Category Archives: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

THOMPSON INTRODUCES COMPETITIVE DRIFTING WITH LOCK CITY DRIFT IN 2019

FANS CAN WITNESS THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DRIFTING THROUGHOUT THE SEASON — ALL THE WAY FROM BATTLES FOR TROPHY GLORY VIA JUDGING DOWN TO BEGINNER CLINICS

By: Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

THOMPSON, Conn. – With fans and competitors of all ages in mind, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is introducing competitive drifting to the Connecticut facility on a regular basis in 2019, adding another dimension to a long list of entertainment options already in place for the new season.

Through a partnership with Lock City Drift, Thompson will offer fans three different types of drifting over nine months and a total of 19 events – headlined by the first time a New England-based drifting organization competes for glory in a competitive manner.

Through their New England Top Drift Series and the Street Series, Lock City Drift will introduce two competitive drifting options for fans — where drivers will put their cars on edge looking to win. Both of these divisions will offer awards for each round via a three-judge panel and an overall championship winner. Qualifying takes place with a 32-driver elimination bracket, where two drivers then go head-to-head. It becomes the lead drivers responsibility to make the best run they can, and the second car in line has to mimic the lead car as close, and clean, as possible. Once the first round is over, the two drivers switch places and go for it a second time.

The three judges will then choose which driver they felt did better, on a point system, and at the end of each round, the driver with the most points proceeds. At the conclusion, an overall champion is crowned.

The planned 2019 events will also include grassroots style drifting on 10 occasions – beginning with March 16 and ending with the Fall Finale on November 9. Grassroots drifting is more of the beginner class, where drivers of any skill level and with any car meeting the rulebook can compete. Drivers in the grassroots class are separated by skill level, giving everyone an equal chance to showcase talent.

The Top Drift Series is based for drivers who are planning to make the move to the Pro-Am Series, giving them crucial experience in a place where they can test the waters in a more controlled and competitive environment. In the Street Series, fans will be able to see a street style of drifting taken to the next level where drivers will have line and style choice to showcase their driving skills.

The Street Series is one of the most popular for Lock City Drift, as it truly showcases intense competition where drivers are pushing it to the edge looking for the victory. Although it’s more of a competitive class, there are restrictions to the rules for this division as well – but skill behind the wheel comes at a premium. Both of these divisions are going to put drivers on the edge of control as they find themselves vying to be the victor, which should create an environment where fans will want to stick around until the final round.

Inside this new deal, Lock City Drift will be part of five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series shows at Thompson. At these five events, which will showcase the Street Series specifically, fans will be able to catch both the drifting and the Whelen All-American Series action in the same Sunday afternoon.

The first of the five events is scheduled for May 19, followed by June 30, July 28 and August 4. On September 8, the Street Series concludes as part of the 6th annual Sunoco Modified 20/20 sprint and the 4thannual “For The Fans Night” at Thompson.

“We are happy to be bringing fans a competitive drifting series based in New England right here to Thompson Speedway,” Terry Eames, the General Manager of Thompson, said.

Lock City Drift, an organization that has been drifting in New England since 2012, is also excited to showcase the variety of options for fans.

“Thompson definitely sees the future of drifting as a motorsport, and I’m really excited to mingle the crowds between the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and drifting together into one,” Michael Lynch, the Director of Lock City Drift, said. “Drifting is a spectator sport and I think people are really going to appreciate what we have to offer this season at Thompson.”

With the addition of the five Lock City Drift events to the Whelen All-American Series schedule, a slight adjustment has been made to the 10-race oval track campaign. The sixth event of the season, originally scheduled for July 21, has been pushed back one week to July 28. The day will see racing for the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Lite Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks, along with the Lock City Drift action.

The events at Thompson for Lock City Drift this season include:

Grassroots:

•     March 16 – Season Opener

•     April 13 – Grassroots Day 1

•     May 4 – Cinco De Clinica

•     May 18 – Grassroots Day 2

•     July 26 – Grassroots Day 3

•     August 23 – August Nights

•     September 7 – Grassroots Day 4

•     September 21 – Grassroots Day 5

•     October 19 – Grassroots Day 6

•     November 9 – Fall Finale

New England Top Drift:

•     May 18

•     August 18

•     September 15

•     September 29

•     November 10

Street Series (Joining NWAAS Divisons):

•     May 19

•     June 30

•     July 28

•     August 4

•     September 8

Any drivers interested in registering for the drifting events should visit www.lockcitydrift.com to fill out the appropriate forms. Lock City Drift is also extremely active on social media, so those interested in more information can follow them on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Thompson’s 45thannual Icebreaker begins in just under one month, but race fans have the chance to see some of the latest information from Thompson Speedway this coming weekend. The Connecticut oval will be part of ‘The Biggest Car Show in New England’, Mark’s Northeast Motorsports Expo, an event that will take place from Friday, March 8, through Sunday, March 10. Fans are welcome to attend and see the Thompson booth and meet some of the staff.

