THE JUICE: Let’s Get This Right (And Left)
PHOTO: How would the ACT Late Model Tour do making right-hand turns? (Leif Tillotson photo)
-by Justin St. Louis
The idea of an American-Canadian Tour point-counting championship event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway changes everything.
It’s one thing to hold a non-points, non-critical, invitation-only event at the superspeedway. To open it up to everybody is a whole ‘nother thing. Last year’s ACT Invitational was apparently not only enough to prompt NHMS officials to extend ACT a return engagement this year, but maybe even two events in 2011, with one of them awarding points toward the ACT title.
While hearing all of this at the NHMS press conference, it got us thinking: If we’re going to change the scope of a local, grassroots Late Model series like ACT, why not throw more than one monkey wrench in there?
We understand that ACT did and will continue to do a respectable job keeping superspeedway modifications (and therefore extra spending) to a minimum -- as tour director Tom Curley did in the 1980s and ‘90s at places like Dover Downs and Sanair -- so perhaps Curley could take that mode of thinking and translate it to (drum roll, please) a road course.
As crazy as it sounds, the idea is not without precedent. In fact, Curley’s tours ran at the former Bryar Motorsports Park road course in the mid-1980s, which was located at the site of the current New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The ACT Castrol Edge Series races on the oval at Autodrome St-Eustache near Montreal, and the facility has multiple road course layouts, the largest of which measures just over a mile in length. The Sanair complex also has two road courses.
That’s all well and good for the Castrol cars, or perhaps a north-south combination event similar to this weekend’s Can-Am 200 at Circuit Riverside Speedway (which also has a road course!), but what do we do about the States?
Here’s a harebrained idea: The Burlington International Airport.
There are several possible track layouts, each with varying degrees of speed, braking, turning, and overall difficulty. I’ve taken the liberty of designing a couple of tracks myself (see the diagram). The red layout is a shorter, more aggressive track. If you add the yellow, an emphasis is placed on straightaway speed and braking. Note that both layouts utilize pre-existing roads, runways, and tarmac, including the chicane at the end of the yellow “backstretch,” and that there are obviously many more possibilities for track configuration.
The location of the airport, in the heart of Vermont’s largest population center, couldn’t be better, and travel is aided by Route 2 and the nearby Interstate 89. The airport’s parking garage is currently undergoing a major expansion and will accommodate 3,500 vehicles when finished.
Attract a big title sponsor like JetBlue, US Air, Delta, UPS, FedEx, or the Air National Guard -- all of which do business at Burlington -- and put up a purse of about $50,000 and start 40 cars. Use traditional heat races and the “plus/minus” handicap. Bring in an open-wheel feeder series or host an SCCA sports car event as the support show. Promote the race everywhere, offer discounts on air travel to race fans, give tours or sponsor exhibits or something, set up a midway with other attractions, maybe bring in a band or two -- make the thing a real event.
My guess? You’d pull in 10,000 to 15,000 fans, and you’d get people from all over the place that have never been to Thunder Road or Airborne or any other short track to see an ACT event. At twenty bucks a ticket -- in keeping with ACT’s history of low admission prices -- plus a bit of a local increase in restaurant business and maybe even hotel stays, it might be a good gamble.
Are there issues concerning air travel for the day? Of course. Scheduling would be a challenge, no doubt. But I’m guessing if a relatively large airport like Edmonton can afford to shut down and host an IndyCar event, then the relatively small Burlington airport can probably afford to shut down and host an ACT race.
Maybe I’m out of my mind, but it sounds like a great deal to me. The old NASCAR Busch North Series -- before it was ruined -- balanced short tracks like Thunder Road and Waterford with the Nazareth and NHMS miles and road courses at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. For a long time, that schedule worked out well, so why couldn’t it for ACT?
Like I said, if we’re adding superspeedways to the lineup, we might as well add a road course.
Okay, that’s my opinion.
AROUND THE REGION:
Time to take a look at the Vermont racing scene from the past week...
Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh, N.Y.): On Saturday, Brandon drivers Vince Quenneville, Jr., and Don Scarborough were seventh and eighth in the Modified feature with Todd Stone of Middlebury tenth. Joey Roberts of Georgia was sixth in the Sportsman race with Milton’s Bill Sawyer eighth. Kevin Boutin of Swanton beat Milton’s Rob Gordon to win the Renegade feature with Dave Rabtoy of Swanton fifth and Don Franklin of Milton seventh. Speedy Bressette of Castleton was third in the Mini-Modifieds. On Wednesday, Stone finished third in the Modified 100 with Scarborough fourth and Mike Bruno of Castleton seventh.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway (Malta, N.Y.): Castleton’s Mike Bruno was sixth in Friday’s Modified feature with Don Scarborough of Brandon eighth and Jimmy Ryan of Whiting tenth. Hunter Bates of Middlebury was fourth in the Sportsman race, and Bill Duprey of Hydeville was seventh in the Renegades.
