PASS NorthBy Lou Modestino

The 51st Annual Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic at Barre’s Thunder Road on Sunday, May 26 will be the kickoff event in the search for the next King of the Road in the premiere Late Model stock car division.

Barre’s own Nick Sweet will look to defend his Late Model title and win his third championship in five years in Thunder Road’s top-flight division.

“It’s a fresh start for us, and we know we’ve got to bring our A game to this race and every one after it” said Sweet, who earned four victories in last year’s title chase. “My team and I can’t wait to get started,” he finished.

The Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic will also serve as the first event of the Vermont State Championship Series, which will run two events at Thunder Road, and two events at West Haven, VT’s half-mile Devil’s Bowl Speedway. Last year’s championship was decided by one-point after a photo finish in the series finale.

“We were so close to that championship last year, it was sort of bittersweet. I was really happy with the way we ran, but I always want more,” said Milton’s Brent Dragon, who won the series finale but came up just shy of his first Vermont State Championship. “I just try to go out and win races. We’ll see where the points fall this time around.”

Also makinga special appearance on Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day weekend, joining Thunder Road’s own Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen and Allen Lumber Street Stocks for a full card of racing action, will be the Devil’s Bowl Dirt Modifieds. The Modifieds will have a 50-lap special event – the first ever for Dirt Modifieds at Thunder Road – that will be the opening race to their Northern Modified Challenge Series announced last week.

Post time for the 51st Annual Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic is 1:30pm on Sunday, May 26.

Barre’s own Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel has teamed up with Thunder Road to renew the Lenny’s Hot Shoe Challenge Award, which awards extra money to racers for feature victories at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement.”

The Hot Shoe Challenge Award will give a cash bonus of $150 to a Late Model driver who wins their first race of the season, as well as $100 for Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen and $50 for the Allen Lumber Street Stocks. For the driver’s second win, they will receive half the amount of their first.

Checks and an embroidered Lenny’s hat are given during the pre-race ceremonies of the next event.

“Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel is pleased to again be partnering with the ACT Tour and Thunder Road in sponsoring the Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel Hot Shoe Challenge Award,” said Mark McCarthy, Vice President of Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel. “”Lenny’s recognizes the impact the ACT Tour and Thunder Road have on the stock car racing landscape here in central Vermont, and throughout the Northeast, and is proud to be associated with such a great organization,” he finished.

Lenny’s also awards a year-end bonus to the driver in each division with the most wins. In the Late Models the bonus is $500, in the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen it is $250, and in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks it is $100.

“Lenny’s knows that it is the drivers and their teams who commit their time and resources to make Thunder Road the site of excitement that it is week in and week out, and we are proud to be able to recognize and reward these sportsmen for their efforts in our own small way,” McCarthy added.

Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel has been with Thunder Road since 2003.

The next event at the Nation’s Site of Excitement will be on Sunday, May 26 for the 51st Annual Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic where the Thunder Road Late Models will be featured in a 100-lap race. It will also serve as the first race of the Vermont State Late Model Championship Series, and will include a special 50-lap feature for the Devil’s Bowl Dirt Modifieds as well as regular point counting events for the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen and Allen Lumber Street Stocks.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway representatives handed out “Good Tickets” to motorists who were seen wearing their seat belts by police officers. Lucky motorists were given two tickets to the New Hampshire 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on July 14 at NHMS. This all happened in Manchester, NH recently

“We see it on the race track every day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – it’s one of the basic, most fundamental safety measures a person can take to operate a vehicle,” said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of NHMS. “To kick off Buckle Up NH week we thought it would be a good idea to reward drivers who were begin safe and giving them tickets to the New Hampshire 300.”

Fans didn’t have to wait until July to see some of the biggest names in Sprint Cup turning hot laps in Loudon. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. held a two-day test session in preparation for the July 14 New Hampshire 300. Drivers who participated were; Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Dave Blaney.

The racing activity is starting to pick up momentum at NHMS as that track will be part of the NH Motorcycle weekend starting set for Friday, June 14-Sunday, June 16. It’s all in conjunction with the Laconia Motorcycle Week. It’s the oldest motorcycle event in the USA and features the Loudon Road Racing Series, side cars, vintage motorcycles and the U.S. Legend cars.

NHMS also hosts the second race in the Chase to the Nextel Cup on Sunday, September 22.

Recently Modified driver Les Hinckley went to work on the pride and joy of the late Chuck Montville for the first time since the untimely passing of the late car owner on April 4. The new race season was about to start for Montville, and the bright yellow car numbered 06 that week.