In the meantime, track preparations are well underway for the Icebreaker, which runs April 5-7. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Pro All Star Series and more will all compete across one of the most prestigious weekends in all of short-track racing. Fans will once again be able to camp on the property for the duration of the weekend, and reservations for a camping spot are now open via the track website under the reservations tab. Fans can see social media for the direct links to the camping registration.

For more information on the oval track, and the road course, fans are encouraged to visit www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

LOOKING BACK, AND AHEAD: JUSTIN ALBERNAZ FINISHING RECOVERY FOLLOWING SUNOCO MODIFIED WRECK LAST AUGUST

ON PACE TO RETURN TO RACING ON ICEBREAKER WEEKEND

By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

THOMPSON, Conn. – Sitting in the cockpit of his Sunoco Modified, unbuckling his belts, and preparing to climb out, Justin Albernaz was simply rolling on adrenaline. 

He was in the immediate aftermath of being involved in a vicious crash in turn one during practice for the 30-lap Sunoco Modified event as part of the Bug “King of Beers” night at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park last August.

When he rolled on the .625-mile oval and put the car in high-gear, he was hoping to continue to gain experience on a tough, high-banked track. When he exited the facility in the back of an ambulance, Albernaz turned his attention to the long recovery he had ahead of him.

It was turn from the positive of racing, to the negative, in a matter of just a few seconds.

“It was a pretty hot day, and there were a lot of cars out there for practice,” Albernaz recalled. “We went about five laps, and we went down the frontstretch and I think the rear-end broke on Jay Sundeen’s car. I was following the No. 19, and when he dived to the bottom, I didn’t see Sundeen. He rolled up the track and I hit him. I heard another car come from behind and hit me. By the time I opened my eyes, I was pretty much down in the infield.”

After being transferred to a local medical facility, Albernaz was soon diagnosed with a fractured L1 and L2 vertebrae. He was crushed. 

Not only was he frustrated with the end result of the wreck, but, just as any race car driver would be, he was immediately wondering how long he would be out of the car.

Since then, it’s been all about the recovery in hopes of returning to competition.

“I could feel the pain in my back,” the 21-year-old said of the immediate moments after the wreck. “When you’re in a big wreck like that, your eyes just close. It’s just straight adrenaline. I did the number one thing you’re not supposed to do and I took my helmet off. By the time I realized the pain in my back, I was able to climb out, but the rescue workers were holding me up. The pain was so bad.”

Fast-forward seven months and the Rehoboth, Massachusetts, driver is back to feeling himself. The recovery process was long – and one he hopes he never has to go through again. 

But he’s just happy to be back on the right track.

“It’s been a slow process. The first two months really weren’t great, I couldn’t move, just a lot of pain in my back. After that, you actually feel like yourself again, and you feel like you can start doing some things, but you really can’t or you’ll hurt your back again,” he said. “A lot of physical therapy, and I think it was about four and a half months before I was back to work. I feel like I’m 100% now.”

Over the winter, the team took the opportunity to make some improvements in the shop after the car he drove last year wasn’t going to be in racing condition. Albernaz has a brand new Troyer chassis set for action, and he’s going to debut it as part of the first and only Test and Tune session of the season on March 23, right back at Thompson.

The Test and Tune will be his first time back buckled in the race car since that day in August where experienced exactly what every race car driver never hopes they will. 

“I always get the butterflies at Thompson, but as soon as you get out there and get the gas down on the floor, they are gone,” he said of moving forward. “You have to just put it behind you as a driver. You have to send it in that corner. You can’t go in there looking at that wall.”

After the Test and Tune, Albernaz will be looking forward to returning to racing action under green flag conditions at the 45thannual Icebreaker weekend. The Sunoco Modifieds will have practice on Friday, run their qualifying races on Saturday and compete in the 30-lap season opener on Sunday. The event is the first in a new 10-race schedule for Thompson in 2019.

“I know we are going to that test and tune to try to shake the car down and get back going into the groove I was in last year,” he said. “I just put it behind me. Even if you just go to Thompson for the three days when you’re not racing, it’s a great time and a great atmosphere. I’m looking forward to it.”

With just over one month until the drop of the first green flag, registrations for the Sunoco Modified division are starting to flow in. Early on, it looks like a mix of returning veteran challengers will battle against some of the rising talent in New England’s Sunoco Modified ranks. Last year, Connecticut native Keith Rocco added another Sunoco Modified title to his resume in dominating fashion.

Even though Mother Nature dropped a significant amount of snow in the New England area this week, track officials are working hard to prepare for the 45thannual Icebreaker weekend. The Icebreaker begins on Friday, April 5, and the three days of action-packed battling on the track concludes on Sunday, April 7, with the third race of the season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. 

The schedule for opening weekend is nearing completion and will be available on the track website and social media channels once it is finished. Fans will once again be able to visit the campgrounds on the property for the duration of the weekend, and fans also have the opportunity to purchase a pit pass and get up close with the stars and cars of Thompson Speedway. Sunday, fans will have the opportunity to walk on the track for the annual Fan Appreciation Party — an event that has become one of the most highly anticipated of the season.

For more information on the track, visit www.thompsonspeedway.comand follow the track on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Additional information about the 2019 racing season is coming in the near future.

