interesting team to watch as the season progresses. There
have been rumors throughout the winter that a successful
driver from Murray’s past could be in the # 7 racer for the opener.
Two drivers with a successful past in pro stock racing at Lee will be returning this year. J.R. Baril and Wayne Helliwell Jr, return to Lee after both continued racing at other venues when the pro stock division was dropped from the Lee lineup. Baril raced with PASS and at Beech Ridge Maine Speedway while Helliwell the last two seasons raced open wheel modifieds with the True Value Modified Racing Series.
Look for Katrina Canney, who captured her first feature last year in the roadrunner division, to be in a Late Model this season. Brenton Piekarski has announced he is returning this season and White Mountain Speedway regular Ray Deschenes is registered to race Lee this season. He’ll have 1970’s Lee racer “Gentlemen” Jim Heywood as crew chief. Heywood was a front runner at Lee on the former Tri-Oval under the Bonser family ownership.
Dan Eaton goes from a hobby stock to Chad Sullivan’s sharp looking Late Model for the new campaign while Dean Weber hopes his foot injury suffered at the end of last season is behind him and he’ll be ready to pursue the track championship. Hobby Stock champion Bobby Glass moves into the Late Models. Keith Larmie, Jeff Labrecque and Newmarket’s Bryan Kruczek are all back in 2006.
ICEBREAKER PRACTICE DATES SET
Racers throughout the northeast are working hard to be ready for the first open practice session of the new season at Thompson International Speedway. The open practice dates have been set of Saturday, March 25, 2006 and again on Saturday, April 1, 2006. The on-track times will be from 12 Noon until 6 PM both days.
Pit gates to the historic speedway will open at 10 AM on both days to allow competitors an opportunity to be ready for the 12 Noon start time. Racecars will be divided up by racing divisions and will practice as such. The ‘round robin’ approach has worked very well in the past and will be used again this year. This approach provides race teams with the most on-track time possible. The Thompson Speedway grandstands will not be open either day.
Any legal racecar is welcome to participate. Thompson’s 2006 racing schedule has a wide variety of racing divisions and each is encouraged to participate in one or both of these pre-season practice dates.
51's NORTHERN EXPOSUREComplied by Mike Twist
Lee's Silly Season and Practice Plans Start Coming Together
Two years ago, a NASCAR champion was crowned from the Lee oval as Northwood’s Ricky Wolf captured the 2004 New England regional title. Wolf will be returning to Lee in 2006. At present, 29 race teams have registered for the 2006 season with a handful more expected to join the new roster.
Other drivers making the move up include Somerville, MA, racer Jim Linardy from the roadrunner division. Linardy debuted a Late Model midway through last season and plans to run a full schedule in 06. With long time car owner/crew chief “Nasty” Neil Murray working behind the scenes guiding Linardy along the way, this could be an
The Late Models at Lee will have some new faces this season. (51 Photo)
DION MEETS FANS AT A VERY SPECIAL PLACE
Last weekend’s Racearama show was held for the first time at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, which is also the home of the New England Patriots NFL team.
That connection was not lost on Dave Dion, who is a huge Patriots fan, as he was signing autographs for fans at the show.
“This is something isn’t it?” said Dion. “I’m going to have to go and see if they will let me go out and stand on the 50-yard line when this is over!”
LEE LATE MODELS HAVE BUSY SILLY SEASON
When the headlining Late Model division at Lee USA Speedway (NH) returns to action next month, fans might need a scorecard to keep track of who is who in the division. There have been wholesale changes since the 2005 season has closed itself out.
Thompson’s NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series divisions, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour cars, Busch East, NEMA Midgets, Antique Race Clubs, Pro Four, ARTS Trucks, RoC and True Value Modifieds and ISMA Super Modifieds are just some of the divisions that will be competing at Thompson in the ’06 season. All are welcome at the open practice dates.
“We have found that competitors find these open practice sessions to be invaluable in getting their racecars set up for ICEBREAKER weekend and beyond, said track owner, Don Hoenig. We try to offer two afternoons of track time so that when the season-opening ICEBREAKER arrives, competitors need to make only minor adjustments to fine-tune their cars for competition,” Hoenig concluded.
Thompson’s ICEBREAKER is scheduled for the weekend of April 8th and 9th. This is the traditional season opener for auto racing in the northeast and is one of the most important dates on any racers’ schedule. A good performance at the ICEBREAKER can be the springboard to a successful season. Many competitors have turned their good performance at the ICEBREAKER into a very strong season that resulted in a championship title.
The tradition of the ICEBREAKER will continue this year with a full day of on-track activity and two feature events on Saturday. The Raceway Restaurant and Lounge will be the center of activity on Saturday night and again on Sunday morning when racers gather for breakfast. Racing on Sunday will begin at 12 Noon and will showcase the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in its first outing of the 2006 season along with the NASCAR Dodge Weekly series “Super Six” divisions. The “Super Six” consists of the Sunoco Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Late Models, Limited Sportsman, T.I.S. Modifieds and Mini Stocks.
The ICEBREAKER is one of New England’s premier auto racing events and is a “must see” race for fans who have been waiting for the long winter to turn to spring. Early indications point to what may be one of the nicest spring seasons in New England in a long time. Race fans and Thompson Speedway have high hopes for a great weekend of racing.
WATERFORD TO PRACTICE TOO
A Saturday, March 25 practice session will put into motion Waterford Speedbowl’s 56th consecutive season. The practice, open to all cars competing in the season-opening 10th annual April 1-2 Budweiser Modified Nationals, will be the “start up” for all of New England.
The rain date is Sunday, March 26. If needed, the pit will open at 10 AM on Sunday and cars will be on the track from noon till dark.
“Judging from the number of early entries and the phone calls we’ve received we expect a lot of cars,” said General Manager Bill Roth. “Everybody is, of course, interested in getting things in shape for the opener. The track appears to have got through the winter well and we are anxious to get started.”
A second practice for Bud Nats competitors will be held on Friday, March 31. The pits will open at noon with practicing beginning at 2 and running until dark.
Last year’s Modified Nationals winners included Tom Fox (SK-150), Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Models), Billy Gertsch Jr. (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stocks), Jeffrey Paul (Legends), Kurt Vigant (Pro4s), Chris Correll (ARTs) and Dave Sullivan (Legacy Cars). All are possible repeaters.
All Mod Nats qualifying, including SK time trials, will be done on Saturday, April 1 followed by features for the Legends (25), Pro4s (25), ARTs (25), and Legacy Cars (20). The Late Models (50), Sportsman (30), Mini Stocks (30) and Midgets (25) will join the SKs on a Sunday agenda that begins with the Pit Party at 10:30 AM.
The cars of the Icebreaker will be hitting the track in the next week weeks to start practicing.
The Sunday, April 2 SK-150 is the featured event on the busy nine-division Mod Nats agenda. In addition to the Speedbowl’s Late Models, Sportsmen, Mini Stocks and Legends, the Northeastern Midget Association, AllStar Race Trucks, Pro4 Modifieds and Legacy Cars are also on the Mod Nats program.
The pit gate will open at 8 AM on March 25 and practice will run from 10 AM until dark. Pit admission is $10 per person and a signed minor release will be necessary for everyone under 18. The main grandstand will not be open.
The SK Modifieds will take center stage at Waterford on opening day. (Waterford Speedbowl Photo)