RAINS WASH OUT A LEE DOUBLE FEATURE By Mike Twist, Denise DuPont and Justin St. Louis
ACT Late Model and True Value Mods Share Track For Heat Races Before Showers Start
There are just some short track racing shows that promise so much potential that they simply can’t be missed. When the idea of an ACT Late Model/True Value Modified Racing Series double feature at Lee USA Speedway became reality, that event immediately became something that was circled on the calendars of many New England race fans.
rows of the starting grid. Three-time PASS Super Late Model champion Ben Rowe redeemed himself after not qualifying for the ACT opener at Thunder Road Speedbowl last month and will start on the pole for his first ACT start, which comes the day after a PASS race at White Mountain.
Rowe, a second-generation racer, earned the coveted front row starting spot by passing the most cars in his qualifying heat race. ACT utilizes a unique “Plus/Minus” handicap system to determine main event starting spots.
Mooers Forks, NY-veteran Mark Lamberton will sit alongside the front row. Lamberton, a former Airborne Speedway Late Model Champion, was among the fastest cars during his qualifier.
Unfortunately, everything from floods to light poles conspired against the race and despite the best efforts of two sanctioning bodies and one track, the race has been postponed until September 17th.
Originally, the race was scheduled as a Friday night show but that changed when part of a major capital improvement at the track fell behind schedule. Light poles for a new track lighting system were backordered by the vendor, so the track moved the show to a Sunday afternoon date.
Another part of the improvement project paid big dividends. As devastating floods wiped through Southern New Hampshire, a new drainage system kept the track fairly dry. The Friday night date would have been a rainout anyway, but Sunday was looking good – if the showers stayed away.
As other area tracks such as Star Speedway, Stafford Motor Speedway, Canaan Fair Speedway, Twin State Speedway and White Mountain Motorsports Park canceled their weekend shows due to the wet stuff, it looked like the show at Lee just might be able to squeak by and take place after all. There were nearly 40 cars of
In the heat races at Lee, there were plenty of cars coming and going. (Top - Leif Tillotson Photo, Bottom - Jim DuPont Photo)
each flavor in the pits. ACT fans were getting to see Modifieds. Mod fans were getting to see Late Models. Everyone started the day happy.
Practice began on schedule and the heat races began on schedule. But the skies opened up as the heat races wound down. Efforts to dry the track were not successful in time and the plug was pulled on the show. The schedules of the track and the two tours were compared and a rain date was set for September 17th, which is the same date as a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event up the road at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Before the rains came, though, fans were entertained by some good action in the heat races.
ACT Late Models
The ACT Late Models, which run under the same rules package as the weekly Late Model division at Lee, were able to complete their first round of qualifying. Four heat races took place around a few passing showers and much of the 30-car field for the race was set.
When ACT returns to Lee in September, drivers representing four different states will occupy the first two
The ACT Late Models sit all staged at Lee. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“Like everyone else, I’m disappointed that most of today’s race rained out,” said Lamberton. “But we’ll be back in September with hopefully as strong a car as we had today.”
Seventeen-year-old Mark Anzalone of Malden, Massachusetts, an ACT Rookie of the Year candidate, and multi-time Series Champion Jean-Paul Cyr of Vermont will occupy the second row.
There were several surprises among the 16 drivers who’ve already qualified. Two of Lee USA’s weekly Late
Model competitors, Jeremy Harclerode and Bryan Kruczek from Avon, MA, earned transfer spots with strong heat runs. 2004 PASS Champion Johnny Clark was an unexpected entrant in the Chad Sullivan-owned Chevrolet, making his first appearance in an ACT Late Model. Clark utilized the outside groove and qualified the unfamiliar car.
Other drivers already in the field also include Joey Laquerre, AJ Begin, Scott Payea, Roger Brown, Joey Polewarczyk, Doug Coombs, Steve Reny, Fred LaGoy and Dan Colby.
Among the notable drivers who will race in one of two consi rounds when the event resumes, is Dave Pembroke, former ACT Tour Champions Dave Whitcomb and Phil Scott, as well as former Thunder Road Late Model Champion, Jamie Fisher.
Mike Collins, winner of a 100-lap race at Lee USA a few weeks ago, has also been relegated to a consolation round. Four drivers from each consi, will transfer to the RE/MAX Alliance 100. The remaining 15 drivers will move to the Second Storey Homes Last Chance “B” Feature where three additional drivers will earn a spot in the feature field.
The ACT Tour continues its 2006 schedule on Saturday, June 10th, at New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park with the Country Pools & Spas 100. Post time will be 5:00 pm.
By the time that the rains came for good, there was already plenty of action on the track for the True Value Modifieds.
Johnny Clark took the reins of the "0No" ride at Lee. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“We are here to have fun and learn,” said Spencer prior to practice Sunday.
Spencer got his modified foot in the door last September at Seekonk looking right at home and running well in his first effort.
Sunday’s qualifying races were run during on again off again showers with several mishaps taking place and several race cars on the back of a tow truck as a result. Those that have made the starting lineup after the top six were taken from the first two heat races were, Richard Savary, Tony Ricci, Johnny Bush, Jimmy Dolan, Sean Bodreau and Les Hinckley from the first heat, with Kirk Alexander, Jimmy Kuhn, Jack Bateman, Rusty Ball, Andy Seuss and Dwight Jarvis the top 6 in the second qualifier.
During the start of the third heat race, Dale Evansion in the #35 car was loose coming off of turn four and hit the wall on the front stretch near the starter stand. Dale took the #11 and 51 car along with his car but the damage was limited to Dale’s car.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour regulars Kevin Konopka and Mike Andrews Jr. both were in the pits at Lee. Vinnie Annarumo, Swansea, MA, Seekonk Speedway pro stock champion, also entered his first race of the season with a brand new SPAFCO modified sponsored by his familiar Francis Farms Clambakes.
Annarumo was a modified regular in the early 80’s at Stafford Springs, CT. He’ll be joined by another veteran Seekonk pro stock racer jumping to the modified wars, Kenny Spencer of Taunton, Massachusetts.
Seuss saw plenty of action during the day. His team rebuilt the right front corner of their chassis after getting caught behind a spinning car and hitting the wall in practice. Then, Seuss was chased a hornet from under the MSD boxes of the #70 car prior to the heat races, where he would test out the repairs. Finally, he survived more contact in his rough and tumble heat race to make it into the feature event.
Les Hinckley came to Lee after his Canaan win a little unsure of his day. Les stated that getting around the Lee track has always been a struggle.
“We have a new package and we will just go from there. It is always a guessing game,” said Hinkley. “We run here good on the short run but on the long runs, the car just gives up, there is not a whole lot of grip on the track. We will see what the new package brings and we will work on it from there. “
In the Jim Boniface trailer, there was not a familiar black and red car but a new shiny white and blue car.
“The other car lost a motor at the Canaan Fairgrounds Speedway,” said Boniface. “On Wednesday night, we purchased a new car from Peter Daniels. We just went out there and looked at the car. I sat in the seat, said to load it and we just drove it home. We hope to have a good race today. We are going out there to feel the car out and hope to keep it in one piece for the first week”
The True Value Modified Racing Series will return to action this Saturday night at Monadnock Speedway. Speed51.com will be on hand to bring you all of the action from the track.
Mike Andrews was at Lee with the #36 car. (Jim DuPont Photo)
Dale Evonsion (#35) and Les Mardanes (#11) get together in one of the TVMRS heat races. (Jim DuPont Photo)