Nearly 30 “new breed” Quebec racers and teams attending a recent organizational meeting in Drummondville, Qc learned that ACT will promote and manage the Quebec Late Model Série next year.  ACT president Tom Curley said, “We feel very lucky to be able to work with many old friends and some new young talent.  Donald Forte, in cooperation with the Quebec promoters did a very good job establishing this touring series.  Our job is to help make it grow and have a lot of fun along the way.  The Quebec Late Model Series fits our regional business plan perfectly.  Universal rules, inexpensive race costs and affordable ticket prices will be our goal in Quebec, just like in New England.”

ACT has formed a 12-race schedule for the coming season that will compete at five venues.  Included on the card will be two very popular ACTion Super Series events.  The Series will open at Ralph Nason’s Autodrome Montmagny Speedway, a 3/8ths mile high-banked oval in May and close with the Cari-all 300 at the historic Autodrome St-Eustache near Montreal, a 4/10ths mile oval owned by former champion, Claude Aubin.  Also on the docket will be stops at Autodrome Circuit Chaudiere, a track that ACT’s Curley consulted on, which is a favorite of fans and race teams. The 5/8ths mile Autodrome Ste-Croix, located near Quebec City, will host a pair of Quebec Late Model Série events as well as an ACTion Super Series race.  Ontario’s Capital City Speedway, which has also introduced the ACT Late Model rules package, will hold the lone event outside the province.  The second ACTion Super Series race will be at Aubin’s Autodrome St-Eustache.

Claude Leclerc, a 30+ year racing veteran was pleased with the information he heard at the meeting, “Saturday was a great day for Quebec racing.  Tom Curley presented a good schedule and very good purses.  It will be good for every driver.  Having ACT will bring stability, a good foundation – Tom has been in the business for over 30 years and his plans aren’t just for the short term,” the Montreal-based driver finished.

“We are very proud that ACT is coming to Quebec,” affirmed Donald Theetge of Boischatel, near Quebec City.  “The rules will put everyone on the same playing field, which will allow us to race across the Northeast without changing the car.  Now I can go to Oxford for the `250’ and the ACT Tour race at Kawartha.  I’ve raced at Kawartha and it’s a great track,” said the 2006 Quebec Series Champion.

Daniel Bergeron of St. Benoit, Quebec was planning to run a couple of ACT Tour events next year, but with the organization’s recent announcement that it will return to Quebec in 2007, he’s changing his plans, “I think I’m going to stay closer to home,” the 40 year-old driver stated.  “The meeting was very informative, and the schedule’s good, as are the rules which will allow me the chance to run against other drivers in some of the big races in the US.”

Louis Larue, president of RPQ, the Quebec Late Model driver’s organization echoed the competitor’s thoughts, “We are very proud to have ACT here in the province of Quebec.  Tom Curley has over 35 years of knowledge in the sport and having him bring this to our racing is a positive move.”
51's NORTHERN EXPOSURE compiled by Mike Twist
American and Canadian Once Again, Seitz Shines, Bellerose is Back and More

Quebec racing is deeply rooted in northern New England stock car history.  “La Belle Province” has produced many notable competitors, including the great Jean-Paul Cabana, André Many, Marcel Goddard, and Claude Aubin, among others, who were mainstays at the former Catamount Stadium (Milton, VT) and Thunder Road (Barre, VT) in the 1960s.  Quebec racing at Vermont tracks and at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway continued with Quebec City’s Langis Caron, while Claude Leclerc and Roger Laperle from the Montreal area, and a host of drivers, were among the foundation of the ACT Pro Stock Tour years later.
ACT BRANCHES OUT TO CANADA

After a ten year absence, the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) will be returning to Canadian racing on a regular basis in 2007.  With the recent announcement of an ACTion Super Series race at Ontario’s Kawartha Speedway, and the finalization of negotiations with Quebec race teams and promoters north of the border, the Vermont-based group has announced it will manage and administer the very popular and successful Quebec Late Model Série in 2007.
SUPERS COME BACK TO OXFORD

The world’s fastest short track asphalt cars are returning to Oxford Plains Speedway.

OPS owner Bill Ryan and International Supermodified Association president Howie Lane have announced that ISMA will be back at the historic, 3/8-mile Western Maine oval in 2007 after a three-year absence. The New England Dodge Dealers Maine Classic is scheduled for Saturday, August 18.

Three-time ISMA champion Chris Perley of Rowley, Mass., ruled the last 75-lap event at OPS, hitting the finish line ahead of Pat Abold and Brad Lichty. Perley was the fourth different winner in five ISMA appearances at Oxford between 2000 and 2004.

