Livermore, ME – Coombs Motorsports has purchased a late model from Austin Theriault Racing of Fort Kent, ME. The car is the same one that Coombs Motorsports ran in 2009 and sold to Steve Theriault in August of that year. Coombs Motorsports plans to run the 2011 season at home track, Oxford Plains Speedway.

The 2011 Coombs Motorsports late model will feature a new number, 27ME. The number 27 has been a part of the Coombs Motorsports history since driver, Doug Coombs, placed it on his first racing snowmobile. From 1994 to 2002 the team ran 27ME on its Legends Car amassing dozens of top three finishes, three state points’ championships, and the 1999 track championship at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. With this winning record the team is looking forward to the 2011 season with the 27ME late model.

Coombs Motorsports will also be running the new Ford S347JR crate engine built by Ford Racing as part of the Ford Racing Blue Oval Challenge. The Ford crate engine has shown great promise in the past season capturing many wins including the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Milkbowl at Thunder Road Speedbowl. At Oxford Plains, past champion Jeff Taylor, dominated the Late Model division with three wins. With these promising 2010 performances by other Ford Racing members Coombs Motorsports hopes to join in Ford’s winning tradition and drive the 27ME Late Model back into Oxford Plains Speedway victory lane.

Looking forward to seeing the 27ME back on the track? The first race will be May 15’th when the American Canadian Tour comes to Oxford Plains Speedway for the ACT 150. For more information check out the Coombs Motorsports Facebook Fan Page at http://www.facebook.com/coombsmotorsports.

 

Yesterday I read Justin St. Louis’s article over on Vermont Motorsports Magazine’s website about the possibility of the American Canadian Tour (ACT) running a race in Florida during Speedweeks this February and it got me thinking. Click here to read the article from VMM: http://www.vtmotormag.com/touring/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1288101503&archive=&start_from=&ucat=1,6&.

As some of you may know, I spent most of this summer working on an ACT Late Model team that fielded a young driver. Besides my official role as a tire specialist I also helped promote the driver. I spent many hours brainstorming new and interesting ways to get his name out into the industry. Yet, anyone who has worked in Motorsports or has tried to enter the industry knows it is not always about how good you are it is about who you know. Being in the northeast there are few opportunities to meet the decision makers who can advance a young driver’s career. So what does this have to do with Florida?

The answer is simple when a driver is looking to move forward in a career they will look for whatever opportunities they can to get that elusive “exposure.” For the drivers up here in the northeast that often means having to “go down south” and race. In St. Louis’s article some of the ACT drivers mentioned how the cost of hauling their car down to Florida for a week  may make them decide to not go. Though cost is always a factor in lower levels of racing, are there any benefits to racing at Speedweeks?

After working with a young driver all summer my mind went after this question in a little bit of a different manner. Are there any benefits for a young driver to race an ACT race during Speedweeks?

Let’s face it 90% of the drivers in ACT are at the highest level they will achieve, but the series also fields some talented “young guns” who have the opportunity to move up. The three that come to mind are: Joey Polewarczyk, Austin Theriault, and Brad Babb. Could racing in Florida provide them with  the “exposure” they need?

I will admit I’m on the fence about the race getting these guys “exposure” because “exposure” itself is debatable. The best analogy I could come up with is Speedweeks is racing’s version of spring training. Every March, hundreds of college sports teams go to Florida for various tournaments and to start training for the season. Many of those athletes may be hoping to play their sport professionally but only a small fraction will even be noticed. Why? Because the scouts can’t be everywhere and if the scouts aren’t at your game they aren’t going to know who you are.

Let’s apply this to racing…

Yes, NASCAR will also be in town for Speedweeks. Yes, there is a lot of racing going on. Yes, you can get an early start on your late model program for 2011. But there are hundreds of other racers there too. Some may even have more recognizable names like Elliott, Blaney, and Kenseth with the backing of some big teams. Of course those drivers will be racing in Super Late Models or whatever top division will be racing at New Smyrna. The point is where they are is also more likely to have decision makers in the stands.

In an industry where who you know is the difference between becoming the next Jimmie Johnson or racing at your local short track for the rest of your life, knowing who is going to be watching you race becomes priceless. I’m not saying that there won’t be important people in the stands to watch ACT, but I am saying that the probability is much lower than if you were racing against an Elliott, Blaney, or Kenseth.

I also know that within ACT there are people with enough connections to at least get word out to some of these decision makers, but will that be enough?