Sadly Montville, known for his unsurpassed dedication and his pursuit of a championship, never made it to opening day. Montville and Hinckley competed regularly on the Valenti Modified Racing Series from its beginning ten years ago. The feeling of many, including Montville, was that this would be the year.

While the healing process is still very evident for the Windsor Locks, Conn., driver, Debbie Marquis and the rest of the race team, the encouragement and sponsorship from Laticrete International of Bethany, Conn., race fans and friends Jim Schaefer, Bruce Bachta and Cliff Nelson have led Hinckley back to the track.

“We welcome the opportunity to bring Les back to the track,” said sponsor rep Peter McKeon. “Chuck went out of his way to to thank us for sponsoring the race at Lee (N.H.) last summer. We are deeply saddened by his loss to the racing community.” Hinckley will begin his season in the June 15, SBM 125 Modified Open at the Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire.

“For 20 years I haven’t gone until mid-May without getting to the race track,” Hinckley noted. “It will be mid-June by the time I get there, but I’m excited about it.

“It’s going to be a difficult transition doing it without Chuck obviously. There are big shoes to fill. It will be weird not having him there. But I’m excited to have the opportunity to get back to the track and seeing some familiar faces, and getting on the race track.”

The future of the #06 team is clearly unknown and Hinckley’s success in this highest paying Modified race ever run at Star Speedway could go a long way in determining how many races he is able to run this season. But at least for one night, Hinckley will give Montville’s pride and joy a run, with high hopes, on what will be a very emotional evening no matter what happens on the track.

“If you are only financially able to run a few races you pick and choose the ones that are good ones,” Hinckley reasoned. “This is clearly one of those. I can’t thank enough those who are helping our team be able to run this race. From the Turkey Derby to the North-South Shootout, Chuck always loved the challenge of running in these events.”

Among the festivities, and the more than $12,000 in bonus awards available to race teams at the SBM 125 is the “Chuck Montville Car Owner Award”. A panel of judges will determine a winner, who exemplifies Chuck’s ‘get along with everyone’ attitude, among the competing car owners at Star for the June 15 event. The recipient will be awarded a very special plaque and $350 donated by six friends of Chuck.

While Hinckley’s entry into the race makes him an instant contender, it won’t be easy. The winners of the previous two SBM 125 events, Jon McKennedy and Matt Hirschman have the tricky quarter-mile figured out and are considered favorites.

Others, such as Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher, Doug Coby and Chris Pasteryak are just a few of the championship drivers very capable of taking home the winners share. Which is likely to top $9,000 for this all-star race, Modified style. It’s flat out hard racing from the drop of the green that makes the SBM 125 a race like no other. .

Tommy Stilphen of Arundel became the youngest Oxford Championship Series race winner ever, posting his first career Oxford Plains Speedway main event victory in the 40-lap Pro Late Model feature Friday night.

Tyson Jordan of Poland, Justin Larsen of Peru and Corey Morgan of Lewiston also scored main event victories in the first night race of the 2013 season at the historic Maine speedplant.

Stilphen, a 14-year-old rookie, just beat multi-time track champion Shawn Martin of Turner to the checkered flag after race-long leader Chris Coolidge suffered handling issues after building a huge lead, allowing Stilphen, Martin and the rest of the frontrunners to close in quickly as he attempted to negotiate lapped traffic.

“That’s the hardest I’ve ever driven in my life,” the youngster said in victory lane. “This is awesome. I’d like to thank my grandfather, Billy (Stilphen), and Corey and Trevor Sanborn for all of their help.”

Lapped traffic played a role in the outcome of the event, as Martin chased Stilphen through slower traffic during the last couple of laps. A three-wide move earlier in the event set Stiphen up to be in position to capitalize on the misfortune of Norway’s Coolidge, who looked like a sure winner until the event’s final five laps.

Martin’s bid for a second straight win came up just short, and he settled for runner-up honors. TJ Brackett of Buckfield, the current leader in the OPS Pro Late Model championship point standings, claimed a third-place finish. Opening Day winner Dale Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire and Jay’s Dave Farrington, Jr. rounded out the top five.

Tyson Jordan of Poland made a last-lap charge around Lewiston racer Rick Spaulding to claim victory in a thrilling 30-lap feature race for the Street Stock division, after Spaulding had made an impressive early drive from 14th starting position, going three-wide on the outside on more than one occasion en route to the front of the pack.

