at the time was called the International Series. It was the third season of the International Series, but the previous two years it was run with the Flying Tigers. The Late Model Sportsmen were introduced in 1992 and Dave Whitcomb claimed the first championship.
Below are two pieces taken from the 1993 ACT Racing Guide. The first is a recap of Junior Hanley’s season on the ACT Pro Stock Tour. The second is a look at Dave Whitcomb’s ACT Late Model Tour “International Series” Championship:
“While Junior Hanley, the legendary outlaw racer, surprised a lot of people when he decided to run with the American-Canadian Tour in 1991, few, if any, were shocked when he elected to defend his crown last year. After all, there was gold in the ACT hills!
It seemed that the Campbellville, Ontario racer, with the reputation of being a bit of a loner, had found a home with the American-Canadian Tour and its competitors. He was often found visiting with other drivers throughout the pits and he even was behind several practical jokes on unsuspecting victims.
Armed once again with a potent Ford Thunderbird, powered by veteran engine builder, Ron Hutter of Ohio, Hanley set a blistering pace at the beginning of the season.
Ironically, it was a track Hanley had never seen nor raced on before that would allow the 1992 ACT Champion to wrap up his season on a winning note. After a weather postponement earlier in the season, Connecticut’s Thompson International Speedway again fought Mother Nature in mid-October. With the title secure, Hanley was able to concentrate on enjoying the fast five-eighths mile oval and enjoy it he did. Even though he looped his car on the first lap of practice, Hanley won his heat, finished second in the semi and led every circuit of the 100 lap feature. As he took the checkered flag the heavens opened up, perhaps sad to see the season end.”
1992 Point Standings
American Canadian Tour
1. Junior Hanley 2613
2. Randy MacDonald 2430
3. Robbie Crouch 2385
4. Bill Zardo, Sr. 2073
5. Brad Leighton 2030
6. Kevin Lepage 2026
7. Beaver Dragon 2006
8. Ralph Nason 1983
9. Roger Laperle 1927
10. Kim Wallace 1917
“Consistency and a little bit of luck was the name of the game in the Late Model Sportsman International Series in 1992. Dave Whitcomb of Essex Junction, Vermont was able to master the two segment “Monza-style” races and capture the Championship. Although Whitcomb was only able to nail a single victory, he successfully piloted his Pete’s R.V. Center Oldsmobile Cierra into top five finishes in half of the events and ran strongly at each of the five competing International Series’ tracks which ranged from Thunder Road’s high banked quarter mile to the 1.3km Sanair Super Speedway in Quebec.
The third season of cross border competition saw the Series expand to eight races in the United States and Canada. In addition to two events each at New York’s Airborne International Raceway, Thunder Road in Vermont and Sanair, single events were added at Circuit Ste-Croix near Quebec City and Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.
Nearly 30 Late Model Sportsman competitors traveled with the Series, however the pits often swelled to over 40 cars. Part of the 1992 International Series’ charm was that six of the eight events were run “Monza-style.” In these features, made popular by the legendary Milk Bowl at Thunder Road, drivers qualify for starting position in the first segment through heat races and a semi-feature. Then, the finishing order of the first race is inverted for the start of the second.
Whitcomb lead the International Series point standings early, but was overcome by the hard charging sophomore competitor from Colchester, VT, Brian Hoar. Hoar won two events and looked like he would be strong enough to take the title, but engine problems late in the season knocked him out of the running. He wound up in a tie for second with former International Series Champion, Brent Dragon.
Whitcomb plans to defend his International Series title in 1993 and compete full time in the Late Model Sportsman division at both Thunder Road and Airborne.”
1992 Point Standings
ACT Late Model International Series
1. Dave Whitcomb 436
2. Brian Hoar 399
Brent Dragon 399
4. Steve Miller 375
5. Red Mead 369
6. Dennis Demers 347
7. Jim Cilley 344
8. Norm Andrews 322
9. Phil Scott 320
10. Steve Renaudette 302
Sources: ACT PR