Weekly Racers Hitting the Road for Opportunity to Race at Hickory
Entry List Reaches 30 Cars for Inaugural Visit
Waterbury, VT — The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) is less than three weeks away from its inaugural trip to North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway. Although the track is more than a 14-hour drive from ACT’s Central Vermont offices, the starting field will have a familiar flavor for fans of weekly Northeast Late Model racing.
More than half the current entry list consists of local Late Model racers from around the region. These racers will spend the summer making the one-a-week trek to their home track. However, a pair of events at the “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars” represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to hit the road for one of North America’s most famous short tracks.
“As soon as I found out about (Hickory), I immediately was drawn to it,” Waterford, VT’s Andy Hill said. “I wanted the opportunity to do something I would never do otherwise. And I also wanted to be a part of something. These races such as Richmond and the ones at Loudon — I know Cris (Michaud) and Tom (Mayberry) have teamed up to make these races happen for us and to bring attention to both PASS and ACT, and to Late Model racing in New England as a whole…to have these things happen, and to bring more attention to the sport — and to us as Late Model racers — is a good thing, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
At least eight different New England race tracks will be represented in North Carolina. Barre, VT’s Thunder Road leads the way in total registered drivers. Hinesburg, VT’s Bobby Therrien, the 2017 “King of the Road” and 2020 runner-up, will be one of the favorites with his FastOne Motorsports team. Other long-time Thunder Road Late Model runners making their travel plans include multi-time winners Tyler Cahoon, Jim “Boomer” Morris, Chip Grenier, and Brooks Clark. Hill, a two-time White Mountain Motorsports Park winner in 2020, is switching to Thunder Road competition following the trip to Hickory.
Nonetheless, the Woodstock, NH track has a solid slate going South. The White Mountain brigade includes eight-time track champion Quinny Welch plus veteran Jeff Marshall, ultra-veteran Joey Laquerre, young hotshot Stephen Donahue, and longtime Street Stock king Alby Ovitt. Meanwhile, Groveton, NH’s Riverside Speedway has defending champion Shawn Swallow and longtime regular Mike Kenison going to Hickory from the North Country.
Southern New England also has a fine local field entered. Croydon, NH’s Aaron Fellows has stayed busy in recent years winning championships at Claremont Speedway and Monadnock Speedway. Middleton, MA racer Randy Cole Jr. is a solid Star Speedway runner who will stretch his wings beyond the Northeast.
Multiple regulars at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway are entered for Hickory, including defending ACT Rookie of the Year Derek Gluchacki and reigning Snowflake 100 winner Jake Johnson. Cumberland, RI’s Mike Mitchell is regular there and at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, giving the entry list its eighth “home track”.
The local warriors will be joined by touring stars such as D.J. Shaw, Wayne Helliwell Jr., Ben Rowe, and Tom Carey III. With the recent addition of Williston, VT’s Mike Foster, ACT now has 30 Late Model teams committed to at least one of the Hickory events.
Nearly all the drivers entered on the ACT side are making their first visit to Hickory of any kind. An optional Thursday evening practice session will give them some time to get dialed. Some are also turning to others who have driven on the historic 0.363-mile oval.
Hill said he is getting setup tips from the team’s chassis-worker RB Performance, whose “house team” driver Dillon Moltz has turned laps at Hickory. Through an old friend, Hill has also connected to a former Late Model champion at the track who’s offered his assistance.
Regardless, though, the ultimate goal for most teams is to have fun and be a part of ACT starring on a new stage. It’s also the first chance to see the steeds that teams have prepared for 2021 — with a few hinting at special paint schemes to celebrate the Easter weekend.
The Hickory doubleheader joins other special Southern ACT events in recent years Virginia’s Richmond Raceway and Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway. If such shows lead to more opportunities for the series, it would make the trip even better.
“I hope it does,” Hill said of the possibility.” I think the ACT cars have a really solid rules package…and I think the ACT teams are capable of putting on a heck of a show, and I think it’d be good for them to broaden their horizons a little. I hope it turns into more options later on down the road. We’re not sure what our plans are for the future, but you never know. Maybe if we’re not able to do weekly racing, we could seize the opportunity to go do these types of traveling shows.”
The American-Canadian Tour makes its first-ever visit to North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway on Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3. ACT will hold the Hickory 125 on Friday and the Easter Bunny 125 on Saturday. The PASS Super Late Models go 150 laps both days as part of their National Championship opener. Post time is 5:15pm for each day of racing.
Grandstand admission tickets will be available at the front gate. Speed51.TV is also doing a live stream broadcast of both days. The pay-per-view costs $24.99 for one night or $39.99 for both nights. Sign up now at www.speed51.tv/products/ppv-easter-bunny-weekend-pass.
For more information, contact the ACT offices at (802) 244-6963, [email protected], or visit www.acttour.com or www.proallstarsseries.com. You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter at @ACTTour.