Jordan, boxed in traffic as Spaulding romped to the top spot, had to make his bid as time was running out, and had about two feet to spare as he raced under the checkered flag. Spaulding was disappointed with his close runner-up finish, while Skip Tripp ran just a bit short on time in his incredible run from 22nd starting position to nail down the third-place trophy. David Whittier of Poland and Waterford’s Spencer Morse rounded out the top five.

Mini Stock rookie Justin Larsen of Peru left no doubt as to who was in charge his 30-lap main event, dominating the event as no one else had, to date, this season at the famed Route 26 oval. Despite Larsen’s dominance, the race was quite entertaining, with top-five running positions swapped on just about every laps.

Opening Day Mini Stock victor Rob Greenleaf of West Bath prevailed in a five-way battle for runner-up honors. Calvin Rose, Jr., of Turner, held on to his early-season lead in the championship standings with a third straight podium finish. Shane Kaherl of Jay and Rumford’s Ryan Glover rounded out the top-five in the Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy-sponsored, four-cylinder-powered class.

Corey Morgan of Lewiston prevailed for the second time this season in the 25-lap Outlaw Sportsman main event, and stands as the lone racer with more than one feature event triumph through three weekly Oxford Championship Series programs.

Morgan lined up 13th on the starting grid and charged toward the front of the pack, eventually going by the driver who led more laps than anyone, Steve Moon of Gray, en route to victory lane.

Guy Childs of Turner made sure the outcome was in doubt for several laps, racing side-by-side with the eventual winner before settling for runner-up honors in front of Kyle Hewins of Leeds. Auburn’s Kyle Treadwell just missed out on a trophy spot after an aggressive run amongst the frontrunners. Early pacesetter moon rounded out the top five.

After Saturday’s ACT 100 at Airborne Speedway, eight-time American Canadian Tour Stock Car Champion Brian Hoar has moved into the championship points lead with four events complete.

Hoar took the point lead after second-place finisher Jimmy Hebert suffered a post race technical infraction on Saturday night. Repairs made to Hebert’s damaged race car after a heat-race altercation with another competitor caused the rear end to shift. This resulted in a left side weight infraction in technical inspection following the feature race. The team was issued a $500 fine and was docked 12 championship points. Hebert remains second in the overall standings, just 11 points out of the lead.

Reigning ACT Champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr. continued his title defense with another podium finish at Airborne, leaving him third in points and 15 points behind Hebert. Ray Parent held on to fourth just behind Helliwell, and Brent Dragon rounds out the top five contenders.

Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Ben Lynch, Rowland Robinson, Jr., Bobby Therrien, and Chip Grenier remain inside the top ten in the ACT championship standings.

The American Canadian Tour will head to Groveton, NH’s Riverside Speedway on Sunday, June 2nd for a 150-lap event. It will be the fifth point counting event of the 14-race schedule.

Second generation racer Matt Kimball scored his first career win Saturday, May 18, at Monadnock Speedway, topping one of two Young Guns feature events to earn a victory lap his father, Sportsman Modified ace Bill Kimball, has taken many times at the high banked speedplant.

Other first-time victors Saturday included Ed LaQuire Jr., who wired the Super Stock main event to score his first Monadnock win, and Matt Gauffin, who earned his first victory of the year by dominating the Lightning Stock feature.

Thunder Stock strongman Ed Lofland won his third feature in as many tries this season, while a trio of drivers scored their second win of the young campaign. Adam Norton won his second consecutive Sportsman Modified feature, with defending Mini Stock champion Kimmy Rivet earning her second in a row as well, and Young Gun Chris Lawrence notched his second victory of the summer.

Cars finally gathered at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, NH for the 2013 season this past Sunday at the NAPA Car Show. The amount of work put into these machines in the off-season was evident as there were many beautiful race cars that took to the track. Fans poured in to admire the race cars on display, mingle with drivers, and had a chance to win some NAPA gear with trivia questions throughout the day. Judges roamed the track looking at cars, and trophies were awarded to the top 3 rides in each division. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a judge, because there were a lot of hard decisions to make.

The North Country Ford Late Model division has grown significantly, and there were some amazing machines on hand for the fans to enjoy. Quinny Welch made his presence felt immediately in his return to full time action at Riverside with a win in the Car Show. His black and green Crazy Horse chassis Late Model sure turned some heads. The Mason brothers also made a statement that they mean business in 2013, as they brought two eye-catching cars to the show, with Corey grabbing second and Bryan picking up third in the judge’s eyes. This division has really solidified over the off-season, with multiple teams that will compete for wins week in and week out.

