PHOTO: Quinny Welch (#78) impressed during qualifying at Canaan last weekend. (Eric LaFleche/ photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first edition of “Under The Hood,” a new column by VMM’s T.J. Ingerson. A native of Lisbon, N.H., T.J. has won races at tracks including Thunder Road and White Mountain Motorsports Park as both a driver and a crew member. While T.J. will discuss the on-track racing, he will also answer tech questions from readers and racers. Email T.J. at to ask a question.)


Let me take a moment and introduce you to my blog, space, column, soapbox, or whatever you prefer to call it. Here you’ll find local racing talk, tidbits from the professional racing scene, notes from races I have attended on behalf of Vermont Motorsports Magazine, as well as stuff from other races from around the region.

You may find a rant or two, and possibly me blowing off steam about my beloved Boston sports teams (P.S.: Theo, get a catcher), and, something I’m really looking forward to: tech tips. I will take questions from teams, drivers, and fans, as well as offer my advice from things I have seen or learned.

Now that we have said our hellos, let’s get to the good stuff.


Although they are probably disappointed that they were unable to complete the show, Dick Therrien and the staff at Canaan Fair Speedway should be proud for their effort in running the Subway Fresh Fit 150. Canaan drew a big crowd when bad weather had been predicted all week, drew some of the top names in New England, and the qualifying races were great.

I saw some great, patient runs by both Wayne Helliwell and Quinny Welch. Helliwell could have pushed the issue and won his heat race, but with a redraw later, he used his head, saved his tires, and was rewarded with the second starting position. Welch, being patiently aggressive, gambled when he had to, and drove to the final qualifying spot in his heat.

Once the rain had stopped and the track was dry, the battle for the final qualifying spot was great. First, Chris Riendeau and Eddie MacDonald battled before they tangled and both were sent to the rear. Then, Marc Curtis worked the outside around Fulton Mountain before (pretty clearly) being taken out and losing the final spot on the last lap.

And wouldn’t you know it, once they made the call to postpone the race, five minutes later the rain stopped. Big applause for the officials at Canaan Fair Speedway to allow fans and competitors to use their rain checks for the rescheduled date of June 5th.


Eddie MacDonald, the two-time and defending champion of the TD Bank 250, did not look as such at Canaan Saturday night. MacDonald, of Rowley, Mass., used the car he brought to the Goodyear Cup at New Smyrna Speedway, struggled all day, and ultimately failed to qualify for the Subway Fresh Fit 150. MacDonald, with luck on his side perhaps, then transferred into the field when finishers ahead of him failed post-race technical inspection, and will be slated to start in the 25th spot when the race resumes.


Congratulations to Barney Visser, Regan Smith, Pete Rondeau, and the entire Furniture Row Racing team for their Southern 500 victory, showing that the little guy can STILL do it, and do it their own way.


One of the great things SPEED Channel does is show NASCAR K&N Pro Series races Thursday nights at 6pm.

If you were a fan of the old Busch North Series, you’ll love the K&N Pro Series West. It has the same feeling, the same old faces, and runs on quarter-mile bullrings like the old Busch North Series did. But don’t forget to check out the East Series races too. You’ll be seeing some of those young kids on Sundays sooner than later.


If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favor and wake up on a Sunday morning and watch a Formula 1 race. Previous years’ talk of it being “boring” and “they just ride around” is out the window. If you are not entertained by this year’s racing, something may be wrong with you.

Oh, and you might want to pay close attention to this kid named Sebastian Vettel. I heard he’s pretty good, maybe the second coming of Michael Schumacher.


This is the section I’m really looking forward to weekly — Tech Talk. If you have any questions about you would like to be answered, email me at . I hope to answer most of the questions and help you perform better on the race track.

There isn’t a “how-to” guide on racing or for the secrets that can only be picked up at a race shop. I am lucky to have been able to grow up with my father’s championship race teams and learn from his vast knowledge. I hope to share some of the common knowledge that many race teams have found in these columns.

A friend of mine has been wanting to race for a few years, and began picking my brain. I pointed him in the direction of my personal favorite books from the Steve Smith Autosports group. I recommend these books if you are just starting out, they are like an encyclopedia. As I continued to talk to him, one thing became increasingly clear: He didn’t know anything about working on race cars.

One thing that struck me during an interview with defending Airborne Renegade champion Kevin Boutin was his talk about maintenance and how much time and effort it takes. He is right. To be a winner on the track, you must be a winner off the track. Races and championships are won in the garage, Monday through Friday. When I arrive at a race track before the first practice, the only time the hood should go up on the car is possibly making a last minute adjustment or checking the swaybar. When the car leaves the race shop to go to the track, it should be ready to roll onto the track: Fueled up, bolts checked and tightened, fluids checked and topped off, and setup checked. Make yourself a weekly checklist of items to check, and mark off with initials when that item has been completed.

Don’t wait until the day before the race to do your weekly maintenance. Get the first opportunity you can — preferably Monday if you’re a Saturday-night racer — to go over and check your race car. You may have a broken or failing part that you find in your maintenance, and the earlier you find it the better; an auto parts store may not have that part on hand, and finding it early will save you a huge headache.

If you happen to make contact with a wall or a fellow competitor, check the corner you hit. Hit the wall with the right front tire? Tear apart everything. Check the spindle, upper and lower ball joints, inner and outer tie rods, wheel bearings, and the upper and lower control arms. If in doubt, change it anyway. Hit the wall with the right rear? Pull out the axles and make sure they are straight. Make sure the trailing arms are straight. If you have a bent suspension piece on your car, your chances of running well are gone.

You should grease your car weekly as well in all suspension pieces. Use lube on heim joints, such as shocks, to make sure they don’t freeze up. Change your oil every two to four weeks; if you run an extra distance race, change it sooner rather than later.

In the next edition, I will talk about using practice time wisely, as well as answering some questions. Again, email me at with your questions.