Contributed by: ACT Staff
Seven rookie Late Model stock car drivers will take to the American-Canadian Tour in 2008. For some, running with the established ACT veterans will be the next step in their ascent up the racing ladder. For others, it will be a dream realized. For all, it will be something totally different, and it begins at the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 200 at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday, April 20.
Vermont natives Tyler Cahoon, Matt White, and Nick Sweet all began their careers at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl in Barre, VT. St. Johnsbury native Cahoon, 27, won the track’s Allen Lumber Street Stock division championship in 2000. After contending for Late Model championships at New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park in recent seasons, Cahoon turned to ACT Late Model Tour events at Thunder Road and Oxford Plains (ME) Speedway to prepare for 2008.
“Our equipment is up to par with the teams running the Tour, and we’ve run well against the Tour cars at White Mountain, so my team and I feel we’re ready for our next challenge,” said Cahoon. “I’ve raced at a few places, but I’ve never even seen most of the tracks on the ACT schedule. We think that if we have a chance to win this year it’ll be at White Mountain, but overall we just want to qualify for races and get a couple of top-ten finishes.”
Sweet, 23, of Barre, VT won the NAPA Tiger Sportsman division championship at Thunder Road last year, and will make his ACT Late Model Tour debut at Lee USA Speedway. Multi-time Sportsman race winner White, 33, of Northfield, VT, made an impressive first appearance at Thunder Road’s Chittenden Milk Bowl in September. He plans to run race weekly at Thunder Road, but indicated that he may compete in early-season events at Lee USA and Oxford Plains.
London, Ontario’s Jonathan Urlin, 25, is a former open-wheel driver with the IRL IndyPro Series, and has seen success at venues including the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Urlin took a pair of wins at Delaware (ON) Speedway in his first stock car season last year. His father, Russ, was the 1989 ACT Champion. Spencer MacPherson, 19, of Carleton Place, ON tested the Canadian Série ACT Castrol last season and captured a surprising third-place finish at Québec’s Autodrome Montmagny. He also earned five feature wins and was the championship runner-up at Ottawa’s Capital City Speedway. MacPherson will compete in select ACT Late Model Tour events while concentrating on a full season with the Série ACT Castrol, while Urlin’s plans call for a full Tour schedule.
Sixteen year-old Joey Doiron of Berwick, ME is the youngest driver in ACT competition in 2008. Doiron cut his teeth at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in the intermediate Sport Series division last year, finishing an impressive fourth overall with a feature victory and the Rookie of the Year title. He also earned a top-five finish at Unity Raceway.
“The ultimate goal is to get a win,” said Doiron, “but we want to start off by learning and being consistent. We purchased a good car from (chassis builders/drivers) Dale and D.J. Shaw, and they’ve been helpful with giving pointers and setup advice. I can’t wait to race.”
Ricky Wolf, Jr. is no stranger to Late Model competition; however, the 2004 Lee USA Speedway Track Champion from Northwood, NH will leave the confines of his home track for the first time this year, running an extended slate of ACT Late Model Tour events with Willoughby Motorsports. Wolf’s maiden voyage with ACT will indeed come at home, though, with the NH Governor’s Cup.
ACT Late Model Tour championship runner-up Scott Payea of Milton, VT is looking forward to watching the 2008 rookie crop develop. The 2005 ACT Rookie of the Year has established himself among the elite ACT competitors, but remembers the challenges he faced just three short years ago.
“Racing with the Tour is a whole different animal than what most of these guys are used to,” he said. “They all have good credentials, and that’s a start, but they’ll found out like I did that nothing beats experience. I’ve raced against Tyler Cahoon and Ricky Wolf; they’re good, but they may struggle outside of their home tracks. I think highly of Nick Sweet and Matt White from having watched them at Thunder Road, and it seems that the rest have had some success, but these cars are tough and the competition in ACT is extremely good. It should be fun to watch them learn and progress.”
The ACT Late Model Tour opens its 17th season at the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 200 at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday, April 20 at 1:00pm. The ACT portion of the event will be 100 laps, along with a 100-lap race for the open-wheel True Value Modified Racing Series. For more information on ACT, call (802) 244-6963 or visit www.acttour.com. For information on Lee USA Speedway, call (978) 462-4252 or visit www.leeusaspeedway.com.