Every year thousands of race fans converge on Daytona Beach, Florida, for the annual Speedweeks festivities. Many of those fans not only are there for the big boys at Daytona, but the short track action at the area's local bullrings as well.

Celebrating its 45th year of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, New Smyrna (FL) Speedway had some special guests that came from as about as far north as you can get. The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) took to the 1/2-mile paved oval for two outstanding shows that brought racers from throughout the New England States of Vermont, New York, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, along with the two Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. In all, 28 race teams made the 20-30 hour tow to the Sunshine State to compete in the first-ever Goodyear Speedweeks Cup. With more than $33,000 in purse money up for grabs it was easy to understand why the racers showed so much interest in this event.

"I threw out the idea at the final drivers meetings this past fall," noted Tom Curley, President of the ACT. "I told teams that I would really like to take some of them to Florida during Speedweeks and let fans see our kind of racing. I also told them I needed to get at least 24 commitments. I never expected to receive more than 8 or 10 interested in the project. We received 31 initial commitments and took 28 teams to NSS. Robert Hart, promoter at NSS was very gracious to allow us to be part of what was a very successful and very full 10 days of World Series racing."

What Exactly is the ACT?
The American-Canadian Tour has been in existence since 1986. But its origins can be traced back to 1979 when famed television and radio journalist Ken Squire and business partner Tom Curley formed the NASCAR North Tour for Late Model Sportsman-type cars. Southern race stars like Butch Lindley, Harry Gant, and Tommy Ellis were frequent visitors to the series as were national icons like Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, and Dale Earnhardt. When NASCAR shuttered the North tour in 1985, ACT was started the following year. While NASCAR brought the series back in 1987 in the form of the Busch East (now K&N Pro Series East), Curley's 1986 move from Sportsman cars to the Super Late/Pro Stock cars benefited his new series.

The current ACT Late Model Tour utilizes modern, cost-effective race cars that create thrilling side-by-side action, and has quietly grown to become one of the leading short track series in North America. The cars feature either a GM or Ford crate motor along with a spec shock from Koni. All cars run a GM factory standard three-speed transmission and factory stock brakes underneath a fiberglass template body. The series also runs a spec tire.

The success of this formula can be seen in the series' first-ever ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2009. More than 300 Late Model teams from all around the area battled throughout the 2009 season to claim one of the 36 starting spots for the historic event. That's right—300 Late Models. In the end, with just two caution periods on the day and relentless side-by-side racing, the ACT Late Models put on one of the best shows of the weekend.

The success of that event led organizers to expand the field to 43 cars for 2010. The Invitational will return for 2011, but ACT has scheduled a second date at New Hampshire where it expects more than 100 Late Model drivers to attend the first-ever "Short Track All Star" event to be held during the IndyCar weekend. The event will include heat race qualifiers and two 50-lap feature events, putting the event in touch with its true short track-style heritage.

The business model for the Waterbury, Vermont-based sanction is to provide a premier division for local weekly tracks using a set of universal rules. In 1988 Curley joined forces with Rex Robbins' ASA and Bob Harmon's All Pro Series with all three organizations unifying their rules. "We tried to promote an ambitious series of $100,000 events," said Curley. "We took teams from all three areas of the country to Nashville Fairgrounds (TN) Speedway, Milwaukee (WI) Mile, Cincinnati (OH) Queen City Speedway, Sanair (Quebec Canada) Speedway outside of Montreal, and Nazareth, Pennsylvania. It was a great concept, but we didn't meet with much financial success other than Nashville, so it was short lived."