ACT LATE MODELS: FALL FOILAGE LEFTOVERS by Justin St. Louis
Laperle, Brown, Lowrey, Pembroke, Henry, a Couple of Dragons and More
VETERAN DEMERS HAS SOLID RUN IN SECOND
say something when there's somebody on the outside or underneath. Half the problem with this division is spotters not saying anything on the radio, and drivers just not having any respect."
The Wilcox family-owned Newman Associates/Ouellette Plumbing & Heating machine was more or less destroyed in the wreck.
"There's no front suspension left and the chassis is pretty much totaled, the car is buckled all the way to underneath my driver's seat. It's sickening because there's a lot money tied up into this. A lot of effort goes into it, and it's fun to race when you can race. It's no fun just wrecking lap after lap, week after week. It'll be a pretty big bill to put it back together, but we're gonna try and see what happens."
BRENT DRAGON ALMOST GETS TWO IN A ROW, HELPS SHAW CARS ACHIEVE SWEEP
Furniture World of Vermont sponsors not only the Fall Foliage 150, but also the car of ACT veteran Brent Dragon. In 2004, Dragon dominated the event to take the win, becoming the third Dragon family member (joining father Harmon - better known as "Beaver" - and Uncle Bobby) to have won the race. He just missed the double this year, finishing a car length behind Patrick Laperle. A three-time ACT runner-up, Dragon now sits third in points, 68 markers behind Jean-Paul Cyr.
Laperle was a winner at Airborne Speedway in an open Late Model 100-lap feature in July, and took his first PASS win - a $12,000 payday at Unity (ME) Raceway - in June. Before the Fall Foliage event last Sunday, Laperle had made just two ACT starts this season, including the Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road a week ago. Laperle has committed to running the PASS event at White Mountain Motorsports Park this coming weekend, but hasn't decided where he'll race next. The next ACT event is the ReMax Alliance National 150 at Lee USA (NH) Speedway on September 25. The same day about an hour away, Maine's Beech Ridge Motor Speedway will hold the PASS Pullen Heavy Industries 300.
Both races are big money shows, and Laperle has a tough decision ahead of him. In 2003, he won the inaugural ACT race at Lee USA, so he knows his way around the track. But with more than 60 cars expected to show up for the $10,000-to-win prize, the odds may be better in Maine.
Furniture World of Vermont Fall Foliage 150 winner Patrick Laperle has taken on a role as a bit of an outlaw racer in 2005. A long-time ACT title contender, the St-Denis, Quebec youngster is now a semi-regular on the ACT Late Model Tour in New England and New York, the Castrol National Series in his native Quebec, and the PASS Super Late Model/Pro Stock series in New England the Canadian Maritimes.
"It's still not my favorite place, but we're getting better. Now we'll go to Lee and just hope to survive."
BOBBY DRAGON MAKES A SURPRISE APPEARANCE, FINISHES FOURTH
Legendary New England racer Bobby Dragon (Brent's uncle) made an appearance in the Dirt/Asphalt Modifieds at Airborne Speedway last week, finishing fifth and sixth in a pair of 25-lap features. But on Sunday, he showed up unexpectedly with ACT rookie Bill Sawyer's car, and finished fourth.
Patrick Laperle celebrates his win in the Furniture World of Vermont Fall Foliage 150. (Justin St. Louis/Speed51.com photo)
"We did alright," said Pembroke, "But we didn't make any friends, I got into the back of Jean. I didn't mean to get into the back of him, but I talked to him and hopefully it's all okay. I don't really race like that, and I hope everybody knows that. Other than that, it was pretty awesome, Dale Shaw had a good day."
Pembroke was relieved to have had a good finish at Airborne, a track that has historically not treated him well.
"Lee or Beech Ridge... we don't know yet," Laperle said. "Beech Ridge pays 15 (thousand to win). They have time trials, about 45 cars, they'll take 35 or something like that. Next week we're going to White Mountain with the Pro Stock, so we'll know after that."
Laperle has confirmed that he will finish the ACT season with the New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl at Thunder Road in October.
