Waterbury, VT — Even with snow still on the ground, the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) season is coming up fast. Racing gets underway just after the calendar turns to April, with a doubleheader at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway on April 2 and 3 followed by the inaugural Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) on April 17.
The triplet of events is a big way to kick off the 36th season of ACT competition and 30th for the ACT Late Model Tour. The first-ever visit for the series to the historic Hickory oval — known as the “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars” — will be followed by the start of the point-counting season at New England’s most widely-recognized racetrack.
It’s no surprise that some of the biggest names in Northeast Late Model racing are signing up for these events. They will take advantage of the opportunity to compete on two of the country’s most meaningful stages for short-track warriors. The entry lists for each event should only grow bigger as the dates near.
A who’s-who of touring and weekly racers are registered for either or both tracks. Some of the drivers currently slated to compete at both Hickory and NHMS include multi-time Pro All Stars Series (PASS) champion Ben Rowe of Turner, ME; defending Monadnock Speedway champion Aaron Fellows of Croydon, NH; former Riverside Speedway champions Jeff Marshall of Gilman, VT and Shawn Swallow of Lancaster, NH; and rising star sisters Reilly and Peyton Lanphear of Duxbury, VT.
Meanwhile, three-time ACT champion Wayne “The Punisher” Helliwell Jr. of Dover, NH has committed to the Hickory doubleheader. So are Thunder Road standouts Jason Corliss of Barre, VT and Bobby Therrien of Hinesburg, VT, who’ve combined to win 3 of the last 4 track championships. Drivers ready to start their season at NHMS include defending ACT champion Jimmy Hebert, former Rookie of the Year Ryan Kuhn, and multi-time Thunder Road and White Mountain Motorsports Park winner Stephen Donahue.
The PASS Super Late Models are also part of both events. Like ACT, their Hickory and NHMS entry lists are loaded with notable racers. The Northeast Classic registration list alone is more than 30 names long as of press time. Former champions Ben Rowe, Center Conway, NH’s D.J. Shaw, Farmingdale, ME’s Johnny Clark, Belfast, ME’s Travis Benjamin, Farmington, ME’s Cassius Clark are among the early highlights. Recent New Smyrna Speedweeks winner Derek Griffith is entered for NHMS as are Kuhn, Snowflake 100 winner Jake Johnson, and Oxford 250 winner Curtis Gerry.
Rowe, Shaw, Griffith, and Johnson will all travel to Hickory Motor Speedway in early April for the 15th and 16th annual Easter Bunny 150s. They’ll be joined by Canadian Super Late Model standout Cole Butcher and youngsters Trevor Sanborn, Gabe Brown, and Evan Hallstrom among others.
Both events at Hickory as well as the Northeast Classic count towards the 2021 PASS National Championship. As such, a lot will be on the line over those two weeks, with the national title frontrunners likely emerging as the checkered flag flies at NHMS.
ACT opens its 2020 season at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway on Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3. The ACT Late Models will run the Hickory 125 on Friday and the Easter Bunny 125 on Saturday. The PASS Super Late Models have a pair of Easter Bunny 150s with one each day. Ticket prices and other information are to be announced.
The first point-counting event for the ACT Late Model Tour will be the Northeast Classic at Loudon’s New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 17. The card includes $5,000-to-win events for the ACT Late Models, PASS Super Late Models, and Tour-Type Modifieds. The North East Mini Stock Tour, EXIT Realty Pro Truck Challenge, and an 8-cylinder Street Stock Open are also part of the program. An optional practice day is scheduled for Friday, April 16.
Registration is still open for each event. The entry forms for the ACT Hickory 125 and Easter Bunny 125 are available at www.acttour.com/forms. The latest on the Northeast Classic can be found at www.acttour.com/northeast-late-model-classic.
-ACT Press Release
-Photo Credit: Norm Marx