History will be made at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) on September 12 when stock cars race on the 1.7-mile road course for the first time since the opening of the new course in June 2014. Track general manager Josh Vanada and long-time road racer Lou Gingerella have formed a promotions company coined OTB Promotions and will promote the event. Four different divisions, the Northeast Mini Stock Tour, North East Street Stock Tour, New England Truck Series and the TSMP NASCAR Mini Stocks, will be in action on race day.
“Given the rich history of road racing and stock car tradition at Thompson, it made sense to Lou and I to put this event together,” Vanada said in a press release. “We’re excited to showcase some of the Northeast’s finest grassroots stock car touring series, as well as our own Mini Stock Division.”
Out of the four divisions racing that day, the Northeast Mini Stock Tour is the only division to have prior experience racing on a road course. The four-cylinder tour has previously visited the road course at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the response from teams about those events has been fantastic, according to series promoter Bob Guptil.
With drivers now having the chance to make history as one of the first stock car winners on the Thompson road course, Guptil believes anticipation will be just as high for the event in September.
“We’re really excited to have the opportunity to bring our drivers to a top-notch facility like Thompson,” Guptil told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We really want to open the tour up to the masses of people. We want to offer something for everyone. From a quarter-mile flat track to a mile-oval to different road courses to asphalt to dirt, we want somebody that races the Mini Stock Tour to be able to say that they’ve tackled everything. Being able to race at Thompson at a historic event like this just adds to that and adds to the excitement for our 2015 season.”
Having experienced road course racing in the past, how much work is performed by Mini Stock teams to transform a car from an oval setup to a road course setup? Guptil says “the sky is the limit” for teams, but believes that Thompson presents an extra challenge to drivers that have competed at NHMS.
“It’s as much as the teams want to put into it,” Guptil said of the work that his Mini Stock teams put into road course racing. “Some guys don’t really change anything and just go for the fun of it. New Hampshire is a primarily left road course, but Thompson is going to be a lot different for these guys because it’s a primarily right turn course. There are a lot more high-speed, right turn corners.”
Lorraine Pard, promoter for the New England Truck Series, is very excited about the opportunity her series has to race on the TSMP road course. When construction began on the road course in 2013, Pard said she had the goal to be one of the first stock car series on the course. The good news for Pard: she achieved her goal.
“I told Josh when he started the road course that I wanted to be the first to be on there,” said Pard. “This is going to be a new challenge for our drivers. I spoke to people throughout the season about what they thought about racing on a road course and a lot of them are up for it and really want to try a road course.”
Throughout the series’ history, the NETS has never ventured into road course racing and has spent the majority of their events on asphalt tracks less than a half-mile in length. Despite the big change going to a 1.7-mile road course that features left and right turns, Pard isn’t expecting that her teams will have to make a whole lot of changes to their trucks for the September event.
“Our trucks, I don’t think there’s going to be too much we have to change,” said Pard. “We just have to pick out the gear that these guys need to use because we have trucks that use automatic and standard transmissions. I don’t think it’s really going to be too bad. I don’t think we’ll have to do too much with moving stuff around. I think we’ll be good.”
In their inaugural season, the North East Street Stock Tour features the ever-popular and ultra-competitive street stock race cars. Co-Series Director, Nick Ray, is enthusiastic about this stop on the Tour’s schedule.
“We are very excited to have this extraordinary opportunity to showcase our street stock on the famed TSMP road course,” the rookie director remarked. “Our competitors will be ready to put on a great show that will not soon be forgotten. We also would like to send a huge ‘thank you’ to Josh and his team for making this possible. In addition to bringing their own touring cars, the division’s rules package will also allow drivers from TSMP’s Limited Sportsman Division to compete in the ground-breaking event.
Gingerella, President of OTB Promotions, believes that the innovative format is a great entry level event for grassroots teams.
“We believe that this is going to be a fantastic event,” Gingerlla said. “Being a road racer, it will be great to give some of the grassroots touring series the opportunity to experience and enjoy a different style of racing. That’s what we are about at OTB – creativity, innovation, and fun.”
More information regarding the event, and OTB promotions will be available February 2, on OTB’s website, otbpromo.net.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Clarus Studios Photo