WILCOX AND BEGIN WRECK HARD, WILCOX FURIOUS
The reason for the restart that led to Ron Henry's wreck on lap 131 was a hard hit into the frontstretch wall by Dave Wilcox and A.J. Begin. While navigating lapped traffic, Begin made a move into the outside groove, attempting to make a pass on a backmarker. Unfortunately, Wilcox was already there. After they touched, both cars shot directly to the wall and effectively out of the race. Wilcox was not pleased.
Dragon's new Dale Shaw chassis was part of a clean sweep of the podium spots for the builder.
"I think it's great. There were probably about only five (Shaw chassis) in the whole race," Dragon said.
In fact, the Shaw cars dominated the Foliage events, from start to finish. Dragon was intrigued by the number scheme that he, winner Patrick Laperle, and third-place driver Dave Pembroke compiled.
"The most interesting thing was that Patrick won the first heat, I won the second heat, and Pembroke won the third heat. We started 12th, 13th, and 14th, and finished 1-2-3. What are the odds of that, huh? They were telling me that in the tech trailer, I thought that was pretty cool."
PEMBROKE HAPPY WITH FINISH, BUT UNHAPPY WITH HIMSELF
Dave Pembroke finished third for the second week in a row, but was upset about contact he made with Jean-Paul Cyr's car with less than 15 laps to go.
Bobby Dragon (39) at speed. (Justin St. Louis / Speed51.com photo)
Dave Wilcox heads for a chat with A.J. Begin (66) after their lap 131 wreck. (Leif Tillotson photo)
"This was just blatant," Wilcox said. "He turned right, he didn't want to be pinched behind a slower car going into turn one, and he stuffed me in the wall. He knew I was out there, I was out there for two laps beside him. This is as bad as it gets, this is somebody just blatantly turning with no regard for the other racer whatsoever."
Wilcox was as upset with Begin as he was with Begin's spotter.
"This stuff is uncalled for, and Tom (ACT President and race director Tom Curley) needs to address it and do something about it. This division has radios, and the drivers rely on these radios. They rely on the spotters to
"I thought we had a top-five car," Lowrey said. "We just got stuck in that notorious outside line, and there was no real room to go anywhere. Joey Becker was kind of holding me up, but we were just racing. That's Airborne - if you can't get under them, you have to go around them on the top, and it takes more than one or two laps to do it."
What Lowrey calls "stuck" others may call "riding a rail". Lowrey battled from 17th at the start to enter the Top 10 with just under 50 laps remaining, and picked off most of his passes in the high groove. The finish is Lowrey's third Top 10 in the last four races. The one other finish during that span was an 11th-place charge at Seekonk, after Lowrey spun out of third place with less than 20 laps to go. Many expect the #8 team to be a contender for the $10,000 top prize at Lee USA Speedway in two weeks.
Brent Dragon (55), Dave Pembroke (52), and Bobby Dragon (39) battle for the second spot late in the going. (Justin St. Louis/Speed51.com photo)
Rich Lowrey straps in. (Justin St. Louis / Speed51.com photo)
"We weren't sure until about Friday that we were coming," Dragon said. "It was kind of a last-minute opportunity that presented itself, so I said 'Yeah let's go and have some fun.'"
Dragon made a fantastic save on lap 67 after slipping off the racing surface on the backstretch. After getting all four tires in the dirt, the winner of the 1972 and 1974 Fall Foliage events brought the car back onto the track completely sideways, only losing one position.
"We had a great run, we finished seventh again. We'll enjoy the nice long weekend, and we'll come back to win ten grand. I'm ready."
ROCKETMAN HAS TOP 10 DEBUT IN SANGERMANO CAR
After losing his race car in a devastating crash while leading at Thunder Road last week, "Rocket" Roger Brown was offered a ride in a car owned by Connecticut team owner Mike Sangermano. After testing successfully at Waterford (CT) Speedbowl (the site of Brown's only ACT win, in 2004), the decision was made to head to Airborne. All things considered, the day went very well, as they finished in ninth place.
"We ran 150 laps at Airborne and got two like tire donuts, that's impressive," Brown joked.
Brown said his experience with the Sangermano team has been good so far.
"It's been going good, we're having fun learning. These guys are real cool to work with and they're a blast to be around."
Whether the new pairing attempts the Lee USA event next week has yet to be determined.
"I had my hands full on that one, I just plain got out there with one wheel off the edge there, boy, and I didn't think that I was that close to the edge, but I was and it's a good thing nobody was really on my bumper because I probably would have not had the room to get back on the other end, but it worked out okay."
