Story By: KYLE SOUZA / THOMPSON SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK – THOMPSON, CT – The 59th Annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing arrives at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park this Friday-Sunday, October 8-10.
While many fans are hotly anticipating the return of the $20,000-to-win Thompson 300 on Sunday, the Twisted Tea World Series Saturday card on October 9 is equally intriguing with a packed card of local and touring action.
Saturday will be the perfect prelude to the 300-lap Sunday showdown. Many of the Outlaw Open Modified Series stars that are chasing the prestigious Thompson 300 crown are planning to take part in Saturday’s open practice. Fans who arrive early get to see Tour-type Modified superstars like Doug Coby, Ronnie Williams, Patrick Emerling, Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk, and Jonathan McKennedy tune up for the first Thompson 300 since 2005.
Once the 2:30pm post time arrives for Twisted Tea World Series Saturday, eight divisions will battle in qualifying and World Series features. The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models and Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Models headline the Saturday card with a pair of 75-lap features. The season for both is nearing its end, making the event crucial for series regulars.
The ACT Late Model Tour has a razor-close title battle on its hands. Turner, ME’s Ben Rowe leads Center Conway, NH’s D.J. Shaw by just one point with two events to go. Both are multi-time PASS champions pursuing their first ACT title. Rowe and Shaw, along with former Seekonk Speedway champion Ryan Kuhn, are planning double-duty on Saturday in both the ACT and PASS features.
The rest of the ACT top-five has tightened up between New Salem, MA’s Tom Carey III, North Dartmouth, MA’s Derek Gluchacki, and Williamstown, VT’s Jimmy Hebert. Carey and Gluchacki are both Thompson Speedway regulars with Carey owning a victory at this year’s Icebreaker. Hebert is a former ACT winner at Thompson who has finished 1st, 2nd, and 1st in the last three ACT Tour events.
Carey, Gluchacki, Kuhn, Woody Pitkat, and Stephen Donahue are just some of the drivers expected to race in both Friday’s Thompson Late Model championship event and Saturday’s Sunoco World Series 75 presented by Twisted Tea. The 30-lap Friday feature pays $1,200 to win while the Saturday ACT event is worth $2,500 to win, making it a potentially lucrative weekend for Late Model teams.
The PASS Super Late Models are crowning their 2021 National Champion at the Sunoco World Series. Hudson, NH’s Derek Griffith, the 2018 National Champion, has a healthy lead over D.J. Shaw. Griffith won the PASS event at the Icebreaker, making him one to watch on Saturday. Third-place national point driver Jake Matheson of Hillsboro, NH is coming off his first career PASS podium at Vermont’s Thunder Road Speedbowl.
Saturday’s race also counts for PASS North and New England South points, making it a crucial stop for two other championship quests. Hallowell, ME’s Johnny Clark is three races away from his seventh PASS North championship — but his first since 2011. Despite some late handling trouble at Thunder Road, he maintains a strong lead over Dan Winter, Ben Rowe, and Kate Re. Shaw is the New England South leader ahead of Clark and Matheson. Other notable names on the Thompson entry list include Eddie “The Outlaw” MacDonald, Brandon Barker, Ryan Kuhn, and Cory Casagrande.
The Northeastern Midget Association is back for its annual World Series appearance. The full-scale NEMA Midgets are running 25 laps as part of Twisted Tea World Series Saturday while the NEMA Lites go 25 laps on Sunday. Randy Cabral leads the NEMA point standings with two events to go as he pursues his eighth championship. Avery Stoehr, the 2019 NEMA Champion, will try to gain ground at Thompson as will three-time winner John Zych and two-time winner Paul Scally.
Another notable event on Saturday’s World Series schedule is the middle round of the Sunoco Modified Triple Crown Series. The Thompson Sunoco Modifieds are running three 30-lap features on World Series weekend with each paying $1,500 to win. That means racers like Keith Rocco, Mike Christopher Jr., Danny Cates, and Andrew Molleur can pocket a big chunk of change for a weekend of work. Points are also on the line for the 2021 Sunoco Modified championship, which will be decided on Sunday, October 10 prior to the Thompson 300.
The North East Mini Stock Tour crowns their 2021 champion at Twisted Tea World Series Saturday. Berlin, NH’s Cody LeBlanc has a comfortable point lead heading into the finale but is scrambling for a car after his primary machine blew an engine at last Friday’s Thunder Road event. The rest of the four-cylinder speedsters will be on hand to tackle the high banks, including 2020 champion Desmond Skillings, Mike Viens, Nick Anderson, and Matt Sonnhalter.
If fans want to watch one of the most wide-open Thompson title fights in recent history, look no further than the Vandi Auto Supply Limited Sportsman. Coming into Saturday, the top-four drivers are separated by a mere two points. “Leadfoot” Larry Barnett, Corey Fanning, Ryan Waterman, and Brent Gleason know that even one position in a heat race could be the difference, so they are spending the week searching for every ounce of speed they can find.
The EXIT Realty Pro Truck Challenge is making its second Thompson appearance of the year. Their Icebreaker feature came down to a last-corner door-banger, and with drivers like Jim Boyle, Randy Burr, and Emma Monahan trying to punch their ticket to the championship playoff, the pressure will be turned up to the maximum setting. Last but certainly not least, the Pro 4 Modifieds of New England are on the Saturday schedule for the annual Harry Kourafas Memorial. The annual 22-lap feature is always a barnburner with both the Limited and Unlimited division on track for their next-to-last event of the year.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park presents the 59th annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing from Friday, October 8 to Sunday, October 10. The weekend is highlighted by the $20,000-to-win Sunoco Thompson 300 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series. The 17-division program also includes the ACT Late Model Tour, PASS Super Late Models, Sunoco Modified Triple Crown Series, NEMA Midgets and Lites, all local divisions, and much more.
Advance tickets are available at www.happsnow.com/event/Thompson-Speedway-Motorsports-Park-YHPQ. Three-day general admission to the Sunoco World Series is $75 for adults, $20 for kids ages 6-12, and free for kids ages 5 and under. Fans can also purchase single-day tickets or a two-day Saturday-Sunday ticket.