NEMs North

By Lou Modestino

When 51 ACT Late Model stock cars arrive at Barre, VT’s Thunder Road on Sunday, October 14 for the 50th People’s United Bank Milk Bowl, an extra incentive will be on their minds: Curley’s $50,000 Challenge. The challenge, put out by long-time Promoter Tom Curley, is a $50,000 bonus to any driver that can win all three segments of the year-end Milk Bowl.

The task is daunting, but three drivers have already accomplished the feat: Larry Demar in 1967, Dave Dion in 1975, and Robbie Crouch in 1986. Brian Hoar was one position away in 1998 when he won the first two segments and finished second to his father in the third. Several others have won two segments but failed to complete the crown.

With $50,000 on the line, drivers are more focused than ever on the Triple Crown goal. As hard as the task may be, there is a dynamic group of drivers who look entirely capable of doing the job.

The group is lead by eight-time American Canadian Tour Champion Brian Hoar, who won the 2011 Milk Bowl and has two others to his name. Hoar has come closest to earning the triple in the past and, considering his racing history, is a clear favorite. Hoar will have to best rival Wayne Helliwell, Jr to do it, who is fresh off winning a heavyweight battle with Hoar for the American Canadian Tour Championship last weekend. The pair that dominated the Tour will bring the fight to the high banks on Sunday.

Another challenge comes from 2012 King of the Road Nick Sweet, who is riding the momentum of his second Late Model title, and is a year removed from a Milk Bowl in which he lost a tie for the win. Sweet will be out for revenge in 2012 as the Milk Bowl remains on his short list of big races he has yet to claim. Former Milk Bowl Champion Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. is another strong candidate for the $50,000, as he has a nose for big money races. A former Bond Auto ACT Invitational winner, and the 2012 TD Bank 250 winner, Polewarczyk will have another big shot to add to his list of impressive wins.

Série ACT Castrol Champion Patrick Laperle also has to be in the mix, after yet another Quebec Championship in 2012 and his three previous Milk Bowl wins. For $50,000, as he said himself, “People should prepare for a good show.”

Three-time Thunder Road Champion Cris Michaud has made a statement, winning two of the last three races in the Thunder Road Late Model season, and qualifying fifth for the Milk Bowl by way of winning his 50-lap qualifier. That’s three of the last four 50-lappers he has participated in, and the former Milk Bowl Champ will look for four in segment 1. Two-time Champion Dave Pembroke will look for retribution after being dethroned as “King of the Road” in 2012, and will start from first as the fastest car in time trials. Pembroke is an 18-time winner at Thunder Road, and the 2002 Milk Bowl Champion to boot.

The gloves come off this Sunday, October 14 for the 50th Annual People’s United Bank Milk Bowl at Barre’s Thunder Road. Post time is 1 p.m.

There is a huge buzz going around Northern New England about the upcoming “Fall Brawl 200” at The All-New Riverside Speedway. Drivers from Riverside, Thunder Road, ACT, WMMP, and Oxford have all verbally committed to attend the last Late Model event on October 20, and drivers and fans alike are excited. Drivers like Helliwell, Polewarczyk, Potter, and Welch have committed, and the interest is still coming in.

Thunder Road competitor Chip Grenier has announced he will attend the event, along with local racer Derek Ming, and a former Riverside Speedway champ Ken Dufour has purchased a late model and will strap in at the Groveton high banks to battle it out as well. There are six former or current Riverside late model champs that will be duking it out, including Potter, Dufour, Bryan and Corey Mason, Jeff Marshall, and Luke Shannon. According to Joey Polewarczyk, he cannot wait to take on the best that Riverside has to offer.
“I am very excited to be running the Fall Brawl,” expressed the winner of the 2012 Oxford 250. “I respect Randy Potter a lot and really look forward to racing him on his home turf, along with all of the other local racers”. With the race being 200 laps long, strategy will certainly come into play. “We have had a lot of great wins like the oxford 250, milk bowl and NHMS, those races have really helped me learn to manage my equipment, and I think that will be key to winning this race” claims Polewarczyk. “You need to have a car that is capable of winning with fifty laps to go. Not at lap 50”.

The 2012 North Country Ford Late Model champ Luke Shannon welcomes the challenge of facing some big names. “I’m looking forward to racing with some of my heroes,” mentions Shannon. “I hope to learn a thing or two from them that maybe later on in my career I can use that experience.”

Also on tap, will be a 35 lap, 4 cylinder “open” event. With the announcement of this event, Eric LaFleche of has put up an extra $100 to the winner of the race, and an anonymous donor has thrown another $100 to the mix, giving the person that crosses the finish line first a cool $600. Town and Country Motor Inn Street Stock champ Keith Normand, Jason Kenison, and “Pint Size Fun” Dana Graham with his Ford Fiesta have all committed, and will be taking on Thunder Road competitors Donny Yates, Cam Ouellette, and Tommy “Thunder” Smith, amongst others.

When asked about the new races being put on the schedule by Fournier, Kenison was pleased with Fournier’s early results. “I think he’s got some great ideas and I hope that he can help our race track. I have raced here since I was young, and I would like to see my kids race as well,” pointed out Kenison.

