Five American-Canadian Tour (ACT) champions, three of whom still compete with the Late Model stock car series, have expressed their support of Robbie Crouch‘s recent announcement that the six-time ACT Champion will come out of retirement for a run at the 2007 title. The 54 year-old will pilot a car owned by Dave Storey of Plaistow, NH.

(PHOTO: Robbie Crouch with Les Kudla of GM Parts, Canada (left) and Ross Hawe, General Motors of Canada during a driver introductions at Sanair)

Born and raised in Tampa, FL, the S. Burlington, VT resident earned the nickname of “Tampa Tornado” after garnering considerable on-track success. During his career with the ACT organization, and its predecessors, he amassed a considerable statistical record which includes some 80 victories at tracks across the Northeast and eastern Canada. His won his first Tour race on July 7, 1979 at the former Catamount Int’l Speedway in Milton, VT.

“I wish him luck and would love to be in a position that I could do it,” stated Harmon “Beaver” Dragon, the Series’ 1979-1980 Champion. “I don’t think it’s going to be quite as easy (for him) as it was before. The guys have come a long way – the competition is very equal. But don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he can still drive. And he was the best, the smoothest driver by far. And smooth goes fast.”

Dragon, who frequently attends ACT Tour events to cheer on his son Brent, a perennial title contender, continued, “I learned a lot from watching Robbie over the years. He taught me a lot of things that he doesn’t know he did.”

(PHOTO: Beaver Dragon watches practice an ACT Tour practice at Barre's Thunder Road during the 2006 season. His son Brent was victorious in the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic, a 100 lapper on the track's weekly schedule as well as in the Tour's season finale, the 43rd annual Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl)

Jean-Paul Cyr, who tied Crouch’s record of most championships won following the 2006 campaign, is excited about the prospect, “I think it’s awesome! I’m looking forward to racing against him since I haven’t had the opportunity in the past. Having a driver of his caliber on the track will certainly add a new dimension.”

The Milton, VT resident continued, “Brian, Robbie and I have all had the same battles for championships but none of us raced during the same years, never against each other. It’s quite possible that none of us will win (the championship). Ironically, we all seen to have similar attitudes and on-track mentality. We want to win but inherently know when to act upon the limitations of a given night.” The 41 year-old racer paused then added, “This could create a lot of questions.”

Three-time ACT title holder, Ontario’s Junior Hanley concurred, “I’m glad he’s doing it (getting back in a race car).” Hanley, the 1991-92-93 champion, has been out of the driver’s seat since a back injury suffered in a severe wreck. He stated that he too, still has the desire to get behind the wheel.

Turner, Maine’s Mike Rowe, reportedly has a new ACT late model under construction. The 1994 Champion, who is most likely to encounter Crouch at his home track, Oxford Plains Speedway, remarked, “That’s awesome news. It’ll be great to have him back, that (Storey) ride is a good car.” Rowe, with some 150 victories at the 3/8ths mile speedplant to his credit, including three in the historic TD Banknorth 250, added, “He runs pretty good at Oxford.” The 56 year-old racer thought for a moment then recalled, “The last time I ran against him there he was so far out front I couldn’t even see him.”

Brian Hoar, a five-time champion who announced his own return to the ACT Series last November commented, “I was a big Robbie Crouch fan growing up although I couldn’t mention it since my uncle was Bobby Dragon’s crew chief. To put it bluntly, I’m excited as hell about this news! Imagine there will be 17 years worth of champions competing in each Tour race, more if Mike (Rowe) brings his car.”
Hoar continued, “I’m certainly not going to let my guard down due to his age and the fact that he’s taken time off. I’ve been racing against Dave Dion and he’s still competitive. Technically, since I was born on a leap year, I’m just 8½ years old, maybe youth and inexperience can overcome old age and treachery,” he finished with a laugh.

Crouch and his fellow ACT competitors will open the 2007 season at Oxford on Saturday, April 28. He will return to Barre, Vermont’s Thunder Road a track where he has a multitude of wins on Sunday, May 6 for the track’s 48th season opener, the Merchants Bank 150.

“My biggest concern is to get qualified. I’ve been working out five days a week for three months to try and prepare myself mentally and physically,” Crouch explained. “I’m hopeful I can get rid of the rust quickly.”