It’s been nearly two months since we’ve witnessed the sight of race cars, the smell of race fuel and the sound of loud engines at short tracks across the Northeast region. You miss it already, don’t you?
But have no fear, the cure to your addiction is here. The 2017 Northeast Motorsports Expo will take place January 13-15 at the Augusta Civic Center in Maine. Each year, this event serves a great way to reconnect with the racing community and get your first look at the cars you will be watching in 2017.
Speed51.com will be in attendance that weekend and will have a booth on the show floor for the second straight year. Race fans can stop by the booth to watch some of the great short track racing footage we captured through the year, as well as purchase Speed51.com t-shirts. We’ll even have a show special that you won’t find anywhere else.
But while we prepare for that, promoters in the Northeast are busy preparing for their 2017 season. Let’s take a look at what we know and what we don’t know about the upcoming season in this edition of Northern Exposure.
PASS NORTH RELEASES 2017 SCHEDULE
Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North officials recently released their schedule for the 2017 season. The schedule is highlighted by the series’ return north of the border to Quebec and New Brunswick, as well as five dates at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME).
Another major change to the schedule surrounds the movement of the popular PASS 400 Weekend to April 29 from its traditional September date.
The prestigious Oxford 250 will once again be sanctioned under the PASS name with drivers being able to earn PASS National points in the event. Mark it down on your calendar now, the 44th Annual Oxford 250 is on the schedule for Sunday, August 27.
ACT SHIFTS FOCUS CLOSER TO HOME
The American-Canadian Tour will be shifting their focus closer to their home base of Barre, Vermont during the 2017 season.
Although the series will still make stops throughout New England, four of the 10 points-counting events will be held in the state of Vermont at Thunder Road and Devil’s Bowl.
Outside of Vermont, the tour will travel to Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway, White Mountain Motorsports Park and Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire, Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Connecticut.
Absent from the schedule in 2017 is Oxford Plains Speedway, a track that the tour visited three times in 2016. Promoter Tom Curley cited the decreasing number of ACT-type Late Models in that area as the reason for the change.
NASCAR MODIFIED TOUR QUESTIONS BEING ANSWERED
One month ago, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour fans and drivers had many concerns about what the 2017 season would look like.
Following the merger of the NWMT and the southern-based NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, many were questioning where the new schedule might take them. Those questions were answered when NASCAR recently released a 19-race schedule.
Currently, the 2017 schedule isn’t a whole lot different than what we saw in 2016.
Four dates at Thompson, three races at Stafford (CT), two dates at Riverhead (NY), two races plus the All-Star Race at New Hampshire, Seekonk, Waterford (CT), Bristol (TN) and Oswego (NY).
Nearly all of that remains the same minus the traditional date at Stafford in June and Riverhead moving their second race from August to September 16.
The only current additions to the schedule are a date at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) to open the season on March 18 and a non-points counting race at Charlotte (NC) on October 5. One TBA date for a southern race track remains on the schedule for May 13.
Now all that’s left to determine is the drivers and the cars that we’ll be seeing at Myrtle Beach in March. Stay tuned to Speed51.com as we follow those stories in the coming weeks.
MODIFIED TOURING SERIES GAINING STEAM
After holding a one-off event at Monadnock Speedway (NH) last summer, some questioned what the future of the Modified Touring Series may hold. Don’t look now, but the second-year touring series is gaining some steam.
Earlier this year the MTS announced their plans to host four races at Monadnock in 2017. Those plans were met with questions such as: “How can you call it a series when you only host events at one race track?”
While those were valid questions at the time, Promoter Gary Knight responded by putting together a schedule that currently includes dates at legendary Modified tracks such as Stafford and Riverhead, as well as the Seekonk Speedway. Needless to say, heads were turned when those announcements were made.
Knight believes he will have 10-12 dates on his finalized 2017 schedule, but hasn’t yet announced what or when those additional dates may be.
Regardless, the Modified Touring Series has built up some steam and created a much brighter future for themselves than they had one year ago. Now it’s up to the series officials to continue taking the right steps to establish the MTS as a legitimate series in the Northeast.
TRI-TRACK MODS REVEAL FOUR-RACE SCHEDULE
With a new operational group in place, the Tri-Track Open Modified Series recently announced a four-race schedule for the 2017 season. The series has adapted the philosophy of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” and will continue with the same game plan that they had in 2016.
The series will make traditional stops at Seekonk for Open Wheel Wednesday and Star for the SBM 125, while Waterford will host a points-counting and non-points event.
MODIFIED RACING SERIES RELEASES 10-EVENT SCHEDULE
Valenti Modified Racing Series officials announced a 10-event schedule for the 2017 season on Tuesday night. Compared to the 2016 schedule, the series will host six less events than it did one year ago.
Absent from this year’s schedule is Monadnock Speedway (NH), a track which the series visit on three different occasions in 2016. VMRS will also not make the trip to Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) in 2017 after making two stops there last season. Seekonk Speedway (MA), which hosted one VMRS race in 2016, is missing from the schedule as well.
The schedule features three events at Lee USA Speedway, but it is not clear whether those will be 100-lap features or the twin 50s the series has used at the track in recent years. Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) will play host to the season opener on May 19 and another race on September 1. The series will continue its tradition of crowning a champion on October 14 at Thompson’s (CT) Sunoco World Series.
The full schedule can be found by clicking here.
BIG MONEY ON THE LINE FOR FOUR-CYLINDER RACERS
Earlier this month, Northeast Mini Stock Tour Promoter Bob Guptil introduced a new, standalone event for four-cylinder race cars. The inaugural 4-Cylinder Nationals will take place on September 15 at Claremont Speedway and will offer a purse of over $8,000 with $1,500 going to the winner.
The 100-lap race will be the longest race in NEMST and will put drivers, teams and their machines to the ultimate test. There will be a lap leader bonus of at least $20 per lap and all 27 starters will take home at least $150.
Speed51.com has recognized how big of an event this is for grassroots racers and will be putting $100 on the line for the leader of lap 51.
DEVIL’S BOWL DROPS WEEKLY LATE MODELS
Devil’s Bowl Speedway (VT) recently announced that they will forego running Late Models on a weekly basis in 2017.
The track will host a total of seven Late Model events next season including two American-Canadian Tour races, twin 25-lap features on August 26 and four 50-lap features.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing will continue on both the pavement and asphalt at the West Haven, Vermont track with the Sportsman Modifieds as the “Division 1” class for both surfaces.
Full season schedules are still under construction and are expected to be released before January 1, with several new features added to both tracks.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Mike Bruno/Devil’s Bowl Speedway