A new name for the Sign Depot Limited Late Model division brought out some creativity in color schemes. Jourdan Davis switched from a silver race car last year to a bright orange ride for the 2013 season and was awarded top honors at the NAPA Car Show. Bill Stebbins JR, who always has some beautiful machines, grabbed the second spot, while new comer Matt Remick was awarded third. The competition was fierce in the Limited Late Models for Car Show and will definitely be stout on the track as well.

The Town and Country Motor Inn Street Stock division had some absolutely gorgeous race cars on display. After all was said and done, Josh Barney was awarded top prize with his Berlin City/Seventh Street Graphics Dodge Neon with an amazing vinyl job on that automobile. “Nitro” Nick Gilcris put a lot of effort into his silver and purple Honda Prelude, and took home second. Last year’s champion “Stormin” Keith Normand received the third place trophy.

In the Ouellette Trucking Angels division, Sierra Moulton made her return to Riverside Speedway a memorable one by impressing the judges with her new automobile to grab the first place trophy for the Car Show. Her blue and green Chevy Cavalier certainly will stick out on the track this year. Last year’s championship runner-up, Vanessa Brown, took second with her “Fight Like a Girl” Dodge Neon, and Jaime Carbone was rewarded with third for her brand new Ford Escort painted up by Bennett’s Auto Repair.

Matthew Kopp took top honors at the NAPA Car Show with his North Country Ford Probe in the Marshall Insurance Agency Daredevil division. Kopp, with help from his entire racing family, built the new Probe this year, and it looks amazing. Zach Savage grabbed the second place trophy, and Dylan “The Dragon” Laleme picked up third. Laleme certainly would’ve contended for the win in the Car Show had he not had a mishap in Open Practice just a couple of weeks before which landed “The Dragon” on his roof.

Finally, the Pure Stocks were awarded their trophies as well. Dalton, NH’s Dave Glidden received top honors for his Timberwolf Logging and Excavating/JWS Woodyard Buick Riviera. Richie Veilleux grabbed second with his Chevy Impala, and James Record took third. Record and Veilleux put on quite a show in practice, racing side-by-side numerous laps on the edge of taking each other out. The wheels were just a chirping and smoke billowed from the right front tires with these automobiles, and with more racers coming, this division will prove to be a cheap and easy way for the average person to get into racing.

Join us Saturday as we open our season with the NAPA Opening Weekend, featuring the “Cabin Fever 50”. All divisions will be on hand for their first chance at going after their respective championships. Everybody is tied for first place right now! Until then, keep your tires clean and your motor running strong!

This Friday night, May 24, Lee USA Speedway will join the rest of the nation in celebrating Memorial Day Weekend with Veterans and Swings & Things Night, honoring our military veterans, particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the land we love. Ed Miller of VFW Post 90 in Raymond, NH will lead the Color Guard in a twenty-one Gun Salute to those who have fallen. All active military personnel will be admitted free.

In particular, Lee USA Speedway will remember the life of a US Army veteran and long-time supporter of the speedway, Jay Merryfield, who succumbed to cancer in January. Merryfield drove the Lee USA Suburban push truck for many years. He regarded the track as his home, and its fans, his family. Lee USA will remember him in a very special way this Friday night.

Along with the NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing Series contingent of Benson’s Lumber Small Block Supers, Prime Storage Late Model Sportsman, David’s Race Cars Hobby Stocks, and American Used Auto Parts Ironman, Swings & Things will be presenting S.T.A.R. Cars (Senior Tour Auto Racers). The traveling band of vintage auto racing enthusiasts annually brings twenty or more painstakingly restored race cars of the 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s to Lee USA for this very special show. There will be old supers, modifieds, midgets, and late models from years gone by.

Lee USA wrecker driver Skip Stern of Skip’s Towing in Londonderry will have two of his prized possessions on display; a 1963 Nova Modified and his NASCAR 37 Chevy Coup Modified, both well worth a second look. Last year, 70’s era cars driven by northeast legends Ed Flemke and Geoff Bodine were on hand. Any old time racing fan is sure to recognize and appreciate some of the many vintage racing machines on display and in action this Friday night at the Lee USA Speedway.

This is a very special must see show starting at 6:45 p.m. All active military personnel will be admitted free.