RPM teammates of Aaron Theriault...
RPM teammates of Aaron Theriault (57) and Brian Hoar (37) sit pit side. Theriault runs the Ford crate while Hoar utilizes the GM crate.
Though short lived, the concept of unified rules and the enforcement of those rules is a hallmark for the series says Curley. "The ACT concept was that if you have a large region of weekly short tracks running similar rules, you then have a more exciting concept for 'specials.' We bring in a couple dozen 'touring teams' and they compete with another dozen or so weekly teams. The success is if the equipment is equal and with our program it's a 'drivers series,' not just who can outspend the other person, thus it's appealing to the weekly teams."
It's all based on the need to control the cost of racing in order to have maximum fields of cars. ACT has averaged around 40 teams per event for the past couple seasons in some very difficult economic times, a testament to the series' formula.
"We have tracks from 1/4-mile high banks to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway mile, where our weekly teams compete at speeds of 164 mph on 8-inch Goodyear slicks and a crate motor that costs around $7,000," says Curley. "We have a great blend of veteran teams and some outstanding young teams, all able to compete with each other. There is no 'pecking order' in ACT; if you can drive well, we make it affordable so that you immediately compete at the highest level."
Ford Racing’s S347JR or “Junior”...
Ford Racing’s S347JR or “Junior” as racers have taken to calling it is a 350hp version of the Blue Oval D347SR crate motor that specifically competes in ACT.
Seven-time ACT Series Champion Brian Hoar had a lot to say about the series and its procedures. "It's a great series. Having been around for 25 years now, we are very similar to most Late Model classes as far as chassis and weight. There are a couple of things they (ACT) do to try and cut the expenses such as running an inexpensive motor, brakes, and shocks, really help to keep the cost down, and tires too. Since we don't have these big-horsepower race cars, you have to keep your momentum up, and that means a lot of side-by-side racing. It's good, hard racing, not dirty; no bump and run stuff. We have a great group of racers."
ACT averages 12 races each year along with four special big-money events such as the Oxford 250 with its $125,000 purse; the $75,000 Milk Bowl; the new $80,000 New Hampshire Motor Speedway Invitational, and the $40,000 All Star Showdown at Chaudiere.
"I think what defines us is cost and competition," explains Curley. "Because of the very restrictive rules package we have over 400 ACT Late Models throughout the region. That provides a great 'pool' of cars for our special events and makes for some great competition. Generally, there are a dozen teams capable of winning any of our races on a regular basis."
The ACT Race
The GM crate engine and Koni...
The GM crate engine and Koni shocks.
ACT uses the old-fashioned "northern-style" heat racing to qualify, usually three heats and a plus/minus system to make sure there is plenty of competition on every lap. The more cars you pass in the heats, the better you're starting spot for the feature is the short answer, but it's a little more complex than that in reality. The Tour also runs consolation events and a "B" Feature if needed. ACT has provisionals in the "B" but you have to race each other to earn the starting spots in the feature—there are no "freebies." ACT rules don't allow "bump and run" for passing, and employs a pink "piggy flag" if someone is hogging the track and blocking another competitor.
ACT will average around 10-12 officials to conduct a regular race. This varies depending on the event, but at each race one thing is paramount: "Safety is singularly the most important part of a race day," noted Curley. "We hire the most competent people and organizations and have lengthy instruction to competitors on what we expect."