(THOMPSON, CT) – Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP), the famed 5/8-mile oval in Northeast Connecticut, announced the expansion of its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule to 10 events in 2016. The announcement was greeted with excitement by many teams and drivers who are looking forward to competing in more races at the historic speedway. The schedule is highlighted by four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) events, the return of the Triple Crown Championship for the Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions, and the inaugural Fan and Driver appreciation month.
“We’re excited to release another creative oval schedule,” stated Josh Vanada, General Manager of TSMP. “We’re proud to showcase our talented drivers in three additional events. It’s a privilege for us to honor both our fans and drivers with their own special events in July. It’s the least we can do with their great support throughout our 75-year history. It will be an exciting year with traditional favorites and some new, exciting formats.”
This will be the 30th season that the track operates under the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) banner, offering Sunoco Modified, Late Model, Limited Sportsman, and Mini Stock competitors the benefits of NASCAR membership, awards, as well as state and national championship competition.
The season will begin on Friday, April 8 – Sunday, April 10 with the 42nd Annual Icebreaker. This year’s season opener has been enhanced to include twelve divisions of racing throughout the weekend. It will once again be headlined by the return of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, with the first championship race of its 31st season, and include TSMP’s four NWAAS divisions, the NEMA Lites, and the Vintage Outlaws. The most notable addition is the Pro All Stars Series, as they will do battle in a 75-lap main event on Sunday afternoon, marking their first event at the 5/8-mile oval since 2012. The North East Street Stock Tour and New England Pro 4 Modifieds will be opening their seasons on Icebreaker weekend, also. As another new addition, Thompson will be organizing their own Truck race, including a generous and consistent purse. Fans will once again be invited to the Icebreaker Fan Appreciation party on the track Sunday morning for the opportunity to meet the stars and cars and enjoy some live entertainment.
The Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks races at the Icebreaker will be their first in the Triple Crown Championship series. Both divisions will participate in three events in which their finishing positions will earn them both TSMP championship points and Triple Crown Series points. The Triple Crown will pay their own point fund and award the top three.
The regular Wednesday night season will start on May 18 with the Limited Sportsman Long Distance, presented by Circuit One Events. A new event in 2016, the Limited Sportsman Long Distance will be an opportunity for our Division III drivers to be showcased. Known for their wheel-to-wheel racing, the drivers of the Limited Sportsman will headline the only NWAAS event in the month of May. They will be joined by the Sunoco Modified, Late Model and Mini Stock divisions.
TSMP will hold Military Night on Wednesday, June 1, honoring our military and veterans with discounted pricing. The event will feature the 3rd Annual Late Model 20/20 Sprint, once again showcasing TSMP’s top-tiered fendered division. Known for its unique, segment-style format, the Sprint will once again be run in the same format that it has been for the past two season. A complete inversion of the second segment will set the stage for a charge to the front for the front-runners of the first segment. The final segment will be ordered by lap times of lead lap cars. The winner will not only take home $1,000 in purse money, but will also be a guaranteed starter for the American-Canadian Tour race at the World Series.
The NWMT will return on Wednesday, June 15 for the 2nd Annual Mr. Rooter 125. The only 125-lap event of the four NWMT races at TSMP, this one is guaranteed to be exciting with pit strategy playing a big part. TSMP’s four NWAAS divisions will also be in competition, as well as the NEMA Lites. This will be their second of three stops.
TSMP has dedicated July as Fan and Driver Appreciation month, kicking off with “For the Fans Night” on Saturday, July 9. This special event will give fans an opportunity to attend a weekend race at a reduced ticket price – only $12. The event will include Ladies Night, honoring females in all positions of motorsports. Fans will also have the opportunity to take home a trophy as a souvenir, as all drivers will be given two – one to keep and one to give to a lucky fan. This event will include the second Triple Crown race of the season for the Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions.
“For the Drivers Night” on Wednesday, July 27, will show appreciation for drivers, with free admission for them for that night’s event. Cash bonuses will be added on top of the already substantial $22,000 purse for the four NWAAS divisions. The highlight of the night will be the Sunoco Modifieds, competing in their 3rd Annual 20/20 Sprint, with a purse of $2,000 on the line for the winner of the race.
One of Thompson’s most popular summer events, the Budweiser ‘King of Beer’s 150 on August 10 will see the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour return for their 3rd time in 2016. The program for the evening will include six divisions including TSMP’s four NWAAS divisions and the first of two stops for the NEMA Midgets.
Back to School Night will return on Wednesday, August 24. This event will feature the Sunoco Modified Twin 25 Lap races, giving fans double the open-wheel excitement, and drivers the opportunity to make up some ground in the NASCAR and TSMP points. This will also be the final race in the Triple Crown series for the Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions.
#WayBackWednesday, the final event of the summer stretch will be a throwback event, held on September 7. It will feature many of the cars and drivers of the rich 75-year history at TSMP, and will include local involvement from racing museums and historical organizations. Past champions will be invited to gather, giving fans and competitors a great time to reflect and celebrate the rich history at Thompson.
