Lee, NH – The annual Lee USA Speedway “El Camino Night” attracted a strong contingent of NECOA members to the race track on Friday night, with dozens of the unique machines joining the weekly NASCAR Whelen All American Series racing program for some parade laps and a wild burnout contest that had the fans cheering for more.
Prior to the start of the evening’s feature event action, fans and competitors once again stood for a moment of silence, this time in memory of NASCAR racer Jason Leffler, who lost his life in a dirt track Sprint Car race, as well as longtime speedway supporter Howard “Howdy” Clapp of Groton, MA, who passed away during the week.
Clapp, who was a driver in the 70’s and 80’s, dating back to the old Lee Tri-Oval Raceway, was most recently known for his efforts as car owner of the H. Clapp Motorsports Small Block Supermodified entry, driven by such notables as Bobby Melvin, Butch Valley, Jr., and its current wheelman, “Super Dave” Sanborn.
For nearly forty years, Clapp and his racecars were no strangers to victory lane at the Route 125 speed plant, as well as other tracks throughout the region, and he will be sorely missed by the Lee USA Speedway family.
The highly-competitive Benson Lumber and Hardware Small Block Supermodifieds once again put on an entertaining 30-lap feature event for the fans, and for the fifth time in five races, a different driver rolled into victory lane, as rookie competitor Jon “The Hurricane” Booth grabbed his first career win.
Booth jumped out to the lead when flagman Steve Grant unfurled the green, and he never looked back, leading every lap on his way to victory lane. Defending champion Tommy Tombarello finished in the second spot aboard the Witkum Brothers Racing entry, with Leslie Keyser rounding out the podium in third in his family-owned ride.
Opening night winner Ryan Gath brought home a fourth place finish, with Sparky MacIver fifth in the Bob Chabot entry and Tony Carroll sixth in the Full Throttle Racing machine, followed by former Late Model champ Ricky Wolf, Jr., Super Dave Sanborn, Mike Netishen, and Jake Stergios.
Prime Storage and Warehouse Late Model Sportsman action saw Ricky Porter move out to the early lead in the James R St. Jean Auctioneers machine, but his teammate Grant Aither wasted little time, moving past after a lap six restart to take his turn out front.
Aither and Porter ran nose to tail the rest of the way, picking up an impressive one-two finish when the checkers waved. Niko Maniatis continued his strong early season, rounding out the podium with a solid third place run in the Rick Solt entry.
Fourth spot went to defending LMS champ J.R. Baril in the Brian House-owned A Family Cab-sponsored machine, with 2011 champion Ryan Green right behind to round out the top five at the stripe. Alby Ovitt scored sixth, with two-time feature winner Geoff Rollins, Jimmy Russell, John Falconi, and Patrick Stewart closing out the top ten.
Another first-time winner found his way to victory lane in the David’s Race Cars and Components Hobby Stock feature event, as second-generation racer Billy Clement, Jr. picked up his first ever Lee checkers in that 25-lap main event.
Sophomore racer Kyle Sawyer had the best race of his young career, leading the first 11 laps before yielding the top spot to Clement, then holding off several challenges over the second half of the race to collect a strong runner-up finish, his first visit to the post-race podium.
A winner the last time the Hobbies did battle, Paul Palen moved up quickly in the late laps to checker third, with Jim Piaseczny, Wade Worster, David MacDonald, Torrey Kovalesky, Patrick Tanguay, Troy Washburn, and Chris Jacobson finishing up the top ten.
Danielle Simoneau finally broke the bad luck streak that started her 2013 season, leading flag to flag to pick up her first win of the season in the American Used Auto Parts Ironman feature event. Shane Horvath was next across the stripe to collect runner-up honors, with Tyler Mitchell, Travis Hollins, and Wayne Osborne taking home third through fifth.