51's Northern Exposure
Fords in ACT?, a Big Kart Event, Ice Racing and More
Compiled by Mike Twist

Ford Racing and the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model stock car series have begun development of a new Ford crate engine for use on the ACT Late Model Tour, Série ACT-Castrol, and in weekly Late Model divisions around the northeastern United States and Canada in 2009. The Ford engine will be the first non-General Motors powerplant option in the division since the crate engine program was introduced a decade ago. All ACT-legal Late Models currently utilize a “spec” GM ZZ4 engine.

Production of the first Ford Racing prototype crate engine has been completed at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. The engine was shipped to the east coast for dynamometer, reliability, and comparability testing at Butler & MacMaster Racing Engines in Hallowell, Maine, the official crate engine supplier of ACT. The first on-track test is anticipated to take place in Virginia or the Carolinas in March.

“We are pleased to have Ford's direct involvement in the development of a Ford 'crate engine,” said ACT President Tom Curley. “The introduction of another manufacturer is long overdue, and we're confident that the long-time debate of Ford-versus-Chevrolet will give our fans and race teams something to cheer for.”

Long-time Ford supporter and former ACT competitor Dave Dion is excited about the development.

“It's encouraging that Ford wants to step up in the local short track programs,” said Dion, “but I'm not saying that because I'm a Ford guy. I would be excited about it if it was Chevrolet, Chrysler, Toyota, or anyone else. There's a real value in this project.” Dion explained that grassroots involvement from major companies like Ford will benefit the bigger picture. “I'm from the old school where options were everything in racing, and good-natured rivalries and debates were a healthy part of the sport,” Dion said. “If Ford can bring some of that atmosphere back to local racing by competing against the Chevrolets, then short track racing as a whole wins. On top of that, Ford gets a lot of exposure during these tough economic times. It's very necessary.”

Curley and Dion have been working together on the project for nearly two years, and Dion has offered his ongoing help with research and development to make the program a success.


The first annual DT 100 Kart race will take place in Portland, Maine on Saturday. February 21st.  Dave Thomas, Jr. has been hard at work organizing the event, which will benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  Driver slots and general admission tickets have both been sold out for the race, which will feature some very big names in the lineup.

Raceday will include six 25-lap heat races, five 25-lap consis and a 35-lap B-Main - all leading up to a 100-lap feature event.

The roster of drivers for the race includes Ben Rowe and Johnny Clark from the PASS North ranks, Modified drivers Andy Seuss, Jim Storace, Rob Summers and Woody Pitkat; NASCAR Camping World East driver Eddie MacDonald; ACT Late Modelers Ricky Wolfe; Supermodified pilots Mike Ordway Jr., Mike Ordway, Sr., Chris Perley, Midget drivers Randy Cabral and Erica Santos and Jack of All Trades racer Bobby Santos, III.

Speed51.com's Mike Twist will also compete in the event, driving the #95 entry.


Brad Leighton drove to victory as a celebrity driver in the 25th Annual Latchkey Cup race on Saturday afternoon. The event, hosted by the Lakes Region Ice Racing Club, benefits the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. Other celebrity drivers included Dale Shaw, DJ Shaw, Kirk Alexander, Luke Royea, and Peter Jarvis.

Leighton, driver of the #55 Irving Oil racecars on the NASCAR Camping World Series East and American-Canadian Tour, won his feature event behind the wheel of the Tim Chase-owned #10. Leighton edged out DJ Shaw and Jarvis for the win.

“It was a lot of fun,” admitted Leighton. “I do this every year, and it's a different experience every time! It's great to be able to help out an organization like the Norris Cotton Cancer Center and have fun doing it. I'd like to thank the Lakes Region Ice Racing Club for all the hard work they go through to pull this off.”

Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is one of the nation's premier facilities for cancer treatment and research. It is one of only 40 National Cancer Institute designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, and is rated by US News & World Report as one of the top 50 hospitals for cancer care nationally. The Cancer Center provides a positive environment for treatment, cure, and recovery for patients with all forms of cancer. Patients receive technologically advanced cancer treatments and access to clinical trials of new treatments.

“It's no secret that I support any cause that supports the fight against cancer,” Leighton said. “This disease has struck too many people close to us. I bet anyone can name at least one person in their life that has been affected by cancer. Being a part of events like this empower me - and can empower us all - to make a difference.”


The Waterford Speedbowl has announced the formation and addition of a new Truck Series for the historic shoreline oval in 2009.  The new Series is based upon the same template as the current “G” chassis race trucks found throughout the Northeast.  The Series will run 8 events at the 'Bowl throughout the 2009 season.

