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April 30. 2014 4:49PM

Tom Herzig's Trackside: Iffy weather causes promoter headaches

REGIONAL short track racing got curtailed somewhat by Mother Nature last weekend and the same thing could happen this weekend. It’s always a challenge and a double-edged sword for race track promoters as how best to proceed when the weather’s iffy.

One way to go about it is to make an all-out effort to get the card in. The plus side is that your fan base can depend on your willingness to go all out. That, of course exposes your competitors to the expense of hauling in without the chance to go racing. The other option is to pull the plug well in advance, which in recent years, has been the path more usually taken. That choice can raise havoc with your schedule and severely impact the front gate if the weekend weather doesn’t cooperate very well or in contrast, leave fans pulling into a race track with nobody home and the skies clearing, quite unhappy.

Monadnock and Twin State will try again this weekend and Bear Ridge Speedway, the DIRTcar and USAC sanctioned clay oval in Bradford, Vt., is tentatively scheduled to open Saturday. Seekonk Speedway is hopeful of getting its Valenti Modified Series event in Sunday.

Last weekend after switching to Sunday, Star Speedway had a decent turnout for its track clean-up/spruce-up. Hudson Speedway plans the same this Sunday.
Chris Donnelly of Piermont, owner of Wicked Racing Products Speed Shop and the defending Bear Ridge Modified champion and 2013 Sprint Cars of New England champion is hoping to go racing at Bear Ridge this Saturday. However Donnelly notes that he, like many others, “waited quite a while to get going on car preparation, so maybe a week delay won’t be all bad.”

Donnelly started racing Street Stocks at Bear Ridge and won a title before moving into a Late Model. He drives Larry Covey’s No. 20c Modified sponsored by Covey Logging and Robert Thurston Logging. He owns his own sprint car — No. 17 — sponsored by Tuck’s Repair, Forward Garage and wife Julie’s business – Division Sign Works.

“I think the Modified car count at Bear Ridge, which has been good, will stay about the same,” Donnelly predicted. “I think that Legion Speedway (which opens May 11) will see a big boost with Canaan closed. That’s a bonus for several teams up that way that will not have as much travel.”
Justin Giguere of Lebanon, who used to be a Canaan regular, but last year was the alpha wolf in the Late Model division at Bear Ridge returns to defend his title in the No. 23 machine sponsored by Robbie Williams Excavating of Plainfield, Roy’s Auto Service of Lebanon, The Clean Team of Grantham and BF Unlimited. Giguere is helped out a lot on the car by his uncle Keith and his wife Veronica.
 “She complains about it, but she keeps showing up,” reports Giguere. He won 14 features at Bear Ridge in 2013. “In mid-summer, the outside is the better way to go if you can make your car work out there,” Giguere said.

Dover’s Wayne Helliwell Jr. became the 11th different winner in 16 runnings of Thunder Road’s traditional Merchants Bank 150 American Canadian Tour event Sunday. It was the first ever win at Thunder Road for the defending ACT champion.

He took the lead from Jimmy Hebert with 15 laps to go to put the EKeys4Cars No.27 in victory lane. Hebert held on for second while 17-year-old Emily Packard of East Montpelier, Vt., came home third.

Hebert led for the majority of the event after taking the lead on lap 26 from his third place starting position. He held off two former Thunder Road Late Model Champions in Nick Sweet and Derrick O’Donnell in a fierce battle, while protecting the low lane. With just under 20 laps to go, Sweet and O’Donnell made hard contact on the backstretch, bringing out the ninth caution of the event.
Bobby Santos took the lead from rookie Tommy Barrett Jr. on Lap 115 and held off Doug Coby to win the Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford. Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon, Pa., last seen winning the Valenti Modified Series 100 at Monadnock, placed third.

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



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