THERE ARE a lot of options in the region for race fans this holiday weekend and one of the best is Sunday’s Tri-Track Open Modified Series at Claremont Motorsports Park.
The Tri-Track Modified Series, as it has come to be known, actually has six events involving five different tracks planned this season. It’s headed to Star Speedway on Saturday, July 27, for race number two.
Sunday’s event –- the Ron Bouchard’s Auto Stores Challenge Cup 100 –- pays $7,000 to win and has an overall purse north of $50,000. If you qualify for the starting lineup, you’re guaranteed a $1,000. Showing up and attempting to qualify is worth a $500 payday. A stout field in excess of 33 teams is expected.
Among the contenders will be last year’s winner and local favorite, Mike Willis Jr. of Grantham, driver of the Spirit of Alaska Wilderness Adventures/Legacy Landscaping No. 83. It was a well-earned victory by Willis Jr. last year. He got hounded to the end by two Modified stalwarts — Ryan Preece and Matt Hirschman.
Nowadays, Preece does his racing on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup circuit, but Hirschman will be at Claremont. He’ll be joined by Woody Pitkat, who’s coming off a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win at Wall Stadium (N.J.), Ronnie Silk, Les Hinckley, Richard Savary and savvy Granite Staters Todd Patnode and Russ Hersey.
The Granite State Pro Stock Series will be in action at Monadnock’s season opener. As part of last weekend’s two-day May Madness event at Lee USA, Beech Ridge regular Brendan Barker won the GSPSS 150 rather handily. Jeremy Davis was the runner-up with Ben Rowe third.
Jack Bateman‘s Modified Racing Series was on hand at Lee for a pair of 50-lappers. Jeffrey Gallup drove to his first Series win in the first go-around. Anthony Nocella won the second race. The Modified Series races next at Monadnock on June 8.
It’s Bob Webber Sr. Memorial/Salute to Service Night Saturday at Star Speedway. The lineup includes 350 Supers, Street Stocks, Six-Shooters, INEX Legend Cars, a four-cylinder enduro and a powder puff race. All military personnel past and present with a valid ID are admitted free, along with kids 10 and under.
There’s a buzz to Star’s 350 Supers division these days. Last week, the Supers were out in force for the Compact Equipment Services Marco Turcotte Memorial, and Rich Eaton of Seabrook landed in victory lane for the first time.
Eaton, 51, used to sneak into the pits as a youngster at Star to meet the drivers. He started strapping in jalopies in Enduros as a high schooler and moved up through various Late Model and Pro Stock divisions before head and neck injuries in a PASS Pro Stock race sidelined him a few years back.
Saturday, Eaton was on the pole in the No. 4 car for owner/sponsor Joe Jones and marched on mistake-free through three restarts. James Witkum and Dave Helliwell gave chase, but they couldn’t quite keep pace.
“I knew there were cars coming after me, but there’s no radio or mirrors in a Super, I just kept my eyes to the front,” Eaton noted. “The car was as fast on the last lap as it was it on the first.”
Both Eaton and Jones have dealt with plenty of adversity in recent times, including loss of loved ones.
“It’s the people you meet and share the racing experiences with that really matter,” Eaton said. “It’s about that more than winning. I was emotional in victory lane trying to thank everyone — my son-in-law Chad Moffitt, who was instrumental in getting me into a Super, as was Red MacDonald, Chad’s father, Kevin, Joe Jones, my wife, Laurie, my daughter Amy, my stepson Adam Houben and Justin, Cody, Merle and Ace, who also help out.”
Dave Helliwell’s highlight of the weekend came at Lee USA when his twin brother, Bill Helliwell, drove car owner Dave’s No. 01 Late Model Sportsman to victory. Second place finisher? Brother George Helliwell in father Wayne‘s No. 07.
Shane Sicard of Barton, Vt., regained the lead with two laps to go and won the Flying Tiger Triple Crown Series 75 on 7-Eleven Night at White Mountain. Thunder Road regular Jason Woodard and Kaleb Rogers were second and third.
The top three finishers in the Foley Oil & Propane Late Model main were Quinny Welch, Scott Corey and Oren Remick. The Late Model Springboard 100 is this week’s main event.
Wet weather forced postponement of the PASS Super Late Model event at Speedway 51. The race will be made up at a later date.
Sunday the PASS Super Late Models are at Thunder Road in Barre, Vt., for a 150-lap event — part of a holiday twinbill that features the 57th Annual Mekklesen RV Memorial Day Classic 100 for ACT-type Late Models.
On Track This Weekend
Lee USA: Saturday, Noon
Rumtown: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Monadnock: Saturday, 5 p.m.
Star Speedway: Saturday, 5 p.m.
Speedway 51: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Bear Ridge (Vt.): Saturday, 6 p.m.
White Mountain: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.
Lee USA: Sunday, Noon
Thunder Road (VT): Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
Claremont: Sunday, 5 p.m.
Hudson: Monday, 1 p.m.