Double Features Up The Ante Tonight At T-Road

SpeedReading

By DAVE MOODY

Barre/Montpelier (VT) Times-Argus

 

The Fourth of July week is always a busy one for local racers, but a string of nasty thunderstorms last Thursday night served to pack this week’s schedule even tighter than usual.

 

After waiting out three different rain delays, officials at Barre’s Thunder Road were finally forced to throw in the towel last week, when heavy thundershowers pounded the area with two of the evening’s three features still to be completed. As a result, the Late Model and Flying Tiger divisions will race twice tonight, with the rained-out WDEV Trophy Dashes kicking off the program, followed by the full slate of regularly scheduled events, sponsored by Coca-Cola. Once that’s over, the teams will have just one night to regroup before Saturday’s ACT Dodge Tour “True Value 150” at Airborne Raceway in Plattsburgh .

 

Three features in a 48-hour span should be enough to burn out even the most rabid racer.

 

“It’s going to be busy, that’s for sure,” said Flying Tiger veteran Doug Murphy, one of a handful of drivers who competes weekly at both Thunder Road and Airborne. “I’ll be happy to get through tonight without any major trouble.”

 

Getting torn up this evening “would make for an awfully long weekend,” admitted Murphy. “Especially if you have trouble in the first feature. One small mistake could cost you three good finishes, and championships are won and lost on a lot less than that.

 

“You can’t go out there worrying about it, though,” he said. “It may be three features in three nights, but you’ve got to take it one race at a time. The best way to get in trouble is to start tip-toeing around out there, trying to be careful. My strategy is to treat tonight like any other race.”

 

For many ACT Dodge Tour teams, it’s already been a week filled with midnight oil. A 17-caution marathon at Quebec’s Circuit Ste. Croix last Saturday night left many of them with lots of work to do before the green flag flies tonight at Thunder Road, and Saturday’s 150-lap event on the half-mile Airborne oval will provide one of their longest tests of the season.

 

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There is apparently no limit to the amount of money Bob Bahre will spend on New Hampshire International Speedway .

 

After years of having his Loudon oval criticized as a one-groove, no passing racetrack, Bahre broke out the checkbook this spring and completely rebuilt the corners, adding a new, 12-foot wide bottom groove to the Granite State oval, and sealing the entire racing surface. The result? Two of the best races ever seen on the track they call “The Magic Mile.”

 

Drivers in NASCAR’s Busch and Busch North Series unanimously praised Bahre’s efforts, saying the changes have made the track a good deal more competitive, allowing them to pass in places that had previously been unthinkable. Unfortunately, their euphoria was short-lived.

 

Last month, hairline cracks were found in portions of the new blacktop; cracks that would inevitably allow water to seep through the surface, causing damage to the track. Discovery of the cracks forced Bahre to reach for his billfold yet again, postponing a scheduled NASCAR Winston Cup test session while the new asphalt was meticulously ground away and replaced by New Hampshire ’s Pike Industries.

 

“Turns one and two were fine, but the oil mixture in three and four didn't come out right,” explained Bahre last week in his familiar, matter-of-fact fashion. And while NASCAR rules do not allow testing within seven days of a race event, and the new asphalt will have less than three weeks to cure before the Winston Cup troops come to town, the NHIS owner said he is confident everything will go well.

“When the Cup cars come up here, you'll see a lot more passing,” he said.

If not, don’t be surprised to see “Papa Bahre” reaching for his hip pocket yet again.

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After an 11th place finish last weekend at the Milwaukee Mile, Kevin Lepage is reportedly set to announce a deal that will keep him steadily employed through the 2002 season, and beyond.

The Shelburne driver continues to substitute for the injured Jeff Purvis in the Brewco Motorsports/ Timber Wolf Busch Series Chevrolet, and with Purvis sidelined at least through the end of the 2002 campaign, team owner Clarence Brewer is reportedly set to make Lepage his permanent driver through the end of the season.

“We hope to have something to announce at Daytona,” said Lepage last weekend. “I can’t really say anything yet, but it’s a good deal for everyone involved.”

While the former Vermont Milk Bowl champion declined to provide any details prior to the formal announcement, sources say Brewer and Lepage have inked a deal to keep him in the Timber Wolf car for the rest of this season. In addition, Lepage is reportedly set to steer the car in 2003, unless he is able to find a full-time Winston Cup ride. He has four top-15 finishes in his limited stint with the Brewco team this year.

Lepage recently completed work on a new, self-owned Winston Cup entry, to go with four NASCAR Busch Series cars that need little more than paint to go racing. If sponsorship can be found, don’t be surprised to see the Vermont native run a limited schedule of Winston Cup races next season in his own equipment, in addition to a full Busch Series championship effort with Brewco.

