51’s Third Turn, Speed51.com’s partner for preserving the history of short track racing, is pleased to announce that our statistical archive now contains the full-field results to every ACT Pro Stock Tour event in the 17-year history of one of the New England’s most famed racing series. The series produced 409 races and 53 different winners with legends such as Randy LaJoie, Brad Leighton, Dick McCabe, Junior Hanley, Robbie Crouch, and Ricky Craven leaving a lasting legacy on racing in the region.

ACT Pro Stock Seasons & Champions

Season Champion Races Most Wins
1979Beaver Dragon27Beaver Dragon (9)
1980Beaver Dragon25Mike Barry (7)
1981Dick McCabe27Dick McCabe (7)
1982Dick McCabe33Dick McCabe (8)
1983Robbie Crouch27Robbie Crouch (8)
1984Robbie Crouch29Jean-Paul Cabana (6)
1985Randy LaJoie30Robbie Crouch (9)
1986Robbie Crouch20Robbie Crouch (12)
1987Robbie Crouch27Robbie Crouch (5)
1988Robbie Crouch21Robbie Crouch (11)
1989Russ Urlin23Russ Urlin (7)
1990Robbie Crouch22Robbie Crouch & Russ Urlin (4)
1991Junior Hanley21Junior Hanley (7)
1992Junior Hanley23Junior Hanley (10)
1993Junior Hanley21Junior Hanley (12)
1994Mike Rowe16Mike Rowe (4)
1995Brad Leighton17Brad Leighton (7)

The tour was the brainchild of famed announcer Ken Squier and his business partner Tom Curley back in the late 70s. Their two tracks, Catamount Stadium and Thunder Road International Speedbowl, had been aligned as part of NASCAR’s regional racing program that stretched across the U.S., but the promoters saw the opportunity to make something special in their part of the country. So in 1979, Curley and Squier came out with a bold 27-race, 11-track schedule for a series known as the NASCAR North Tour. Beaver Dragon collected nine wins in the wildly successful inaugural season and the tour became poised for long-term success.

Thunder Road's Milk Bowl was a popular stop on the ACT Pro Stock schedule (ACT Media photo)

Thunder Road’s Milk Bowl was a popular stop on the ACT Pro Stock schedule (ACT Media photo)

Dragon would win the title again in 1980 while the “Irish Angel” McCabe would collect the title in 1981 and 1982. The first great tour rivalry would soon follow as veteran Robbie Crouch began dueling a young curly-haired Randy LaJoie for victories and titles. Crouch got the better hand in 1983 and 1984, but 1985 was a season that would come down to the wire in a controversy that would change the series history forever. An August race at Catamount saw a race officiating protest between the Crouch and LaJoie camp that only mattered more and more as the season went on and the two finished in a dead heat in the points. Ultimately, the protest got so complex that it went into the legal system, where the LaJoie camp was favored and awarded the 1985 title all the way into January 1987.

The lawsuit and some other insurance concerns ruffled NASCAR’s feathers and the sanctioning body, in a stunning decision, dropped the tour in January 1986. Curley was undeterred and quickly reorganized the series as the American-Canadian Tour (ACT). Series sponsor at the time, Coors, stuck on board, and the tour didn’t miss a beat as the tour ran 27 races with Crouch again winding up as champion.
Now as an independent sanctioning body, Curley took some more risks during the next offseason to strengthen his tour. Body styles on the cars were switched from traditional Late Model Sportsman to ASA-style Late Models. Curley then aligned with the ASA and ALL PRO organizations to form the Stock Car Connection (SCC), a rich six-race series between the organizations that raced from the Deep South to Ontario. The SCC ran two seasons while on the ACT side Crouch locked down consecutive titles in 1987 and 1988. Crouch would win his final title in 1990 while Russ Urlin snuck in for a career-best season in claiming the 1989 title.

With the demise of the SCC, Curley turned his focus on improving the Canadian participation on his tour. General Motors Canada helped create a Canadian-race specific points fund and Budweiser in the early 1990s created a Triple Crown that would pay $50,000 to the driver who could win the three biggest Canadian races of the year. Legendary Junior Hanley found that enough incentive to come run the tour and he would not only claim three straight championships, but win the Triple Crown twice and 29 of the 65 races during that stretch.

Legendary Canadian racer Junior Hanley won three straight titles (1991-1993) (ACT Media photo)

Legendary Canadian racer Junior Hanley won three straight titles (1991-1993) (ACT Media photo)

However, Hanley’s title run proved to be one of the last defining moments the series would have. Economic issues in Canada and evolving body styles in New England lowered car counts on the tour as Mike Rowe claimed the 1994 title and Brad Leighton the 1995 title. After Oxford Plains and ACT management had a falling out during the 1995 offseason that winnowed the race schedule, Curley announced that the Pro Stock Tour would come to a close, and ACT management would focus on their Late Model and Flying Tiger divisions.

To view the ACT Pro Stock history, click here. 51’s Third Turn has also long had complete histories for the American and Canadian ACT Late Model Tours still in operation. For more information on what 51’s Third Turn is working on now and how you can help, click here.

 

 

 

 

-By Tim Quievyrn, 51’s Third Turn – Twitter: @TimmyQuivy

-Photo Credit:

51’s Third Turn: Complete ACT Pro Stock History Now Available