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Tom Herzig's Trackside: All eyes will be on Thompson Speedway this weekend

October 10. 2018 9:29PM

It’s Thompson Speedway World Series weekend, which for many New England short track fans signifies the end of the 2018 season.

To be sure, some racing remains after the combustion engine version of the World Series, including Star Speedway’s Halloween Howler on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 27-28, and the Tri-Track Open Modified Series 100/Pro All Star Series Super Late Model doubleheader at Seekonk Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 27.

Also, Lee USA has a “Fall of Destruction” event with multiple Enduros this Saturday, including a 50-lap Late Model Sportsman race that was postponed because of last weekend’s wet conditions.

Thompson’s farewell to 2018 is an emphatic exclamation point, though. The lineup includes 17 divisions and more than 400 race teams.

More than a few 2018 championships will be decided at the World Series, though, unlike most years, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour won’t be one of them. That crown is already set aside for Justin Bonsignore, who recently wrapped things up at Stafford Motor Speedway.

The Valenti Modified Series championships have come down to Thompson weekend after some tumultuous times of late. The Series had a race date at Waterford Speedbowl evaporate last month as well as its Oktoberfest. Not only was the Twin 50’s format shortened by rain, there was also an altercation — and ensuing suspensions — involving the team of teenager Sammy Rameau, who was one of the title contenders.

The fallout from the Lee event leaves Woody Pitkat of Sturbridge, Mass., 15 points ahead of Mike Willis Jr. of Grantham for the driver title, and the Willis team 32 points ahead of Anthony Nocella’s team on the ownership side of the ledger. There’s also a tight battle for Rookie of the Year honors with Jacob Perry one point ahead of Cameron Sontag.

Among the winners at Lee’s Oktoberfest were Street Stocker Alby Ovitt of Barrington — over Grant Aither of Exeter in the race of the weekend, many say — Brandon Barker/Granite State Pro Stocks, Steve Duphily/Supermodifieds, Geoff Rollins/Sportsman Modifieds, Max Dolliver/Late Models, Brandon Mailhot/Ironman, Zach Lyn of Claremont/Pure Stocks and Niko Maniatis/Roadrunners.

It’s down to Scott Payea and Eddie MacDonald for the American Canadian Tour title at Thompson. Payea, the defending champion, has a 26-point lead.

Dan Bowes of Epping (1927) and Tennessean Kyle Edwards (1911) are in the hunt for the ISMA Supermodified championship.

Helliwell Jr. wins at Seekonk

Wayne Helliwell Jr. of Dover won the DAV Fall Classic Pro Stock 150 at Seekonk Speedway with a display of tire-saving smarts and late-race strength. The former American Canadian Tour champion and Oxford 250 winner raced a lighter schedule this year, competing primarily at Beech Ridge.

Helliwell was well-positioned in the second row on a restart with six laps to go and pounced when co-leaders Dave Darling and Kevin Casper bounced off one another scrapping for the lead.

Health issues have curtailed Helliwell’s racing career a bit since his 2016 Oxford 250 win, but he told Speed, “I’m never going to be 100 percent, but as long as I eat healthy and do the right things that I’m supposed to do, I still get to do what I love to do. This makes everything worth it.”

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