Waterbury, VT—The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) travels to Speedway 51 in Groveton, NH on Saturday, May 30 for the Generation Next ACT 151. Although the ACT Late Model Tour has been to Groveton 12 times previously, the 13th visit will hold a greater meaning, as it marks a new beginning for the ¼-mile oval formerly known as Riverside Speedway.
The event will be the first stock car race held at Speedway 51 since it was purchased at auction last November by Joey Laquerre, the winningest driver in the history of Barre, VT’s Thunder Road and patriarch of the Laquerre racing family. The auction occurred just one week after Laquerre’s grandson, up-and-coming Late Model racer Joey M. Laquerre, died from injuries sustained in an ATV accident.
In addition to renaming the track for his grandson’s #51 car, Laquerre has spent all winter and spring working on restoring the northern New Hampshire facility to its former glory.
“It’s a complete change from what the track was to now,” Laquerre said. “We started with putting a whole new wall in and all new fencing. We relocated the grandstands and elevated the pits at one end…that took a long time. It was something like 10,000 yards of dirt.”
ACT’s presence at the season opener is significant to Laquerre, whose family is a long-time ACT supporter. Joey M. Laquerre also competed on the Tour, and the 2015 event has been extended from 150 to 151 laps in his honor.
“It’s very special to have ACT with us,” the 71-year-old Laquerre said. “(ACT President) Tom Curley and myself go back to when we were 17 or 18 years old.”
Defending ACT Tour Champion and current point leader Joey Polewarczyk Jr. leads the series into Speedway 51. “Joey Pole” already has two wins this year, including the most recent event at Airborne Park Speedway, and won the 2013 event at Speedway 51. Number two point driver Wayne Helliwell Jr. will look to gain ground as he chases his first Groveton victory.
They’ll be joined by Newport, NH’s Kyle Welch, the surprise winner of the 2014 event. Welch has endured some tough luck in 2015, losing multiple top-10 finishes to late-race woes. He hopes that the trip to Speedway 51 will help turn his season around.
“I’m really, really excited to go back to Groveton,” Welch said. “We had a really good car last year, so this race has definitely been circled on our calendar.
“The new era of the track is the big thing – just to honor Joey M. Laquerre,” he added. “I think the winner is really going to have some pride in this race, whoever it may be. ACT is a tight group, and I hope I can win it for him.”
Brad Babb will carry the Speedway 51 colors on his Joey Laquerre–owned #15NH as he goes for his second win of the season. Fellow youngsters Emily Packard and Brandon Atkins were strong in their inaugural visits last year and look to build on those performances. Travis Stearns surged to the top of the Bond Auto Parts New Champions standings at the Spring Green 115 and will try to extend that lead. Eddie “The Outlaw” MacDonald is expected to be gunning for his first Speedway 51 win as well.
The Generation Next ACT 151 will be held on Saturday, May 30. Pits open at 10:30am, with post time at 5:30pm. Admission is $20 for adults, $5 for kids, and $45 for a family of four (2 adults and 2 kids). Camping will also be available beginning on Friday.
For more information contact the ACT offices at 802.244.6963, [email protected], or visit www.acttour.com or www.speedway51int.com.
-ACT Press Release. Photo credit: Speedway 51 Facebook