Leftovers: ACT Late Models at Seekonk by Mike Twist
Payea, Vanasse, An Interesting Drivers' Meeting and More
Patrick Laperle    (51 Photos)
LAPERLE TAKES MAIDEN VOYAGE IN LUX #24

A bizarre chain of events led to Patrick Laperle and car owner Mike Lux joining forces for the TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) last month.  Unfortunately, they didn’t make it through the 250 heat races and into a qualified spot for the feature event.
But that wasn’t the end of the story either.  When Lux and longtime driver Mike Rowe parted ways, Leperle got the nod to drive more races in the #24.  Seekonk was the first actual feature that the combination raced together in and it was a productive day – with Laperle winning the B-Main, starting 17th in the feature and finishing in the sixth position.

Perhaps most importantly was the fact that the car remained undamaged through the afternoon and evening of racing.  Even though Leperle does not work on the car during the week – he lives in Quebec and the team is based in Arundel, Maine – he still takes pride in not tearing up equipment.

“We’re happy, we just half one half donut on the car,” said Leperle. “The new owner says that its no problem is we rip the fender off, but I’m the bodyman and that makes me cry when I do stuff like that.  I like a clean car.”

Laperle made it into the top five, but faded slightly as the race wound down.
“The car got loose.  We lost the stagger in the front and lost the wedge.”

Overall though, it was a good effort for the team and driver – not they will look towards their next event together at White Mountain Motorsports Park on August 18th. 

“We were fast out of the box and we’re pretty happy with that,” said Laperle.  “We’re going to work some more on the car.  It’s been a long time since I’ve worked with this type of car.  So we’re going to work on some things to make it quicker and then go to White Mountain and try to kick some ass.”
ANOTHER PODIUM FOR PAYEA

Finishing in the third position is starting to get to be a habit for Scott Payea.  The young Vermont racer finished third in the recent TD Banknorth 250 and then backed that up with a third-place finish at Seekonk.

Payea was in the ballpark when it came to contending for the lead at Seekonk, but his #89 machine was just a tick off when it mattered the most.

“We were close,” said Payea.  “The car was a little bit free at the start of the race, so we kind of dropped back and rode around for awhile.  It was good in the middle part, but tightened up at the end.  I was trying to make a run for it on the outside there on the restarts, but I just didn’t have enough.  Third place after wrecking this car last week at Ste-Eustache last weekend was good.  It pumped us our whole crew and we’re going back to Oxford this week.  You can’t complain about third place.”

Payea isn’t getting too used to his podium finishes though.

“You can’t get used to it because it might be there for you one minute and gone the next.  That’s what happened last weekend.  We’ll take it when we can get it.”

250 WINNER IN THE TOP FIVE AT SEEKONK

“Rocketman” Roger Brown finished fourth at Seekonk.  It was a solid effort for the driver for the #99 car, who started the race back in the 14th position.
“It wasn’t bad,” said Brown.  “With our starting position, we figured with a top five we’d be happy.  We were way too tight on the bottom and it was hard to get through traffic.  I should have gone to the outside and gone with Joey Pole.  But that was my bad.  We came home fourth with a whole racecar, so we have to like that.”

You might think that Brown’s life would have changed dramatically in recent weeks, after winning the TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford.  But that isn’t the case for the small-town boy from Northern New Hampshire.
Scott Payea
“It hasn’t really,” said Brown.  “It is still the same old thing.  We still don’t have any sponsors and we still have to do everything ourselves.  It’s nice to be announced as a TD Banknorth 250 champion.  That makes you feel good.  It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something.  I have a title. 

AN ICE CREAM CELEBRATION

18-year-old Joey Pole also has a big summer milestone that is now starting to sink in.  He won his first ACT Late Model race at Seekonk in what was a very popular victory among his fellow competitors.

So how does a young racer celebrate an important victory like that?  With an ice cream party.
Brown's #99
On the Thursday afternoon after Seekonk, Pole and his #97 car made a guest appearance at the Dairy Queen in his hometown of Hudson, New Hampshire.  The ice cream parlor is one of the team’s sponsors and has been known to put congratulatory signs out front whenever Pole has a racing accomplishment.

