RACIN' THROUGH THE SNOW FOR THE PRE-HANGOVER 150 by Mike Twist
Floyd Bennett Celebrates in Style, As Others Find It To Be Tough Sledding
What were you doing on New Year’s Eve? Watching an oversized ball drop? Dancing the night away? Drinking heavily?
This race wasn’t for the faint of heart.
“On New Year’s Day, you might be used to having a headache,” track promoter Dick Therrien said in the drivers meeting. “But today, you’ll have a pain in the ass.”
Contact was something that was to be expected.
42 cars line up for the start of the Pre-Hangover 150. (Alan Ward Photo)
“Let’s try not to have any retaliation out there,” said Therrien. “Everyone is going to get into everyone else enough already without even trying to.”
46 cars entered the race and 42 made the call of the green flag. The rules were simple. There were no all-wheel drive cars, studded tires or snow chains allowed, but pretty much anything else went. The racecars was diverse. There were regular entries from the track’s Cyclone division, a few mini-stocks, Enduro cars from other tracks, what appeared to be a Strictly Stock and an ice racer or two. There was a full-sized Chevy pick-
ACT racer Ryan Nolin was in the race, but got knocked out early in his #78. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Believe it or not, 42 diehard competitors were actually racing on an oval track Sunday afternoon. What was likely the final stock car anywhere in the United States for 2006 didn’t occur some place warm like Florida, California or Alabama. Instead, Riverside Speedway in Northern New Hampshire was the site of the Pre-Hangover 150 where enduro-type cars raced on a track surface that started out as two inches of fresh snow.
Yes, you read that right. Before the start of the race, just about everything was white. Judging where the actual track surface was required a fair amount of imagination – and the ability to use the walls and infield light poles as reference points.
up truck, a Caravan, several Cadillacs, numerous Ford Escorts, a Volvo Station wagon, Volkswagens, Cavaliers and a Lincoln Town Car painted up to look like a taxi cab.
ABC Bodies? Heck, anything that didn’t have fenders dragging on the ground before the race was allowed. Spec motors? As long as it started, it was legal to run. Good oil pressure or the ability not to belch smoke out the exhaust pipe was optional.
The drivers were a mixed batch too. ACT Late Model driver Ryan Nolin took part in the race, as did PASS Outlaw driver Matt Pepin. Oxford Plains Speedway regular Greg Sessions was there, along with Riverside Late Model regulars Jamie Swallow and Floyd Bennett, Jr. Even this writer competed in the race – driving a Ford Escort co-owned by Modified racer Andy Seuss. (We’ll have more on that coming up on Speed51.com in a special winter edition of “Trucking with Twister”).
The race was all about survival. Early on, some cars struggled to even get going in the snow. A few got stuck. A few broke. Everyone banged fenders and sometimes more. There were five caution flags for clean
Heywood Herriott put his #70 Ford Probe out front, but found some rough sledding late in the race. (Jamie Williams Photo)
the track of carnage and hundreds of spins and wrecks, but no roll-overs, fires or injuries (although a few drivers might have been candidates for psychiatric evaluations after competing).
Jerrad Ledger and Chris Caron contended for the victory early, but both ran into trouble. Heywood Herriott in a Ford Probe and Floyd Bennett, Jr. in a Pontiac Grand-Am fought hard for the top spot until Herriott ran smack into a pile of racecars on lap 104.
last three or four laps, I was just trying to stay out of trouble because I had already found enough of it. It was fun.”
Bennett said that the race was unlike any other ones he has ever been in and nothing like driving on the street. Still, he was hooked.
That put Bennett into a healthy lead, which he stretched out to seven laps at one point. With asphalt starting to show through and fewer cars left on the track, it looked like Bennett might have an easy path to victory lane. But that was far from the case. He got caught in a few spins and his #91x car had a pair of flat rear tires late in the event, but Bennett stayed out rather than lose the lead and take on tires. He won the race on two rims by a margin of four laps after the hard charging Nissan Altima of Ryan Avery.
“With four laps to go, I thought that I was out of it,” said Bennett. “I thought that I had lost the race. During the
Bennett enjoys the checkered flag after running the final dozen laps with two flat tires. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Floyd Bennett, Jr. (#91x) pulls a slide job on the the #63 of Trevor Rocke. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“This is the first time that I’ve ever raced on snow and I love it,” said Bennett. “I might have to find some ice races to do now.”
He might also get the chance to do more of the same type of racing at Riverside in the future. A crowd of 600 spectators were in the stands and track management is considering the possibility of more winter races this year.
Craig Bartlett of Maine, Trevor Rocke of Vermont and New Hampshire’s Mike Rainville rounded out the top-five finishers.
Stay tuned for more on the race, including the tales of 17th-place finisher Mike Twist and some crazy photos, coming soon.