Photo : Michael Jaworecki Myracenews

THOMPSON WELCOMES LITE MODIFIED DIVISION FOR 2019

MIX OF NEW CHALLENGERS CHASE FIRST DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP STARTING WITH 45TH ICEBREAKER

By Kyle Souza for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

THOMPSON, Conn. – One of many substantial changes at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in 2019 is the addition of the Lite Modified division to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule.

A division Thompson has welcomed to the facility on select occasions in the past, including on the Icebreaker and Sunoco World Series weekends, the Lite Modifieds now have become the Division III class at the Connecticut oval. This means the Limited Sportsman will drop to Division IV and the Mini Stock drivers will have a chance to chase the Division V title.

With a minimum weight of nearly 2,700 pounds, the Lite Modifieds nearly mirror the appearance of the Sunoco Modifieds, but have a few technical differences.

With a newly revamped 10-race NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule also added to the equation this season, Lite Modified drivers will have to find Victory Lane, but also put together some consistency if they want to go down as Thompson’s first-ever Lite Modified champion. Drivers will compete in 20-lap events throughout the duration of the season.

“I think it’s great,” Bryan Narducci, who has four wins in four Lite Modified starts at Thompson previously, said. “Last year it didn’t count towards the national points, but with the Lite Modifieds being Division III, I know there are a lot of guys that are going to go back to Thompson, with the purse raised as well. There are going to be a lot more cars this year.”

As Narducci mentions, a jump in the Lite Modified purse will see the driver that visits Victory Lane collect $500. Thompson becomes the third Connecticut oval to bring Lite Modifieds into the equation, meaning drivers from across the state will be able to take their cars to the high-banks in search of the checkered flag.

Narducci, who also won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III national championship last year, is hoping to run the full schedule behind the wheel of the No. 01. Narducci runs a car out of the same stable at Sunoco Modified winner Todd Owen, and with the support of his sponsors, Narducci has been able to dominate in the previous Lite Modified events held at Thompson.

His knack for the high-speed racing doesn’t hurt.

Narducci’s first victory came in his first start on the .625-mile high-banks in 2017 as part of the Sunoco World Series weekend. Last year, the Colchester, Connecticut, driver won all three races contested during the season, including the Icebreaker and World Series events.

“I have been going there as long as I can remember, going on Thursday night to watch Ted Christopher race,” Narducci explained. “I had experience watching and I was able to learn how passing works. It’s a lot more difficult to complete a pass at Thompson without knocking into the other cars door. The first time I ever ran there, I started on the pole and won the race. There was definitely some stiff competition there that night and last year. The track definitely fits my driving style.”

Early on, entries are already rolling in with the season still a month from taking the green flag. Upcoming modified competitor Anthony Marvin, the son of Sunoco Modified contender Burt Marvin, has entered behind the wheel of the No. 07. With Marvin’s Midway Auto and Thirty Two Signs supporting the Connecticut driver, Anthony is hoping to find his way to the top of the class before long.

Additional entries for the division include John O’Sullivan and Eric Bourgeois. O’Sullivan has been a standout in Connecticut at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl competing in their Legends Cars division, and has also been successful in his Legend Car at Seekonk Speedway, over in Massachusetts. Last year, O’Sullivan tested the waters of the Lite Modified division at Thompson, finishing inside the top-10 in all three of his starts. That experience could put him ahead of some of the competitors for the upcoming campaign.

Bourgeois is truly a name that should be familiar to those in the Thompson Speedway landscape. Eric Bourgeois recently celebrated another Mini Stock title in 2018 after a consistent season put him at the top of the division. Now, with his focus in the Mini Stocks turned to his son Evan, Eric has registered behind the wheel of the No. 78 Lite Modified for at least a partial schedule.

Alexander Pearl, a regular in Stafford Motor Speedway’s SK Light Modified division, is also among the earliest registrations.

“By making the Lite Modifieds our Division III class, we wanted to send a signal that the division is very valuable to Thompson Speedway,” Terry Eames, Thompson’s General Manager, said in a release during the winter.

Thompson is looking forward to having the youth talent of the Lite Modified division combine with some racing veterans to create thrilling racing in the 20-lap events throughout the 10-race schedule.

Lite Modified drivers will find themselves on the same stage as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on four occasions this year, where they will compete in their events just before the Tour takes the green flag. Fans will want to keep an eye out for some of the youth talent as they look to make a name for themselves before making the step into the Sunoco Modified division.

With just about one month remaining before the 45thannual Icebreaker, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park officials are hard at work as the season begins to close in. Before April, teams will have an opportunity to take to the track on Saturday, March 23 as part of a test and tune session. The Icebreaker, a prestigious weekend in New England, will take place April 5-7 this year. The weekend will include the opening event for all five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions and the third race of the season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, along with additional divisions that will be announced in the very near future.

Thompson’s overall 2019 schedule, set for 10 races, includes the return of the NEMA Midgets, Pro All Star Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and more. Fans can find all of the latest information by visiting www.thompsonspeedway.comand following the track via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Photo Credit: Tom Morris Myracenews