Contributed by: ACT Staff
Stockwell is the latest competitor to return to his roots with the Waterbury, VT based stock car racing group. Former multi-time ACT Tour champion, Brian Hoar from Colchester, VT and 2000 “Queen of the Road”, Tracie Bellerose of Gorham, NH and Morrisville, Vermont's 2001 Milk Bowl winner, Dwayne Lanphear all announced their plans to return earlier this year. “I’ve got a Howe car on order from Jeff Taylor’s Distance Racing in Maine which should be ready in late January or early February, as well as a new spec engine from Butler and MacMaster,” Stockwell explained.
Even though the 34 year-old racer will have new equipment at his disposal he fesses up that he will have quite a bit of work to do before he has a modicum of success, “I’m going to have to learn to drive a race car all over again. Since 1998 I’ve been driving lazy, high horsepower taxicabs. ACT’s late model car is responsive, low (to the ground), light, and carries much higher corner speeds. It’s a very different driving experience. The only similarities between the two cars are four tires, an engine, seat, and steering wheel!” he finished with a laugh. Stockwell related that he hopes his commitment to both the ACT Tour and Thunder Road will help to shorten the learning curve.
PHOTOS: (above right) Kip Stockwell is interviewed by Dave Moody following his win in the 1996 Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic.
(above left) Kip's father, former racer Lennie "the Tiger" Stockwell, hitches a ride with the kid following his Memorial Day Classic victory.
He continued, “I’ve missed heat racing, that’s what I grew up doing. Time trials cost money. Plus, I love Thunder Road and I want to enjoy racing again. But,” he added, “It’s not just about racing. It’s also about family and being together. Running with ACT and at Thunder Road will allow me to do that. I’ve got two sons, three years old and five-weeks, and my crew all have families. Our plans for next year, even with more races, will cut the travel and days off from work in half.”
One thing that has the veteran competitor nervous about the coming season is the number of cars that usually show up for an ACT Tour race. “I’m used to qualifying (with Busch East) since there were usually just the number of cars at any given race that where supposed to start. With ACT you’ve got to qualify, and that means racing your best every time out. Since I’ll have the same equipment as everyone else - ACT’s rules take excessive money costs out of their racing with the spec engine, shocks and tires - it won’t be anyone’s fault but my own if I don’t do well or qualify.”
Stockwell continued, “Once I get the car, motor, and tires figured out, I’ll need some time to get used to the driving styles of the other competitors, and they’ll have to get used to mine. I’ve raced with some of the guys who’ve been around for a while – Phil Scott, Joey Laquerre, Dennis Demers, Pete Fecteau, Dave Whitcomb, and Cris Michaud. But there is a huge contingent who’ve come along since I’ve been gone. One thing I’ve noticed with both ACT and Thunder Road is that the drivers all give each other lots of respect. That’s one of the reasons we’ve made the commitment to Thunder Road’s Thursday nights, as well as the Tour. With rare exception you usually leave Thunder Road with a donut on your car. A little maintenance on Friday and you’re all set to go for a weekend Tour race.”
He finished, “I can’t wait to get back to Thunder Road. It’s like home.”
The 2007 ACT Tour season kicks off at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday, April 29. Thunder Road opens for its 48th season on the following Sunday, May 6, with the Merchants Bank 150, an event for the ACT Tour as well as the track’s weekly divisions.