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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Racing hits high gear this weekend in NH

THE American Canadian Tour rolls into Star Speedway in Epping Saturday for the Firecracker 150. The EKeys 4 Cars Modifieds and Fireworks are a part of the holiday event. ACT and Star, like everybody else, have had to do the umbrella shuffle all season, juggling dates and rescheduling rainouts. Thankfully, Saturday’s forecast is pretty encouraging.Wayne Helliwell Jr. of Dover leads the ACT Late Models into Epping. Jimmy Hebert is second in points with Hudson’s Joey Polewarczyk Jr. third. Joey Pole is out for his third straight win. When ACT last raced at Star in 2003, Todd Stone, who is the current DIRTcar Modified point leader (on asphalt) at Devil’s Bowl and Airborne Speedway, won the event.

Hudson has had a better time of it weather-wise than many tracks. The Granite State Pro Stock Series Gateway City Classic 100 tops the ticket Sunday night. Matt Frahm of Salem has won two in a row and now sits third in the standings behind Mike O’Sullivan and Jeremy Davis of Tamworth, who are four points apart.

The Valenti Modified Series is at Monadnock Saturday for the Firecracker 100, fireworks included. It should be an entertaining race. Tommy Barrett Jr. of Millis, Mass. and Louie Mechalides of Tyngsboro, Mass., are in a first-place tie with Rowan Pennink two points back and Richard Savary a nearby fourth.

In an earlier race at Monadnock, Pennink saved his tires and came on late for the win. Barrett was second with Mechalides, after a pit stop and a trip back up through the field, third.

Lee USA, which is still mulling a date to reschedule last week’s Modified Series rainout, postponed Tuesday’s Fireworks and Monster Truck event and reset it for tonight along with a $1,000-to-win Late Model Sportsman race, Small Block Supers and the Northeast Mini Stock Tour.

White Mountain’s holiday card features a Late Model 100 and fireworks Saturday. Riverside Speedway will name a Late Model representative to the ACT International 500 at Airborne after its holiday fireworks show Saturday.

Bear Ridge Speedway got its Bond Auto Parts “Modified Madness” and USAC Dirt Midgets event in Saturday despite a scare when 61 year-old Modified driver Bob Shepard of West Topsham, Vt., suffered a near-fatal heart attack while racing. After a yellow midway through the last of three 40-lap features, Shepard came to a stop in the infield. Track officials were quick to his aid and EMT’s were reviving him seconds after he was pulled unconscious from the car. Shepard is convalescing at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

The overall Modified winner was Chris Donnelly of Piermont, driving the Connecticut Valley Trucking/Covey Logging No. 20c for owner Larry Covey. The total purse was over $10,000, making it the biggest DIRTModified purse ever at the “Home of the Coupes.” Donnelly posted finishes of first, 13th and second, which took some great driving to pull off.

Bear Ridge is a no-frills facility, but the food is decent, the rest rooms are clean and the clay track is as well cared for as can be expected given that New England is apparently the new rainforest. Being there is like time traveling back to the early sixties, especially when the coupes are on the track. Danny Doyle of Barre, Vt., drove to his first-career Coupe win.

Another first-time winner was 15-year-old USAC Dirt Midget rookie Dylan Duhaime of Loudon and Concord Christian Academy. A former NEMA-Lite driver, World Karting Association national event winner at Riverhead Speedway and Sugar Hill karting alum, Duhaime started on the front row. He was never headed despite being chased by the likes of Ray Miller, Jeff Horn, Denny Zimmerman and point leader Kevin Chaffee, an accomplished Modified driver from Fairlee, Vt.

Tom Herzig writes a weekly racing column for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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