Contributed by: ACT Staff
Countdown to University Mall ACT Car Show: 32 days. (Brent Dragon's #55 and Jean-Paul Cyr's #32 at last year's show, left)
Countdown to ACT Late Model Tour opener at Lee USA Speedway: 55 days.
Countdown to Merchants Bank 150 Thunder Road season opener, potentially the day of the first Warrior flip: 62 days.
See race fans? It’s not that far away. Race-A-Rama at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA will kick things off this weekend, Friday through Sunday. Stop by the ACT booth and catch up with rookie “Joey Pole” Polewarczyk (Polewarczyk's proposed '05 paint scheme, right) and hot dog David Avery, who set ACT Nation on its head with a near-win in the New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl last October.
Trust us, we’re as anxious to get this season under way as you must be, for a number of reasons. The ACT Late Model Tour is shaping up to have its best season ever, with over 30 full-time racers. (The season opener at Lee USA Speedway promises be a wild show, stay tuned for details!) The Tiger Tour will crown its first-ever Champion, and Thunder Road’s 46th season will no doubt be a barnburner (when is it not?) with the Late Models, Sportsmen, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and the wild PowerShift Junkyard Warriors.
Judging by the early entries for the Tiger Tour, a healthy rivalry has already begun to develop between the regular NAPA Sportsman drivers and the “invaders” of the ACT Late Model Tour. As Joey Laquerre’s name surfaced in the Tiger Sportsman division, the proverbial flood gates opened. Chuck Beede became the first “Late Model” driver to officially into enter the full slate of Tiger Tour events last week. Four-time “King of the Road” Beede has been in retirement since the end of the 2001 season, but will steer his daughter Rachel’s car in 2005. Many other names have surfaced in the rumor mill, including a few multi-time champions.
“We can help them with the learning curve,” joked Ray Stearns. “I’ve known Chuck Beede for a long time, and he’s always helped me out in the pits. I know he loves the Tiger cars and the division, and he’s a great driver, I mean, he won a lot of Late Model races… but these cars aren’t Late Models!”
“When I first came back to the Sportsman cars last year, I was out to lunch,” said Robin Wood, a former Late Model driver that returned to his Tiger Sportsman roots in 2004. “Everything about them is different (from the Late Models). I think the other Late Model guys are in for a surprise.”
Did you know…?
• In terms of career starts in the Thunder Road Late Model division, Joey Laquerre of East Montpelier, VT is the highest ranked driver (177 starts – 3rd all-time) that has yet to win a championship. At 88 starts (11th all-time), Dave Simpson of Barre, VT has made the most events without winning a feature. Simpson’s top finish was a third on July 9, 1992, behind winner Dennis Demers and runner-up Billy Holbrook.
• Among drivers with five or more Thunder Road Late Model starts, “The Hurricane” Jamie Fisher (right) has the best finishing average – 7.677 over a period of 93 starts since 1999. At 24.500, Bobby Webber is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Webber made six starts in 2002.
• In 2004, Oxford Plains Speedway veteran Dale Verrill finished 28th – last – in the Milk Bowl, the worst best career finish of any driver. To Verrill’s credit, it was his first trip to the tough ¼-mile oval, and his run in time trials and the Twin 50 qualifier on Saturday were quite impressive.
Hey, do you like to surf the internet? Check out the links page on www.acttour.com. We’ve posted links to the websites of teams in all four ACT divisions, and some of the websites are very nicely done – including those of Late Model racers Polewarczyk, Brent Dragon, B.J. Piekarski, and Ken Haley, and Street Stock Champion Joe Small. New to the fold is the Arrow Motorsports (.com) site, home of Junkyard Warrior racer Dave LaFleche – the 4-cylinder answer to Jack Roush. LeFleche reportedly has no less than four cars being prepared for 2005, and to the best of our knowledge, not a single one of them will have a roof (sneak preview, left). You’ll also find links to all tracks that will hold ACT events in 2005, and various message boards and racing news sites, all of which serve as a great way to spend time while the boss has his back turned. Do you have any links that you think we may have missed? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see you at Race-A-Rama!