Waterbury, VT and Naples, ME — The inaugural Northeast Classic at Loudon’s New Hampshire Motor Speedway is just over a week away. On Saturday, April 17, some of the biggest names known to motorsports fans in the region will converge on “The Magic Mile” for a six-division card that offers something for everybody.
American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Pro All Stars Series (PASS) official originally planned to debut the Northeast Classic in 2020. The event was pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — but the delay has not dampened the enthusiasm of teams or fans.
On the contrary, even more buzz now surrounds the New Hampshire racing extravaganza. One glance at the entry lists reveals many of the region’s racing “blue bloods” along with rising stars getting the chance to show off their talents — which they’ll do in front of an international audience on Speed51.TV.
The 50-lap, $5,000-to-win Tour-type Modified shootout has received commitments from numerous open-wheel stars. Franklin, MA’s Bobby Santos III is the name that will catch the most attention. Santos has five NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins at the track, including last year’s Musket 200. With just 50 laps on the card this time, Santos and others will have to take a different path to victory.
This year, Santos is returning to the cockpit of the #44 Tinio Racing team for which he’s posted a dozen Whelen Modified Tour wins. The duo reunites at this weekend’s Thompson Icebreaker 125 as a tune-up for NHMS.
“I think we’ve just got to be better right away at the beginning of the race,” Santos said of the 50-lap Classic. “I know a lot of times, we’ve made adjustments partway through the race and gotten better. But you just have to be prepared to be ready to race right away and be in position.”
“I’ve been looking forward to coming and doing these races (with the Tinio’s),” Santos added. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to race at Thompson last year. It feels like forever since I’ve raced here. I’ve definitely missed it. I’m just excited to be back in a Modified and race with these guys. We’ve had a lot of fun racing together.”
As always, Santos will have fierce challengers. Riverhead, NY’s Eric Goodale, who just captured a crown jewel victory at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway, is coming to New Hampshire. So is defending Thompson World Series winner Craig Lutz in a Goodie Motorsports team car. Martinsville runner-up Sam Rameau, multi-time Modified winner Mike Christopher Jr., and “Ole Blue” pilot Matt Swanson are a few other notables planning to roll through the gates.
The ACT Late Model Tour and PASS Super Late Models also have 50-lap, $5,000-to-win Northeast Classic showdowns. The ACT event is the opener of the 2021 championship season. Williamstown, VT’s Jimmy Hebert begins his title defense at a track he wants badly to add to his trophy case. Hebert has finished runner-up in his last three NHMS starts, making the Hebert Excavation team even hungrier for victory.
A large field is standing in Hebert’s way. Two multi-time PASS champions, Ben Rowe and D.J. Shaw, are bidding for victory. Both are planning the full ACT schedule this year and know the importance of a good start.
The last three ACT Rookies of the Year — Dylan Payea, Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalist Ryan Kuhn, and Derek Gluchacki — are also on the entry list. So are Woody Pitkat and Tom Carey III, two Southern New England standouts who are always strong at NHMS. Former Thunder Road champion Bobby Therrien, Busch North Series legend Jamie Aube, defending Riverside Speedway champion Shawn Swallow, and breakout performer Trent Goodrow are four more names expected to take the green flag.
For the PASS Super Late Models, the Northeast Classic is the third event in this year’s National Championship. Hudson, NH’s Derek Griffith, who swept the first two events at Hickory Motor Speedway, is on the entry list for round three. So are Rowe, Shaw, Johnny, Clark, and Travis Benjamin, multi-time champions each who want another crown.
Rowley, MA’s Eddie “The Outlaw” MacDonald, the winner of the last PASS event at NHMS, is expect to try and defend that crown. Curtis Gerry, Jake Johnson, Dennis Spencer, and reigning PASS National champion Mike Hopkins are among those aiming to stop him.
The EXIT Realty Pro Truck Challenge, North East Mini Stock Tour, and 8-Cylinder Street Stock Open complete the card. The Pro Trucks are making what’s believed to be their maiden voyage to “The Magic Mile”. Defending champion Duane Noll, Dave Koenig, Gerard Giordano Jr., and Ryan Vanasse will get to strut their stuff after opening the 2021 season at this weekend’s Thompson Icebreaker.
The North East Mini Stock Tour (NEMST) is returning to NHMS for their 2021 season kick-off. Matthew Kimball, the winner of the last NEMST event at the track in 2019, will be one to watch, as will defending series champion Desmond Skillings. The $1,000-to-win Street Stock Open entry list is growing fast, with 8-cylinder warriors such as Jimmy Renfrew Jr., Corey Hutchings, Ryan Waterman, Kyle Gero, and Jesse Gleason are ready to haul the mail around New England’s only superspeedway.
The Northeast Classic at Loudon’s New Hampshire Motor Speedway makes its long-awaited debut on Saturday, April 17. A six-division card features $5,000-to-win events for the ACT Late Model Tour, PASS Super Late Models, and Tour-type Modifieds. The EXIT Realty Pro Truck Challenge, 8-Cylinder Street Stocks, and North East Mini Stock Tour are also on the card.
Qualifying begins at 11:00am with features at 1:30pm. General admission is $30 for adults and $10 for kids ages 12 and under. Tickets will be sold at the track on race day. A live pay-per-view is available on Speed51.TV for $29.99. Visit www.acttour.com/northeast-late-model-classic for the complete schedule, registration forms, and other info.
-American-Canadian Tour & Pro All Stars Series Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51