Contributed by: ACT Staff
ACT Lee USA Opener Historically Unpredictable
American Canadian Tour (ACT) fans attending the annual New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 opening events at the Lee USA Speedway are generally the real winners at the seacoast oval on opening day. Sunday, April 12 will be no exception. History shows that there are many surprises in opening events at the fast 3/8 mile oval.
In the ten years running the NH Governor’s Cup, there has only been one repeat winner. Eight-time ACT Champion Brian Hoar of Williston, VT won the title back-to-back in 2011 and 2012. In 2009, Hoar and teammate for the event Mike Olsen (N. Haverhill, NH) looked like runaway favorites until Goodyear tire issues took both teams out of winning contention while running in the first two spots during the first half of the event.
In 2011 local racer and first time ACT competitor Fulton Mountain finished the race in third and was never to be seen again at an ACT event!
Perhaps the biggest surprise for the ACT teams was in 2010 when the rain-postponed event occurred in June, and local weekly racers Miles Chipman and Jeff Labrecque finished in the first and second place spots respectively.
“The 2010 event with Miles Chipman and Jeffrey Labrecque was really an important indicator that the ACT Late Model business model of cost contained rules regarding engines, shocks, and tires was still viable. Throughout the late 90’s, and into the first half of the new century, there was not much question that we had great parity in the division. During the first half of the 2000’s ACT touring for this division became popular, just as it had been in the 80’s and mid-90’s with the Pro Stocks (Super Late Models). Unfortunately for ACT Pro Stocks, the costs to teams, promoters, and ultimately fans got out of control, and in 1995 that all ended. We have tried to be diligent in keeping our business model of Late Model racing for both weekly and touring interests cost controlled. But as history has taught us, that always brings the challenge for organizers to make sure builders and some teams don’t begin to violate the overall intent of a division, in the interest of their personal competitive edge,” said ACT President Tom Curley.
One of the most emotional wins at Lee USA came when former Thunder Road International Speedbowl Tiger Sportsman division champion Jimmy Hebert (Williamstown, VT), in only his sophomore year, won his first ACT Tour event at the opening season NH Governor’s Cup in 2013. Equally impressive that year was the second-place effort by N. Haverhill, NH’s Travis Fadden.
In last year’s event, it became a pack of champions running to the wire. Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, MA won his first opening day event after many tries, and soon-to-become 2014 ACT Champion Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. (Hudson, NH), along with two-time ACT Champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr. from nearby Dover, showed why they are championship caliber. They all finished on the podium. The Canadian fans in attendance were not disappointed when Alex Labbe (Ste. Albert, QC) finished fourth and went on to win the 2014 Série ACT Championship. There was also still the “Lee opening surprise run” when Quebecer Stephane Descoste (Oka, QC) pulled off his best U.S. finish in fifth.
Following the recent triple 100’s as part of the American Racer Challenge Cup at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida, most fans who attended the February races saw an outstanding performance from Bradley Babb (Windham, ME) in the Joey Laquerre–owned team ride, while Rowland Robinson, Jr. (Steuben, ME) showed he was in race trim entering the new season. 2014 ACT Rookie of the Year Brandon Atkins (Ausable, NY) figured out the fast half-mile by the end of the week. Both he and Emily Packard (E. Montpelier, VT) look to be ready for breakout sophomore seasons beginning at Lee USA.
Quebec teams Alex Labbé, Donald Theetge, Stéphane Descoste, and Jonathan Bouvrette are all expected to enter the Lee opening event, in preparation for the opening event of their 2015 Série ACT campaign – the Spring Green 115 at Airborne Park Speedway on Saturday, May 16.
Teams will have a full day of practice at Lee on Saturday, April 11. Post time for Sunday, April 12 is 1:00pm.