Two attempts to run the 2005 Maine Classic were washed out by rain, and OPS and ISMA couldn’t come up with a mutual date to renew the tradition in ’06.

“We were all disappointed that the weather put a damper
on the ISMA Maine Classic two years ago,” Ryan said. “There was never any doubt that our fans missed the power and speed of those cars. One of the questions we heard the most during our last off-season was, ‘When are the Supers coming back?’ So we’re very happy to announce the return of one of our most popular events of the season on August 18.”

With average speeds hitting 100 miles per hour, the winged ISMA Supers put the OPS speed record in jeopardy every time they hit the speedway. Randy Ritskes blistered the track’s “official” mark with a timed lap of 13.341 seconds prior to the inaugural race in 2000.

While no time trials were contested at the Maine Classic in recent years, stopwatch speeds skyrocketed after Ryan re-paved the track surface in October 2002.

Nokie Fornoro embellished his family’s open-wheel accomplishments at OPS by winning the first Maine Classic in 2000. Two-time series champion Mike Ordway is the only repeat Oxford winner after dominating the 2001 event and successfully defending the crown in 2002.

Bobby Santos III pulled off a stunning victory as a 17-year-old ISMA rookie in 2003, followed by Perley’s triumph en route to his second series championship in ’04.

Perley has finished first or second in the ISMA championship chase every year since 2002. He claimed in his third title in overwhelming fashion this past season, winning 10 of 17 races for car owner Vic Miller. With help from Indianapolis 500 veteran and open-wheel legend Bentley Warren of Kennebunkport, Maine, the Miller team set an all-time ISMA record of 11 wins in a single season thanks.

Fornoro, Santos, Lou Cicconi and former weekly OPS Pro Stock competitor Justin Belfiore also logged race victories in 2006.

Next season’s visit to Maine enhances a series that traveled to New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario last summer. It also adds more spice to a flavorful OPS schedule that features the TD Banknorth 250 Presented by New England Dodge Dealers, the Oxford Late Model Challenge Series, the American-Canadian Tour and the True Value Modified Racing Series.
Full details of the schedule will be released in the coming weeks.

“Our fans can look forward to more Weekly and Summer racing than ever, topped by the best touring action available in New England,” Ryan said. “It is going to be a super season, and we are thrilled that ISMA is going to be part of it.”
The ISMA Supermodifieds are returning to Oxford Plains Speedway in 2007.  (Jim Feeney Photos)
ACT, which has been very successful in New England with their crate-engined Late Models, is branching North.  (Justin St. Louis Photo)
BELLEROSE RETURNS TO RACING

After a three-year absence, former Thunder Road International Speedbowl (Barre, VT) “Queen of the Road” Tracie Bellerose will return to American-Canadian Tour (ACT) racing in 2007.  Sidelined with an arm injury in 2003, Bellerose has made a full and unexpected recovery and will team up with champion crew chief Jeff Laquerre of East Montpelier, VT and car owner Scott Fearn of Wilbraham, MA to compete in select events next season.

Bellerose broke down barriers to become the first woman to win a Thunder Road feature event in 1998.  Two years
later, she was hailed as the track’s Late Model division champion – the first woman in short track stock car racing history to win a championship in a “headline” class.  Bellerose also has three feature wins on the competitive ACT Late Model Tour, and has made history at race tracks throughout New England and Canada.

“Right now the plan is to try and do five races,” said Bellerose, “but I’ve got a feeling that once I get back in the car I’ll catch the fever again.  Maybe we’ll do more events, who knows, but for now we’ll start small.”

Bellerose’s tentative schedule will begin on April 29 at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway.  She will return to Thunder Road for the Merchants Bank 150 on May 6, followed by a June 9 event at Oxford Plains to prepare for the prestigious Oxford 250 on July 22.  Her season concludes with the New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl at Thunder Road on September 30.

With Laquerre turning wrenches on her Late Model car in 2003, Bellerose nearly captured her second “Queen of the Road” crown before suffering a severely broken arm during a freak accident.  Laquerre has since captured a pair of championships with driver Cris Michaud.  Fearn, a veteran car owner and driver, has competed successfully on the ACT Late Model Tour with drivers Dennis Botticello and Tom Fearn.  In his initial season with the Tour in 2004, Fearn and his team finished ninth overall.  The team also captured a 50-lap race win at Quebec’s Sanair Super Speedway (1.3km) in 2006.

