51's Northern Exposure Compiled by Mike Twist
The Skinny on Some Big Races and Big Winter Shows
OXFORD 250 ENTRY LIST GROWS
The three dominant personalities of last year’s TD Banknorth 250 weekend have thrown their helmets into the 2007 ring, entering Oxford Plains Speedway’s 34th annual short track extravaganza scheduled for Sunday, July 21.
When OPS announced that Late Models would be its top division in 2007, Martin immediately became a favorite to win the crown jewel event. Martin has competed in the last two TD Banknorth 250s, earning a free pass last summer by winning the American-Canadian Tour Maine-Ly Action Sports 100 on the eve of the 250. It was Martin’s second ACT win at his home track in four years. Martin also won the 2004 Oxford Networks Late Model speedway championship.
Several other potential winners recently added their names to the entry list, including Tracie Bellerose of Gorham, N.H., Dwayne Lanphear of Morrisville, Vt., and OPS multi-division star Tommy Tompkins of Mexico, Maine.
Bellerose was an Oxford Networks Late Model regular in the late 1990s, winning a pair of feature races against a field comprised exclusively of male drivers. In 2000, Bellerose became one of the few women in America ever to win a championship in a speedway’s top division, capturing the prestigious Late Model Sportsman title at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt.
A serious crash in 2003 left Bellerose with a severely broken arm, keeping her on the sidelines for three full seasons. Bellerose’s comeback is a joint effort with car owner Scott Fearn of Massachusetts and her longtime crew chief, Jeff Laquerre.
“Earlier this year, I watched the ACT race haulers pass through Gorham on their way to Oxford and I cried all day,” Bellerose said in an ACT press release. “It’s time for me to return to the one thing I love best.”
Lanphear is a former winner of the storied Milk Bowl at Thunder Road.
Tompkins is coming off a season in which he placed among the top 10 in two different divisions at OPS, and he’s aiming for titles in both of Oxford’s top two classes (Oxford Networks Late Model and Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy Strictly Stock) this season.
“I’m thrilled with the switch to Late Models,” Tompkins said. “I know there is going to be a lot of competition, but that’s why we race. I am looking forward to it.”
Ray Nealey of Coventry, R.I., has also entered the TD Banknorth 250.
The TD Banknorth 250 is the showcase event in a fantastic three-day weekend presented by New England Dodge Dealers. Festivities will include an Oxford Acceleration Series event on Friday, July 19, and the return of the International Supermodified Association for the Maine-Ly Action Sports Maine Classic on Saturday, July 20.
MILK BOWL GAINS SOME ACCODLADES
The Vermont Milk Bowl stock car race held annually at Barre, Vermont’s Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl received the 18th annual National Speed Sport News Award for the Outstanding Annual Short Track event. The award was presented on Monday (Feb 12) by veteran Motorsports journalist Al Robinson on behalf of National Speed Sport News at the 31st Racing Promotion Monthly (RPM) workshops which are held as part of the Speedweek National Workshops Series.
Jeremie Whorff, Bill Whorff Jr. and Shawn Martin were three of seven additional entries arriving at the OPS office in January. Their intentions bring the already record number of entries to a staggering 163 drivers. Approximately 40 will qualify for the main event and compete for a first prize approaching $50,000.
“It is a great feeling to see entries continue to roll in for the TD Banknorth 250,” said OPS owner Bill Ryan. “Anybody who follows the Speedway as a weekly fan or has attended any of our special events can look at the updated list and see that the list of favorites has just gotten longer. I can’t wait to watch the qualifying races this year. It is truly going to be a historic event.”
Last year’s race produced one of the youngest and most unheralded winners in TD Banknorth 250 when Jeremie Whorff, 22, a weekly competitor from Bath, Maine, dominated the second half of the race and walked away with a $39,000 payday that roughly doubled his total career earnings to that point. Only Tom Rosati and Joey Kourafas won the event at a younger age, while many veteran 250 observers compared Whorff’s triumph to those of Don Biederman and Larry Gelinas on the all-time list of surprises.
Doubling the pleasure for the winner was the fact that his father, Bill Whorff Jr., finished second. It was the first one-two, father-son finish in 250 history. The race format will change from Pro Stock to Late Model specifications this season. While neither of the Whorffs is registered as a weekly Oxford Networks Late Model competitor in 2007, Bill Whorff Jr. confirmed at last month’s Portland Pirates Salute to Motorsports that Jeremie is having a brand new Late Model built for his TD Banknorth 250 title defense.
50 lapper! The driver with the lowest cumulative total after three segments is the Milk Bowl Champion.
In the tradition of all great motorsports events, the Milk Bowl has a trophy queen who’s anxious to receive a kiss from the winning driver. Although in the agricultural state of Vermont, Miss Milk Bowl is, appropriately, a dairy cow.
