PHOTO: Joey Polewarczyk Jr. and Tom Curley share an embrace following Polewarczyk’s Oxford 250 win in July, 2012. (VMM file photo)
Former ACT champion announces plans to compete as salute to mentor
(From press release)
WEST HAVEN – Joey Polewarczyk Jr. will pay tribute to a stock car racing legend on Saturday night, May 20, when he returns to American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model competition in honor of the late Tom Curley. Known by racing fans across the country as “Joey Pole,” the former champion will make his first ACT start of the 2017 season at the “Spring Green 117” event at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, Vermont.
The Spring Green marks the first ACT race held since Curley – the series’ innovative and award-winning founder and president – passed away on May 5 after a years-long fight with COPD.
Polewarczyk, of Hudson, N.H., started his ACT career at age 14 after being granted a special age exemption by Curley; at the time he was the youngest driver in ACT history. Now approaching his 28th birthday, Polewarczyk is one of New England’s most popular and accomplished drivers. Polewarczyk owns 19 ACT victories and the 2014 championship, as well as wins with the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) and the Granite State Pro Stock Series. He has also won the Oxford 250, the Vermont Milk Bowl, the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and several other prestigious races, and often credits lessons learned from Curley as a key to his success.
“I tore up a lot of equipment when I was first starting out, but Tom saw something in me and never gave up on me,” Polewarczyk said. “I remember the first time that he took me on a ride around the pit area for a private talk on his golf cart. I crashed with somebody in a heat race and I thought I had been wronged, but Tom explained to me how it was my fault for not being patient. He was right, and he taught me how to be a better racer. Just last weekend I had an opportunity to take the lead in a PASS race, but I would have had to rough a couple of guys up. If it wasn’t for Tom’s advice years ago, I might have tried to make that move and we all probably would’ve wrecked our cars. He was very smart and he took care of us all as racers. It wasn’t just me, he helped everyone like that.”
Polewarczyk heads to Devil’s Bowl on Saturday night with only one goal in mind: Win the Spring Green and dedicate the victory to Curley. The track’s progressively-banked, half-mile layout has been good to Polewarczyk; in six starts at the track he has finished fourth or better all but once, winning in his most recent start there in 2015.
“My only intention is to go out and win that race for Tom. All of us drivers are there because of him, and we’re all racing this race for him,” Polewarczyk said. “I love Devil’s Bowl, too. I was there last year as a crew member and I really missed not being out there as a driver, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Devil’s Bowl Speedway will honor Curley with a pre-race tribute and a moment of silence prior to the Spring Green on Saturday night, May 20. Fans, competitors, and officials of the American-Canadian Tour, Thunder Road International Speedbowl – which Curley owned and promoted for 35 years – Devil’s Bowl, and beyond are invited to join to pay their respects to the patriarch of Late Model racing in the Northeast.
The event will feature a 117-lap main event for the ACT Late Models, along with season-opening races for Devil’s Bowl’s own NASCAR Whelen All-American Series O’Reilly Auto Parts Sportsman Modifieds, Rosen & Berger Super Stocks, and Portland Glass Mini Stocks. General admission is $20.00 for adults, $18.00 for seniors age 62 and up, $5.00 for teens age 13-17, and free for kids age 12 and under. The annual Thomas Dairy Kids Bicycle Races will also be held during intermission. The green flag waves at 6:00 p.m.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven, Vt., four miles north of U.S. Route 4, Exit 2. For more information, visit www.DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com or call (802) 265-3112. Devil’s Bowl Speedway is on Facebook at @DevilsBowlSpeedway and on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @DevilsBowlSpeed; follow the action using the hashtag #DevilsBowl.