Championship Defenses Beginning In Earnest At Northeast Classic

(Press Release from American-Canadian Tour)

The inaugural Northeast Classic debuts this Saturday, April 17 at Loudon’s New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Although the prestige and big payday of winning at “The Magic Mile” is foremost in many racers’ minds, the card is also an early proving ground in five different major regional touring series.

The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model Tour and Northeast Mini Stock Tour (NEMST) have their first point-counting events of the season on Saturday. For the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Models, it’s their second North Series and third National Series events of the year. The EXIT Realty Pro Truck Challenge has its second event of 2021 after they and PASS North debuted at the Thompson Speedway Icebreaker That means for defending champions Jimmy Hebert (ACT), D.J. Shaw (PASS North), Mike Hopkins (PASS National), Desmond Skillings (NEMTS), and Duane Noll (Pro Trucks), a strong run at the Northeast Classic would put them in great early position for a championship defense.

In the process, they get the chance to shine at New England’s only superspeedway. NHMS is the region’s biggest motorsports mecca, and the Northeast Classic allows anyone from touring legends to low-buck weekly warriors an opportunity to race there. 

“I think events like the Northeast Classic are good for short track racing in general,” Williamstown, VT’s Hebert said. “It’s good for sponsors because you can get them recognized on a bigger stage. We’ve seen the success the Dirt Track Nationals had at Bristol, and then the Short Track Nationals of the last couple years. I think if more regions around the country started doing things like this, it would be good for their individual series, and it would be good for different tracks allowing small teams to compete in big shows like that.”

Hebert is coming off the season of his life, posting two ACT Tour wins and a perfect record of top-10 finishes. It’s no secret how badly he wants to add an NHMS winner’s trophy to his collection. Hebert has three straight runner-up finishes at “The Magic Mile” dating back to the days of the ACT Invitational. Now that the Hebert Excavation team finally has the championship they’ve been dreaming of, they can go for broke at the track they crave the most.

“I remember going to the very first ACT Invitational (in 2009) back when I was racing Tigers and watching from the stands,” Hebert said. “Me and my dad looked at each other and said, ‘we’ve got to win this race someday.’ Obviously, we don’t have the Invitational anymore, but luckily we still get to race there.”

“Starting the season at NHMS will actually be better for us,” Hebert continued. “Last year we couldn’t be really aggressive with the setup or my driving because I had a point cushion I was trying to protect going into the last race. So we had to go about things a lot differently, whereas at the Invitational, there were no points, so you just went for it. We’ve won the championship now…so there’s no points lead to protect this time. We’re going to go for it.”

Many other ACT stars look like potential NHMS winners and championship contenders. Center Conway, NH’s D.J. Shaw and Turner, ME’s Ben Rowe, both multi-time PASS champions, begin full-season ACT campaigns at NHMS. Shaw finished second in ACT points for 2020 while Rowe won the season finale. Warwick, MA’s Tom Carey III has multiple top-10s at NHMS while N. Darmouth, MA’s Derek Gluchacki is aiming for greater things after winning the 2020 ACT Rookie of the Year award. Ryan Kuhn, Bobby Therrien, Woody Pitkat, Stephen Donahue, Jesse Switser, Dylan Payea, and others fill out an impressive early entry list.

On the PASS side, Shaw got a solid start at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway last weekend in his bid for a fourth straight PASS North title. Hopkins, meanwhile, began his PASS National Championship defense with a pair of podium finishes at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway. Both know a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, with its $5,000 prize, would be a big boost to their title dreams and bank account.

They’ll both have to beat Rowley, MA’s Eddie “The Outlaw” MacDonald to win this weekend. PASS has held two previous NHMS events in its long history, and MacDonald won both. Hudson, NH’s Derek Griffith has won all three PASS-sanctioned events this year, meaning at least one perfect streak must end. Johnny Clark, Travis Benjamin, Gabe Brown, Ben Ashline, Curtis Gerry, and Ben Ashline are among those trying to end the run for both.

In the North East Mini Stock Tour, Antrim, NH’s Desmond Skillings begins his title defense. Skilling won the 2020 championship by a single point thanks to a victory in the season finale. Another former champion, Berlin, NH’s Cody Leblanc, is one of his likely challengers. So is Contoocook, NH’s Emerson Cayer, who has multiple top-5 finishes at the track.

