Northern Points: Monumental Weekend For Northern New England Stock Car Racing

RaceDayCT Northbound New 550 Clean

RacedayCT Northern Points Green 280No matter where you choose to set up shop this weekend, one thing has been clear since area schedules began trickling out over the winter: There might not be a bigger three days of racing on the northern New England calendar this season.

For the 23rd year in a row, New Hampshire Motor Speedway plays host to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, while the third International 500 at Airborne Park Speedway takes on an entirely new feel this season.

For the first time, both the American-Canadian Tour and the Pro All Stars Series will converge on a single track on the same day for extra-distance races with large purses.

“It’s definitely one of the biggest races of the season,” PASS North Series driver and former ACT Late Model Tour Rookie of the Year Joey Doiron, of Berwick, Maine, said. “Everyone’s going to be bringing their best there to try and take home the win, and it’s a good purse. To be successful in the grand scheme, you’ve got to look at every race the same, with no one race more important than the other. But you definitely want to win when there’s going to be a lot of people there and the purse is up.”

The International 500 features two 200-lap events on Sunday, one each for ACT and PASS, with each race carrying a $10,000 winner’s purse. It marks only the second time in history that the two tours have competed alongside one another on the same day — the two series opened their respective seasons at Oxford Plains Speedway this year with twin 150s.

The previous two International 500s included three 100-lap segments for the Late Models, along with support divisions.

“Airborne is a D-shaped, half-mile, progressively banked racetrack that has a lot of grip and a lot of speed,” said Joey Polewarczyk Jr., of Hudson, N.H. “It was repaved a few years ago, but it definitely has some bumps. You really need to get your car rotating well to run a fast lap there. Out of all the tracks the ACT tour goes to, it’s really one of my favorite tracks. I think the PASS cars are really going to race well there.”

Polewarczyk, who has three ACT wins this year on the heels of his first championship in 2014, is slated to compete in both events. The winner of the inaugural International 500 in 2013, he’s expected to be joined by last year’s winner Patrick Laperle, eight-time ACT champion Brian Hoar, former ACT Castrol Series champ Donald Theetge and Bobby Therrien in the ranks of drivers pulling double-duty this weekend.

Wayne Helliwell Jr., a two-time ACT champion, confirmed last weekend that he plans to only run the Late Model 200.

“We’re still trying to work out the bugs on this (Super Late Model),” Helliwell said at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, where he attempted to qualify for the PASS Southern Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep 150. “It seems like it’s really good for a few laps, but it always seems after about 90 laps is when it just goes away on us. We need to figure that part of it out.”

Helliwell, who holds a 17-point lead atop the ACT standings, added that running cars in two different divisions is something he and car owner/crew chief Bruce Bernhardt didn’t want to tackle.

Polewarczyk agreed that it’s a lot of work, but he likes where his team is at.

“It’s a lot of work to run both cars on the same day,” said Polewarczyk, who won ACT’s first trip to Airborne this season, the Spring Green 115. ”Both cars require different adjustments and just drive differently. Luckily we run our ACT car a lot at Airborne so we have a good baseline setup for that car. If all goes as planned, that car will be pretty good and we can spend some extra time trying to get our PASS car handling well.

“It’s all about finding a balance with both cars.”

ACT teams certainly have the bulk of the experience when it comes to the half-mile track in Plattsburgh, N.Y., just across the Vermont border. For a number of seasons, the track held the tour’s final event.

But for PASS, like its venture to Thunder Road International Speedbowl back in May, Airborne represents an unknown. Doiron hopes his prior experience at Airborne pays off with a trip to Victory Lane, much like it did at Thunder Road.

“It’s always cool when you have the chance to win an inaugural race,” Doiron said. “I’ve raced at Airborne twice before (in an ACT Late Model), and it’s a really fun track. I think it’ll be really cool to bring our race cars there, and I think we’ll put on a good show.”

Qualifying for the International 500 is slated for Saturday, with feature racing on Sunday afternoon.


Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass, a two-time Oxford 250 champion and one of the region’s most successful drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, will return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend.

MacDonald will drive the No. 32 for Go Green Racing in the 5-Hour Energy 301. Go Green Racing is owned in part by Scarborough, Maine’s, Archie St. Hillaire.

“This is such a thrill to drive for Archie St.Hilaire and Mike Alden again this year,” MacDonald said. “Go Green Racing made my life-long dream come true last year to race in the Sprint Cup Series, and now I get the opportunity to do it again. The excitement is already building and this is truly an incredible experience. I love racing at Loudon and to do it in the Sprint Cup Series again is awesome.”

MacDonald won the inaugural PASS event at NHMS on July 5, his seventh career win at the track. He also owns three NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and three ACT Late Model Tour victories on the 1.058-mile track.

Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik each have 10 career wins at NHMS, leaving MacDonald just three away from the all-time mark.

Qualifying for the 5-Hour Energy 301 is Friday afternoon. There are currently 44 cars entered in the event, though two drivers — Josh Wise and Brendan Gaughan — left their teams earlier this week.


  1. why is the PASS race advertised as $10,000 to win? Entry form states $7,500 to win.

  2. Andy Boright says

    Is it possible to over-hype Airborne any more than you already have? How come you didn’t mention the cut in purse the Late Model teams have been taken every year of that race since the inaugural event? Last year it was $25,000 to win, and this year $10,000 to win.

    How many Late Models were at this earth shaking event last year that had twice the purse (and wasn’t running head to head with the biggest race in New England)?

    28 Late Models.

    Will either ACT or PASS even need to run last chance races for this show that is guaranteed to be in front of a less than full house?

    The choice in race dates proves once again how rudderless fender racing is in the Northeast. For several years they banged heads on open Cup weekend even though neither group used Cup drivers for it’s races, and now the join together to take on NHMS Cup race.

    Where have all the sharp promoters gone? They certainly aren’t with ACT & PASS.

  3. Andy Boright says

    How about a “monumental” disappointment taking place in Plattsburgh, NY? Less than 20 PASS cars and less than 30 ACT Late Models in ACT’s backyard signed in today to qualify.

    Late Model type racing in New England is in desperate need of new & better leadership. This race has been a flop since it was created. This year’s edition may be the most embarrassing yet.

  4. Big news from Airbourne:
    Cassius Clark is OUT of the Hight Chevrolet ride!
    Johnny Clark has scaled back to just running the Oxford 250 and Beech Ridge 400 races!
    Ben Rowe is running as a “teammate” to Travis Benjamin!
    I cannot believe they practiced yesterday, qualified today and race tomorrow. What a waste of time…

  5. Andy Boright says

    I wonder if Race Day will do some digging on all the crap that is going down at this race, or if they will just run a glazed over press release?

    People were lead to believe this was a Curley/ACT promoted race, but I don’t think that is the case at all. Racers and fans have a right to know who is calling the shots at what so far has been a total fiasco.

    Is Raceday going to do the right thing here (meaning getting to the bottom of this mess)?

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