SEITZ READY TO ACCEPT ANOTHER CROWN

Ben Seitz of Monument Beach, MA has rightfully earned his place in the record books of the Northeastern Midget Association.  On January 13, 2006 at White’s of Westport in Westport, MA, Seitz formally will be crowned with his third-straight Northeastern Midget Association championship.  He will join only two other drivers-Dave Humphrey and Russ Stoehr-to earn the distinction in the 54-year history of the Club. 
Tracie Bellerose is coming back to the driver's seat in 2007.  (Gene Gagne Photo)
“I would never even put myself in their category,” said Seitz of his fellow record-holders.  “Just to be mentioned in the same breath with Dave Humphrey and Russ Stoehr is a huge honor.” 

Like Stoehr before him, Seitz has won the consecutive titles for a single car owner.   He has earned each of the championships driving the potent #17 for Peter and Lynne Valeri.  With Seitz’s raw talent and Valeri’s wisdom along with their matched hunger for victory, the two have shown to be a perfect compliment and proven to be a winning combination.

Dedicated families and a handful of hardworking
volunteers solidify the efforts of the duo.  The Valeri team also enjoys the steadfast support of sponsors like Cape Cod Aggregates and the Sam Lorusso Family that allows them the resources to compete among the powerhouse teams in NEMA. 
 
“This is truly a team effort.  I like to think that Pete andI do our part,” said Seitz, “but we would not have gotten this far without the support of a bunch of other people that more than pull their weight with this team.  I have to thank my entire family, Buck Gilbert, Jimmy Morragio, Eddie Parker, Dick Bean and, of course, Mike Scrivani.” 

“Our team is fortunate to have the very best equipment thanks to Esslinger and Bob East,” continued Seitz.  “We have the strongest chassis and engine combination in Midget Racing with these two companies and their amazing staffs.”

Unlike years past, the 2006 season was not a dominating one for the Peter Valeri-owned race team.  It was a consistent season with two victories, six top-five and nine top-ten finishes in 11 starts. 

“It was a slow and steady season,” said Seitz.  “This one was won more in the shop than on the race track.”

With only one DNF (did not finish) during the entire season, it seems that the maintenance program was the key to the success of the team this season. 

“We did not run exceptionally well this year,” said Seitz modestly. “ We ran okay at most tracks but we struggled on the short tracks like Seekonk and Waterford this year. We sort of backed into this one.” 

“Joey Payne was definitely the man to beat in 2006.  Without the wreck at Stafford the Angelillo team would definitely be the champs. They were unbelievable this season.” 

Despite missing two races, Payne and Angelillo finished an astonishing fourth in the final point standings.  Their record-two wins and seven top-five finishes in nine starts.

The 2006 season was one of the most competitive in recent memory.  A total of six drivers visited victory lane.  No driver scored more than two wins.  The champ scored his two victories of the 2006 season at the two biggest tracks on which NEMA competes-the Stafford Motor Speedway (April 30) and Thompson International Speedway (October 15). 

The noted highlight of the season for Seitz was the win in the XTRA-Mart World Series of Stock Car Racing at Thompson International Speedway in October. 

“The October race at Thompson was the best race of the year for us,” said Seitz.  “It was crunch time and we handled the pressure and came home with the win. ” 

Other drivers doubling up included Randy Cabral, Nokie Fornoro, Joey Payne and Bobby Santos III.  The only other winner in 2006 was Mike Keeler.  These numbers speak for the parity in the top tier of NEMA competition.

Randy Cabral, in his first full season driving for owner Tim Bertrand, came home second in the final point standings with two wins, eight top-five and nine top-ten finishes in 11 starts.  Nokie Fornoro, who missed a race due to a conflict with the International Supermodified Association (ISMA) schedule, to which he also competes, managed to finish third in the final point standings also with two victories, seven top-five and eight top-ten finishes in 10 starts.  Shane Hammond had a standout season rounding out the top-five, one spot behind Payne. 

“This championship was a little bit more nerve-racking than the others.  Toward the end, Randy (Cabral) and Nokie (Fornoro) were right there point-wise and on the track Joey (Payne) was a huge threat.” 

Like the championships that came before, Seitz and company were able to withstand the pressure of a heated point race with tremendously talented rivals to take home the biggest honor in NEMA. 

“They are all special,” responded Seitz when asked how this championship differed from the others.  “They all will be with us forever.” 

“Winning one title is a great accomplishment but three is a tribute to everybody on this team.

“And winning never gets old.”




Ben Seitz's team of champions.  (NEMA Photo)