Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is wrapping up in 2017 season this weekend with tie award winning annual three-day event, the 55th World Series of Speedway Racing. With 18 divisions and numerous champions set to be crowned over the weekend, the action began on Friday, October 13 with five feature events and the crowning of the first champion of the weekend named in Thompson’s late model division.
Coming into the event the late models featured a two-man battle as reigning track champion William Wall sought to dethrone the surprise success story of 2017, Ray Parent, from the top spot on the final day of the season. The two drivers brought different strategies to the table as their close points battled heated up. Parent, who only needed to finish twelfth to clinch the title, embraced a more conservative approach while Wall was more aggressive, virtually needing to win and get help from others in the field to finish the season on top.
The evening started off strong for Wall who won his heat and gained four points on Parent in the process. Wall continued his aggressive approach in the main event to come home third, but Ray Parent’s conservative strategy prevailed as he secured a ninth place finish and completed a Cinderella story season that he thought would never come.
“This is my first championship (of any kind) since 1996,” Parent said after the race. “It’s awesome. I’m happy for my guys – To say you’re a NASCAR champion is something you dream of when you’re a kid. I know it’s late models at Thompson, but it’s exciting and what a good group of late model drivers Thompson had this year.” Parent’s season included two victories, starting with a season-opening victory on Ice Breaker weekend, and four additional top ten finishes on route to his first late model title at Thompson. Wall’s finish was good enough to guarantee him the runner-up spot in the final points standing.
Meanwhile division regular Matt Lowinski-Loh capped off his season with a statement win in the 25-lap late model feature. It was Lowinski-Loh’s second victory of the season and one he was proud to cross off his bucket list. “It’s World Series Weekend. It’s the biggest race around hear,” Lowinski-Loh said. “I can’t thank my team enough and all the sponsors – It’s a dream come true. I always wanted to win this race. We’re going to go through the car and replace all the worn parts and hopefully come out even stronger next year and go for a championship.”
The longest event of the first night of World Series weekend was the 60-lap feature of the Granite State Pro Stock series, a new addition to the Friday night lineup of the annual event. The penultimate race of the series’ 2017 season saw quite a bit of drama as several title contenders found themselves in trouble early on after a series of on-track incidents before the halfway point of the event. Barry Gray, who came in third in points, found himself retired from the race only 15 laps in while the other three drivers at the top of the points standings, Nick Lascuola, Mike O’Sullivan, and Scott MacMichael, were involved in a lap 18 crash on the front stretch causing different degrees of damage to their respective vehicles. Lascuola was unable to continue while O’Sullivan and MacMichael continued to set themselves up as the top contenders to the championship at the season ending event in Waterford.
Meanwhile it was a familiar face out front as Derek Ramstrom held off Derek Griffith for the feature win in a dominating performance throughout the second half of the feature. Ramstrom and Griffith fought tooth and nail for the lead early on in the event with Ramstrom taking the lead for good just past the halfway point and storming his way to the win. A former track division winner at the Big-T, Ranstrom cherished his return to a victory lane he has visited so many times before.“I love this place. I miss racing hear weekly. I wish they’d bring it back. Every time we come here we’re a top three car no matter what. I have to give credit to my crew. I grew up right at the Little-T speedway and I’ve been watching people race here all my life. I love this place,” Ranstrom said after his win. “It was extremely close there in the beginning. I was just trying to be patient. I mean 60 laps here is kind of long. It doesn’t sound long, but it is at this place. I maintained a steady pace and at the right time I closed the door and never looked back.”
Closing out the night were the Lite Modifieds in a 20-lap feature that saw a competitive field of drivers each looking for one more win on the 2017 season. It was a new face, Bryan Narducci, who started up front and finished up front in dominating fashion leading every lap of the event on route to a victory. The young up-and-comer, a regular at Stafford Speedway, made his first start at the Big-T, leaving a mark with a dominant win to add to his growing resume on the local racing circuit.
“The car was pretty good during the day and I had to figure out the track. It was my first time racing here, but we finally figured it out. We were good in the heat race. We didn’t make any changes and it was real good for the feature,” Narducci said in victory lane.
The night also included looks at racings past and future. The Senior Tour Auto Racers held a pair of exhibition events over the course of the night showcasing antique and replica sportsmen and modified cars of racings past while drivers of the Extreme Racing Experience took to the track for their own exhibition event earlier in the day.
Day two for the World Series of Speedway Racing promises to be an even busier action packed day with eight different divisions set to take center stage. The Valenti Modified Racing series, the Northeastern Midget Association, the American Canadian Tour, the Mr. Rooter Pro Truck Series, the New England Pro 4 Modifieds, Street Stocks and the North East Mini Stock Tour will all be featured over the course of the afternoon and evening while a track champion will be crowed in the Mini Stocks where Wayne Burroughs, Jr. looks to repeat as champions of the division at the Big-T.
LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 2. Walt Sutcliffe (East Haven, CT); 3. William Wall (Shrewsbury, MA); 4. Glenn Boss (Danielson, CT); 5. Ernie LaRose (Moosup, CT); 6. Tom Carey, III (Orange, MA); 7. Woody Pitkat (Sturbridge, MA); 8. Buddy Charette (Woodstock, CT); 9. Ray Parent (Tiverton, RI); 10. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI)
GRANITE STATE PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Derek Ramstrom (Worcester, MA); 2. Derek Griffith (Hudson, NH); 3. Tommy O’Sullivan (Springfield, MA); 4. Brad Babb; 5. Michael Scorzelli (Feura Bush, NY); 6. Woody Pitkat (Sturbridge, MA); 7. Jake Vanada; 8. Scott MacMichael (Newbury, NH); 9. Kyle Casagrande (Stafford Springs, CT); 10. Kyle Soper
LITE MODIFIED FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Bryan Narducci (Colchester, CT); 2. Brett Gonyaw (Vernon, CT); 3. Corey Dimatteo (Farmington, CT); 4. Glenn Griswold (Vernon, CT); 5. Ben Byrne; 6. Wesley Prucker (Stafford, CT); 7. Daniel Wesson (Monson, MA); 8. Chris Correll (Old Lyme, CT); 9. Andrew Les (Boston, MA); 10. Rick Williams (East Hampston, CT)
Writter: Jason Bleau
Photo: Michael Jaworecki Myracenews (Icebreaker 2017)