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Date With Destiny: LeBlanc Hopes For Riverside ACT Event

- Justin St. Louis on 02 Jul 2010

GROVETON, N.H. -- Jean LeBlanc isn’t certain, but he is optimistic. The first-year Riverside Speedway promoter feels that it’s likely just a matter of time before his track has a date on the American-Canadian Tour schedule.

Under the leadership of LeBlanc this season and promoter Dick Therrien previously, Riverside has enjoyed a growth period since around 2007. Car counts are on the rise, facility improvements have been made, and the racing has been more competitive. LeBlanc is hoping to build upon a relationship he has forged with ACT and Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl director Tom Curley and land an event as soon as next year. LeBlanc already has his foot in the door with an ACT Tiger Sportsman event scheduled for October.

“I think the ACT [Late Model] teams would support a race at Riverside,” said LeBlanc, noting that the location of the track in Groveton, N.H., is approximately halfway between Thunder Road in Barre, Vt., and Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine, two of the Tour’s main hubs. “I think Tom thinks the same thing, and I think you’d be surprised at how many Thunder Road teams that don’t run the Tour would show up at Riverside because it’s so close and a lot of them have raced there a lot in the past.”

Riverside Speedway’s Late Model division uses a rulebook that allows ACT-legal cars to race in its weekly events, but most Riverside-legal Late Models use homebuilt, non-ACT-spec engines and are not able to race elsewhere as ACT rules govern every other Late Model track in the region. LeBlanc says that although the engine rules aren’t likely to change soon, his cars are moving closer to a full ACT rulebook.

“We use [ACT-legal] Goodyear tires and are getting closer to ACT rules, but there are so many of my guys that build their own engines for short money that I can’t outlaw them and mandate the ACT engine,” LeBlanc said. “But I still think we’d get plenty of cars and there’s a good chance we’ll get an ACT race soon.”

It’s likely that next month’s “Clash of the Titans 150” could be the measuring stick to determine whether or not ACT will be at Riverside in 2011 or beyond. The inaugural running of the race last August was a success by all accounts, attracting nearly 30 Late Models from around New England including Lee USA Speedway champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr., White Mountain Motorsports Park star Quinny Welch, and ACT Late Model Tour winners John Donahue and Randy Potter. After a three-car fight for the lead during the entire 150-lap distance, Helliwell collected a track record $5,000 winner’s purse.

The second running of the event is scheduled for August 15, and LeBlanc is expecting a solid encore. He expects Helliwell, who has supported several ACT events during the last two seasons, to race at Riverside this weekend in preparation of the Clash. Entry blanks were passed out to Late Model teams at Thunder Road in Barre on Thursday night, and the interest of several drivers was piqued.

“It looks like we might have to go to Riverside,” said Thunder Road standout Nick Sweet upon looking at the event’s purse structure, which again pays $5,000 to the winner.

Curley admittedly has a soft spot for Riverside’s tight, high-banked, quarter-mile layout, and sanctioned the track in the mid-1990s. The ACT Late Model Tour has held ten events there since 1993; defending champion Brian Hoar leads the series with three victories, while other winners include Brent Dragon, Jim Cilley, Jamie Fisher, Joey Laquerre, former champions Lance Ferno and Jean-Paul Cyr, and Dave Pembroke, who won the most recent race in 2004.

“I can’t say for sure that we’ll have race next year,” LeBlanc said, “but I’d guess that it won’t be too long. I hope we get one, I think it’ll be a good show.”

PHOTO: Paul Schartner (#4), John Donahue (#60), and Randy Potter (#02) battle at Riverside Speedway in 2009. The might have a chance to do so in an ACT Late Model Tour event as soon as 2011. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)


Feb. 13/14, 2011
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March 27, 2011
Waterford Speedbowl
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April 30, 2011
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2011 Schedule TBA

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