I’m not gonna lie to you here, I’m excited to see the Airborne Speedway Renegades at Thunder Road tonight. That division is one of the raciest support classes — heck, it’s one of the raciest of any class — at any track in the northeast.
Other support divisions you need to see:
Street Stocks and Mini Stocks at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl
Limited Sportsmen at Thompson (Conn.) Int’l Speedway
Outlaws at Oxford Plains (Me.) Speedway
Late Model Sportsmen at Lee USA (N.H.) Speedway
American-Canadian Tour Late Models at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Now, now, now, before you get all bunched up on me, understand this: When we’re at Loudon, the ACT Late Model Tour is exactly what I said — a support division. Even Tom Curley understands and accepts that. That doesn’t mean I think any less of the Tour.
The problem is that the powers that be — whether it’s the NASCAR or IndyCar sanctioning bodies or Speedway Motorsports, Inc., itself — treat the ACT folks like they’re a support division. There’s a pecking order, sure, and ACT isn’t at the top of the mountain, but there’s no excuse for the schedule that ACT has to endure this weekend, or the confusing changes that have taken place with said schedule.
Friday’s schedule is fantastic. From 9:00am to 3:30pm, it’s almost entirely ACT Late Models. No issues there. But seven hours between the two main event segments on Saturday is unfair to the racers, the fans, the officials, and everyone else that cares.
There may not be 50,000 Danica fans that go to NHMS just to see the Late Models, but I’ll bet there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 to 15,000 that really are there just to watch ACT perform.
That’s why I’m going.
Flip-flopping the ACT segment schedule and lap distance on Saturday back and forth a few times was totally uncalled for, and a lot of people noticed. The best we can hope for is for the schedule to stay as-is: 25 laps starting at 10:30am, the final 50 laps at 6:15pm.
I know that IndyCar has television scheduling contracts that need to be adhered to, and without those contracts and without the big money that IndyCar brings in, there is likely no opportunity for ACT to compete at New Hampshire in the first place… but the only thing televised this weekend is the main event on Sunday. Knowing that, it’s difficult to believe that there couldn’t have been just a little wiggle room in there somewhere on Saturday.
I’ve spoken with some fans that say they aren’t attending the race at New Hampshire because the ACT schedule is so wacky. I don’t condone a boycott at all, and I wish those fans would reconsider, but I certainly understand their frustration and hope there’s a better deal set forth in the future.
From everything I’ve heard, the Valenti Modified Racing Series had a nice bounce-back at Beech Ridge last weekend following the loss of series director John Hoyt.
The VMRS folks have a major test coming up this weekend, too, with a Connecticut doubleheader on Friday at Stafford and Saturday at Waterford.
Thank goodness for Brad Keselowski. You wouldn’t have heard me say that a couple years ago. And whomever this new fiery Jimmie Johnson fellow is, that guy is alright, too.
The Nick Sweet/RPM Motorsports deal is cool, but I wonder this aloud: Will there be any conflicts if Sweet doesn’t drive his “Saint J Auto Pontiac” car at Thunder Road’s Labor Day race? That Saint J Auto sponsorship deal is reportedly one of the more lucrative partnerships in ACT racing, and is one that Sweet himself says he wouldn’t be racing without.
Just food for thought.
A lot of things have to go right in the multi-segment ACT game for a driver to win — especially at a place like New Hampshire — but if Mike Stefanik doesn’t grab a finish inside at least the top eight, then everything I think I know about short track racing is wrong.
Patrick Laperle’s quote about racing at New Hampshire says all you need to know: “If it’s not me, I don’t care who wins.”