Thunder Road SpeedBowl
ACTion News 1/10/05
If we may, we’d like to humbly congratulate our fearless leader, Tom Curley, on his recent appointment as the Racing Promotion Monthly “New England Regional Promoter of the Year”. In winning the honor, ACT and Thunder Road Speedbowl President Curley joins seven other promoters from across the U.S. on the ballot for RPM’s 29th annual national “Auto Racing Promoter of the Year” award, his third such nomination. Should he win the ARPY award, he’ll join a long and impressive list of previous winners, including two-time winner Hugh Deery, 1978 winner D. Anthony Venditti of Seekonk (MA) Speedway, 1992 winner and 2004 nominee Bob Lawton, and 1993 winner Earl Baltes of Eldora (OH) Speedway.

Deery’s Rockford (IL) Speedway holds the “National Short Track Championships” in September, and helped him earn the award in 1976 and 1984. The late Venditti was a prominent figure in Northeastern racing circles for many years, and his “Cement Palace” has helped shape the face of short track racing. Venditti’s family still owns and operates the Seekonk Speedway, and will host the ACT Late Model Tour on August 13. Lawton’s Boone (IA) Speedway holds the SuperNationals each year for IMCA’s dirt modifieds, a week-long event that draws as many as 700 entries and holds upwards of 65 qualifying heat races. The “Eldora Million”, Baltes’ monster creation, is the biggest dirt Late Model event in the country. Baltes announced his retirement in 2004 and sold his speedway to Tony Stewart.

To join those four would be a huge accomplishment, say nothing about the 23 other promoters who have shared the honor. The winner of the ARPY award will be honored at the RPM Promoters Workshops in Lake Mary, FL during Speedweeks in February. The ARPY ballot will be voted on by more than 1,000 members. On behalf of all us in ACT Nation, congratulations!

Speaking of awards, Speed51.com, a website that exclusively covers short track stock car racing, has announced the nominees for its second annual “51s”. The fan-voted 51s honor candidates in twenty-five categories, including “Short Track Driver of the Year”, “Best Race”, “Best Appearing Short Track Car”, and “Best Story”, among others. Listed in the “Best Race Track” category is our very own Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, a ¼-mile bullring nestled in the mountains of central Vermont. So says the Speed51.com website, “The Thursday night track is one of the strongest weekly tracks in the country, regularly drawing a near capacity crowd with tickets that are cheap. And the pits are full every week. It may be the best run weekly track in the country.” To Speed51.com, we’re honored, and thank you! Click now to vote!

Shifting gears a little, interest for the ACT Late Model Tour in 2005 has increased big time. As of now, fifteen drivers have filed full season Tour entries, and we’re barely into January! Included on the list is the resurgent Phil Scott. After finishing in ACT’s top five for seven straight years (including his title run in 2002), Scott stepped back from full-time Tour racing in 2004. The Vermont State Senator says that while a second championship effort would come about with being consistent, his main objective is “to just win a race.” His last feature event win in ACT Late Model Tour competition, believe it or not, came in the 37th annual New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl. The 2005 Milk Bowl will be the 42nd annual. You do the math.

Joining Scott on the list of full season entrants are drivers that will represent many areas of the region: Vermonters Brent Dragon, Joey Laquerre, Joe Becker, Trampas and Dennis Demers, Jacob McGrath, and rookie Bill Sawyer; Quebec native Patrick Laperle; New Yorkers Mark Lamberton and Bryant Trim; Granite State drivers Roger Brown, Ken Haley, and 2004 Rookie of the Year B.J. Piekarski of Nashua, NH; and Thompson Speedway regular Denny Stampfl of Norwood, MA.

Other winner’s circle threats that have already purchased an ACT Late Model license (but have yet to file full season entries) include Cooper MacRitchie, Jamie Fisher, Dave Pembroke, Pete Fecteau, and Chad Wheeler. Thunder Road Champion Cris Michaud and ACT Late Model Tour Champion Jean-Paul Cyr are also among the licensed drivers for 2005. Joining Bill Sawyer on the list of possible Rookie of the Year candidates are NAPA Tiger Sportsman rivals Scott Payea and Ryan Nolin, Canaan Fair Speedway racer Corey Roberts, and Lee USA Speedway competitor Joey “Pole” Polewarczyk.

The potential dark horse in all of this will come as a pleasant surprise to veteran Northeast race fans. After moving to Northfield, VT a few years ago, this multi-time ACT, Thunder Road, Catamount Stadium (and very nearly Airborne Raceway) Champion became bored sitting on the sidelines. He recently purchased a brand new Port City chassis, and maybe, based on nicknames alone, could create a healthy rivalry with current star Jamie “The Hurricane” Fisher. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back “Stormin’” Norm Andrews! Andrews has purchased a Late Model license, and plans to compete in selected Thunder Road and ACT Late Model Tour events. Self-employed and operating an excavation company, Andrews wanted to have something to do during any down time in the summer. “I don’t know if I can keep up with these young kids, but I’ve got a few years of experience behind me,” he said chuckling. “I guess we’ll see whether or not I can do it when I come out of Turn 4 at Thunder Road and stare at that wall for the first time in a few years.”

Did you know…?

• Since 1993, Allen Lumber Street Stock cars carrying either the number “6” or “0” have won six Thunder Road championships. Three times, the championship car has had both numbers – Donat Premont (1999) and Jeff French (2003) were #06, Joe Small (2004) was #60. Tim Martin won back-to-back titles in 1995 and 1996 as #00, Ryan Dodge won with #26 in 1997. If you count the number “9” as an upside-down “6” (as the Street Stocks often invert themselves), raise the total championship count to ten. Jason Gibbs (#97 in 1994), Mike Bailey (#19 in 1998), Dan Nolin (#79 in 2001), and Brendan Moodie (#94 in 2002) were all Kings of the Road as well.

• The point spread for the ACT Late Model Tour was pretty close in 2004. Jean-Paul Cyr, Brent Dragon, and Patrick Laperle were separated by 33 points, with just 19 between Cyr and Dragon for the title. 19 points may not sound like a lot to you, but Cyr’s used to this kind of thing. In fact, Cyr’s titles are four of the closest six in Tour history. In 1994, he won by only 23 points over Jim Cilley, then won the closest battle ever by a miniscule two points over Dave Whitcomb in 1996. Cyr was again champion in 2003 by only 13 points over Todd Stone. Lance Ferno won the 1995 title by just three points over Gary Caron (tenth-place Dragon was only 98 points back), and Pete Fecteau won a see-saw battle in 2001 by 12 points over Jamie Fisher.

Drivers that file a full season entry on or before the February 1st deadline will receive a substantial discount on pre-race entry fees for the 2005 ACT Late Model Tour season. If you’re interested in saving money this season, send your full season entries to “ACT Full Season Entry”, P.O. Box 296 Waterbury, VT 05676. To order an entry blank, call us at (802) 244-6963. For everything else, hit the website at www.acttour.com!