I personally think ACT is a great development series for drivers and crews. There is a great core of experienced teams who are willing to help out newcomers and show them the ropes of racing ACT. The intensity of each race weekend is as close to a professional series as you can get in the northeast. The drivers and teams add to the professional atmosphere with their talent and respect for each other. ACT has run two very impressive invitationals at NHMS showing that racing on a big stage is not a problem for ACT teams. I have no doubt in my mind that an ACT race in Florida would be one of the best races people would be able to see.

So what’s my conclusion?

For a young driver, an ACT race during Speedweeks could create some useful connections and maybe even some coverage in the southeast but it would take more than just showing up and racing. The driver would have to be looking around now at who may be there and see if they can make some contacts that would commit to watching them race at Speedweeks. For those two weeks every February the hub of auto racing in the United States is located in Daytona and proximity may entice some of those “scouts” to come watch a young driver. The drivers could make it a priceless experience for themselves, but to just go and hope someone finds you probably won’t yield the results you are looking for. So I say to those drivers, “Go south young man, but do your homework before you go.”

After the big Danica Patrick announcement today I just wanted to post some of my thoughts on her decision to run a few Nationwide and ARCA races in the 2010 season.

First some random thoughts:

1) Kudos to Dale Jr. for making the decision to be bought out of his own race team. This may have been the smartest move he has made on or off the track this season. He’ll also be able to separate himself when/if Danica doesn’t become the NASCAR superstar that all of this hype is making her out to be.

2) THANK YOU DANICA! Finally this is she or isn’t she discussion is over. She’s here for better or for worse. Now let’s move on please.

3) I hope Kyle Busch has found a good supplier for big boy pants because there is now a woman in NASCAR who could give him a run for the diva crown. Danica may be able to actually outdo KyBu in the fit show category…can’t wait to see that competition.

4) How will she do? My best guess is that she will last one year and run back to Indy Cars. She’ll be at best average. Sorry to say it people but her one win at that race in Japan isn’t enough to say that she will be able to compete on the stock car circuit. Now there is also the fact of equipment. Look at Juan Pablo Montoya this year he was a Cup competitor thanks to the DEI/Ganassi merger providing him with better equipment. For Danica, she will be in the best equipment possible in the Nationwide series, Hendrick power via JR Motorsports. She better watch out though because she could end up in the same storm that Dale Jr. is in at the moment. Being in the best equipment, yet not going anywhere. Sorry Jr. fans but you have all heard it and it’s not going to go away until he shows what he can do on the track.

5) I did learn one thing today in the midst of “Danicamania.” That NASCAR seems to allow these open wheelers most notably, Danica and Juan Pablo Montoya, to race on the Nationwide and Truck series tracks without having to earn their license. Now I understand why this would be the case for former Indy Car champion, JPM, but Danica has only won one race and though she has had some good runs her statistics are not nearly as impressive as JPM’s. Though I understand that NASCAR wants diversity and drivers from all racing backgrounds, but I don’t think giving certain open wheelers a pass to get into NASCAR is the best practice even for former champions.

Now I try to keep my posts from sounding too much like a rant, but today I just can’t do that.

Here’s my burnout:

I’m a woman and I have been around racing since I was born. I have watched numerous races at all levels from amateur to professional. So you would probably expect me to be really happy that Danica is making her start in NASCAR as a way to represent female drivers. I’m not going to sugar coat this….you’re WRONG!

In all of the races that I have watched, when female drivers are involved in a race they inevitably cause something to happen, most commonly an accident. If my own experience isn’t enough just think about a couple of things. First women are not as strong as men. If someone like Carl Edwards has a hard time wheeling a car that is not driving well or has lost power steering do you really think that a woman would be able to do it? I don’t. The second point is that a woman’s depth perception and spatial reasoning are not as good as a man’s. I will say that racing can improve these skills, but there is a point where no amount of training can overcome a genetic difference.

If none of this is enough for you, please go to your closest track that has a women’s racing division, watch what happens, and then tell me what you think of females racing stock cars.

Now I’m going to say what you are thinking. I just don’t like Danica. The part about her that really gets to me is her commercialized stripper image. Let’s face it she gets more coverage from her commercials than she could ever wish to get from any respected racing magazine.

I get it Danica you’re a woman, but if you want to be taken seriously stop wearing skin tight leather that’s half unzipped. If you think you can flash Jimmie Johnson to distract him while driving 200 mph, I wish you luck. Yes, this gets you fans and sponsors but you’re just a piece of skin. Also, congrats on your Indy Car performance that can only be placed as average and in some cases sub-par. Your racing “ability” thus far isn’t really a strong selling point nor will it make you a great stock car driver.

