Canaan, NH. – Ever since the announcement the Valenti Modified Racing Series was heading to the Great North Woods of New Hampshire in 2016, many have embraced the thought of visiting a popular racetrack they had never seen, never raced on, or only heard or read about. This weekend the opportunity to race at Speedway 51 in Groveton, New Hampshire becomes a reality.
The ground-pounding modifieds, never before seen by many northern New Englanders, will be going the distance of 100-laps as part of the season opening event Saturday, May 28, presented by NAPA.
Reigning VMRS champion, Woody Pitkat, of Sturbridge, Mass, fresh off a strong runner up finish at Stafford (CT) Speedway last Friday, recalls going to the then Riverside Speedway as a child.
“I’ve been up there when I was probably 10 or 12-years old. My great grandmother had a house up there and we went to the races once or twice, explained Pitkat.”
Pitkat furthered, “That’s one of the things I like about this series like last year for me going to Claremont and Beech Ridge and a neat challenge like this will be. I like getting on the Internet and try to learn as much as you can about the tracks. Walk the track when you get there. A lot of people have said it’s a real nice place. Looking forward to it.”
In addition to Pitkat, other champions who will make the trip Saturday include three-time series Champion, Jon McKennedy, of East Chelmsford, MA, a 15-time series winner. Two-time Champion Chris Pasteryak, of Jewett City, CT, an 11-time series winner who won the series opener at Monadnock Speedway in April.
Grantham, New Hampshire’s Mike Willis. Jr, another strong finisher at Stafford, is expected, as is Todd Patnode, of Swanzey, NH. Russ Hersey, of Swanzey, Matt Mead, of Richmond, NH. and Dana Smith, of Sunapee, NH.
18-year old Brandon Dion, of Taunton, Colbey Fournier, of Berkley, George Sherman, of Framingham, Carl Medeiros of Westport, Roy Seidell, of Easthampton, and Rob Richardi, of Easton, lead the Massachusetts contingent.
Mike Holdridge, a two-time series winner from Madison, CT, looks forward to the challenge of competing at a new venue.
That has been the general consensus among those making the trek.
A new challenge, curiosity, and knowing that a legendary race track has been brought back to life – by a racer.
Built in 1964, the quarter mile oval has gone through a major revamping by new owner Joey Laquerre, a New England Hall-of-Fame member and Thunder Road racing legend. The last two years Laquerre has made major improvements to the facility.
Series founder Jack Bateman visited the track this week. “Very impressed with the facility. Joey and his staff have done a wonderful job. They just paved the pit area. I think our fans who make the trip and our competitors will be pleasantly surprised.”
Qualifying races start at 5:30 PM on Saturday
Speedway 51 is located on Brown Road in Groveton, NH.
-Valenti Modified Racing Series Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen