Story By: JEFF BROWN / GRANITE STATE PRO STOCK SERIES – WALPOLE, NH – For race fans venturing up to New Hampshire’s Great North Woods this weekend, fireworks are definitely on the table. But only in the town of Groveton will the fireworks be both in the night sky and on the pavement.
Saturday night, the Granite State Pro Stock Series celebrates the halfway point of its season at Riverside Speedway with the Milton CAT 100.
Nestled in the twists and turns of the Connecticut River, Riverside Speedway is the northernmost paved oval in the Granite State, one of five quarter-mile bullrings from the Vermont border to the seacoast. Briefly named Speedway 51 in memory of departed racer Joey M. Laquerre, the track was purchased by the Humphrey family in late 2019.
Saturday’s trip to “Grovetona” is only the fifth visit for the Granite State Pro Stock Series, with the most recent stop coming three years ago. Veteran racer Wayne Helliwell, Jr. won the inaugural appearance in 2013, while local chassis builder Jeremy Davis won the next three in a row. With neither driver entered for Saturday’s showdown, a new winner will hoist Riverside’s trophy in the fifth race of the GSPSS season.
For points leader Joey Doiron, the long trip to Riverside may be something of an equalizer. For all his years in Pro Stock and Super Late Model competition, Doiron has only three touring starts at the track, with a runner-up finish in 2019. But the 2019 GSPSS champion knows his way around a high-banked quarter-mile, so a lack of direct experience will hardly leave him in the dark.
Jimmy Renfrew, Jr., second to Doiron in the series standings, finds himself in a similar spot. Renfrew’s third-place run in last year’s Fall Brawl is his best performance by far in only two trips to Riverside. The young racer’s resume includes plenty of quarter-mile success, with his only GSPSS win coming at his home track, Star Speedway, in Epping. Riverside would be an easy pick for Renfrew’s long-awaited second victory.
Rookie Nick Cusack sits third in the standings with quite the challenge ahead. The Beech Ridge Motor Speedway veteran has improved in all four races this season, finishing third at Monadnock Speedway two weeks ago. Can the series newcomer take another step on the podium, or perhaps find that first series win?
Dylan Estrella was strong out of the gate at Monadnock, leading the early laps before being shuffled back to sixth at the end. The multi-time Seekonk Speedway track champion is improving in his first full touring season, sitting fourth in points with plenty of time to make up ground on the top three. Jeremy Sorel has reversed his early-season fortunes, too, finishing sixth and fifth his last two times out. Sorel will tow in from western Massachusetts seeking another top-five finish.
Josh King has top-ten finishes in his three previous Riverside appearances and will look to improve on an eighth-place finish in 2019. And while rookie Dan McKeage, Jr. is making his first touring start at the track, his father owns two trophies from Sportsman races at Riverside in 2008 and 2010.
The GSPSS stalwarts will face some hefty competition from the outside, though. For the second race in a row, DJ Shaw will try to continue a streak that has seen cars built at his shop win all four races this season. Shaw made a surprise appearance two weeks ago at Monadnock, taking his series-leading ninth GSPSS win in dominating fashion. The 2016 GSPSS title runner-up has a 2018 victory at Riverside in Super Late Model competition.
Also representing the Dale Shaw Race Cars brigade is reigning GSPSS champ Gabe Brown, winner of the season opener at Claremont Motorsports Park. Brown has won his last three GSPSS starts dating back to last year’s title campaign, and in his second start of 2022, the young star hopes to go four for four.
Maine’s Trevor Sanborn has a Super Late Model win at Riverside in 2010 and has flexed his muscle at other bullrings in the region. Saturday will be only his fourth start with the series as he looks for a first-ever GSPSS trophy.
Cory Casagrande is one of a few drivers who bowed out of a rain-delayed Monadnock feature two weeks ago. The Connecticut driver has had Riverside circled on his schedule all year, with a fourth-place finish in his last trip there in 2016. The Hudson Speedway track record holder is fast on the bullrings and will be gunning for the podium Saturday night.
And while plenty of drivers will have victory in mind, Brenna Humphrey will be making history. One of Riverside’s own weekly stars, with seat time in everything from Legends cars to Late Models and winged Supermodifieds, Humphrey aims to make her GSPSS debut on very familiar asphalt. In taking the green, the versatile racer will become the first woman to make a GSPSS start.
Whether demonstrating mastery or driving toward milestones, the Granite State Pro Stock Series’ weekend roster has plenty to chase in the fifth race of the season.
Riverside Speedway & Adventure Park welcomes the Granite State Pro Stock Series as part of Saturday’s Milton CAT Night, along with Riverside’s own 350 Supermodifieds, Li’l Rascals, 6- and 8-cylinder Mad Dogs, and Cyclone Stocks. Grandstands open at 3:00pm, with the evening’s racing scheduled to start at 6:00pm and a fireworks show to follow. Tickets are $12.00 for adults, with kids under 12 admitted free.