Maybe she’ll prove me wrong but I’m thinking this is a one and done kind of thing for Danica. She’ll get mad that she can’t run well and that stock car drivers are putting her in her place. She’ll throw her hallmark hissy fit and run back to Indy permanently…or only one can hope.

Danica is a waste of NASCAR’s time, but it does further support NASCAR’s move from performance to marketability with its drivers. Let’s hope this sport smartens up soon.

As for women in the sport, do I think there are some women out there that can race stock cars? I certainly hope so, but I hope they don’t view Danica as an idol and decide that they need to lay on the hood of their stock car in skin tight leather to sell themselves….I’m sorry I mean promote their talents.

The opinions in this post are solely that of the author.

To start off this post I want to congratulate all of the teams that received an invite to this past weekend’s ACT Invitational. You all succeeded in a major challenge of auto racing – keeping fans in their seats. All of you put on a great show and should be very proud.

I will admit I didn’t expect to see the level of racing I did see on Saturday. I thought there would be some careless moves since most of the drivers were not used to racing on big tracks. I was also expecting to see mechanical failures, since ACT late models are really not made to run at those high speeds for longer periods of time. With the exception of Ben Rowe’s blown tire, there were no other mechanical failures. Rowe being able to walk away from the incident also showed that these cars are safe enough to handle an impact at NHMS.

There has already been comments by both NHMS General Manager, Jerry Gappens, and ACT President Tom Curley that discussions about a 2010 ACT race will start sooner rather than later. Both sides have also started to talk about changes to the race to keep it fresh and exciting for fans.

For more information on these comments: please Read the Post on Green White Checker Blog.

After reading Gappens’ and Curley’s comments and watching the race on Satuday, I came up with the following thoughts:

  • Keep this race an invitational. This would ensure that the calibur of the drivers stays high, creating better racing. When it comes to filling the spots, use a similar formula as this year with race winners getting invitations. The remaining spots can be filled by having open tryouts at local race tracks, such as Oxford Plains Speedway, Lee USA Speedway, and Thunder Road Speedbowl. Only the top performers in these sessions would be in contention for an invitation. Throughout the season Curley had gone on the record of saying that he had to play some politics for the inaugural race. By adopting a more open tryout for the race Curley would be able to dispel some of the politics rumors in the future.

  • Another debate is whether or not this race should be a points race or a schedule filler. I think the best option is to take the other two biggest late model races in New England the TD Banknorth 250 and Milk Bowl and create a triple crown series. There is also the option of using Thunder Road’s Labor Day Classic as the second race and end the series with the crowning of the champion at NHMS. For the triple crown each track along with sponsors would contribute to a fund that will be split by the top three in the triple crown points.

    • The NHMS race should still be an invitational because there will be teams that will make all three of the races. The extra spots could be filled by teams that have competed in the other two races and accumulated the most points, as points would be tallied after each race for all competitors.

  • As for the actual ACT Invitational, the race needs to be longer. None of these teams are equipped to handle a very long run at NHMS but adding a pit stop for two tires and gas would be a good feature to allow the teams to show off their expertise as well. 50 laps was far too short and only took around 38 minutes. An increase in laps to 75 would make for a slightly longer race and logical next step. As the teams begin to learn what the NHMS race is all about the laps could be increased up to a 100 lap maximum. Yet, if the race is scheduled for the end of the day a shorter race will be the better way to go and keep the lap maximum to 75.

  • As a final way to keep people interested in the ACT Invitational there should be a level of fan interaction that was not present this weekend. Adding an autograph session like the Camping World East Series does at NHMS could keep fans interested in coming to NHMS to meet the drivers that they watch at their local tracks each season.

Overall the race this weekend was better than expected and really did put on a good show for the national debut of the ACT Series. I hope that this can continue to be a part the Chase for the Cup weekend at NHMS. It really did bring some local flavor to the “big time.” Congratulations to all who participated, Tome Curley, and ACT for bringing a great new event to NHMS.

This past weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup series started it’s playoffs at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH. The race shook up the Chase standings and brought Mark Martin one step closer to winning his first Cup series championship.

For many years there have been rumors circling about NHMS losing at least one race date and some people in the NASCAR industry have voiced a desire to eliminate the track from the Chase races. It is no secret that NHMS owner O. Bruton Smith wants to have a Cup series race at Kentucky Speedway. This has led many to believe that Smith would pull a date from NHMS and give it to Kentucky. This past weekend’s performance proves that not only is NHMS a great track that creates better racing but also deserves its spot as the first Chase race.