“We believe that a great number of these trucks populate our immediate region, and with the economy as it is, it makes some sense to offer a local venue for these competitors” stated Speedbowl owner Terry Eames.
The Truck Series will make its debut at the 13th annual Modified Nationals on Saturday, March 28 and appear on 4 Saturday Night events on May 2, June 27, August 1, and September 19.  They will be part of the season-ending Finale weekend, racing on Saturday, October 10.  Tentatively, these feature events will be 25-laps.  The Series will also make 2 appearances on Wild 'N Wacky Wednesday, the Speedbowl's popular mid-week program, with planned 20-lap feature events.

A title sponsor announcement is expected soon along with finalized rules for the Truck Series.  The tire rule is tentatively set as the traditional Hoosier 970, and a tire usage rule is under consideration.  Waterford Speedbowl driver registration and car/truck number registration forms are required and will be available for download on www.speedbowl.com.  

For more details about the Series including point fund, purse structure, schedule, and race format, please visit neracetrucktalk.com.   The Waterford Speedbowl season opens March 28-29 with the $20,000 Modified Nationals.  For more information and updates as the 2009 season approaches, stay tuned to www.speedbowl.com


True Value Modified Racing Series founder and president Jack Bateman has announced that True Value Company, and various New England stores, will return as the signature sponsor for the open-wheel racing series for the 2009 season. True Value Company is one of the world's largest member-owned hardware cooperatives with more than 5,000 independent retailers. This will be the sixth year of operation for the popular series. True Value has been with Bateman from the beginning.

“We are delighted to have True Value staying on board with our series. With their presence, we are recognized, more and more by the race fan, as the regions top racing series for open wheel race cars.” Bateman continued, “Our tour represents the True Value name, with professionalism, and integrity. After the first five years, our series has become synonymous with the True Value name. Our drivers have become known as the True Value drivers, our race cars as the True Value cars.” Bateman concluded, “We are pleased to have the backing of True Value stores right here in New England. We appreciate their support.”

The 2009 racing season for the True Value Modified Racing Series will open at Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, NH; Saturday night, April 25.


The Kobyluck Companies, a family of businesses dedicated to providing quality concrete, construction aggregate, site development and trucking services to residential and commercial builders in southeastern Connecticut, announced today that it will be featured on an upcoming episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition as the providers of the demolition, site work, and concrete for the Girard Family home in Voluntown, Conn.
The Girard family lost their home to a fire a year ago. The Girards moved from a tent to a tiny camper then to their mother's house, which is almost 40 miles away from where the children go to school. Shortly afterwards the Girard's faced a double tragedy when husband Thomas and their eldest son Marc drowned.

“I'm proud that our companies and employees can make a difference in the life of this family,” said President, Matt Kobyluck, who recently won NASCAR's biggest short track race of the year at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif). “I believe strongly that we should all help out where we can in our community. The guys here volunteered their time to come and do the work - sometimes spending more than 24 hours here without any sleep. My father, Dan, even canceled a trip to Florida so that he could be a part of it. It's amazing what was accomplished in such a short time. I never thought it could be possible.”

The Kobyluck Companies, which is owned and operated by brothers Matt, Mark, Chris, and Josh Kobyluck and their parents Dan and Maureen Kobyluck, joined local builder Home Designs by Bruno and hundreds of volunteers and workers to build a castle-themed house complete with solar panels and a geothermal heating and water system. The house is one of only a handful in the state of Connecticut to be certified as green.
The Kobyluck Companies crew endured severe weather conditions, including near-zero degree temperatures and torrential downpours that made portions of the area a huge mud pit.

“We brought down some gravel to make some of the muddy areas a little more passable, but it was pretty challenging conditions to work in,” said Kobyluck. “I hope that they show what these workers endured during the week-long process. I think everyone here at the Kobyluck Companies took a great deal away from this experience. Being a part of it really brought out the best in everyone.”

Matt Kobyluck, the 2008 NASCAR Camping World Series East Champion, won the Toyota All-Star Showdown in a wild three-car battle on the last lap of the race. His win, which was nationally televised on SPEED Channel, was the first time a driver has ever repeated a victory in what has been dubbed short track's Daytona 500. Rib Hillis, one of the designers from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition attended the event as Kobyluck's guest.

The Girard Family episode airs on ABC Sunday, February 8 at 8 pm ET.

Will we see one of the famed Dion Brothers Orange #29s in ACT Late Models?  Now that there could be a Ford engine on the way, we just might.
True Value is back with the Modifieds in 2009.  (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Matt Kobyluck
Brad Leighton
The Trucks are coming to Waterford.
Mike Ordway, Jr. is one of the drivers entered for the DT 100.