In the true spirit of racing for fun, Dragon had a perfect day.
"I guess we maybe made enough money between the finish and the couple bucks we picked up for tires to cover the expenses for the weekend, and you can't ask for any more than that. The car was a little on the loose side, so it probably kept us from being a little better, but all in all I guess it was a pretty good run."
FOR SOMEONE WHO WASN'T GOING TO RACE, WILLIAMS HAS A GOOD RUN
At Thunder Road last week, Eric Williams wasn't planning on going to Airborne Speedway for the Fall Foliage 150. One of ACT's most prominent lowbuck racers, Williams was going to save his money in order to attempt qualifying at Lee USA. Williams ended up finishing sixth on the heels of ACT point leader Jean-Paul Cyr.
"I almost got Cyr, but not quite," Williams said. "One more lap I would have had him, but who knows."
Williams attributes his strong run to Maine racer and chassis builder Jeff Taylor, owner of Distance Racing Chassis.
"It didn't go too bad. This is all Jeff Taylor's stuff, he's so good with the flat-track setups. It definitely is a whole 'nother breed of cat to drive on these flatter tracks. It wasn't the fastest car out there, but where it placed is probably close to what it deserved. It was a little bit tight, if I had to complain... but I'm not gonna."
LOWREY'S FINISH DOESN'T INDICATE HIS SPEED
For the second week in a row, Rich Lowrey finished a strong seventh in his Imagistics/Green Mountain Office Machines Chevrolet, but likely could have been farther up the rundown.
"We don't know yet, we're going to see what happens. We're going to see what we've got going on, and if they want to go, we'll go. Pretty good day, though, we came home with a Top 10."
BECKER ALMOST SNAGS A TOP 10
Since joining the Richard Green Racing team in 2003, Joey Becker has had a lot of ups and downs. The ups include a stirring victory in the Memorial Day Classic at Thunder Road in 2004 and a Thursday night win at the track earlier this summer. The downs have been dismal, to be fair. Sunday was a pretty good day for the #16 team, finishing 12th after running in the Top 10 for all but the final few circuits.
"We had a pretty solid run today," said Becker. "I don't think we were fast enough to win, but we ran pretty good. We were in the Top 10 until about five laps to go and got hung out on a restart. We struggled a little bit earlier this morning when we got here, but we ran pretty good in the heat race and it got us a pretty good starting spot. We held on as long as we could, but we faded a little bit at the end."
Becker and car owner Green are happy with the second half of their season, and are looking for a strong finish.
"We've picked it up quite a bit I think, and we're pretty happy with the way ran," Becker said. "We made some changes on the car this week, and we'll make a few more before we go to Lee."
HENRY FINISHES FOURTEENTH ON THE LEAD LAP... BUT HOW?
Ron Henry brought his car home in 14th place. On paper it's no big deal, right? Look a little deeper - on a lap 131 restart, the "big one" happened on the frontstretch as Eric Williams and Eric Chase came together. Sixth in the restart order, Chase's lapped car spun in front of nearly the entire field. With nowhere to go, the Top 10 cars of Henry, Jamie Fisher, Phil Scott, and Trampas Demers piled in. Henry's car looked to one of the most severely damaged, but somehow the Wayne Excavators/RTA Aggregates crew patched their car together, and their driver limped his beaten and battle-scarred mount home on the lead lap.
Roger Brown stand by the Mike Sangermano car. (Justin St. Louis/Speed51.com photo)
Ron Henry's battered car (05) finished 14th after a hard wreck. (Leif Tillotson photo)
"We had a pretty good run going," a solemn Henry said. "The only thing I saw was the 40 (Chase) sideways. I let up out of the throttle and got hit from behind and shoved into it. I was just along for the ride. There's quite a bit of suspension bent up, and it bent the frame horns, moved the motor and everything."
Ironically, the finish was Henry's best of the 2005 season. At the end of what must have seemed like the longest afternoon of the year for the 2004 ACT Sportsmanship Award winner, he's uncertain about making the ReMax Alliance National 150 at Lee USA.
"We're getting discouraged here," he said, "but we'll try."
Brent Dragon during driver introductions. (Justin St. Louis/Speed51.com photo)