-by Justin St. Louis
VMM Editor

Howdy, campers! I understand that it’s been way too long since the last “Juice” and for that I apologize. On second thought, many of you might be thrilled that it’s taken me a month to write a column. Either way, here we go. Lots to catch up on.


First and foremost, Speedweeks: I had a freaking blast!

Thanks to our good buddy Eric LaFleche over at Victory Lane Forum/Radio/Photos/Everything, I got to view the East Coast from the passenger’s seat of a Chevy Impala on the way down. After each paying $47,000 and surrendering our first-born children to pay the road tolls in New Jersey, everything was smooth sailing. I left Burlington, Vt., at 3:00pm on Thursday and we pulled into New Smyrna Speedway’s parking lot at 2:00pm on Friday, which ain’t half bad. Had we not stopped in Emporia, Va., or at a Waffle House in Georgia, we’d have been there just a little after noon, and that’s gettin’ it done. The ride back was just as great.

Okay, fine, the racing.

In my opinion, if the American-Canadian Tour isn’t invited back to New Smyrna Speedway next year for at least a three-night run at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, then we all might as well pack up our tents and forget about this silly racing business. The atmosphere in the pit area was exciting, the ACT cars and teams looked as good as ever, and the racing was superior to anything else running at New Smyrna on the two nights VMM took part in it.

Don’t misunderstand me, there was good racing in a few of the other divisions running, but ACT was the only class capable of using the outside lane as a place to pass cars. The fans cheered for 28 drivers they didn’t know, and the whole series — teams, drivers, officials, and the overall product — represented itself perfectly.

Tom Curley lived up to his billing, losing his voice before the feature started on Sunday night. Seeing the reactions on the faces of new competitors from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Ontario (plus the 100 or more curious racers and fans from across the country that were interested) during Curley’s pit meetings was by itself worth the trip. His shtick involving two die-cast race cars demonstrating how not to race — something the ACT boss developed a few years back — produced emotions ranging from laughter to anger to confusion. When the newbies asked, “What the hell is wrong with this guy?” and the Tour regulars replied with, “Oh that’s nothing, you should see him when he gets on a roll,” it only added to the intrigue.

You’ve read the stories and heard the radio broadcasts, so I won’t bore you with details again, but overall the ACT part of the trip was outstanding.

I will recommend getting to Volusia Speedway Park for a dirt race any time you ever get the chance. Full of Chinese delivery and on a 36-hour sleepless bender, I decided the day we arrived to go see the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars and UMP Modifieds at the DIRTcar Nationals. Again, the stories have been told about the racing, but what I saw was a first-class organization running a first-class event at a first-class short track. The WoO drivers and teams are just as accessible at their events as anyone you see competing at Thunder Road or Bear Ridge or Devil’s Bowl: Buy a pit pass, and you’re right there among them.

I will also recommend seeing Daytona International Speedway, the most hallowed ground in stock car racing. We didn’t plan on going to Daytona, but the right connections were made and we took in NASCAR’s Budweiser Shootout and the ARCA Racing Series race. The speed, the sound, the total sensory overload… Just awesome. And as you can see by the photo at the top of this article, the weather wasn’t awful.

I can’t wait for next February.


The news that Bear Ridge Speedway’s Sportsman Modifieds will compete under DIRTcar sanction in 2011-2013 is good news for the region’s dirt racers. The DIRTcar organization (as I just gushed in the Volusia paragraph) is a top-shelf group and their name lends instant credibility to Bear Ridge. That the racers will compete for at least a couple thousand dollars more than they’re used to and the eligibility to compete for a national “Mr. DIRTcar” championship only adds to the fun.

