The Lee USA Speedway is honored to announce that Governor Maggie Hassan will be the Grand Marshall for the Annual Governor’s Cup 150 on April 14th. In January, Mrs. Hassan became only the second woman ever to be sworn in as New Hampshire’s governor. Prior to becoming governor, she served in the NH Senate for five years representing the 23rd district which includes Exeter and Kingston and was the Majority Leader. Her husband Thomas is principal of Phillips Exeter Academy.
Governor Hassan will welcome the thousands of racing fans flocking to the Lee USA Speedway from all over the northeast and Canada for the very first auto racing event of the 2013 season in the Granite State . She will personally greet the drivers before the race, drop the green flag on the main event, and award the prestigious Governor’s Cup Trophy to the winner.
Like the Daytona 500 is to NASCAR, the Governor’s Cup 150 is the biggest race of the year at Lee USA and the kickoff of the American Canadian Tour. Approximately 50 of the best late model drivers of both countries will be vying for “The Cup.” Legendary drivers Marty Vachon, Dave Dion, Bobby Gahan, Myles Chipman, and Beaver Dragon have all won this premier event. Many more would like to join them.
Pelham, NH driver Joey Pole won the big trophy two years ago, but last year “The Cup” went back to Vermont with 5 time ACT Champion Brian Hoar. Hoar took the lead to win his first Governor’s Cup late in the race after several local favorites faltered. Pole and arch ACT rival Wayne Helliwell, Jr. of Dover are the Granite State’s best two chances to win it back.
Helliwell is the local favorite. In 2012 he knocked off Hoar on top of the ACT standings after a five year reign. He has won four Lee USA titles and nobody knows the track better than he does. But he seems to be able to win the big ACT races everywhere but here. Last year, he put his bright orange EKeys for Cars #27 on the pole for the Governor’s Cup 150 and led the first half of the race. However the blistering pace overheated his tires and he fell back into the pack. As the same phenomenon slowed the late race leaders, Helliwell rebounded to finish a close second to Hoar. A few more laps and the race might have been his.
Favored to win whenever he straps in at an ACT Tour event is Eddie MacDonald, son of Lee USA Speedway owners Red and Judy MacDonald. Eddie Mac has won twice at the big track in Loudon and has won the Oxford 250 in Maine twice in a row, but he has never won a single race at his family owned facility. Last year Eddie brought a brand new car to the Governor’s Cup 150 and surged from mid pack to take the lead from Maine driver Ben Rowe on lap 109. Just when he seemed to have that first win in the bag, the handling went away on his jet black #17. A mere 20 laps from the finish he was tapped from behind and bobbled the car for an instant allowing the lead and victory to slip away.
MacDonald will be flying in from Florida where he is scheduled to compete in a NASCAR K&N Series event on Saturday night. He hopes to make it to the track by 11 AM on Sunday morning. He won’t have much time to ready his ride for qualifying heats. No time trials here. And the heats are intense. Only the first six make it through the first round. A second round of qualifying will fill out the 28 car field, but more than a dozen drivers usually are forced to take that long ride home without even getting a starting berth in the Governor’s Cup 150.
In addition to the Governor’s Cup 150, 50 lap events for the Late Model Sportsman and the North East Mini Stock Tour will complement the program. Lee USA’s 2012 late model sportsman champ JR Baril will begin his title defense. His most serious challenger is Michelle Fushpanski, who was runner up last year. She has since built a completely new car to wrest the crown away from Baril. The late model sportsman event will be open to all similar cars throughout the region and many are expected. However, fifty points will be awarded to all Lee USA Speedway regulars making it an imperative start for any driver considering a championship bid. Four cylinder standouts Loren Smith, Emerson Cayer, Billy Osborne, and 2012 NEMST Champion Danny Field will compete in the mini stock 50 lapper. Twenty-seven entries from all over New England have already been received for the series’ season opener.
Five hours of practice on Saturday afternoon are open to all from 12 PM to 5 PM. The gates will open for the Governor’s Cup 150 on Sunday at 10 AM with qualifying heats starting at 1 PM.