ACTion News 4/11/05
The ACT Late Model Tour season opens in just a couple of weeks (Sunday, April 24) with the Seacoast Late Model Challenge 100 at Lee USA Speedway, we know that. The rivalries established last year are beginning to heat up again, and the radical new qualifying format, splitting ACT regulars from Lee USA regulars has everyone buzzing. If you buy into the internet message board trash-talking, you’d think this is going to be an all-out war. Whether a war breaks out or not remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – we’ll have a HUGE number of troops on the front line. To date, ACT has received 41 official entries. Lee USA General Manager Peter Watson expects as many as 25 Lee USA regulars to attend the big dance. We’re not claiming to be math whizzes here, but it looks like we could have more than 60 cars in the pits!

A few ACT drivers hit the track at Thompson Speedway’s Icebreaker last weekend to gear up for the upcoming year. 21 year-old Worcester, MA racer Marc Curtis, Jr. brought his car home 11th on Saturday and 13th on Sunday in Late Model fields of 29 and 26 cars, respectively, while Norwood, MA’s Denny Stampfl drove to finishes of 18th and 12th. The big story, however, was Suffield, CT veteran and former Thompson Speedway Champion Dennis Botticello. Botticello dominated the Saturday feature, leading every lap on his way to the win. Sunday, he finished fourth in a battle with southern New England stars Charles Bailey, Rick Gentes, and Woody Pitkat. Botticello will drive the #03 entry on the ACT Late Model Tour in 2005, taking over the seat vacated by Tom Fearn, the 9th-place man overall last season.

The inaugural ACT Tiger Sportsman Series is building steam, as well. 26 full-time entries have been filed, with individual entries expected to pour in for each of the Series’ eight races. The Tiger Sportsman Series looks like it will be one of the Northeast’s hottest properties in 2005 – 30-year veterans, cold-blooded rookies, and everything in between, racing in a division that routinely brings fans to their feet with side-by-side photo finishes. If you’re not at the Spring Green 100 at Airborne Speedway on Saturday, May 7, you better have a good excuse!

Did you know…?

• Williamstown, VT driver Cooper MacRitchie will be campaigning the Ron Bevins #68 Dodge on the ACT Late Model Tour this season. MacRitchie previously used the number during his NAPA Tiger Sportsman career, winning the Tiger 50 Series title in 1999 and 2000, and well as the Thunder Road title in 1995. “Coop” also won 13 times with #68, good enough to be tied for first all-time.

• Jim Cilley used the #68 in ACT Late Model and Tiger Sportsman competition for many years before MacRitchie, earning 12 Late Model wins and, wouldn’t you know it, 13 Tiger Sportsman wins.

• Montpelier, VT’s Jeff Bousquet, a former crew member on Cilley’s team, used #68 on his Allen Lumber Street Stocks for five seasons, and in 2004 earned the second feature win of his career while only running a part-time schedule. Bousquet made his debut in the Sportsman class last year (using #60), and took a Top 10 in the Mini Milk Bowl at Thunder Road a few races later.

• In two full seasons of competition at Thunder Road and Airborne, there has never been a car with the number 68 run in the PowerShift Junkyard Warrior division.

This weekend, head out to The Berlin Mall in Berlin, VT (only 10 minutes from Thunder Road!) and check out some of the new paint schemes from cars in all four ACT divisions. The mall is very easy to get to – take Exit 7 off I-89, and turn left onto Berlin Mall Rd. (how easy is that?) at the second traffic light. The Berlin Mall offers a nice array of stores and restaurants in a layout that spans more than 175,000 square feet. Show hours are 10:00 am to 9:00 pm on Saturday, April 16, and from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm on Sunday, April 17. An autograph session will also be held on Sunday from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, so bring anything and everything you’d like signed! Questions, comments, suggestions? E-mail!