Defending EXIT Realty Truck Series champion Duane Knoll started his campaign with a fourth-place finish at Thompson Speedway. However, 2019 champion Gerard “G-Rod” Giordano Jr. sits on top of the standings after edging Ryan Vanasse for the win. Young Emma Monahan is off to a strong start, too.

Although the Open Tour-type Modified and Open Street Stock events don’t have points on the line, there are still some big names chasing big prize money. The expected Modified entry list includes many stars from the Thompson Outlaw Open Modified Series opener last weekend, including top-10 finishers Bobby Santos III, Craig Lutz, Sam Rameau, and Mike Christopher Jr. Other early entries are recent Martinsville Speedway winner Eric Goodale, veteran Charles Pasteryak, and rising youngster Chase Dowling.

On the 8-Cylinder Street Stock side, you have Danielson, CT’s Ryan Waterman, who just missed the winner’s check at the Thompson Icebreaker. Fellow top runners from that event such as Kyle Gero and Jimmy Renfrew Jr. are planning for a second round. Fans should also watch out for Corey Hutchings, who won the Street Stock Showdown Series event at NHMS in 2017.

The Northeast Classic at Loudon’s New Hampshire Motor Speedway makes its long-awaited debut this Saturday, April 17. A six-division card features $5,000-to-win events for the ACT Late Model Tour, PASS Super Late Models, and Tour-type Modifieds. The EXIT Realty Pro Truck Challenge, 8-Cylinder Street Stocks, and North East Mini Stock Tour are also on the card.

Qualifying begins at 11:00am with features at 1:30pm. General admission is $30 for adults and $10 for kids ages 12 and under. Tickets will be sold at the track on race day. A live pay-per-view is available on Speed51.TV for $29.99. Visit for the complete schedule, registration forms, and other info.

For more information, contact the ACT offices at (802) 244-6963, [email protected], or visit You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter at @ACTTour.


  1. Has to be the best racing value of the year. 30 bucks with 6 divisions. Three premier divisions each racing for $5000 to win. All packed into one day. No hint of capacity limitations for obvious reasons but this may be more a PPV built event then anything. The divisions racing encompassing the entire region.
    It’s also a perfect preview for we that don’t know squat about super late models. I’ve got my list of drivers in this big show that will be at Stafford next Saturday and those that won’t that will be practicing in Connecticut the same day.
    Big show one day value, will it become a thing?
    The Icebreaker by circumstance becoming a one day event with feedback overwhelmingly positive. May even have resulted in a higher gate. Modified vs Super Late Models fans only intending to go to one day say what the heck, we’re here lets see the whole thing. Plus you get the rain date flexibility with the entire program planned and budgeted for.
    Big shows, one day, split crowd, rain date flexibility. May be seeing that more.

  2. Did anyone else notice on the Pass website that the MODS will not be running restrictor plates???? Thats 170 mph plus into the corners!!!!!

  3. No plate, a gear change and a different tire that people have different opinions about…. I’m not sure what to expect. While I am excited about a stacked PASS field and ACT always puts on a good show up there, I am more intrigued with what the modifieds will produce. Does anyone have an idea of car count? No way there can only be 12-15 mods show up for a chance to win at NHMS and $5K. Hopefully there are a good chunk of tour guys that show up for this, it seems some big names are scared or turned off by the rules package.

  4. The mods turn gut wrenching RPMs with a plate. Without a plate, expect to see a couple engines grenade.

    Higher speeds, different tire.

  5. With all due respect I would not say this race is devoid of big names. Dowling, the 7NY, Santos, Swanson, Rameau, Lutz, Goodale shown on a list of 12 teams that has not been updated for several days. Hopefully there will me more but if not there’s enough their to make it fun. Plus the Super Late Model in proximity to their base of support with a lot of big names is worth the price all by itself.
    This whole restrictor plate thing. You have to wonder why they made a big deal excluding it. I don’t know what it means but to believe the comments it’s a boneheaded decision that could put driver safety and expensive engines at risk. We’ll put a pin in that one to see it that’s the case. Somehow I don’t think the folks that make these decisions are as clueless as it may first appear. 50 laps is shorter then they usually run on the big track and they do have control over what they are turning. At the very least it’s sub text for the race that will be interesting to see unfold.

  6. what is the track record at NHMS? Do the the mods have a chance to get it with the plate off? I would assume an indy car probably has the track record but I am not sure if they have run there since they tweaked the track to encourage better racing for the cuppers.. Not sure if the track distance changed since they opened the facility. Anyone know? This event does seem to be a really good value. I would like to see them get a crowd for this one.

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