Thunder Road promoter Tom Curley said, “This creative race was designed by my partner Ken Squier 44 years ago. We are especially proud to be recognized by National Speed Sport News. Chris Economaki is not only the Dean of Motorsports but he has been a mentor to most of us in the business, including both Ken and me. That makes the award even more special. We invite short track fans to come to Thunder Road during Vermont foliage season and you will discover just why the Milk Bowl really is the `toughest short track stock car race in the country’”.
The 43rd edition of the Milk Bowl, won by veteran racer Brent Dragon, was held at the high banked, quarter-mile oval on Sunday, October 1, 2006. The 44th annual Vermont Milk Bowl is slated for Saturday and Sunday, September 29/30.
SPEEDWAY EXPO PICKS UP A SPONSOR
Town Fair Tire has become the presenting sponsor of SpeedwayEXPO, March 2-4 at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA. Town Fair Tire is a strong supporter of short-track racing in the Northeast, and the decision to join forces with what is shaping up to be the best racing exposition in the region supports the company’s strategy.
“We are excited about joining SpeedwayEXPO,” said Jim Uliano, Vice President of Marketing for Town Fair Tire. “The show provides us with a fun and exciting atmosphere in which to meet our customers. We are also happy to be able to help the racing world get their discount coupons for this great event.”
In business for more than 40 years, Town Fair Tire now has 67 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire that expertly sell and install the region’s largest selection of tires and wheels. All attendees are invited to stop by the Town Fair Tire display trailer at SpeedwayEXPO to see the latest styles of custom wheels along with high-performance tires.
SpeedwayEXPO will feature more than three acres of indoor space dedicated to motorsports, with displays from local and regional race tracks and organizations, vendors specializing in performance parts, safety equipment, accessories and the best apparel and memorabilia vendors on the East Coast. In addition there will be a full schedule of special events and activities at SpeedwayEXPO, including (among many others) autograph sessions with racing celebrities, a pit-crew Contest and pedal-car races, and a host of specialty vehicle displays.
Coupons worth $5 toward EXPO admission will be available at all Town Fair Tire stores. A store locator can be found on townfairtire.com. At the door, daily admission for SpeedwayEXPO is only $15 for adults, no charge for children ages 10 and under. Advance discount tickets are available online at speedwayexpo.com.
“We are honored to work with Town Fair Tire—a company that, like Speedway Illustrated and SpeedwayEXPO, holds the racing community in such high esteem,” said EXPO’s producer, Silvio Calabi.
The excitement of SpeedwayEXPO starts when the doors open on Friday night, March 2, with autograph sessions featuring NHRA superstars Melanie Troxel and Tommy Johnson, Jr. as well as NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion Todd Bodine. On Saturday appearances by NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers Kenny Wallace and Clint Bowyer headline a day chock-full of entertainment. On Sunday SpeedwayEXPO will culminate with the presentation of the Speedy Awards, honoring the best of Northeastern racing. For complete information on SpeedwayEXPO presented by Town Fair Tire, please go on-line to speedwayexpo.com.
RACIN' PREVIEW IS COMING UP
Also on the winter motorsports calendar is New England is the annual Racin' Preview, organized by the publishers of the Racin' Paper. The two-day event takes place at the Portland (ME) Expo and runs from Friday, February 23rd to Saturday, February 24th.
He'll be in a different type of car, but it appears that Jeremie Whorff will be back to defend his TD Banknorth 250 crown at Oxford this summer. (51)
Thunder Road's Milk Bowl is a fall racing tradition in New England. (51 Photo)
Nominations for the Outstanding Annual Short Track event are submitted by attendees at the December RPM Workshops in Reno (NV) as well as by the readers of the RPM newsletter, the idea newsletter for auto racing promoters. A list of the top vote getters is compiled and forwarded to management at National Speed Sport News where the final selection of the annual short track event is made.
The Milk Bowl joins such notable short track events as the WISSOTA 100’s, the East Bay Winternationals, the IMCA Super Nationals (Boone Speedway, IA), the Knoxville Nationals (Knoxville, IA) and the All American 400 (Nashville, TN), among others.
National Speed Sport News is often and accurately described as “The Bible of Motorsports.” Founded in 1934, the publication has been the authoritative voice of the sport since its inception. Edited by the legendary Chris Economaki since 1950, “NSSN” is the lone paper of its kind to cover every series, every track, every week instead of concentrating on regional coverage.
The Milk Bowl is known as the “toughest short track stock car race in the country” due to its unique Monza format. To earn a starting spot in the event, competitors must endure time trials, one of several 50-lap qualifiers and possibly a “B” Feature or Last Chance qualifier. The race itself consists of three 50-lap segments which award points to participants based on finishes in each part (a win is worth one point, a second place finisher receives two, etc). Adding to the event’s degree of difficulty is the fact that the finish of each segment is inverted to start the next