Bear Ridge Speedway (Bradford): Adam Pierson of Fairlee was Saturday’s Sportsman Modified winner over rookie Jeff Elliott of Benton, N.H., and Jack Cook of Moultonboro, N.H. East Corinth’s brothers Melvin and Gene Pierson were 1-2 in the Sportsman Coupe race rookie Shane Race of South Strafford third. T.C. Forward of Lyme, N.H., won his first Limited Late Model race of the year over Troy Comeau of Rumney, N.H., and Bradford’s Tyler Stygles. Tim Hodge of Vershire won the Fast Four race over White River Junction’s Josh Sunn and Kevin Harran of St. Johnsbury. Bradford’s Tom Placey won the Hornet feature over Mike Ryan of Chelsea and Don Reynolds of Springfield. Melissa King of Corinth won the Hornet Queen race over Bradford’s Marissa Osgood and St. Johnsbury’s Misty Bell.
Big Daddy's Speedway (Rumney, N.H.): Kevin Chaffee of Orange was fourth in Saturday’s Sportsman Modified race.
Canaan Dirt Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Dan Eastman of Thetford Center was sixth in the Sportsman Modified race on Friday with Brookfield’s Chris Chambers ninth and Josh Sunn of White River Junction tenth. Sunn was the Mini Stock winner over Tim Hodge of Vershire, and Tunbridge driver Dakota Stender won the Bandit race with Mike Stender of Strafford fourth.
Canaan Fair Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Mendon’s Chris Wilk won Saturday’s Pro Stick feature with Kevin Menard of Sharon ninth. Bruce Jaycox of Hartland was sixth in the Super Street race. Tom Coates of White River Junction was the Pure Stock runner-up with North Springfield’s Rory Merritt fifth, Perkinsville’s Andy Merritt sixth, and Jamie Hodgdon of Ascutney eighth. Ascutney’s Tyler Lescord won the Bandit feature with Bradford’s Mike Parker fourth and Matt Sonnhalter of East Thetford fifth. Mariah Gray of East Thetford was the Daredevil youth runner-up.
Devil's Bowl Speedway (West Haven): Vince Quenneville, Jr., of Brandon won Sunday’s Modified feature over Marc Johnson of Guilderland, N.Y., and Don Scarborough of Brandon. Don Miller of Wells won his fourth-straight and seventh overall Sportsman feature over Middlebury’s Hunter Bates and Andy Durie of Stillwater, N.Y. Malta, N.Y.’s Jon Miller won the Renegade race over David Emigh of Ballston Spa, N.Y., and Frank Monroe of Granville, N.Y. Essex Junction’s Chad Brown won the Bomber Warrior feature over Fair Haven’s Eddie Bruno and Nate Woodworth of Essex Junction. Castleton’s Scott Atwood won the Duke Stock race over Cornwall’s Garrett Given and Erika Lilly of Castleton.
Empire Super Sprints: Anthony Cain of Fairfax was 12th in Friday’s event at Mohawk Int’l Raceway. Steve Poirier of St-Mathieu-de-Beloeil, Que., was the winner.
Fonda Speedway (Fonda, N.Y.): Dave Camara of Fair Haven was seventh in Saturday’s Modified feature, and Bomoseen’s John Scarborough was third in the 602 Limited Sportsman feature.
Lebanon Valley Speedway (West Lebanon, N.Y.): Bennington’s Hector and Neil Stratton were 14th and 18th, respectively, in Saturday’s Modified race. Chuck Towlsee of Manchester was 14th in the Pro Stocks and Jeff Washburn of Benson was 18th.
Modified Racing Series: Ascutney’s Dwight Jarvis was the runner-up behind Ken Barry of Preston, Conn., on Saturday at Beech Ridge (Me.) Motor Speedway.
Mohawk Int’l Raceway (Akwesasne, N.Y.): Todd Stone of Middlebury was Friday’s Modified runner-up, with father Gardner Stone eighth.
Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, N.H.): Josh King of Vernon was 12th in Saturday’s Modified feature and Windham’s Nate Kehoe was sixth in the Sportsman Modifieds.
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Kevin Lepage of Shelburne finished 37th in Saturday’s event at Iowa Speedway.
Northeast Mini Stock Tour: Chris McKinstry of East Thetford won Sunday’s event at Wiscasset (Me.) Raceway.