The appearance was actually as part of DQ’s “Miracle Treat Day” where proceeds from blizzards sold at stores nationwide were donated to the Children’s Miracle Network.  But in addition to it being for a good cause, it was also a good time to celebrate the Seekonk win.

“It’s been pretty cool,” said Pole.  “There have been a lot of people coming out and talking to us.  It’s been a good time.”

Stockwell's #36 has been running up front a lot lately.
A GOOD WEEK FOR KIP

Kip Stockwell finished fifth at Seekonk.  It capped off a very good week of racing for the former NASCAR Busch East Series driver.  Two nights before the race, Stockwell won his second Late Model feature of the season at the tour’s home track of Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT).

And things got even better just before this story hit the web.  On Thursday night, August 9th, Stockwell won another Late Model race at Thunder Road.

A REAL NEW ENGLAND FIELD

All six states from New England were represented on the entry list for the Bay State 100 at Seekonk.  Vermont and New Hampshire had plenty of entries.  Ron Henry carried the banner for the state of Maine.  Marc Curtis and Mark Anzalone held down the fort for their homestate in the feature.  Ryan Vanasse represented Rhode Island and defending Waterford Speedbowl Late Model champion Tim Jordan attempted to qualify, but had handling problems in his heat race and without the benefit of a provisional, he loaded up early to head back to Connecticut.

It was common in the earlier days of the NASCAR Busch North/Busch East Series to see an all-New England field, but that hasn’t happened much lately.  Not even last month's TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford had a driver in the pits from each New England state (Connecticut did not sent any drivers up to the race, although Jordan was pre-entered)
“We were fast [early].  It just didn’t materialize.  Roger Brown and the #36 [Kip Stockwell] got together and that juts banged me off the wall on the frontstretch.  It bent the panhard bar and that was it.  We had a good car.  I saw Joey up there and I was going to give him a few laps to see if it worked for him.  I was going to go up there then, but it was too late.

“This sucks, but having the ride home be 20 minutes long isn’t as bad.  It would be hard to swallow with a six-hour ride home.  But this is what we choose, so it is what it is.”

NEVER A BORING DRIVER’S MEETING

Whenever Tom Curley leads a driver’s meeting on the ACT Late Model Tour, there are always a few memorable soundbites.  The Seekonk meeting was no exception.

In fact, the only major touring race that comes to mind as having all six states represented in it this season was the True Value Modified Racing Series event at Seekonk earlier in the summer.  That is when Mike Stefanik represented Rhode Island to go along with the TVMRS regulars form the other five New England states.

The ACT Late Model race had Seekonk had one extra claim to fame – both Patrick Laperle and Donald Theetge represented the province of Quebec for the event.

VANASSE HAS SHORT RACE, SHORT RIDE HOME

Most of the time when Ryan Vanasse heads to the track, he has a long ride ahead of him.  That wasn’t the case for the Warwick, Rhode Island driver this time around.  It was a good thing too, since Vanasse, who won his heat race and was quick early on, got involved in trouble at Seekonk and finished 21st.
Vanasse's #11
Like a preacher, Curley is always captivating.  He usually had a particular sermon for every week too.  This week, he wanted to talk about the practice of a leader diving under a lapped car and forcing it up the track to slow the progress of the runner-up in a race.  Curley made no bones about the fact that he didn’t approve of this move.

“That’s a Rat Racer move,” said Curley in the driver’s meeting.  “If you do that, you’re just a rat of a racer.  You do that and you should be running go-karts.  You won’t get any respect and the next time that you strap in, you should just put your belts around your neck and pull on them tight.”

Curley had nothing but praise though for the Seekonk track.

“It’s more fun to watch a race here than just about anywhere else,” said Curley.  “It’s been that way for the 30-something years that I’ve been coming here.  I’ve never seen a bad race here yet.”

In fact, the Seekonk racers are so exciting and close that it is the only track on the ACT schedule where the tour brings a third scorer to keep track of the action.  The extra set of eyes is used to watch only the start-finish line to tell exact who comes out on top of any photo finishes.