Story By: KYLE SOUZA / JDV PRODUCTIONS – LEE, NH – When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to Lee USA Speedway for the first time in over two decades next month, race fans are going to be in one for quite the treat in the inaugural Granite State Derby, promoted by JDV Productions.
Headlined by the 175-lap Whelen Modified Tour race – which will have various different tire strategies to keep track of at one of the most abrasive tracks in the region – the Granite State Derby will have multiple different types of race cars battling throughout the day. There will be a little bit of something for everyone on Saturday, May 21 at New Hampshire’s Center of Speed, as the Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Mini Stocks and winged Midgets will all be in action.
Fans will get a taste of high-powered Modified thunder in two separate divisions – the Whelen Modified Tour and the Pro 4 Modifieds – both standout divisions in New England for many years. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s most recent visit to Lee was in 1998, and although some of the drivers have competed in other races at the track in the last decade alone – many of them will have their first experience at the track with the element of pit stops in play. When will teams elect to take their fresh tires? Will they take them earlier in the race and hope for a long green flag run to the finish? Will they wait until the final few laps and hope for a late caution to blast them on and make a dash through the field? It’s all a guessing game that will keep fans engaged for the whole distance.
The 175-lap Tour race will also serve as the first of three events in the Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup – a three-race series that will begin at Lee, continue at Monadnock Speedway on June 18 and conclude at Claremont Motorsports Park on Friday, July 29, where a champion will be crowned. Driver point totals will be kept and the champion will be the driver who totals the most points over the three races. The incentive bonus program for the Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup is now over $15,000 in extra bonus awards.
“The inaugural Granite State Derby at Lee is going to be a perfect kick-off to a busy JDV Productions schedule for the 2022 season,” Josh Vanada, owner of JDV Productions, said. “We’re looking forward to watching so many different divisions on the same day at Lee. You have the Modifieds – which need no introduction with their ground pounding excitement – along with Pro Stocks, Mini Stocks and Midgets – all on the same day. On top of everything else we will have going on at the track, this is a can’t miss race day for race fans.”
The Pro 4 Modifieds, one of the longest standing New England touring divisions, will roar into Lee looking to showcase both the veterans and rising stars of the region. Their 25-lap feature is sure to be a tightly-contested battle that will go down to the wire.
On the fendered side, the Granite State Pro Stock Series will join the JDV Productions events for the first of two times during the 2022 season at Lee. In what will be the third race of the series for the New Hampshire based touring division, similar to the Modifieds, tire conservation will be a hot topic in their 100-lap race. The only difference – teams will have to run the entire race on the same four tires – meaning those drivers who save the best will have the most at the end of the race to chase for the trophy. The GSPSS entry list, to be released closer to the day of the race, is expected to be strong, as teams will be looking to grab as many laps as possible ahead of their $10,000 to win race at the track in July.
On the winged side, another one of New England’s longest running divisions, the NEMA Lites, will rocket around the track at fast speeds for 25 laps of their own. The NEMA Lites – a division tied to the NEMA Midgets – is used as a more affordable class, but also one that showcases both veterans and rising stars. Many of the drivers who compete in the NEMA Lites eventually become NEMA Midget winners – while names like Randy Cabral – a multiple-time NEMA Midget champion – also dip down into the NEMA Lites to race. The division is familiar with the .375-oval and will have another exciting race in the cards.
And finally, the NHSTRA Mini Stocks will race in a special Battle For The Belt event, set for 50 laps. As one of the more affordable divisions in racing, the Mini Stocks are one of many divisions part of the Battle for the Belt Series in New Hampshire – where the division competes across multiple tracks for glory. Rules are the same across all tracks in the NHSTRA banner, which includes Lee, Claremont Motorsports Park, Monadnock Speedway and Hudson Speedway. The Mini Stock drivers are no strangers to the long straightaways at Lee and will be excited to race for the checkered flag in a bit of a longer race. Don’t let the laps fool you, though – racing will be hot and heavy right from the drop of the first green flag through the entire distance.