By Lou Modestino

Things are looking bright for the 2013 racing season and Canaan Fair Speedway’s in Canaan, New Hampshire. Driver entries have been pouring in for both the dirt and asphalt facilities and the car counts appear to be considerably larger than last years.

Some of the major changes for 2013 will be taking place on the NASCAR sanctioned oval as the elimination of both the Pro Stocks and Super Street classes allow a brand new Crate Modified class to come on board. Numbers in the new Mod class are certainly encouraging with numerous 2012 Canaan teams switching to the Modified class for 2013. Ken Cantlin, along with the father and son team of Walt Hammond, and Walter Hammond are just three of these drivers. Multiple drivers will be moving over to Canaan in many divisions since Twin State Speedway closed for 2013.

No significant changes on the Dirt track side. The dirt Mods look super strong along with the Super Street class. More than twenty Modified teams are expected to compete for the coveted championship title in 2013. You can also expect a huge field of SCoNE 360 Sprint Cars to be on hand for their six appearances.

One giant improvement for 2013 can be found high above race fans each week in the covered grandstands on the dirt track. Owners, Chick and Sandy Henry have invested several thousands of dollars to put a brand new roof atop the structure. Work is scheduled to be completed by opening night.

Canaan’s “Awesome asphalt” opens their championship season on Saturday, May 11th with the running of the 3rd annual Subway Fresh Fit 150, paying Late Models $5,000 to win. The Granite State Pro Stock Series opens up the week before on May 4th as they are leasing the facility for their first show of two at Canaan this year. Canaan dirt opens up on Friday, May 3rd for their first point counting show of the season.

The race for the Bond Auto Parts Modified stock car championship at Devil’s Bowl Speedway will be tighter than ever as the season opens on Sunday, May 5 at the 101.5 “The Fox” Spring Green event. The field of ground-pounding, open-wheel NASCAR Whelen All-American Series machines has expanded in 2013 and includes nearly a dozen drivers with a shot at the crown.

Though veteran Ron Proctor has won the championship in each of the last two seasons, the Charlton, NY driver knows that his No. 27 Timco Transportation/Charlton Oil machine is in the crosshairs in 2013. Proctor’s toughest challenger in 2012, Brandon, VT’s Vince Quenneville will debut new sponsorship from Green Mountain Feeds and Black Diamond Builders at the Spring Green, giving him extra motivation to be up front, but Quenneville, too, will have his work cut out for him.

A talented group of young racers is primed and ready for 2013, each driver capable of collecting his first championship. Alex Bell of Cambridge, NY, Hunter Bates of Middlebury, VT, and Olmstedville, NY’s Jessey Mueller – each 21 years old or younger – combined for seven main event victories a year ago. Cody Sargen of Greenfield Center, NY tops the list of drivers looking for their first Devil’s Bowl victory including Jamie Proctor, Jeff Haskins, Andy Smith, Dave Snow, and more.

Rookie of the Year Joey Roberts of Fletcher, VT will try to one-up an outstanding season that saw him collect 12 top-five finishes and a main event win. Thirty-five year racing veteran Leon Gonyo of Chazy, NY returns after a winning campaign, and long-time Middlebury, VT favorite Todd Stone will return to Devil’s Bowl Speedway. Stone, who won the 2008 Devil’s Bowl Speedway championship in the track’s dirt-surface era, won the 100-lap Modified portion of the Vermont 200 Weekend at Devil’s Bowl last September.

The Bond Auto Parts Modifieds are part of a weekend celebration of stock car racing in Rutland County, as Merchants Row in Rutland City hosts the second annual “Devil’s Bowl Downtown Fan Festival” on Saturday, May 4 from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. The Fan Festival includes the Modified, American-Canadian Tour Late Model, Renegade, and Central Vermont Motorcycles Mini Stock divisions from Devil’s Bowl, as well as a Pit Stop Contest and Best Appearing Car awards.

The 39th annual Spring Green begins at 1:30pm on Sunday, May 5.

The Lee USA Speedway will kick off its 2013 NASCAR Whelan All-American Series season on May 3. All four of Lee USA Speedway’s weekly divisions will be in action for the first Friday night event of the season; the Benson Lumber & Hardware Small Block Supers, Prime Warehouse & Storage Late Model Sportsman, David’s Race Cars Hobby Stocks, and American Used Auto Parts Ironman divisions.

Defending Small Block Supermodified champ Tommy Tombarello hopes to represent

Lee USA for the third time at NASCAR’s Whelan All-American Championship Week in Charlotte, NC at the end of the season. Wayne Helliwell Jr. may have other ideas. He’s won four titles at Lee USA and would like to supplant Tombarrello in Charlotte in November. Peter Stergious, Tony Carroll, and Sparky Magiver are among the many other drivers that will be fighting for the first checkered flag of the 2013 season on Friday night. Fourteen supers were on track for the first test and tune session and another 4 or 5 are on the way making for a stout small block supermodified line up for 2013.

JR Baril was the man in the late model sportsman division in 2012 in the Family Cab #88, but last year Michelle Fushpanski won her first feature event at Lee USA and was a close second to Baril in the points chase. Over the winter, Fushpanski acquired an all-new ride built by renowned late model racer Bob Belanger and expects to give Baril a run for his money this year.

