PHOTO: Brian Hoar (#37) and Wayne Helliwell, Jr., (#27) went head-to-head for the third time this season at Canaan Fair Speedway Saturday night. The reaction of those in attendance revealed ACT may have a new rivalry on their hands. (Eric LaFleche/ photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson
VMM Editor

The roar from the fans heard over the loud cars at Canaan Fair Speedway said it all on Saturday night — Late Model fans have a new rivalry. The fans voiced their displeasure after Brian Hoar took the lead on a late race restart, and then rocked the house when Wayne Helliwell, Jr., powered his way back to the lead.

It’s evident that the fans have long waited for a driver to take the fight to Hoar. And now, they’re welcoming Helliwell with open arms as he brings it to Hoar on the track.

Now only if there was any off-track animosity between the two, then it’d be really fun.

The amount of respect between the two, I believe, raises the intensity of their on track battles. The way they have raced at Lee and Thunder Road, as well as this past weekend at Canaan, can only be done by few racers. Those two have that kind of respect, and trust, that elevates the performance. And, the real winners are the fans.

With Oxford on the horizon, Hoar holds the nod. His two podium finishes last year best a pair of sevens for Helliwell. But, as Helliwell has shown at Thunder Road and Devil’s Bowl, their performance has improved.

We’re expecting Hoar and Helliwell to duke it out again. And we can’t wait for it.

* * *

Is it any surprise that the top five drivers in the American-Canadian Tour standings thus far — Helliwell, Hoar, Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Austin Theriault, and Jean-Paul Cyr — are the only drivers who have completed every lap this season?

That statistic shows they can stay out of trouble and are consistently near the top. Those two combined, at the end of a racing season, will always put a driver at the top. And it has already.

* * *

If you want to watch one of the best up-and-coming series in New England, head to the dirt track at Canaan this Friday night. The Sprint Cars of New England will be in town, and it’s shaping up to be the best season yet.

Defending champion Dan Douville, as well as former series champions Chris Donnelly, Tunk Berry, Clay Dow, Shawn Lawler, and Mark Cole are all expected to contend for the series crown. Those drivers, as well as potential top drivers Kevin Chaffee, Tyler Rich, and Jim Lowery, Jr., are making it one of the most open championship battles in series history. It should be a good one.

* * *

In case you were wondering, Ron Eaton of Lakewood, Wash., won the Apple Blossom 200 at Wentachee Valley’s Super Oval to win the first “Road to the All-American 400” and become the first automatic qualifier for the All-American 400 at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn. Derek Thorn of Lakeport, Calif., scored the second automatic qualifying position by winning the Spears SRL Southwest Tour event at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this past weekend.

Both Eaton and Thorn will be guaranteed starts if and when they pay their entry fees, which is 14 days after their victories.

* * *

While I’m taking in the ACT 150 at Oxford, VMM will be keeping an eye on the Valenti Modified Racing Series event at Thompson. Like Brian Hoar going into Devil’s Bowl, McKennedy is looking for his third straight series win and become the second driver to accomplish the fete.

Kirk Alexander did it twice in 2005, and won four straight each time.

Ricky’s at Airborne Saturday night, and then again at Devil’s Bowl on Sunday. Check them both out if you’re in the area. Racing doesn’t get much better than what you will see.

* * *

Have to say, I’m pretty pumped about attending my first Bear Ridge race of the season. I’ll have to keep my dietary options limited during the day to fill up on Bear Ridge’s delicious offerings.

Poutine, anyone?

* * *

Speaking of the ACT 150 at Oxford, it’ll be interesting to watch the Brackett family trio. Both Tim and his son T.J., have proven they can be contenders in ACT competition, like most of the front running drivers at Oxford. And now, Tim’s daughter, Vanna, will join them in the Late Model ranks and making her debut on Sunday.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bracketts, or another Oxford local, including Travis Stearns, Don Wentworth, Tommy Ricker, Corey Moran, and others, carry the checkers at the end of the day and join the likes of Travis Adams, Shawn Martin, Ricky Rolfe, and Jeff White as Oxford regulars beating the ACT contingent.