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Short (Track) Subjects…

            …Sylvain Lacombe’s win in last weekend’s ACT Dodge Tour “Fleur de Lys 100” at Quebec ’s Circuit Ste-Croix is now in the official column. Lacombe, an infrequent conpetitor on the Dodge Tour, dusted the traveling tourists on his home track, prompting whispers that his Chevrolet might have enjoyed more than the allowable amount of horsepower. ACT officials took possession of Lacombe’s motor following the race and delivered it to Butler and McMaster, the builders responsible for the ACT spec engine program. Wednesday, the word came down. Lacombe’s powerplant was 100-percent legal.

New Hampshire driver “Rocket” Roger Brown looks to make it three Flying Tiger features in a row tonight at Thunder Road , something that has not been accomplished in more than a decade.

Brown’s season started roughly, with a hard crash at Thunder Road . But after a few races to sort out the damage, Brown has now stormed to victory in the last two Tiger features at the road, in addition to claiming the checkered flag in the Subway Flying Tiger Grand Slam Series event at Canaan USA Speedway two weeks ago, and last Saturday night’s main event at Riverside Speedway.

            …From the “How to Alienate People You’ve Never Met” department this week, we offer CART driver Paul Tracy. Asked about his team’s possible defection to the rival Indy Racing League next season, Tracy said that if he is going to be forced to run ovals, he’d rather race NASCAR. Unfortunately, he didn’t stop there.

"It's not a real race car, but they're out there banging doors,” said the outspoken Tracy of the stock car set. “They are what they are. But they make a lot of money.”

Now there’s a guy NASCAR fans are sure to embrace.

…There were no disqualifications among the top three finishers in the Renegade feature at Airborne Raceway Saturday night, the first time that’s happened in nearly two months. Perhaps coincidentally, many of the drivers who usually dominate the division had simultaneous “off nights” Saturday, finishing out of the top five.

…Planning a quiet Saturday evening in front of the tube, watching the Pepsi 400 on FOX? Keep an eye open for "Flycam." The new camera – one of 33 cameras and 13 in-car cameras on-line at Daytona – will zip above pit road at nearly 65-miles per hour, courtesy of a 500-foot “zip line” running past the start/finish line. Next week, Spiderman-cam!

…The holiday weekend begins tonight at Barre’s Thunder Road , with their traditional Independence Day program, sponsored by Coca-Cola. As mentioned above, last week’s rained-out Late Model and Flying Tiger features will lead off the evening’s card, followed by a full slate of regularly-scheduled events and fireworks to close the show. The added events have prompted track officials to schedule a special, early post-time of 6 p.m.

Tomorrow night, the Canaan (NH) dirt track returns to action with its annual “Butch Clogston Memorial,” featuring a regular four-division card of dirt track racing. Post time is 7 p.m. Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven has a rare Friday night program this week, with the annual, 50-lap “Summer Blast” for the 358 Modifieds, plus support divisions and fireworks, beginning at 7:00.

Saturday, the ACT Dodge Tour Late Models return to Airborne Raceway in Plattsburgh for the “True Value 150.” A full card of racing for the Flying Tigers, Street Stocks and Renegades is also on tap, beginning at 7 p.m. Live coverage of the main event can be heard locally on WDEV FM 96.1 and AM 550. The Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring heads for Waterford Speedbowl for its third annual appearance in the Waterford 150 on Saturday night. Practice starts at 12:30 p.m. , Bud Pole qualifying is set for 5:30 , race time is approximately 7:30 p.m.

Saturday night is “Perry Oil Service Night” at Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, as the track celebrates 35 years of racing, with many of the stars and cars of the past on hand, along both the Twin State Modified Series and the Sunoco Coupe Series in twin, 40-lap events. The Pro Streets and Fast Fours will also be on Saturday's card, with qualifying beginning at 6:30 p.m. White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, NH, celebrates Independence Day Saturday night, with all six divisions seeing action, plus Monster Truck racing and car crushing at intermission. The green flag waves there at 6 p.m.

It’s “McDonald's Kid's Night” at Groveton’ New Hampshire’s Riverside Speedway Saturday, featuring the Cyclones, Strictly Stocks, Sportsman, Late Models and Dwarf Cars. Stock-car rides for the kids begin at 6:35 p.m. , while the racing action gets the green flag at 7:05 .

And finally, the NEKC Kart Tour tackles the Thunder Road infield road course Saturday afternoon, with a multi-division program for all ages, beginning at 4 p.m.