NASCAR vs ACT: Let The Debate Begin!
By DAVE MOODY
NASCAR’s Busch North Series and
the ACT Dodge Tour come together Saturday night for the only time this season,
and their annual twinbill at Barre’s Thunder Road is sure to touch-off another
round in the long-simmering debate over which series is the northeast’s best.
Like siblings separated at birth, ACT and Busch North share a common pedigree.
But nature and nurture parted long ago, taking the two series down decidedly
different paths, with their devoted fans along for the ride.
Admittedly, there is not much
common ground for backers of the two circuits to stand on. Like their big
brothers on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Busch North sets its field through
time trials. ACT runs heat races, with the lineups determined by blind draw.
Busch North features a “heads up” feature start, with the fastest cars at
the front of the pack. ACT handicaps its hotdogs to the rear. Busch North counts
caution laps, ACT does not.
The differences go well beyond
procedure, however. In many ways, the NASCAR/ACT debate is the racing equivalent
of class warfare. Busch North utilizes high-powered, steel-bodied racers with
12-inch wide racing slicks. ACT features economy based engines, aftermarket
bodies, and narrow, eight-inch tires. A new ACT motor retails for $6,000, about
one-fifth the cost of a Busch North powerplant. And when Brad Leighton knocks a
fender off his car Saturday night, he’s beating up a $10,000 body. Phil Scott
can replace his for about a grand. The NASCAR troops will roll into Barre this
weekend in gleaming, 18-wheel transporters dripping with chrome, while their
counterparts on the Dodge Tour soldier on with modest, dual-axle box trailers.
Oh, there are a few NASCAR stragglers who’ve yet to join the convoy -- God
bless you, Kip Stockwell -- but in general, it’s safe to say the average Busch
North team has more invested in its transporter than an ACT team has in its
Many Busch North drivers complain
that their cars were not designed for short tracks like
Which series is best, NASCAR or
ACT? We’ll never tell. Comparing the two is not like comparing apples to
oranges. It’s like comparing apples to watermelons. And when all is
said and done, who really cares? In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter
whether you come to watch Leighton or Laperle, Santerre or Scott. All that
matters is that you come.
Let the debate begin!
Dave Dion won the first race he ever ran at
every time this team has been down,
of my fans are older – like me – and it’s been tough for them,” he said.
“For four years, every time we came back to
former Busch North Series champion said another checkered flag Saturday night
would resurrect what has so far been a difficult season.
had good cars most of the time, but we’ve had crummy luck,” he said.
“We’ve had too many DNFs (did not finish); mostly due to stupid things like
flat tires. With a little bit of luck, we could easily have a couple of wins by
now. But it just hasn’t happened.
no matter who wins Saturday night, Dion said money won’t have anything to do
that’s required to win this race is four tires," he said. "If a
driver with deep pockets wins, it’s because he stepped up to the plate and did
a terrific job of driving. Money doesn’t matter at
while winning last year’s “True Value 150” added a few extra pages to Mama
Dion’s bulging scrapbook, the
won the first race I ever ran at
season is over at
The presence of these good-guy vigilantes sent a clear message to any
potential troublemakers that the “anything goes” era was over, at least for
one night. It stated – loud and clear – that there were still a few good
people at Airborne; people who have seen enough fighting and controversy.
Unfortunately, that message may have come too late to save the
There has been no word from ACT President Tom Curley about the long-term
future of the Airborne oval, but sources say the days of weekly racing at the
Plattsburgh track are almost certainly over.
In this writer’s opinion,
Airborne Raceway’s fate was sealed the day Malone (NY) International Raceway
closed down. During Malone’s short lifespan, drivers who found themselves
disqualified in the Airborne tech line or thrown-out for bad behavior invariably
launched a few profanities in Curley’s direction, then took their show up the
road to Malone. Once the Malone track closed, however, Airborne’s bad apples
kept coming back. Last Saturday night’s brawl was the end result.
may or may not have been the final, lead-division track championship of the ACT
era at Airborne Raceway, but it was definitely the closest.
definitely a first for us,” said ACT spokesman Tom Herzig this week. “We all
had a general understanding that in the event of a tie, feature wins were the
first tiebreaker. But nobody was entirely sure what the procedure was beyond
that. We were fairly certain it would come down to second-place finishes, but
nobody can recall it ever happening before. So we decided to wait, do the proper
research, and be sure we got it right.”
came into Saturday night’s finale trailing Bushey by 16 points, but trimmed
the deficit to just two after qualifying, before finishing one position better
than Bushey in the main event. The pair could force ACT officials to sharpen
their pencils again, since they currently stand first and second in ACT’s
Subway Flying Tiger Grand Slam Series standings, separated by just 22 points.
Mike “Chickenman” Perdue’s
upset victory in Friday night’s regular season Late Model finale at
Perdue, a former Street Stick
Davis Racing announced a multi-year deal yesterday to put Kenny Wallace behind
the wheel of
will take over the #23 Dodge this weekend at
Harmon is one lucky sonofagun. Early in the first practice for last Saturday’s
Food City 250 at
happened to the car, it just went to the right," said Harmon afterward.
"I didn't realize what had happened. I knew I was too close to the wall
with my body, but I didn't realize the car was cut in two until I got out of it.
Looking back, I'm glad to have survived this deal. Looking at the pictures on
the Internet, I'm surprised I'm alive. I thank the good Lord for that. All I can
say is, it just wasn't my day."
Harmon emerged with a few scratches and bruises, but after being taken to a local hospital via ambulance, but returned to the track in time to practice and qualify in a different car.
…New Hampshire International Speedway owner
Bob Bahre has changed his tune, but only slightly. Bahre admitted last week that
drivers who called his track dangerous after last month’s Winston Cup race
were probably right. Initially, Bahre denied that the track had come apart
during the race, blaming problems on a too-hard tire compound. Now, however,
Bahre says there was indeed a problem with the track.
"The top came off, but nothing broke
up,” he said. “It's like if you threw sand on the track."
Bahre said he will do what he can
to improve the situation, and heavy rollers have reportedly been making laps at
“The Magic Mile” of late. But the NHIS owner warned that conditions might
not be much better when the Cup troops return to Loudon next month. That ought
to help sell tickets.
…Chip Ganassi confirmed this week that he
will field a third Dodge team next season. He would not, however, confirm
published reports that the new team will be sponsored by Texaco-Havoline. Jerry
Nadeau is openly campaigning for the new Ganassi ride, saying he would sign a
performance-based contract that pays him nothing if the team does not succeed on
…There’s no racing at Barre’s
the annual Busch North/ACT Dodge Tour doubleheader blasts off at
Devil’s Bowl Speedway in