ACT
25 YEARS OF ACT RACING

1991 Champion – Junior Hanley

The 1991 season was the first of three consecutive seasons in which Junior Hanley earned the ACT Tour championship. It was Hanley’s first full

season with ACT and he set the record for most money earned in a single season with over $236,000 in winnings. 1991 saw just seven event winners; Hanley (7), Crouch (6), Dave Dion (3), Kevin Lepage (2), Ralph Nason, Bob Randall and Dan Beede, in its 21 events. Randall and Beede earned their first career wins. Future ACT Tour champion Brad Leighton earned the Rookie of the Year honors, while driving a June and Gardiner Leavitt owned ride. Below is a review of Junior Hanley’s first title season:

“To the amazement of many, Canada’s most famous stock car racing outlaw, Junior Hanley, made the commitment to run the entire ACT schedule in 1991. But his decision was not as surprising as one might think. With some $400,000 in season ending monies available, including a $50,000 bonus to the driver who could earn the most points during the seven month race season, it was, quite possibly, one of the more logical conclusions reached by the Campbellville, Ontario resident.
Perhaps the one thing that was shocking to the racing community about Hanley’s decision was his choice of car – a Ford Thunderbird. Never in the Series’ 13 year history, had a Ford won the Championship. It looked like the General Motors domination might be in for a challenge.
Hanley’s vast experience on the short tracks of the United States and Canada proved invaluable to the Nova Scotia native as he had not previously seen five of the venues on the ’91 schedule. He finished a respectable ninth after losing a tire while leading in the season opener at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway, a one-third mile track he had never seen before.
After a rain out at Sanair, where Hanley proved to be proficient, the Series moved on the Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway for the first of a trio of events planned at the seacoast oval. He salvaged a 12th in the Coca Cola 100 after battling with 56 others just to earn a starting position in the main event. He dropped from fourth to sixth in the standings.


His first trip to New York’s D-shaped half-mile, Airborne International Raceway got the eventual champion back on the right track. He looked like he was on his way to victory lane, but a brake failure caused a detour to ninth place. Hanley rebounded to fourth in points.
The opening event of the GM National Stock Car Series found Hanley a lap down after a multi-car wreck in Delaware Raceway Park’s first turn. But

that didn’t discourage the veteran competitor as he made a charge back through the field that was worthy of General U.S. Grant. He regained the lead lap and wound up third in a race that had five different makes of car among the top five finishers!
Ah, Thunder Road, the little track high atop Quarry Hill in Barre, Vermont, the great equalizer. “I’ve raced at tracks like this before,” Hanley said before he listed off a few with some similarities. Afterwards, he agreed, there really aren’t any like Thunder Road. He was 12th in the Memorial Day Classic after winning his qualifying heat and third in the points.
At the Bud Triple Crown 150 at Mosport, Hanley began to make his attack. The $50,000 bonus offered by Labatt’s through its Budweiser brand for winning three designated events was a mighty strong enticement for the veteran racer. He qualified on the pole and led all but five of the 150 laps. He moved into second in the standings.
A third at Airborne, 12th at T-Road, and a guaranteed $5,000 bonus for winning the second jewel, the Bud Triple Crown 150 at Sanair. The second of three events at Ontario’s half-mile Mosport oval saw the Ford Thunderbird with new livery – a new color and a new sponsor (Molson Ex). As they say, it doesn’t matter how you dress ‘em up, they still perform the same – he won the Budweiser 100 and moved into the point lead, a position he would never relinquish.
On to the tri-oval at the Autodrome St-Felicien and a seventh place finish after leading, an almost disastrous visit to Maine’s Unity Raceway (9th) and on to his homeland – the Canadian Maritimes. He was warmly welcomed by the huge crowd at Halifax’s Scotia Speedworld, where he finished third.
The RCMP didn’t quite know how to handle the massive number of fans who turned out to see if Hanley could win the $50,000 Bud Triple Crown bonus at Riverside Speedway in Antigonish. They threatened to tow away the cars who parked on the shoulder of the TransCanada Highway, but they gave up when the fans ignored their warnings. The largest crowd in the history of the high banked speedplant was not disappointed as the hometown hero made good and won the bonus. After a tumultuous standing ovation, Hanley remarked to the multitudes – “we were lucky today, my tire’s gone flat!” Sure enough… his Ford sat on the rim.
Gaining momentum as the season headed into its final seven events, the 1991 Champion won the rain shortened Budweiser National 500 at Sanair, finished 15th at Beech Ridge, second in the Milk Bowl (his first) before coming back to win after losing two laps at Circuit St-Croix!
His first accident of the year came in the final race of the season in Canada, Mosport, which had been so good to Hanley in earlier events, turned her cheek on the Champion. While leading, the Ford driver was blinded by the sun as he rounded the third turn. This momentary lapse put him straight into the spun car of freshman, Danny Knoll, Jr. “I saw the Zardo car which was on the top side of the track, so I went low, I never saw Danny,” he recalled. After lengthy repairs, the Molson Ex/Quaker State car did return to competition before further mechanical problems put him on the sidelines. He wound up 21st, which would be his worst finish of the year.
After effecting repairs, Hanley returned to winning form, taking both the Forest City Chevrolet 100, leading every lap and the ACT Showdown at Beech Ridge.
The New England 300 finale at Airborne came close to being a disaster for the Champion. Even though it was little more than a statistical probability that he not win the title, Hanley is not the type of driver to “sit on his lead.” Instead he elected to race for the win. He finished third and nailed down his first major Series Championship.”

1991 QUICK FACTS
Largest purse………………………………….$100,150 Budweiser National 500
Number of Drivers Earning Points…………………………………………………126
Number of events…………………………………………………………………………..21
Number of race winners…………………………………………………………………..7
Winner of most races………………………………………………..Junior Hanley, 7
Number of race leaders……………………………………123 among 30 drivers
Most laps led……………………………………………………...1,111 Junior Hanley
Most top 5 finishes………………………………………………..15, Robbie Crouch
Most top 10 finishes…………………………….17, Derek Lynch, Kevin Lepage
Longest race…………………………………..Bud Triple Crown 150 (138 miles)
Most money won………………………………………….$236,505 Junior Hanley

1991 POINT STANDINGS
1. Junior Hanley            2232
2. Robbie Crouch          2167
3. Beaver Dragon          2050
4. Kevin Lepage             2040
5. Derek Lynch              1938
6. Brad Leighton#         1781
7. Randy MacDonald   1780
8. Dan Beede                1737
9. Roger Laperle           1724
10. Ralph Nason           1675