Waterbury, VT — The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) is closing in on its first-ever visit to North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway on Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3. Although the Hickory 125 and Easter Bunny 125 do not count for points, many drivers planning an ACT championship run in 2021 have decided to start their season early at the 0.363-mile oval.
After a cold, snowy New England winter, a trip to North Carolina is exactly what the racing doctor ordered. Racers such as Ben Rowe, Tom Carey III, Stephen Donahue, and Reilly Lanphear are jumping at the chance to compete at the “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars”. They’ll then have two weeks to prepare for the Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 17, which opens the 12-event ACT Late Model Tour schedule.
“It’s a bucket list track, for sure,” Salem, MA’s Tom Carey III said of the trip to Hickory. “I lived down in North Carolina all through high school, and as soon as I got my driver’s license, we used to go watch races there back in the Hooter’s Pro Cup days. It was always a pretty cool place to go into when you walk up to get into the grandstands and they’ve got all the past champions written on the walls. It’s a pretty humbling experience to see names like Ned Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt, and Ralph Earnhardt. As a driver, it’s something that I never thought I would get a chance to do, and I’m just very humbled and grateful for the opportunity.”
Turner, ME’s Rowe, a multi-time Pro All Stars Series (PASS) champion who is also gunning for the ACT title this year, might be one the favorites based on history. He has the most experience at Hickory of any driver on the ACT entry lists thanks to the track’s place on the PASS National Championship schedule. Rowe won the 2009 and 2016 editions of the Easter Bunny 150.
Rowe and recent Snowflake 100 winner Jake Johnson are planning doubleheader double-duty next weekend. On each night, they’ll compete in both the PASS Easter Bunny 150 and the ACT event. PASS winner Mike Hopkins will now do double-duty on Saturday, too. It will mean a busy day for all, but they certainly have the talent and temperament to make it happen.
Duxbury, VT’s Reilly Lanphear is the only other ACT entrant with significant experience at Hickory Motor Speedway. Lanphear, who’s entering her fourth season with ACT, ran a Super Late Model at the historic track in 2018 and finished seventh in her first start. She and her sister Peyton are both making the trip for Easter weekend, with Reilly running a special #45NC Rich Bickle throwback paint scheme.
For everyone else, the practice sessions will be the first time they tackle Hickory. With the talented list of drivers making the haul to North Carolina, though, they figure to quickly get up to speed.
Carey is looking to build on a strong finish to his rookie ACT season. The third-generation racer grabbed his first ACT podium finish at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway in the season finale — a track that bears similarities to its Southern counterpart. He also had a runner-up in a 50-lap event at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway, giving him confidence heading into 2021.
“We’ll have the same goal as always: go out there and do the best we can, and let the cards fall where they fall,” Carey said. “Obviously, the goal is always to go out there and win. Hopefully we can keep some of our momentum rolling from last year. We’ve got a couple of good race cars here, nice pieces, and I’m just really looking forward to getting the season going — especially starting it off down in Hickory.”
The 2020 ACT Rookie of the Year, North Dartmouth, MA’s Derek Gluchacki, is also starting his year down South. He’s gearing up to chase both the 2021 ACT title and the inaugural New England Late Model Challenge Cup. Graniteville, VT’s Stephen Donahue is doing the same, making the Hickory doubleheader an important tune-up session for both.
Lancaster, NH’s Shawn Swallow, the 2020 Riverside Speedway champion, is going to Hickory in preparation for his first full ACT Late Model Tour champion. West Burke, VT’s Jesse Switser, meanwhile, is tuning up for year #2 on the series. East Montpelier, VT’s Joey Laquerre, the 77-year-old ageless veteran, is running the second Hickory event and will chase the 12-race Tour schedule beginning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
ACT fans can also watch 2020 runner-up D.J. Shaw on the PASS side of the program. Although Shaw is sticking to single-duty at Hickory, he’ll be pulling double-duty many times this year as he returns to the CS Motorsports #04VT team for another ACT title run.
The American-Canadian Tour and Pro All Stars Series travel to North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway on Friday, April 2 and Tuesday, April 3. Friday’s program will feature the ACT Hickory 125 and the 2020 PASS Easter Bunny 150. Saturday, is the ACT Easter Bunny 125 and 2021 PASS Easter Bunny 150. Post time each day is 5:15pm.
Grandstand admission tickets are available at the gate. Speed51.TV also is offering a live stream of the doubleheader. The pay-per-view is $24.99 for one night or $39.99 for both nights. Sign up for the broadcast at http://www.speed51.tv/products/
Hickory 125 and Easter Bunny 125
Entry List (As of March 25, 2021)
Car # Driver Hometown Team
2VT Stephen Donahue Graniteville, VT Donahue Motorsports Chevy Monte Carlo
3NH Mike Kenison Lancaster, NH DK-N-Sons Auto Repair Chevy Impala
4ME Ben Rowe Turner, ME Richard Moody & Sons Ford Mustang
4NH Jamie Swallow Jr. Stark, NH Axion Specialty Contracting
5MA Tom Carey III New Salem, MA Brookside Equipment Sales Chevy Camaro
5VT Bobby Therrien Hinesburg, VT Casella Waste Management Chevy Camaro
8VT Anthony Hill Waterford, VT Creative Counters/Waweco Auto Repair Chevy SS
9VT Chip Grenier East Barre, VT Grenier Motorsports Ford Mustang
10ME Jesse Switser West Burke, VT Laflamme’s Landscaping/Papa Bears Trucking
15MA Jake Johnson Rehoboth, MA Lin’s Propane Trucks Chevy Monte Carlo
15ME** Mike Hopkins Herman, ME Port City Racecars/Hopkins Energy Chevy Camaro
15VT** Joey Laquerre E. Montpelier, VT Laquerre’s Marine Ford
22VT Peyton Lanphear Waterbury, VT Alchemist Chevy Impala
27NH Wayne Helliwell Jr. Dover, NH EKeys 4 Cars/Unique Ford Ford Mustang
29NH Aaron Fellows Croyden, NH Crazy Horse Racing Ford
31MA Trenton Goodrow Carver, MA Trent Goodrow Designs TGD Chevy SS
32NH Jeff Marshall Gilman, VT Kundson Salvage Chevy Impala SS
35NH Alby Ovitt Candia, NH R&R Public Wholesalers/R&R Race Parts NH Chevy SS
38VT Tyler Cahoon Danville, VT Berlin Optical Expressions Chevy Camaro
39VT Mike Foster Williston, VT KMI Freight Bookers Ford Mustang
40RI* Mike Mitchell Cumberland, RI M&M Home Improvement Toyota Camry
45NC Reilly Lanphear Waterbury, VT Reilly Lanphear Racing Chevy Impala
45VT Derek Ming West Burke, VT Ming Motorsports Ford Mustang
55MA Randy Cole Jr. Middleton, MA Cole Companies/Newhall Services Chevy Camaro
68VT Brooks Clark Waitsfield, VT Clark Motorsports
78NH Quinten Welch Groveton, NH Joey McGinnis Snow Plowing Chevy Camaro
86VT Marcel J. Gravel Wolcott, VT Pete’s Equipment Sales and Rentals Toyota Camry
00NH Jimmy Renfrew Jr. Candia, NH R&R Public Wholesalers/R&R Race Parts NH Chevy SS
03MA Derek Gluchacki N. Dartmouth, MA All Phases Renovations Ford Mustang
04NH Shawn Swallow Lancaster, NH North Conway Incinerators Chevy Impala
*Entered for Friday event only
**Entered for Saturday event only