A couple of slight rule changes — primarily the switch from Goodyear tires to DIRTcar-approved Hoosier rubber and a change in exhaust headers — will allow Bear Ridge teams to compete for national Sportsman Modified points at any track running the division, meaning if a driver wanted to gain extra DIRTcar points at Mohawk Int’l Raceway on a Friday night or run a special event at Lebanon Valley Speedway or anywhere else in New York or Canada or beyond, they’ll be able to. At the same time, an outside driver could come and try their hand against Bear Ridge’s ever-growing fields of competitive cars and gain points of their own.

Mike Dunn, who will enter his third season of Modified racing this year is one of the up-and-coming drivers who along with youngsters like Justin Comes, Jason Gray, Travis Shinn, and 2010 Bear Ridge champion Adam Pierson, could play a role in the Mr. DIRTcar standings. Dunn likes the fact that the DIRTcar name will bring more attention to Bear Ridge Speedway and its drivers.

“We try to get out to New York State in the fall and do some racing out there against a lot of the bigger money teams that all run under the DIRTcar banner. It’s kind of giving us guys up here a little recognition [having the DIRTcar sanction], and the more recognition the better,” said Dunn. “We’ve been out there, we’ve run with them before, but it gives us a little bit more of a level playing field as far as everybody else is concerned.”

“Usually when you’re up here you get [to race at] three or four tracks and that’s it. You don’t get to go anywhere or see your name,” Gray agreed. “Once in a while on the Bicknell website if you win or something you get your name on there, but it wouldn’t get out in, like, Area Auto Racing News that much.”

Dunn also thinks that attracting DIRTcar teams from outside the regular Bear Ridge nucleus might be fun; he expects that the high-dollar teams may liken the Bradford track to shooting fish in the proverbial barrel, and as an easy place to collect a quick victory. Not so, says Dunn.

“Some of these tracks out in New York State that are closer to us will have a week off, and some of the guys will want to come up and think that they’re going to be cherry picking wins. When they get up here they’re going to be up against, I think, fifteen to twenty cars that could win at Bradford most every week,” Dunn challenged. “Some of those guys from down south, like Johnny Scarborough for instance, will maybe want to come up and cherry pick one. I’ll just wish them luck, because I don’t think they’ve got a chance. Some of the tracks that we’ve been to in western New York State, they have five good cars and ten mid-packers, where at Bradford, like I said, I think there’s fifteen to twenty good cars any given night. It’s tough competition and people don’t understand that. With this DIRTcar thing, I think it could give some of our guys a little bit more recognition for the level of competition.”


Quick stuff:

–Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven has announced that it will run the Pro Late Model division weekly in 2011. The division raced six times last summer and was scheduled to run bi-weekly this year, but interest has increased and the class will be on every Sunday card. The division will begin a transitional phase this year form the dirt-style Pro Stock rules package to the asphalt-style ACT Late Model template.

–Barre’s Thunder Road is going to bring in more special events this year than in past years. Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., announced that its Renegade division will compete at Thunder Road on August 11, and the Northeast Midget Association (NEMA) has Thunder Road listed on its schedule as a “tentative” venue on May 29.

–Thanks to everyone who signed up for the VMM Yahoo! NASCAR fantasy league. You can still sign up and play in time for Phoenix this weekend or at any point during the year! Although I won’t apologize for dominating the Daytona 500, I will point out that I rarely do well in fantasy leagues and you shouldn’t worry about losing to me for much longer.

The top 10 in points after Daytona:
1. Mitch Fantastic Racing — 316
2. Amp It Up — 298
3. Hold On Grandma — 294
4. Team Hill — 290
5. dmc3297 — 286
6. GWCnewengland — 278
7. essexcadet — 276
8. Maine-e-ACTs — 274
9. ThunderStorm Racing — 272
10. ACT77MA — 266

Want to sign up? Click here! The Group ID number is 4576 and the password is “vmmracing”. Have fun!

–Check Friday’s edition of the The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press for a new auto racing section called VT SPEED, penned by yours truly. For now, the section will appear in the Cars.com insert and will run once a month, covering the biggest stories in local and national racing. Thanks to the BFP for becoming a VMM partner!