As a treat for fans and racers, 2012 FAS Lane Racing Ford NASCAR driver Mike Olsen has been named “Grand Marshall” for the “Fall Brawl 200”. Olsen, grandson of the late short track racer Stub Fadden, is also the uncle of Kingdom Embroidery Daredevil driver Matthew Kopp. Olsen was the 2001 and 2006 champ in what is now the K & N Pro Series East, and won the 2005 “Toyota All-Star Showdown”.

Recently, the North Haverhill, New Hampshire native climbed behind the wheel of Frank Stoddard’s ride at Loudon, sponsored by local business North Country Ford, and raced with some of the nation’s finest wheelmen. With events like this, fans have been chomping at the bit, excited for the new races and changes at the All-New Riverside Speedway. “Riverside needs to return to the glory days of the 90’s, when the pits were full every week,” Groveton resident Jerrad Ledger states. “By adding races like this, it’s going to bring cars to the track and put fans in the stands”.

The “Fall Brawl 200” will start at 1 p.m. on October 20, with pit gates opening at 8 a.m. For more information on this race, or the upcoming “Berlin City Auto Group Frostbite Enduro 150” on November 3, please contact Dan Fournier at 603-788-2886, or visit “The Official Riverside Speedway Group” on facebook. We hope to see you at the All-New Riverside Speedway!

Oktoberfest, Lee USA Speedway’s traditional season ending weekend racing bash will commence on October 19 through the 21. Over 300 cars from all over the northeast are expected to compete in the 12 divisions of race cars that will be featured. Last year 7 states and several Canadian provinces were represented, the farthest coming from Nova Scotia. This year, three series championships will be decided, and for the rest, bragging rights throughout the winter will be on the line. Everyone wants to win their Oktoberfest feature event.
More importantly however, Oktoberfest is about fun for all. A full itinerary of social events will complement the non-stop racing action throughout the weekend. A Friday night Beer Bash will follow practice for all divisions from 3 to 7PM. Breakfast will be offered on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. Also on Friday and Saturday nights, there will be hay rides for kids big and small. And after Saturday’s heat race action, another Lee USA Oktoberfest tradition, the Spaghetti Supper with a DJ and dancing until late into the night. Fan and competitor comradery will the weekend’s theme.
Gates will open on Friday at 2 p.m. for practice that will conclude at 7PM. On Saturday, heat races will be held for all 12 competing divisions which will include: SMALL BLOCK SUPERMODIFIEDS, PROSTOCKS, VALENTI MODIFIED RACING SERIES, NEMA MIDGETS
Gates on Saturday will open at 8 a.m with one round of practice for each division beginning at noon. Prior to racing activities, all cars must pass safety inspection conducted by Buzzy Bezanson and his Lee USA tech staff. In addition to heat race action, the NEMA Lites will make up a 20 lap feature event rained out from the Ollie Silva Memorial Classic event. Their regularly scheduled 20 lap feature will be held on Sunday that will decide the championship. The 2012 NEMA Midget title will also be decided Sunday.
Highlighting Saturday’s activities will be one of two 50 lap Pro Stock feature events to be held over the weekend. The field will be inverted for the second 50 lapper to be held on Sunday. On Sunday, feature racing action begins at 1 p.m. Recently crowned Lee USA Small Block Super Modified champ, Tommy Tombarello will be looking to cap off his season with a victory over rivals Sparky Mcgiver and Wayne Helliwell Jr. Helliwell, who is also currently atop of the ACT standings is also expected to compete in late model and pro stock action.
The Valenti Modified Series will also crown its championship at the conclusion of its 100 lap feature event. Former two time champion Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, MA is locked in a close race with Pennsylvania driver Rowan Pennick for the crown. The last time the series visited Lee USA, McKennedy appeared well on his way to victory until rookie driver Tommy Barrett Jr. stormed from last to second and tangled with McKennedy in the third turn with 10 to go. The incident triggered a mad scramble for the lead that sidelined the next three cars and handed the unexpected win to another former champ, Les Hinckley. It was by far the most dramatic finish all season for the series and the season finale is expected to be just as exciting.
Brian Thompson, Patrick Tanguay, and Lee USA’s 2012 Hobby Stock champ Jim Shorey will have to defend their turf in their 25 lap event. George Helliwell won the last event the Northeast Classic Lites held at Lee USA, and has been undefeated in his last 9 races. Will this unprecedented streak continue or will he be thwarted by the large contingent of outside dwarf cars that are expected to be in attendance.
Oktoberfest At the Lee USA Speedway October 19, 20, 21 will be the last big racing bash of the 2012

Here’s what’s going on this week into the weekend in northern New England. New England Dragway in Epping, NH offers Street Night on both Wednesday and Friday at 5 p.m. On Wednesday at MX 101 in Epping, NH it’s MX practice at 1 p.m. That MX track comes back with two more practice sessions on Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. On Saturday NED offers test and tune at 8 a.m. and comes back on Sunday with the Import Faceoff also at 8 a.m.