Q&A With New Hampshire Motor Speedway General Manager David McGrath

David McGrath (Courtesy: New Hampshire Motor Speedway)

This weekend New Hampshire Motor Speedway comes to life with the second running of Full Throttle Weekend in Loudon. 

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour hits the track Saturday for the second Musket 250. The NASCAR Pinty’s Canadian Series and K&N Pro Series East will also be in action on Saturday. The track will also host a US Legends event on Friday. 

We talked this week with New Hampshire Motor Speedway executive vice-president and general manager David McGrath about the upcoming weekend in Loudon. 

Q: How excited are you guys to get things going back at the track this weekend? 

A: The team is energized, excited and I think that the energy has been building every day. Certainly I think we are going to put on one heck of a show. And the best news about everything so far is that the weather forecast is absolutely beautiful for the entire race weekend. So we’re super excited about that as well. … 

Q: What can fans expect this weekend compared to what they saw last year. 

A: A couple of small adjustments. I think we learned a lot of things from last year’s race. Certainly we were really excited about the results that we all got and the fan feedback. We made some adjustments. We’ve moved more of the fan activity out of the infield to a more traditional place that you’d see during the July Cup weekend, which is right outside the tunnel area will be where the Fan Zone is. We’ve got more food choices. We’re working with our food partners in making sure that there’s more concession stands open. Some of the things and the feedback that’s so critical for race fans, we take that to heart and we bring that to the meetings and we’ve talked about how we make it better for 2019 and we feel like we did. Certainly adding a fourth race for this year is also excited with a US Legends race at Friday night at 5:30 we think is going to add another great, exciting element to the weekend. And like expanding our camping, now we’ve got more camping in the infield for fans to experience on top of the places where they could last year. … Just a couple of small tweaks that we feel are really going to add to the elements and the fun and the great racing. And certainly, fall in New England you’re not sure if you’re going to get sunburn or frostbite so I’m glad to see that it’s going to be sunburn. It’s going to be on the hot side. 

Q: Last year the Musket 250 was a wildcard question mark for a lot of teams going into the event. A lot of teams had worries about doing. In the end it turned out to be one of the best events of the season. How excited were you to see how good that race went and how much excitement does that give you for this year? 

A: It’s funny, I look back in talking it over with Marcus Smith and Don Hawk about what this would look like. And Bruton Smith himself was directly involved in what this event would look like at 250 laps. And I think we were all kind of along that same line that we had a natural break at 100 laps in, give them a chance to kind of catch their energy. Would the engines last? Are they built to go that distance. Surprisingly enough I think we had only had two – and they were minor engine problems that occurred that knocked out two competitors. … But overall they didn’t have these catastrophic engine failures. So the [Modifieds] ran great the entire day. You could throw a blanket over the top seven cars for the entire 250 laps. So we were really thrilled with that. … It created just an awesome day of racing. I don’t really see that this year will be any different. I think temperature-wise, I don’t think we’re all that different from where we raced it last year. I know it wasn’t probably as warm as 80 degrees as the forecast calls for, but it was in the mid-70’s. So I think a lot of things are going to lay out the way they ran in 2018 and I expect that we’re going to put on one heck of a Musket 250 on Saturday. 

Q: We have the Pinty’s Series returning, the K&N Pro Series East returning and now we have added to the event a Legends car event on Friday. What can fans expect to see from the Legends event on Friday. 

A: The Legends is kind of a cool course. We’re going to run on the eyebrows of the road course on turns one and two, so we’re going to use the frontstretch and turn in and use the infield turns to create a little bit of a natural almost like a road course oval if you will, thought I won’t use the word they use in Charlotte, that would not be proper. Then on the backstretch we’ve added a chicane. They’ll use the entire backstretch, but we’ll put a chicane right toward the end of the backstretch. … Then they’ll come out of the chicen and immediately dive back to the left and use the infield eyebrows again for turns three and four and come back out at pit in and use the frontstretch again. We think the course is cool. The fans will get to see all four corners of it from the grandstand. … We think that the Legends folks are going to put on a great show. I think it’s about 21 cars right now as our entries to race. I think it will be a fun way to end Friday’s activities. 

For lots more from David McGrath about this weekend and plenty of other topics involving New Hampshire Motor Speedway listen to an expanded interview with him on Episode 59 of Unmuffled.


  1. SORRY DAVE BUT 14 cars entered for K&N series is sad and maybe 17 for Pinty Series, the Musket 250 for the WMT is a great concept and very appreciated by us Mod fans but please ADDING a 20 lap Legends race Does Nothing, DROP the other 2 series and either have oXFORD 250 STYLE race or add the VMRS OR ROC or Both and maybe even an 40 lap SK race.