Sell Out Crowds

The first reason is that NHMS has sold out every Cup series race that it has had since the track opened with former owner, Bob Bahre. The race weekend’s at NHMS are packed with racing and this weekend was no different spectators who came on Saturday were treated to cars on the track from 8am to just before 7pm. The racing included the Whelen Modifieds, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS), and local late model touring series the American Canadian Tour (ACT).

These very different racing series really show what NHMS is all about: the fans. At the track you hear many long time fans say their favorite race of the weekend is always the Whelen Modifieds with their bumper to bumper action and fierce rivalries. The NCWTS always provides fans with a few big names like Kyle Busch and a glimpse at who is being groomed to enter the Cup series. Finally there is the ACT Tour, though the speeds were slower and the cars got strung out very early on the fact that it was local racers really gave northeastern non-NASCAR racing a truly national audience.

The support for a full day of racing was evident in the stands with many people staying until the ACT Invitational was over and Eddie MacDonald grabbed his second win of the weekend.

Attendance to Saturday’s action was noticed, as one Cup team member posted on their Twitter page, “I think there are more people in the stands for the modified race at Loudon than there normally are for the Cup race at California.”

The Fans

Loudon brings together people from all along the east coast and into Canada. While at Speed TV’s Trackside on Friday night there was a large contingent of Canadian fans proudly waving their flags and finding out how near they live to one another.

Different Winners and Shakeups

As for keeping a spot as the first Chase track there is one major reason that NHMS should maintain this position: the races are bound to shake up the standings. There has not been a repeat winner at NHMS since 2005 and has been the first Cup win for some drivers, such as Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano.

This weekend was no different with Mark Martin winning his first race at the track and fifth win of the season. Chase contenders Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, and Kasey Kahne had car issues. Stewart would overcome his wobbling axle cap and finish 14’th, but Edwards would not be so lucky struggling with his car most of the day and settling for a 17’th place finish. Kahne had the worst luck of all with a blown engine 67 laps into the race dropping him from 5’th to 12’th in the standings and giving Richard Petty Motorsports its first DNF of the season.

Let’s be entirely honest here, points racing is boring because the drivers are very cognizant and careful during the race. Even drivers that are not in the Chase will pull over for the Chase drivers because if they don’t, they will be harassed for depriving that person of points. This did make the middle of the race quite boring but the last 50 laps made up for all of it. AJ Allmendinger made it even more interesting by spinning on the front stretch during the last lap and serving as an obstacle for Denny Hamlin and Juan Pablo Montoya who were racing for second place. Upon review NASCAR decided that Hamlin actually had the spot as the two split Allmendinger who had his car rolling again.

Overall, NHMS is a racer’s track. It’s flat and fast with tight turns. Passing is hard to do and requires a perfect set-up to complete. It is also a true race fans track. There is no such thing as a bad seat at NHMS and the new ownership allows fans to purchase pre-race passes to get fans in contact with their favorite NASCAR teams, drivers, and media. Though the track may not be as luxurious as some of Smith’s other tracks it does really create a great experience for even the casual fan.

For this track to lose even one race would be a disservice to New England and Canadian race fans, as well as, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. that would lose sold out Cup races and highly attended race weekends.

Here are a few of the highlights from Friday action at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The Return of the Black #3

Not only did we get to see the #3 car, which from what I have heard was actually a former Winston Cup car made into a Camping World East Series car, but we got to see a black #3 Camping World Series Truck. Now I understand that Austin Dillon is the grandson of Richard Childress and Richard Childress Racing still owns the number but to see that trademark number with a rookie stripe on the back just doesn’t seem right. Not to mention, the feeling just isn’t the same, the legacy behind that number can never be duplicated and without its former driver everything seems to pale in comparison.

Personally, I believe that number should be retired from all NASCAR series out of respect for Dale Earnhardt, Sr who played a key role in making NASCAR the sport it is today.

Juan Pablo Montoya Sets New Track Record

The Colombian Crusader, Juan Pablo Montoya, set a new track qualifying record with a blistering lap of 28.545 seconds (133.431 miles per hour). The previous record was set in the fall of 2003 by Ryan Newman who drove a 28.561 second lap. Congrats to Juan on showing that an open wheeler can really learn how to race a stock car.

This type of momentum is great to see at the start of the Chase and it will be interesting to see if JPM has the car to beat on Sunday.

