NEW ENGLAND MOTORSPORTS NORTH
By Lou Modestino (for 6/6-6/10/12)
Devil’s Bowl Speedway celebrates the Green Mountain State on Friday as the Vermont State Championship Series for ACT Late Model stock cars invades the West Haven half-mile oval for a 100-lap event on Friday night. The home-track heroes of the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series J&S Steel Late Model division will square off against invaders from Barre’s Thunder Road and around the northeast.
While the 100-lap Vermont State Late Model Championship Series race will be the focal point for many, Devil’s Bowl Speedway is calling on the community to help its own during a fundraiser to benefit the “I Am Vermont Strong” initiative. I Am Vermont Strong is a non-profit organization that raises relief funds for Vermonters affected by flood damage in storms in 2011 including Tropical Storm Irene.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway will promote the I Am Vermont Strong organization by naming Friday’s race the “I Am Vermont Strong 100” and encouraging fans to donate to the cause. Fans will be able to interact with race drivers during a “helmet pass” in the grandstands to help raise money for the fund.
“Vermonters are incredibly strong and we’re proud to be a part of this state, but we also realize that there’s still so much work to be done to get back to where we were before Irene,” Devil’s Bowl promoter Alayne Bruno said. “Devil’s Bowl is right in Rutland County, which was hit the hardest by the storms last fall. It’s almost impossible not to know someone who lost their car, their home, their business, or even more last year, including many of our racers and fans. We need to keep coming together as a community to help those folks recover.”
Nick Sweet won the opening round of the Vermont State Championship at Thunder Road two weeks ago and finished third in last Friday’s 30-lap Carrara Masonry & Concrete event at Devil’s Bowl. Sweet lives in Barre, a city hammered by flooding in the spring of 2011, and says he’s reminded of the devastation every time he comes to Devil’s Bowl Speedway.
“I love racing at Devil’s Bowl – it’s a beautiful facility and it’s a fun track to drive,” Sweet said, “but the one thing I don’t like about it is that we drive through towns and neighborhoods that were almost wiped off the map whenever we go to the track. It’s sad to see, but hopefully we can help the victims a little bit.”
Drivers expected to attempt to qualify for the I Am Vermont Strong 100 include Devil’s Bowl stars Kevin Elliott, Chris Wilk, Craig Bushey, and Matt White, Thunder Road stars Sweet, Dave Pembroke, Cris Michaud, and Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott, New Yorker Dan Petronis, New Hampshire’s Bryan Town and Aaron Fellows, Maine veteran Ricky Rolfe, and eight-time American-Canadian Tour champion Brian Hoar of Williston, VT, who beat Sweet and Bushey to win last Friday’s Carrara Masonry & Concrete race.
Joining the Late Models on the I Am Vermont Strong 100 card will the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Bond Auto Parts Modifieds, Renegades, and Bombers. Gates open at 5:30 pm, with green flag racing set for an early 7 pm start. General admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors (62+), and free for children 12 and under.
The Northeast Sports Network, a Vermont sports broadcasting website, has teamed up with Barre’s Thunder Road and West Haven’s Devil’s Bowl Speedway to incorporate live broadcasts into the Vermont State Late Model Championship Series. The four race series saw it’s opening event at Thunder Road claimed by hometown sensation Nick Sweet, and heads to Devil’s Bowl Speedway this Friday, June 8 for the I Am Vermont Strong 100.
The Northeast Sports Network completed a live broadcast of the first event in the series, the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic at Thunder Road, which can be found on their website www.nsnsports.net in high definition. It can also be found by a link on both the Thunder Road (www.thunderroadspeedbowl.com) and American Canadian Tour (www.acttour.com) websites. DVDs will be available for purchase, which include features from Allen Lumber Street Stocks and Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen from the Memorial Day event.
Their webcasts, which include multiple camera angles, analysis, and graphics, are available to race fans worldwide at no cost.
Tom Curley, the long-time promoter of Thunder Road with experience in broadcasting, believes this is a step in the right direction.
“With the popularity of ACT Late Model Racing throughout the Northeast region at an all-time high, the opportunity to follow the Vermont State Late Model Championship Series on the web seems like a great way for our fans in New England and Canada to catch the action,” said Curley. “We will use this as an initial test of how we might possibly better serve our race fans who cannot attend all the races in person. We obviously still encourage fans to experience the thrill of live race action at Thunder Road and Devil’s Bowl – there is really nothing like it,” he finished.
Catch the next live broadcast at Devil’s Bowl Speedway this Friday, June 8 for the second event of the Vermont State Late Model Championship Series starting at 5 p.m. Post time is 7:30. The third event in the series will return to the Thunder Road on Thursday, July 12 for the Vermont Lottery Commission Governor’s Cup 150, and the series finale will be held at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Sunday, September 16 for the Devil’s Bowl 100.