  2. Actually 20 cars are entered in the Pinty’s race. I definitely have higher expectations for them than the K/N race. That series is on its last legs I don’t think anyone was expecting more than 15 cars to show up. Yes an SK race would be cool but who’d show up? Are there more than 40 active SK cars nowadays? With Waterford gone it’s just down to the guys who run Stafford, and the few drivers that only run Thompson. I’d actually prefer to see a 30 lap street stock race…they’ve done it before…now that would be grassroots!

  3. Andy Suess in the 82 that Dowling will be racing in the future while for this race he continues to fulfill his 99 commitment. Amy Catalano’s in making three races or attempts this year. That’s really good isn’t it? Burt Myers in the 04 and Santos again in the 36.
    Could Dowling or Emerling or a Catalano or Nocella do 50 ROC/VMRS laps then 250 NWMT laps? A modifiedapoluzza would be huge but is it practical?
    They have done Street Stocks. That’s a good idea but it would be a short race and at the end of the season with teams in points battles would they come? SK’s in points battles as well and timing not good there as well although they may be intrigues by the possibility in the future.
    Best idea Oxford 250 type Late Models. Loaded with cars and fans up there. Why didn’t they do that in the first place?

  4. One thing I have heard about K&N in regards to this years car counts is the fact they are going to common rules with ARCA next year. Pretty sure they announced this part way through last season, but have yet to tell anyone exactly what the rules package is. So many K&N and ARCA teams stopped spending money to buy new equipment or repair damaged cars in cars in case the new rules make whatever they purchase obsolete.

  5. I would much rather see ACT and or PASS/Granite State Pro Stocks over KN series. ACT may have ruined any chances of racing at NHMS after their last show up there. The street stocks put on a great show even the mini stocks have some good races. A show with Mods, late models and street stocks is basically the big short track shootout they hold each year. For better or worse, having pintys and KN at the very least differentiates this show from the other.

  6. One thing I think that always hurt ACT during the Cup weekends at Loudon was they drew for starting position for the entire starting field since they did not have time to do actual qualifying. The draw works for heat races with 10 to 15 cars on a short track, but not so much with 35 plus cars on a mile track. It created too much of speed a disparity of the cars starting around each other.

  7. Doug, if NHMS does what they did in July, all mods will start. After all the expense and travel for all teams, it is nice to see everyone get something, sans the arguments of whether that particular driver or car should be out there.
    I am in total amazement that a family fields 3 cars, and does all the bs and money that goes along with that effort. That is just incredible, whether anyone roots for them or not. True racers imo, not to take anything away from any other team.

  8. I know it’s not race related but what happened to the 3 day country concert that was supposed to take place this year,did I miss it or can’t they get anybody in Nashville to go that far north

  9. Elect,
    Next year.

  10. Bill Realist says

    Hey David, do us a solid and run the k&n after the modified race please. That would go a long way for fan relations. Nobody wants to see that except their moms anyway. The rest of us could be home in time for dinner.

  11. Thanks Shawn , somehow I thought it was approved for this year ,thanks again

  12. Elect,
    See thats why you need to subscribe to the RaceDayCT Insiders program and you could listen to the whole interview with Dave and hear him talk about the plans for the Country Music Festival.

  13. Bob I’m totally with you on the Catalano family. And there’s another one racing Sportsman modifieds Tyler as well as Trevor and Troyer in the pipeline. From cars to spec engines, built engines, sportsman engines it seems they could start their own division. They know all this in and around the NY tracks. We’re still kind of getting to know them but it’s just an amazing story that’s been going on such a long time.
    Interesting how there was such strong feelings about young drivers and qualifying in the last race at NHMS but not so much now. I agree Bob. You bring a legal car, you start the Musket.

  14. Bob,
    Saw you didn’t get an answer to your question in a previous thread about what chassis Lutz and Sapienza run.

    “Also driving LFR equipment this weekend (2018 World Series) at Thompson will be Bobby Santos III, Melissa Fifield, Crait Lutz, Dave Sapienza, Chris Pasteryak, Blake Barney and Burt Myers.”

  15. Thanks doug. There was just a tic of sarcasm in my question, directed at my out loud thinking as i typed the question, that being, that the move to lfr, particulary sapeienza, appeared at least to my untrained eyes, help their racing immensely, even though some of the results did not show it. (Caught up in messed, ect). Dave was one of those guys i picked this year for a dark horse win, until his unfortunate hit at wall stadium. Hope he heals well, and gives it another shot next year. For some reason, i just like pulling for that guy.

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