But the big news in the late model sportsman division is the return of Grant Aither. Aither has won two previous late model sportsman titles at Lee USA . He took some time off last year , but was back for the 50 lap open competition event on Governor’s Cup Weekend in a new car and easily prevailed. Other late model sportsman standouts expected to take the green flag on Friday night include Aither’s team mate Ricky Porter, Alby Ovitt, and Jimmy Russell.

Patrick Tanguay has been runner-up in hobby stock points for the second year in a row. Last season he was edged for the title by Jim Shorey who will be back to defend his crown. Paul Palen and the ageless Brian Thompson will be among the many unpredictable hobby stock competitors in the mix for the season opener. Fan favorite Danielle Simoneau, Jacob Rheaums, and Evan Horvath are among the some of the entries expected in the ironman division.

In other big news at Lee USA this season, Bob Yerko, veteran auto racing videographer will call Lee USA his Friday night home. Yerko has been capturing the racing action at the Monadnock Speedway for years and brings his 4 camera crew to Lee USA for the first time. Bentley’s Rewind will replay all the action in the Checkered Flag Pub, and videos of the racing action will be available to the fans each and every week.

Kids will be happier than ever at Lee USA this season. Swings and Things, who graciously provided the sand lot paradise that every kid at the track seems to frequent every week, has refurbished the entire playground for the new season.

The Northeast Classic Lites are set to make their first of 5 appearances at Lee USA on Friday May 17th. DBT Inc. has posted a $1,000 point fund for the exciting mini open wheel machines awarded at the conclusion of the series at the Oktoberfest . George Helliwell dominated the series last year with 12 straight wins. Eddie Gilman, Eric Skofield, Robby Bryant, and Chris Sullivan are some of the Classic Lite standouts. The popular midget NEMA Lites will make their first of four visits to Lee USA on May 31. Their season finale will also be at the Oktoberfest.

Pit gates will open at 2 p.m. for this first race of the season with practice starting at 4 p.m. Tech and tire crews will be available early to assist in readying the race cars for competition. An extra hour of practice has been made available to race teams to make up for the previously cancelled test and tune session on April 24. General admission is $12. Kids under 12 are always free.

Dale Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire outgunned Buckfield’s T.J. Brackett on a mid-race restart, then held off both Brackett and Tommy Ricker of Poland on a couple of subsequent restarts to win the 40-lap Pro Late Model main event in the Championship Series points opener at Oxford Plains Speedway Sunday afternoon. Kurt Hewins of Leeds, Rob Greenleaf of Bath and Corey Morgan of Lewiston were also triumphant in feature events on the program’s undercard.

Brackett led the top-tier main event for more than half the distance, holding off Shaw and Ricker until the eventual winner made a bold, three-wide move pay off entering turn one. Ricker and, especially, Brackett kept the pressure on the former NASCAR Busch North Series champion until the checkered flag waved, but couldn’t get by the wily veteran once he was in command.

“It was fun,” Shaw said in victory lane. “I’m glad Pro Stock cars are back here weekly.”

Brackett managed to hold on to second position, with Ricker third under the checkered flag. The runner-up’s father, Tim Brackett of Buckfield, was the fourth-place finisher, with rookie Scott Farrington of Minot rounding out the top five. Chris Coolidge, Adam Polvinen, Kevin Douglass, Donnie Wentworth and Bill Penfold rounded out the top ten.

Veteran stock car racer Kurt Hewins of Leeds led wire-to-wire in the 30-lap lid-lifter for the Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy Street Stock division.

“It’s pretty easy when you start in the front,” Hewins said in victory lane. “We’ll see how it goes next week.”

Hewins battled with eventual third-place finisher Zach Emerson of Sabattus in the early going, with Brownfield’s Matt Williams charging from deep on the starting grid to provide the final challenge. Ryan Robbins of Dixfield was the fourth-place finisher, with Auburn veteran Mike Short rounding out the top-five.

Rob Greenleaf of West Bath prevailed in a tight, race-long battle in the 30-lap Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy Mini Stock main event, watching a whale of a battle for second position in his mirror over the entire distance.

Calvin Rose, Jr. of Turner won that war for runner-up honors over Readfield’s Pete McCollett. Rookie Justin Larsen of Peru ran an impressive race and claimed fourth-place honors, in front of Jay’s Shane Kaherl.

The new Ripley & Fletcher Ford Outlaw Sportsman division saw one of Maine’s busiest racers, Corey Morgan of Lewiston, romp to victory. Kyle Hewins of Leeds was the best of the rest in that 25-lapper, with Kyle Treadwell of Auburn claiming the final podium position. Mike Haynes of Livermore Falls and Buckfield’s Fred Clavet rounded out the top-five.

Oxford Plains Speedway’s Championship Series continues Sunday May 5 and Sunday May 12 at 2 p.m. before switching to the Friday night weekly summer schedule beginning May 17.

Here’s what else is happening in Northern New England. New England Dragway offers Wednesday and Friday night Street action at 5 p.m. ET racing is set for 8 a.m. on Saturday and the Import Face Off on Sunday at the same time. The adjacent MX101 goes Saturday at 9 a.m. with MX action.

Saturday has Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH going with a NASCAR program at 6 p.m. At the Same time Star Speedway in Epping, NH opens for the season with a stockcar racing in several divisions. Merrimack College in N. Andover has a 9 a.m. car show. On Sunday Bentley’s Pub in Arundel, ME has a cruise in the afternoon.