ACTion News 5/23/07

ACTion News – 5/23/07
-by Justin St. Louis

Serie ACT Castrol action at Montmagny

A successful start to the Serie ACT Castrol has our Canadian neighbors excited for the season.  Donald Theetge came from deep in the field at Autodrome Montmagny on Saturday afternoon to win the Paradis du Sport 100 and kick off another chapter in the ACT history book.

In front of a good crowd on a picture-perfect day, Theetge bested a field of 23 cars and came out on top of a sensational battle for the win involving Sylvain Lacombe, Jean-Francois Dery, Karl Allard, Alexandre Gingras, and Marc-Andre Cliche.

“I think that was the best ACT race of the year so far,” said ACT President Tom Curley.  “I really had no idea that Donald Theetge was going to hold on and win until the last lap.  It was a great opener for the series.”

Theetge has committed to running the full ACT Late Model Tour (unofficially referred to as the “US Tour” at times), and will pick and choose his starts in the Serie ACT Castrol.  Theetge is the defending champion of the series, which began in 2005 under a different sanction and title.  The Boischatel, QC racer finished in the Top 10 with the “US Tour” at Airborne Speedway on May 12, and credited his success at Montmagny in part to the preparation he has undergone in the states this season.


Among the entrants in the Paradis du Sport 100 was Patrick Laperle, who is recovering from a severe illness.  The race was Laperle’s first of the season after a long stay in a hospital near his St-Denis, QC home.  Still not up to 100%, Laperle drove his car on the pace lap and pitted to allow substitute driver and cousin, Jacques, to take the controls and earn points in his place.  Unfortunately, Jacques was involved in a crash on lap 1 and was forced to retire from the race.  Patrick Laperle was credited with a 23rd-place finish.


The Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic 100 at Thunder Road on Sunday is shaping up to be a whale of a show.  Among the drivers entered into the 45th running of the Thunder Road traditional race are Brian Hoar, Kip Stockwell, John Donahue, and Dennis Demers.  Defending winner Brent Dragon is expected to take on ’05 winner Trampas Demers in a battle of Thunder Road vs. ACT at the Barre high banks.

Stockwell, the 1996 winner, will debut his brand new Distance Racing Products chassis, reportedly “back in baby blue” colors according to the Braintree, VT native.  Stockwell drove a car owned by Owen Wimble to an 11th-place finish at the Casella Waste Management event.

“The Memorial Day Classic is one of my favorite events in all of racing,” he said.  “I have a picture that means a great deal to my family and me of my dad sitting in the window of my car during my victory lap back in 1996.  I had finished third the year before, too.  It’s just a great race with a lot of history, and I’d love to win it again.”

With a large field of 28 Late Models in the pits for the opening Thunder Road championship event a couple weeks ago, there’s no telling how many will show up for the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic 100.  One thing is for sure, though – don’t miss it!


In lieu of the “Did you know…?” segment this week, here’s a look back at the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic.

1961 – Roy “Pappy” Forsythe of Keene, NH scored his first Thunder Road victory in the first-ever Memorial Day event, earning a rare “Triple Crown” after winning his qualifying heat and the semi-feature.  Forsythe would go on to win a total of 10 feature events in 1961, a record that still stands today.  Defending “King of the Road” Ronnie Marvin was the runner-up, ahead of Bobby Waugh.

Jean-Paul Cabana's win in 1965

1963 – Brothers Russell and Leland Ingerson cross the stripe 1-2.  Ray Stylges and Denny Dearborn finish third and fifth, respectively, each for the second year in a row.

1965 – Jean-Paul Cabana’s powerful Modified beats the Thunder Road flathead coupes.

1966 – Larry Demar of Hardwick, VT wins in the first year that the Flying Tigers race the Memorial Day Classic.

1967 – Russ Ingerson becomes the first two-time Memorial Day winner.


Joey Kourafus' winning car in 1974

1970 – Jimmy Gates denies Russ Ingerson a shot a third win.

1971 – Late Model Sportsman driver George Horne of St. Johnsbury, VT drives the Blake & Loso Chevrolet to victory.

1974 – Joey Kourafas of Sharon, MA kicks off a dominant season by beating Cabana for the Memorial Day Classic win.  Cabana had won the race in 1972 and ’73.

Dave Dion's mount in 1978

1975 – “Dynamite” Dave Dion of Hudson, NH begins a four-year streak of Memorial Day Classic victories.  Perhaps the only reason Dion’s streak ended is that Thunder Road, in the midst of legal battles, ran only one event – the Milk Bowl – in 1979.

1980 – Mike Barry of Bolton, VT earns the win in the second of just four races held at Thunder Road in 1980.

1982 – Dion grabs Memorial Day Classic win #5.  Thunder Road was closed entirely in 1981.

1986 – Robbie Crouch wins his third Memorial Day Classic victory in four years.  Kourafas won in 1985.

1987 – Kevin Lepage wins in the EJP #09 Buick after Crouch loses an engine.  Three weeks later, Lepage is replaced in the driver’s seat by a Maine youngster named Ricky Craven.

1988 – Cabana takes his fourth and final Memorial Day win.

1993 – After another four-year win streak by Dave Dion, Haverhill, MA driver Mike Weeden scores a major upset.

1994 – Ontarian Derek Lynch wins a Memorial Day Classic battle royale.  Dion and Dennis Demers slide through the infield grass while racing for the lead, just before Ralph Nason hits the wall.  Dave Whitlock, and Beaver Dragon make brief appearances at the front before Lynch takes over for his first-ever ACT victory.

1996 – Just three weeks after surviving multiple heart attacks, second-generation Thunder Road driver Kip Stockwell drives to victory.

1997 – Chuck Beede holds Brian Hoar off by less than a foot to win.

1998 – Greg “Burger” Blake wins a twice-postponed Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic, held on July 5.

2000 – Pat Corbett makes a late pass of Dwayne Lanphear for the win.

Trampas Demers won in 2005

2002 – Rookie Corey Pittsley survives a scary four-time flip before another rookie, John Donahue, nearly steals the win from veteran Joey Laquerre.

 2004 – Joey Becker and Mark Lamberton turn in a race people are still talking about, exchanging the lead 13 times over the final 35 laps.  Becker wins as Lamberton spins in the final corner.

2005 – Trampas Demers scores an emotional victory over Dave Pembroke and 2001 winner Cris Michaud.

2006 – ACT regular Brent Dragon fends off Thunder Road’s Eric Williams and Chad Wheeler for the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic win.

Keep checking the ACT and Thunder Road websites for updates, information, and all that fun stuff.  Just in case you’re not sure where to go, try or!