PHOTO: Jeff White (center) is flanked by stars Brian Hoar (right) and Brent Dragon after one of the biggest upset victories in ACT history at Oxford. (Eric LaFleche/ photo)

-by Justin St. Louis
VMM Editor

Jeff White winning the American-Canadian Tour race at Oxford Plains Speedway is a perfect example of why the ACT rules platform works.

White may not be a household name on the Tour — heck, he’s not really a household name among Oxford regulars — but his victory (and those of Miles Chipman, Mark Hayward, and others in recent seasons) proves that anyone with enough talent in the car and in the garage can be a winner at the ACT level regardless of budget.

There are arguments to be made that an unheralded driver like Jeff White winning races on a marquee series can hurt the image of that series and almost diminish the efforts of the Hoar, Polewarczyk, Dragon, and Donahue big-name types, but there are just as many arguments that the ACT platform elevates the weekly racers that otherwise wouldn’t get much attention.

I believe that the latter is what ACT’s current Late Model rules package was created for. After all, that very same series was nothing more than weekly racers from Thunder Road and Airborne running a few special shows for the better part of a decade.

There are fans and racers who scoff at the idea of a Saturday-night local beating the touring series heroes, and it’s fine if they don’t care for that style of racing. But the plan ACT boss Tom Curley envisioned back in 1994, ’95, and ’96 to help the weekly racer become a regional force seems to be going exactly to plan.


Sprint Cars. Bear Ridge. Saturday. So good. Be there.


I like what the Champlain Valley Racing Association is doing by offering more money to car owners for the ‘Big Dog Challenge’. I just don’t think it’s the answer for drawing a bunch more cars to Devil’s Bowl and Albany-Saratoga.

That said, I don’t know what the answer is.


Speaking of the CVRA, Joe Williams is getting it done this year. Between the two tracks, Williams has six wins and a runner-up finish in seven NASCAR Modified starts. Even with fields that aren’t reaching “full field” status under NASCAR Whelen All-American Series criteria and awarding Williams maximum points for his victories, he still ranks 23rd overall in the country. Not bad at all.


Why is it that Airborne Speedway is the only track willing to place a bounty on its drivers?

Sure, one racer has to dominate for a while in order to necessitate a bonus for beating him or her, and that doesn’t always happen, but when it does there’s no better way for a track to ramp up a quick (and cheap) promotion than to market a competitor as potentially unbeatable.

Airborne put a bounty on Martin Roy last year when he won everything in the Modified division, and now it’s Robin Wood’s turn after a Sportsman three-peat.

Again, it’s not often that a driver dominates a division (although I can think of four drivers who won a dozen or more races last year at Bear Ridge, Thunder Road, and Twin State), but track promoters need to capitalize and offer a chunk of change to anyone who can beat the top dog.

It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, either. Airborne’s offer is $250 to beat Robin Wood, or $350 to Wood if he can start last this week and win. The money has to come from somewhere, I get that, but if the promotion is done right a track can pull an extra 25 fans in and make its bounty money from their $10 tickets right there.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s smart, old-school short track promotion fundamentals.


I can’t stop playing with the Les Paul Google Doodle this week. (I recorded this one!)


Barre residents: Don’t forget that Thunder Road is opening its gates for free this Sunday.

Bring proper ID to get the free ticket, and please support Thunder Road’s efforts to assist those affected by the recent flooding by donating clothing, non-perishable food items, or cash.

Also, signups for the June 19 Home Run Derby at Thunder Road are still open.

Check for more details.


A tip of the cap to a few racers this week:

Mike Bruno: He ran five races at three tracks over the weekend. With his Late Model he was second in a 20-lapper at Albany-Saratoga on Friday, was sixth in the Subway 150 at Canaan on Sunday afternoon, and won a 20-lapper at Devil’s Bowl on Sunday evening. With his Modified, he was second at both Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl.

Wayne Helliwell, Jr.: Ran three races on consecutive days over the weekend. Using a car he wrecked at Devil’s Bowl in the ACT race on May 22 and converting it to Pro Stock specs, he won at Lee USA Speedway on Friday night. On Saturday with a brand new car, he drove from 32nd to finish seventh in the ACT race at Oxford Plains Speedway. Sunday, after converting the first car back to Late Model rules, he finished eighth at Canaan.

Chris Donnelly: Won Friday’s Sprint Cars of New England race at Canaan Dirt Speedway, then won Saturday’s three-segment Sportsman Modified “Madness” event at Bear Ridge.

Daniel Descoste: One of Tom Curley’s “project” drivers on the ACT Castrol Series in Canada, Descoste is, in this writer’s opinion, one of the most naturally gifted stock car drivers to come along in the last decade or so. Descoste is always fast and can manhandle a race car like you haven’t seen in a while. The problem is, he’s a bit of a hot-head. In fact, he was penalized in the Castrol opener at Chaudiere for being a hot-head, and it wasn’t the first time. Still, he takes his lumps, tries to learn a lesson from them (I hope and assume, anyway), and keeps showing up. Last Saturday he finally got a well-deserved first victory at St-Eustache.