The final championship weekend once again promises to be the one of the largest short track racing events in the country, with 15 divisions on the card for the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing, Friday October 14 – Sunday, October 16. This three-day extravaganza will see many champions crowned, culminating on Sunday afternoon with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the International Supermodifieds (ISMA), NEMA Lites and Thompson’s own Limited Sportsman and Sunoco Modified divisions. Thompson’s Late Models will start off the racing for the weekend with a 25-lap feature on Friday evening. The American-Canadian Tour will return for a 75-lap feature on Saturday, after a great showing at last year’s World Series with a field of over 35 cars. They will be joined on Saturday by the NEMA midgets, Pro4 Modifieds, Valenti Modified Racing Series, Thompson’s Mini Stocks, the North East Mini Stock Tour, the Trucks, the North East Street Stock Tour, and the Lite Modified division. In addition to an action-packed weekend on track, fans will also be treated to a variety of off-track activities. The NWMT will once again arrive with a Hauler Parade on Friday afternoon, giving fans the chance to cheer for their favorite driver as their car enters. TSMP will also offer fan hay rides on Sunday morning, which will tour the paddock area, take a lap around the track, and feature guest appearances from some of the drivers. When all is done, 13 drivers will emerge as champions at the end of the Sunoco World Series weekend.
The new Season Pass program, launched by TSMP at the end of November, makes racing more affordable than ever for teams, drivers and fans. With a variety of options to choose from, and savings of nearly $125 (25% off) the season pass is another way that TSMP is making it easier to come to the track for those dedicated fans and drivers that are an integral part of racing at the speedway.
For more information about the 2016 schedule or Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, visit www.thompsonspeeedway.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park celebrated the 2015 oval track season this weekend at Mohegan Sun at its annual award ceremony honoring four division champions in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Woody Pitkat celebrated his 2nd Sunoco Modified title, while Scott Sundeen was honored as a 4-time Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman champion. Late Model driver Brian Tagg and Mini Stock competitor Dave Trudeau each took home their first career championship.
For Pitkat, it was his first season driving for car owner Stan Mertz in the Sunoco Modified division and the combination found immediate success. The duo placed in the top-10 in every race this season including five 2nd place finishes. Pitkat won the Modified title in 2006 in his first full-time season in the division to compliment his 2002 Late Model crown. It is the first championship for Mertz as a car owner at Thompson Speedway.
Late Model driver Brian Tagg saw his childhood dreams come true when he accepted the championship trophy before a large group of supporters. Tagg grew up attending races at Thompson Speedway with his dad, a former Sunoco Modified champion, who won the championship in the Speedway’s 50th anniversary season. This year’s Late Model triumph came in as the 75th season was celebrated. 2015 was Tagg’s rookie season in the division.
Scott Sundeen defended his 2014 championship from one year ago to earn his 4th title in his 14th season competing in the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman division. Each of his championships were won while driving the same race car, which was proudly on display Saturday night at Mohegan Sun. With the banquet complete, that chassis will be retired as a champion after winning two races in 2015.
Sundeen will be back next season to attempt his 3rd straight championship.
Dave Trudeau has been a long time competitor at Thompson Speedway, but 2015 was his first taste of the champion’s champagne after earning the Mini Stock title. Trudeau was a factor all season by finishing 2nd in 3 of the first 4 races. His two victories came in the month of August only to pad his point lead heading into the Sunoco World Series where he captured the crown.
Special awards were presented to the Rookie of the Year including Sunoco Modified driver, Ryan Morgan who finished 5th in the final standings on the strength of 4 top-5 finishes in 2015. William Wall led laps and registered two podium finishes to earn Late Model Rookie of the Year honors. Xtra Mart Limited sportsman driver Josh Wood was the Rookie of the Year in his division with 4 Top-5 finishes and 5 Top-10s. Robert ‘Bob’ Ducharme earned the honor in the Mini Stock Division by earning 2 Top-10 finishes. Each rookie driver was measured by his performance both on and off the racetrack.
In 2015, Thompson Speedway introduced the new Triple Crown Series in the Mini Stock and Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman Division. The Series became a race within a race as points counted for both the track championship and the Triple Crown. In the Mini Stocks, the Triple Crown races were held on June 10th, July 29th, and August 26th and Eric Bourgeois was honored as the first Triple Crown winner. Xtra Mart Limited sportsman driver Corey Hutchings won two of the three Triple Crown races that were held on June 10th, July 8th, and August 12th to earn the award in his division.
The John Hoenig Memorial Award, which recognizes one individual for their hard work and dedication to the Speedway, was presented to Olivia Bouchard.
Bouchard was born into racing and grew up around racetracks along the east coast. She has spent countless hours working tirelessly at Thompson Speedway in many different capacities. She has been responsible for speedway marketing, NASCAR licensing, the redesign of speedway awards, coordination of autograph sessions and many behind the scenes tasks. She has shown unmatched devotion to Thompson Speedway and its competitors. Bouchard was presented with the prestigious award that is given in her great-grandfathers name as part of Thompson Speedway’s Awards Celebration.
As a final conclusion to the Awards Banquet, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park management announced that 2016’s schedule would expand to include ten NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races. The complete schedule will be released at 7PM E.T. on December 8th, through a live broadcast with Victory Lane Radio. Tune in at www.victorylaneradio.com.