Less than two weeks ago, Joey Polewarczyk Jr. celebrated a home track win in American-Canadian Tour competition at Star Speedway in Epping, NH. A 40 minute drive from his home in Hudson, New Hampshire, it is one of the tracks where "Joey Pole" cut his teeth in full-size race cars, but his love for the sport of racing blossomed much closer to home.
Hudson is a racing town itself, playing home to its own old quarter-mile, Hudson Speedway. Growing up on the same road as this classic venue, it is where everything started for this accomplished driver. Now this coming Sunday, Joey Pole is completing the circle as he returns home to Hudson Speedway for the Granite State Pro Stock Series, Gate City Classic this Sunday, July 14.
What’s more exciting is that it will be the first opportunity for Joey Pole and other Pro Stock/Super Late Model drivers of the Northeast to take on Hudson since the recent renovations made by now second-year track owner Ben Bosowski.
“It’s pretty cool, the track is at 102 Old Derry Road and my parents live at 41 Old Derry Road, so I literally grew up on the same street as the track, and now I just bought a house even closer to it just off the other road. So, I drive by it every day and to see what Ben has done and all the work he’s put into it from what it used to look like is pretty awesome, especially when it’s your hometown,” Pole told Speed51.
Despite living nearby both past and present, the amount of time that has passed since Pole last competed at Hudson is more than considerable, 17 years to be exact. In fact, this Sunday will be the first time that he will compete there in a Late Model car… or any full size car.
“To have a chance to go there and actually race for the first time since I drove a Mini Cup there in 2002 is going to be pretty cool. Now, it’s like a new track for me since I’m getting used to driving it. But, I used to come here as a kid all of the time and watch all the racing, so I guess it’s about time.”
As for the here and now in 2019, Joey Pole has competed on a pick-and-choose basis, competing mostly in ACT Tour races, where he has two wins so far this season. Sunday will be just the third time that he will break out the No. 97 Super Late Model, and the first since running at Thunder Road (VT) where he finished third in the Pro All Stars Series portion of the Memorial Day Classic.
“We’ve been running the ACT car for the most part, but we took the Super out at Thunder Road back in May, and it was pretty good. The Granite State Series has a little bit of a different rule package with shocks than what we’re used to, so we’re just going to borrow a set for Sunday, so that will be a little different.”
The Gate City Classic will be Joey Pole’s third appearance in GSPSS competition, and the first in almost five years. However, he is technically trying to keep up a winning streak in the series which dates back to late 2013 at the former Canaan Fair Speedway (NH).
“It’s been a while, the first one was the last race ever at Canaan, which we were lucky enough to win. The second one was at Lee USA (NH) and it was a stout field that day. Larry Gelinas probably should’ve won, but there was a restart with two to go, I got him on the restart, and we won the thing. Our odds are pretty good. It’s tough to go into another race when you’re already two-for-two, it’s a good record to keep.”
In addition to having to learn his home track, Joey Pole will also be taking on the corps of drivers that run full-time on the GSPSS, a field that he has little experience against.
“Hopefully we can go three-for-three, but Granite State is tough with guys like Joey Doiron, Mike O’Sullivan, and all of those regular guys. I don’t race with them a lot, I’ve raced Joey the most in the past, but it’s going to fun racing against some new people, but it’ll be a challenge.”
Polewarczyk is not going in completely cold, as he had been on hand for the GSPSS return to Hudson in 2018. A rough and tumble affair, which had many drivers looking forward to numerous safety upgrades, including an outside concrete wall added from turn one to turn four over the winter. But Joey Pole knows that while the risk has been reduced for major calamities, Hudson has not lost its tough character.
“I went there last year to help Nick Lascoula, and it was one of the first one’s I watched there. It was rough last year, but I think having a wall on the backstretch is going to help things a lot. You had a lot more runoff, but if you touched the tire barrier, it got scary. But, it’s still going to be rough, it’s a tight quarter-mile with more banking than you think. I talked to Derek Griffith about it and he thinks we can make the two grooves work. It’ll be tough, but it should be good.”
At the age of 30, Joey Pole has already claimed many career accomplishments in Northeast short track racing, including an ACT title, to wins in such races as the Oxford 250 and Vermont Milk Bowl. Winning this Sunday to him would be as significant as those marquee events.
“It would be pretty big for me personally. For all the reasons I said, living so close, growing up, and watching it come back to life, it would be great to win. After, I could literally just ride home in my race suit, take a nice shower, fire up the grill, and it’ll be less than 15 minutes.”
Fans from all across the land can see the Granite State Pro Stock Series Gate City Classic 100 at Hudson Speedway live right here on Speed51.com as a part of Speed51’s Summer Thunder presented by PFC Brakes. To sign up for your Speed51 Network membership today, click here.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51 / John A. Miller