We're almost finished with our New York Schedule, but one more track remains. Mohawk International Speedway is truly that. It's located very close to the Canadian border and much of its back gate is comprised of residents of our northern neighbors.
Then it's off to Vermont where we took in a classic track and race weekend at Thunder Road Speedbowl. So much has been written and talked about this racetrack and we were so glad to have included it in our NE schedule. In the middle of all of that, a big surprise was waiting on us.
We were staying at Moose River Campground near Saint Johnsbury, Vermont, and the owner told us that we just had to see an historic racetrack named Northeastern Speedway that was located just down the road a few miles. The current owner had recently restored it for display and held a 50th Anniversary reunion there. So, we'll tell you why this short-lived racetrack influenced NE racing and possibly racing across the country with how it ran its programs.
As we were leaving our last race event at Oswego, a hurricane-turned-tropical-storm was battering the Northeast coast and dropping huge amounts of rain on New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the rest of New England. We left Oswego early Sunday morning to return to our campground just east of Syracuse as the winds and rain increased. By the next day, serious flooding had occurred in parts of southern Vermont, the next state on our list.
Luckily, our schedule, compiled last February and March had us taking a more westerly route north traveling up the western side of New York to Mohawk International and then across the top of the state into Vermont, avoiding the roadways closed by the storm. Our campground there, along the banks of Moose River, had been spared any damage so our trip was not interrupted.
A lonely ticket booth and...
A lonely ticket booth and uncovered asphalt is all that remains of Northeastern Speedway. It’s a ghost track that was open for just eight years in the early ’60s. But its legacy lives due in large part to how its organizers taught other racetrack owners how to operate.
Mohawk is medium banked and...
Mohawk is medium banked and doesn’t have walls around the track outside the front stretch. This helps provide a safety net for the drivers who test the grip high in Turns 1 and 3. Several disappeared over the top only to reappear and reenter the race unharmed. Race teams appreciate that a lot.
Mohawk is truly an international...
Mohawk is truly an international speedway lying just 5 driving miles from Canadian soil. In 2009, the owners completely rebuilt the speedway and installed these really nice grandstands complete with multiple suites and plenty of food and drink areas.
A great starter class is this...
A great starter class is this mini Late Model class called the Mod Lites. There were decent numbers of these teams and many came from Canada to race at Mohawk. These cars are very fast and competitive on dirt.
Mohawk International Raceway
Located in the most northwesterly corner of New York State, Mohawk would become the very last dirt track we would visit on our 2011 Tour. It was a great ending too because we were able to see teams from two countries battling it out like there was no border. We were here for the American Revolution Series final Labor Day Shootout show run on a Thursday night. Afterwards, we would scoot on over to Vermont for another Labor Day event that same weekend.
This is another track, like Oswego, where the owners put lots of money into improvements to make a very attractive and functional racetrack. It was completely rebuilt for the 2009 racing season. They had installed NASCAR-style lighting, numerous suites, a raised and graveled pit area--no longer prone to flooding--and new seating. The fans celebrate coming here and the track celebrates with a party and huge bonfire after the show is over.
Don Thompson is the general manager here and he was a great host for our Tour. We were given access to his personal suite, the videographer's stand--used to shoot video for our website--and anywhere else we needed to go.
The class structure included the 358 Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, Bandits, and Mod Lites. All of the races were very competitive because at this track, there were several grooves to choose from. This provided side-by-side racing action all night long.
One very popular class was the Mod-Lites that were in reality, Legends type cars running on dirt. They looked like mini-Dirt Late Models and put on quite a show. It's amazing how fast and competitive the smaller cars are on dirt. And this track also sports no walls except along the front straight to protect the fans. I really like that plan.
Being only 5 driving miles from Canada, this is truly an international speedway. I talked with quite a few racers from both sides of the border and it was plain to see that racers who reside as our northern neighbors are just as passionate of their programs as we are.
Thunder Road Speedbowl
Few tracks gain such notoriety as this track located in Barre, Vermont. Thunder Road is what is commonly referred to as a bullring track due to its short length and high-banked turns. The lack of walls also makes this a track unique to race on where you can get pushed over the top, hang on, and return to do battle again.
Owner and founder, Ken Squier would go on to be the first TV announcer to call the Daytona 500 in 1979 and that race would cement the NASCAR television connection, due in part to the now-famous fight between brothers Bobby and Donny Allison, and Cale Yarborough in Turn 3 at the end of the race. A good friend of mine was the only photographer to capture that fight on film and provided those images to Stock Car Racing magazine for its front cover and inside story.
The race weekend was the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic for the American-Canadian Tour Late Model cars. This series was started back in 1986 by promoter Tom Curley after he had been a part of the NASCAR North Tour for Late Model Sportsman cars. This new series was a departure from that type of racing in that it incorporated the Super Late Model-type cars more commonly run across the country.
One interesting feature of...
One interesting feature of this racetrack is that there is an after-the-show party where a bonfire is lit and free food is available to the racers spread out on several large tables.
The fire consisted of many...
The fire consisted of many pallets being stacked some 15 feet high and topped off with a picnic table.
The crew doused the wood with...
The crew doused the wood with diesel fuel, then lit it off for a spectacular display.