Eddie MacDonald Comes Back from Early Pit Stop to Win Heluva Good 100

The Rowley Rebel, Eddie MacDonald, continued his dominance at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday by winning his 2’nd consecutive fall Heluva Good 125. After a short rain delay, officials decided to shorten the race to 100 laps with night bearing down on the track.

Though he led most of the opening laps after starting on the pole MacDonald came in for an early pit stop, placing him further back in the field. MacDonald fought his way back to the front and with 15 laps to go was jockeying with Kevin Swindell for the top spot after making a great three wide move.

The last 15 laps included a couple of cautions when drivers piled their cars into the outside retaining wall between turns one and two. MacDonald was still the car to beat as he took the lead with laps winding down.

There will be more Eddie Mac action this weekend as he is also racing the Whelen Modified and American Canadian Tour (ACT) Invitiational tomorrow. MacDonald received the ACT nod by winning the TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway this past July. I think Eddie Mac could show Kyle Busch a thing or two about running in many series and winning the big money races.

You Know You’re a Rookie When…..

Joey Logano was seen driving his own golf cart out of the infield tonight. Rookies do have it tough.

Old School Racing

I have to say there is no better way to gauge a NASCAR team than by the way the owner interacts with their teams. One of the best out there is Jack Roush. Not only is he always at the track and keeping up with what his teams are doing.

For example, today during qualifying Roush was on pit road with his notebook, pen, and stopwatch. He knew what cars he needed to gauge to see how his team compared to the rest of the field and would record the times in his notebook.

In this day and age in NASCAR drivers get handed a tablet computer through their window to write down their feedback for their crew chief. Car telemetry is all computer driven and recorded. Yet, as great as technology has been in this sport it is good to see the older ways are still alive and very effective. Kudos to Mr. Roush for keeping it to the basics.

Sorenson Racing this Season for Free

If you haven’t seen it already ESPN’s Marty Smith wrote an article about Reed Sorenson. According to the article Sorenson was told that he had two options at Richard Petty Motorsports: A) to not take his salary and race the rest of the season or B) leave the team immediately. Sorenson chose the former to keep himself in a car and to keep his crew employed.

This is something that I have never heard of happening in NASCAR, but it is good to know that there is at least one driver out there who is here to race and not just for the money. I’ve always believed Sorenson was one of the most underrated drivers in NASCAR, and originally I just meant talent-wise but the maturity that this 23-year-old Georgian is showing proves he also has a lot of character. I wish him the best of luck in his search for a new NASCAR ride.

To check out the rest of Marty’s article follow this link: http://proxy.espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/columns/story?columnist=smith_marty&page=DoorToDoor

Want race weekend updates follow me on Twitter: @pitroadpressbox

First of all I have to say Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) has done an unbelievable job keeping this manufacturer switch under wraps in the NASCAR world. Earlier today when the announcement was released stating that RPM would be merging with Yates Racing and running Ford Fusions, even “franchise” driver Kasey Kahne posted on his Twitter and MySpace accounts that the switch surprised him.

There are two points that make me wonder how effective this switch is.

  1. I understood that Ford was only supporting Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) with manufacturer money and had no intention of branching out to other teams. So this leads me to believe that manufacturer money will not be arriving at RPM. Why the company would agree to this deal I am not sure because the fact that Dodge had stopped sending their payments was why RPM was talking to other manufacturers to begin with. To top it all off none of the Ford teams have been spectacular this season, even RFR is struggling with no turn around in site. So I really don’t think that this move is going to greatly improve RPM’s performance on the track. They are a team that as Kasey Kahne said earlier this season jump on to things too late and prevent themselves from being an elite team. I think this is another move in the wrong direction for RPM.

  2. By merging with Yates, RPM is taking on perennial field filler, Paul Menard, and getting rid of Reed Sorenson after only one year. Many people I’m sure will say that it seems like RPM is swapping poor driver for poor driver, but at least Sorenson has his moments where he shows promise. I have never seen any of that from Paul Menard. This move does further support one of my previous blog posts, which also centered on RPM, that NASCAR teams will gladly have a field filler as long as they come with money and will get rid of anyone who isn’t a cash cow for the team. Once again marketability and money win out over all else.

My prediction is that RPM will not perform better than it has in the past. Kasey Kahne will still be the team’s star while the rest of the drivers fight for top 30 finishes. RPM can boast of having the “Bud Boy”, two field fillers, and a streaky driver who may be going to F1 after 2010. None of this makes me believe that RPM is moving toward elite team status. Sorenson may get the best end of this deal if he can land a half-decent ride. Best of luck to all….you’re gonna need it!