ACTion News 12/07/04
With the release of the coming year’s schedule, there coincided a bit of a buzz among race teams. This is nothing new, as it happens every year in every series. ACT, however, may be benefiting more than any other series in the region from its new scheduling plan. Several teams are considering running for the ACT Late Model Tour championship that likely would not have been able to in years past. Example: Center Conway, NH’s Dale Shaw and car owner David Storey attempted just over half of the races held in 2004, and despite grabbing the first win of each of their ACT Late Model Tour careers, they mustered only a 24th-place result in the final rundown. Under the 2005 schedule, Shaw and Storey’s participation would have them missing just two events, and likely ranked much higher in the final standings. The logic in the new schedule is to entice more Shaw/Storey-type teams to get a full season’s experience and perhaps take a real shot at winning the Tour title.

While still undecided about his plans for 2005, Shaw agrees that the new format will aid in his quest for an ACT crown. “I came in to the series with no experience in this type of car, and I knew the competition would be stiff, but I also expected more out of myself as a driver,” Shaw said. “It was nice to win at Oxford, that’s where I won my first ACT race (on the old ACT Pro Stock Tour in the 1980s), but I guess I wasn’t fully prepared coming into the season. Now that I’ve got eight races in these cars, I’d like to take a shot at it. This new schedule will help us out in deciding what we’re going to do; the drivers won’t be spending a ton of money now. It would be nice to get an ACT championship, and we would have a much better chance at it now."

Mooers Forks, NY driver Mark Lamberton is very much in favor of ACT’s plans for 2005. Lamberton missed a handful of races as the season wore on, citing cost as the main factor. “It really got to the point where we had to pick and choose where we were going to run,” Lamberton commented. “I feel like we ran a lot stronger than we ever have at the ‘bullring’ tracks like Thunder Road, Twin State, and Seekonk, but we just couldn’t commit to the entire schedule.” Lamberton reports that he is in the final stages of signing a major sponsor for the 2005 season, and will likely run the full slate of events. “The new schedule is going to not only help us save money touring, but we’ll probably be able to race at Thunder Road on a few Thursday nights, which will only help prepare us for the smaller tracks on the Tour.”

On the same token, the new eight-race “Tiger Tour” schedule provides options for the Tiger Sportsman drivers and teams as well. Jamy Begor is a perennial Airborne Raceway championship contender in the division, and also works on Lamberton’s crew at ACT Tour events. “These schedules will really allow guys like me to do what they want to do next summer,” said Begor. “None of the Late Model Tour dates conflict with the Tiger Tour, and that’s a big help. I love racing the longer Tiger races, and there’s a good caliber of drivers in our division. For now, I’d say the plan is to help Mark at all of his races and try to win the Tiger Tour championship. I’m excited about it.”

Did you know…?

• A record 133 drivers earned points on the ACT Late Model Tour in 2004. Of those 133, over 40 are past or current champions at many tracks and in various divisions, touring series, and sanctions. Included are ACT Champions Jean-Paul Cyr, Pete Fecteau, Brian Hoar, and Phil Scott, NASCAR Busch North Series Champions Dale Shaw and Mike Olsen, PRO Truck Tour Champion David Avery, Canadian PROLAB Series Champion Yvon Bedard, and NASCAR New England Regional Champion Ricky Wolf.

• Between Thunder Road and Airborne Raceway, 158 drivers earned PowerShift Junkyard Warrior points in 2004. Of those 158, three are past or current champions, a number slightly less than that of the ACT Late Model Tour.

• Six drivers have earned Thunder Road Rookie of the Year honors in multiple divisions – Eric Williams (NAPA Tiger Sportsman in 1992, Late Model in ’95), John Donahue (Sportsman ’96, Late Model ’02), Jamie Fisher (Sportsman ’97, Late Model ’99), Bubba Hickory (Allen Lumber Street Stock ’97, Sportsman ’00), Travis Calkins (Street Stock ’99, Sportsman ’01), and Ryan Nolin (Street Stock ’02, Sportsman ’03). Fisher was almost a three-timer, but narrowly missed the Street Stock title in 1995 to current Sportsman driver Marcel Gravel.

• The top Street Stock rookies in that 1995 season drove some funky race cars, cars drastically different from the sophisticated machines they drive today. Gravel drove a white and blue hand-me-down Ford Escort, while Fisher drove a four-door Chevrolet Chevette sponsored by S.D. Ireland Concrete, whose name has been on his race cars ever since.

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