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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Riverside Speedway set to open Saturday

May 28. 2014 11:23PM

Riverside Speedway in Groveton holds its season opener Saturday. The quarter-miler on the banks of the Connecticut River is the last track in New Hampshire to wave the green flag. That’s fair enough since it’s the northernmost facility and last weekend it would likely have been rained out like White Mountain, Twin State and Monadnock were.

Riverside promoter Dan Fournier recently announced a sponsorship package with A&P Landscaping and Building of Whitefield. Any motorhead that can come up with a reason to steer some business their way should consider it. Good sponsors don’t come easy.

On June 7, Riverside hosts an American Canadian Tour event. The Northeast Mini Stock Tour comes to Groveton June 14 on a night when the Limited Late Models go 100 laps.

White Mountain pulled the plug early and has reset the PASS Super Late Model Tour for this Saturday. Twin State in Claremont had a Late Model 100 scheduled and bumped it up to this Saturday.

Bear Ridge Speedway managed to get its program in. Chris “The Professor” Donnelly of Piermont was a two-time winner, once in the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified feature and once in the Sprint Cars of New England event.

As part of a 111-lap Memorial Day weekend format, the Sportsman Modified feature went 61 laps. Donnelly sat third on a Delaware-style lap-45 restart. He had the lead for keeps by lap 46. TC Forward of Lyme was the runner-up.

Hudson raced both Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, Jarrod Soucy, Billy Osborn and Ricky Fissette were 1-2-3 in a very tight, racy Roadrunner finish. Jay Sands of Seabrook carried the Outlaw checkers. Anthony Belfiore and Bill Helliwell had a rematch of their Rookie Stock feature the week before and the result was the same — Belfiore by a narrow margin. Kris Schroeder picked up his second Thunder Light win. Monday, Osborne and Helliwell turned the tables and won the Roadrunner and Rookie Stock features.

Rookie Rick Sanville of Canaan won the Sportsman Modified main at Legion Speedway. Toby Tatro of North Haverhill won the 600cc Granite State Mini Sprints feature.

Lee USA begins its weekly NASCAR schedule Friday night with all divisions on board.

The Valenti Modified Series races tonight at Thompson Speedway.

Monadnock will use an early 5 p.m. start Saturday to make time for a full-division card that includes last week’s rained-out Granite State Pro Stock Series 100.

The closest known finish in Thunder Road’s 55-year history went down Sunday in the 52nd Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic. Two hometown Barre, Vt., drivers, Jason Corliss and two-time track champion Nick Sweet, finished one-two, 0.008 seconds apart.

The race went green-to-checkers without a caution. Sweet led the first 99 laps, but he had to negotiate heavy lapped traffic, often double-wide, much of the way. Corliss got to Sweet’s rear deck with seven to go.

In turn two on the final lap, Corliss drove it in deep and brushed against Sweet’s St. J Auto No.88, causing both cars to twitch for an instant before heading down the back chute.

With Sweet on the outside and Corliss’ Burnett Scrap Metals No.66 on the bottom, there was more contact coming off the final turn.

“Nick Sweet is a class act,” Corliss said in victory lane. “I did what I had to do. This place was built on short track racing just like that.”

“It’s hard to put this into words,” Corliss continued. “I’m thinking right now about how I used to haul a junker Street Stock here on a dolly and literally have just enough money to get into the racetrack.”

“I couldn’t hold him off,” Sweet said. “At the end, he was just a little better. I lost him on the last set of corners. It doesn’t feel very good. The car was getting too free. I could feel it right off. The car was too good too early.”

The winner of the inaugural 1961 Memorial Day Classic was Roy “Pappy” Forsythe of Keene. Forsythe raced with great success against the likes of Rene Charland, Ernie Gahan, Buddy Bardwell, George Schnyer, Art and Mike Cody and Sonny Rabideau in the No. 80 car and he won many races driving George Barber’s No. 46. He won at Stafford Speedway and more than held his own against the Northeast’s best at Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway. He belongs in the New England Hall of Fame.

Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at

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