With threatening weather quickly moving into the area on Friday night, Lee USA Speedway (NH) track officials were in hurry-up mode from the drop of the first green flag, and entire program of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing presented by Mobil 1 went into the record books well before the rains came.
2010 champion and current points leader Tommy Tombarello, Jr. lined up eighth for the 30-lap Benson Lumber and Hardware Small Block Supermodified feature event, but he quickly worked his way through the field and took the lead from polesitter Tony Carroll, who had set the early pace while Tombarello worked traffic.
Once out front, Tombarello was on a mission, and that mission was to get to the checkered flag first. Never seriously challenged over the second half of the race, Tombarello went on to take the win and become the first two-time winner in the Small Block Supers for the 2012 campaign.
2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series New Hampshire state champ Wayne Helliwell, Jr. was next across the stripe, with Mike Ordway, Jr., P.J. Stergios, Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Gath, Joey Scanlon, Sparky MacIver, Mike Netishen, Carroll, and Leslie Keyser rounding out the top ten finishers.
The 30-lap Prime Warehouse Late Model Sportsman feature was another action-packed main event, with eventual winner Tony Kawejsza surviving a series of incidents that nearly knocked him out of action but still soldiering on to collect his first feature event victory of the 2012 season.
Just a lap after taking the green, more than half the field was involved in a turn two incident that sent several cars to the pits for repairs. Keith Larmie came out on the short end of it, ending his night on the back of a wrecker. Larmie’s ride suffered heavy damage after climbing over the right side of Kawejsza‘s machine, among other contact, during the scramble.
Points leader J.R. Baril got caught up in the wreck and was forced to the pits, but he managed to make repairs and stay on the lead lap, eventually salvaging a top five finish for the night. Rookie Kyle Roy picked up the lead when the action resumed, but caution was back quickly on the field when Kawejsza went around in turn one.
Shortly after the next restart, Kawejsza had another near-miss when he got squeezed high and made contact with the frontstretch wall, but he continued on and started to march to the front. By halfway, he was past Roy into the lead and pulling away from the field.
Kawejsza was in control the rest of the way, picking up his first checker of the year at the finish. Jason Welch survived a couple of incidents on the way to a runner-up tally, with Baril, heat winner Patrick Stewart, and Roy closing out the top five.
Points leader Jim Shorey showed the way in the David’s Race Cars and Components Hobby Stock main, collecting his second feature win of the 2012 season to maintain his position atop the standings, with Mike Williams taking down second place honors in the Mike White entry.
After a couple of post-race penalties shook up the finishing order, third spot went to Ron Washburn, followed by Niko Maniatis, rookie Brandon Bourne, Brian Thompson, Chris Jacobson, David MacDonald, Kenny Scott, Jr., and Kyle Sawyer.
Jake Rheaume’s season-long stranglehold on American Used Auto Parts Ironman competition came to an end Friday night, with rookie driver Wayne Parrington becoming a happy first-time winner by holding off the four-time winner at the line to pick up the victory.
Rheaume remained on top of the point standings with a runner-up effort, with Danielle Simoneau filling out the podium in the third spot. Second place points man Evan Horvath collected a fourth place finish in the Red Cup Racing entry and Chris Murray rounded out the top five.
Mark Parenteau and his flashy red pickup scored a crowd-pleasing win in the spectator drags portion of the program, and several nostalgic “cruisers” took a couple of laps around New Hampshire’s Center of Speed in addition to another exciting night of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action.
Next up at Lee USA on Friday night, June 8 is another full card of WAAS racing featuring the Benson Lumber and Hardware Small Block Supers, Prime Warehouse late Model Sportsmen, David’s Race cars and Components Hobby Stocks, and American Used Auto Parts Ironmen, plus NEMA Lites racing and El Camino night.
Here’s what else is happening in northern New England this week into the weekend. On Wednesday and Friday it’s Street Night at New England Dragway in Epping, NH at 5 p.m. MX 101 next door offers MX practivce on Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m. and comes back on Saturday and Sunday with ATV racing at 1 p.m. each day.
On those same two days Point Sebago in ME and the Dorr Farm in Manchester, VT will host car shows all day.
On Saturday night there’s lots of oval track action at Bear Ridge in Bradford, VT, Canaan Speedway in NH, Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH, Star in Epping, NH and Twin State in Claremont, NH all at 6 p.m. ET racing is on at New England Dragway in Epping, NH on both Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. Saturday also kicks of the Laconia Bike Week which continues through next week. On Sunday Thunder Road in Barre, VT offers a Late Model event plus support classes at 1 p.m.
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