Story By: KYLE SOUZA / THOMPSON SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK – THOMPSON, CT – Race fans in New England are preparing for the official kick-off of the 2022 season in just under two weeks.
Operated by the staff at the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Pro All Star Series (PASS), Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will roar back to life for the 48th running of Icebreaker weekend, April 1-3, with nine divisions of racing.
All of the action will be headlined by the $10,000 to win Icebreaker 125 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series, but will also include championship points races for the Pro All Star Series, EXIT Realty Pro Truck Series, NEMA Lites and all five of Thompson’s local divisions. With an optional practice day on Friday and qualifying and feature racing across both Saturday and Sunday, race fans won’t want to miss the opener at one of Connecticut’s top short-tracks.
The Outlaw Open Modified Series race is shaping up to be a bit of a battle between youth rising stars and veterans for the big check. On the veteran side, Ronnie Williams, who won multiple Outlaw Open Modified Series races at Thompson in 2021, will return to competition with car owner Gary Casella to chase the trophy. Williams is no stranger to winning at Thompson, and is also a multiple-time SK Modified champion at Stafford Motor Speedway, just across the state. Williams and Casella have been a potent combination since their first race together and will surely be a threat before the end.
Jonathan McKennedy, a longtime Modified regular, is also entered to return to Thompson for the Icebreaker. McKennedy, now a full-time driver on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, ran the Outlaw Open Modified Series events last year and was a threat to win many. However, some late-race strategy didn’t quite play out his way. Strategy will once again be a factor at the Icebreaker – so only time will tell if the Middlesex Interiors team has what it takes to grab the win.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour regular Eric Goodale and veteran Chris Pasteryak are also part of the early entry list. Both of them have plenty of laps on the high-banks of Thompson, and would love to leave with the check at the end of 125 laps.
On the youth side, a recent track champion at Thompson and an additional former SK Lite Modified winner are making the move to the big dance. Anthony Bello, who captured the SK Lite Modified track title last year, is entered to compete in the No. 19 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series. Bello took the SK Lite Modified division by surprise last year, rocketing to the front and ending the season with the championship. Bello’s Tour-Type Modified experience might be a bit limited, but look for this youth talent to have a goal of finishing all the laps and trying to get to the front in the final circuits.
On the other side, rising star Teddy Hodgdon proved in February he would be a threat in the Tour-Type Modified ranks for 2022. As a former Thompson winner in the SK Lite Modifieds and former champion of the division over at Stafford, Hodgdon went to New Smyrna Speedway’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing and finished inside the podium in the championship standings for the week. At one of the toughest tracks, in his debut Modified starts, Hodgdon competed against some of the best. Now, he’s hoping to carry that confidence and momentum back to New England at the Icebreaker.
“Definitely exciting to head back to Thompson, especially with the recent history of success for our family-owned team,” Hodgdon said. “Thompson is always a super fun track to run, and I can’t wait to start the season up north on high note. The track is pretty tricky when you get started. It’s a very line-sensitive track on where you can run, but once you find your footing it can be rewarding against the competition. I think I’ve grown a lot there since my first laps.”
Like Bello, Hodgdon wants to finish all the laps and try to challenge those veteran competitors when the race hits the final laps.
“The goal coming from a great week down at New Smyrna is to continue to grab solid finishes and run up front,” Hodgdon said. “If we can do that, we will definitely be up there when it counts most. All of us are just excited to get the race season officially started.”
The Outlaw Open Modified Series teams will be allowed to practice on Friday and Saturday, but all qualifying and feature racing will take place on Sunday.
On Saturday, the Sunoco Modifieds, Pro All Star Series, EXIT Realty Trucks, Mini Stocks and NEMA Lites will qualify and race to kick-off Icebreaker weekend. Sunday, the Thompson Late Models, Limited Sportsman and SK Lite Modifieds will join the Outlaw Open Modified Series to wrap the weekend.
Following Friday’s practice session, ACT and PASS officials will honor the 2021 Thompson track champions at the Clubhouse Raceway Restaurant with a banquet ceremony. Tickets for the banquet are currently on-sale with a purchase deadline of March 25. Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased by filling out a short form.
Icebreaker weekend tickets are available in a package that offers a grandstand pass for both Saturday & Sunday, or each day separately. Fans who purchase the two-day pass have a price set at $60 for adults, with children ages 12 & under just $20. Tickets for Saturday only are $30 for adults and $10 for children 12 & under, while Sunday tickets to watch the Outlaw Open Modified Series stars race for $10,000 are $40 for adults and $10 for kids 12 & under.
Pit passes for the weekend will also be offered in a package, but will only be sold at the track. Passes are $75 per adult for a two-day pass, with those 12 & under just $40. Pit passes for just Saturday are $50 for adults and $30 for kids 12 & under, while Sunday alone is $50 for adults and $30 for kids 12 & under. No pit passes will be sold in advance.