Pro All Stars Series: St. Johnsbury’s Steve Legendre was tenth in Saturday’s PASS South event at Newport (Tenn.) Speedway. Ryan Blaney of High Point, N.C., was the winner.
Riverside Speedway (Groveton, N.H.): Cody Hodge of Orleans was third in Saturday’s Late Model race with Jeremy LaCoss of Lyndonville fourth and Jesse Switser of West Burke fifth. Dan Sidney of St. Johnsbury was third in the Outlaw Sportsman feature. Lisa Hodgdon of Danville was third in the Angel race with Granby’s Allison Barney fifth.
Sprint Cars of New England: Kevin Chaffee of Orange finished third at Canaan Dirt Speedway on Friday with Si Allen of West Windsor ninth. Tunk Berry of Center Ossipee, N.H., was the winner. On Saturday at Big Daddy’s Speedbowl, Chaffee was fifth with Allen seventh. Donny Sharp, Jr., of Grafton, N.H., was the winner.
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl (Barre): On Thursday, Grant Folsom of Waitsfield won the Late Model race over Reno Gervais of Island Pond and Jamie Fisher of Shelburne. Peacham’s Tony Rossi was the Tiger Sportsman winner over Williamstown drivers Jimmy Hebert and Mike Ziter. Dave Whitcomb of Elmore was the Street Stock winner over Mike MacAskill of Williamstown and Garry Bashaw of Lincoln. Ken Christman of Cabot took the Junkyard Warrior win over Kevin Wheatley of Williamstown and Tommy Elwood of Morrisville. On Sunday, Taber Gagne of Swanton won the Enduro 200 over Terry Pearce, Sr., of Middlesex and Waitsfield’s Paul Dudley. Tim Campbell of West Topsham won the 50-lap Street Stock race over MacAskill and Bashaw, and Christman won the Junkyard Warriors over Williamstown’s Brock Parrott and Wheatley.
Twin State Speedway (Claremont, N.H.): Dallas Trombley of Rutland finished fourth in Friday’s Late Model feature, and Robert Hagar of Windsor was seventh in the Modifieds. Mendon’s Chris Wilk was the Super Street winner with Dave Davis of White River fourth. Kaitlin Stone of Jacksonville was the Strictly Stock runner-up with Kyle Davis of Pittsford third. Jeremiah Losee of North Springfield was the Wildcat winner over Rob Leitch of Cavendish and Tyler Lescord of Ascutney. Brandon Gray of East Thetford was the youth Sportsman runner-up with Stephen Donahue of Graniteville fifth.
White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, N.H.): Bernie Lantagne of McIndoe Falls was sixth in Saturday’s Late Model feature with Tyler Cahoon of St. Johnsbury eighth. Bradford’s Derrick O’Donnell was the Super Sportsman runner-up with Hyde Park rookie Tucker Williams third and East Haven’s Michael Moore fourth. Stevie Parker of Lyndonville was fifth in the Strictly Stock race, and Dave LaFleche of Graniteville was tenth in the Strictly Stock Minis.
Thursday, Aug. 12
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre -- 6:30pm (Regular Event)
Friday, Aug. 13
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 6:45pm (Regular Event, Sportsman 4x20)
Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 7:00pm (Regular Event)
Twin State Speedway, Claremont, N.H. -- 7:30pm (Regular Event)
Saturday, Aug. 14
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford -- 6:00pm (Granite State Mini Sprints)
Big Daddy's Speedbowl, Rumney, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Devil’s Bowl Speedway, West Haven -- 8:00am-5:00pm (SCCV Autocross)
Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Riverside Speedway, Groveton, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event, Clash of the Titans Time Trials)
White Mountain Motorsports Park, North Woodstock, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Sunday, Aug. 15
Devil's Bowl Speedway, West Haven -- 6:00pm (Pro Stock/Super Street Challenge, Renegade 50)
Riverside Speedway, Groveton, N.H. -- 1:30pm (Clash of the Titans 150)
ACT Late Model Tour: Sat., Aug. 14 -- Circuit Riverside Speedway, Ste-Croix, Que. (5:00pm)
Granite State Mini Sprints: Sat., Aug. 14 -- Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford, Vt. (6:00pm)
Modified Racing Series: Sat., Aug. 14 -- Waterford Speedbowl, Waterford, Conn. (5:00pm)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Sat., Aug. 14 � Darlington Raceway, Darlington, S.C. (SPEED/7:00pm)
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Sat., Aug. 14 -- Michigan Int’l Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich. (ESPN/1:00pm)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sun., Aug. 15 -- Michigan Int’l Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich. (ESPN/1:00pm)
Pro All Stars Series: Sat., Aug. 14 -- Seekonk Speedway, Seekonk, Mass. (6:00pm)