55th Annual Sunoco World Series Of Racing At Thompson To Be Held Next Weekend

There will be a total of 13 champions to be crowned at next weekend's race

Photo Courtesy: Matthew Wiernasz

THOMPSON, CT (WWLP) – Race fans and teams from Western Massachusetts will be making their way to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in a couple of weeks for the 55th annual Sunoco World Series Of Racing coming on Friday through Sunday October 13 through the 15th.  This year’s edition of this prestigious event will be headlined with 18 divisions of racing.  Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park General Manager Josh Vanada told 22News what’s more impressive about the divisions of racing is not the volume but the quality of divisions fans will get to see.

“We have virtually all the premiere touring series as well as our four NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions who have provided some thrilling racing especially coming off of our last race. Two side by side finishes in the Sunoco Modified 20/20 sprint and then you had what I thought were some of the most exciting laps that I’ve probably seen all year in the closing laps of the Limited Sportsman feature.” Vanada Said

The Sunoco World Series Of Racing at the speedway is recognized as one of the biggest events in the country.   Vanada told 22News it is an event and its a festival of sorts where it draws people there and not only just one particular race but being there for the whole weekend.

“Its a full experience that you have to take in and its not just a race you have to see. Its a full experience includes camping, events at the raceway restaurant, family events like the (Whelen Modified Tour) hauler parade and the hayrides, driver autograph sessions, and all those other things.” Vanada Said

Some tweaks were made to the schedule this year as more racing has been added on to the program on Friday.  Vanada told 22News the logic in adding more to Friday is the Friday night program had been flat. People we’re coming in more and more on Friday so the speedway thought it would be more sense to give them some more entertainment so the Granite State Pro Stock Series was added with a 60 lap race. They had the STAR Antique Racers last year from a rain out and they turned out to have a terrific car count and that was added back onto the schedule for this year. The Late Models will have their 25 lap championship race on Friday night. The Lite Modifieds have also been added to the Friday night program as well.  The first thought of this was to add more value and entertainment and the second idea was to have more balance.

“One of the things that we learned a handful of years ago was that when we moved the NEMA Midgets off of Sunday. It was an enormous mount of pressure off of everybody that was there from our operational side as well as some of the pressure that was being put on the touring divisions to get their races in so we’re trying to alleviate some of that and make it more of a natural feel. When we did that moving some things from Sunday to Saturday and we thought if we used the same logic and move some things from Saturday to Friday, that would get similar results. That’s the long and thought out way that we tried to approach this to make sure that there was more balance in the event.” Vanada Said

There will be a total of 13 champions to be crowned next weekend.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will have their championship race next Sunday as Doug Coby will be going for his fourth championship in a row and fifth in the last six years.  A total of five drivers are 25 points apart from each other.  Doug Coby holds a 10 point lead over Justin Bonsignore. and 12 points behind Timmy Solomito.  Ryan Preece missed two races and is 19 points out of the championship. and coming off of a win at the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway on Sunday, Eric Goodale is fifth in points 25 behind point leader Doug Coby.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is the oldest touring divisions in NASCAR and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is the oldest short track in the country. Vanada told 22News that it is a great previlege from Thompson Speedway Motorsports to host the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship race.

“This reminds me in many ways of 2015 when the championship was the closest championship in the history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.  The tension level is similar. The hype is similar. The build up coming into the event is at least at the present feeling to be similar. I think that in a lot of ways this has makings to be one of the most historic battles in the history of the Whelen Modified Tour. We’re looking forward to see how it shakes out.” Vanada Said

In the last seven NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races over the past two years, there have been different winners as Justin Bonsignore and Ryan Preece we’re the only ones to repeat.

The American Canadian Tour Late Models will be apart of the weekend on Saturday with a 75 lap championship race. The ACT Tour lost their President back in May after Tom Curley passed away.  Vanada told 22News that Curley was a mentor and he had learned a lot from him in the final years of his life.

“We have plans to certainly honor his memory and the great contributions he has made to this sport. So its a previlege and has been for the past two seasons for us to crown the champion. I know this year for me, it will be a heavy moment. I remember having lunch with Tom (Curley) and Darla (Hartt) and Scott Tapley when we talked about bringing the American Canadian Tour to the World Series back to Thompson and Tom told me it was one of his bucket list items and two years ago he came up to the tower and all three of us got to work the race together which was certainly one of the highlights of my career. Last year, we worked with him again but to be able to talk with him and here his thoughts on the event and to learn from him on some of the mistakes that he has made and some of the things hes done that have been successful. Its a huge honor and when it comes to promoters in my mind. Love him or hate him, Tom Curley was one of the best.” Vanada Said

The Valenti Modified Racing Series will have their championship race on Saturday. Anthony Nocella out of Woburn is the point leader. They will run a 50 lap race because a lot of the drivers are not accustomed into competing in such a long race because 75 laps at Thompson is more than most 100 lap events these drivers will compete on a shorter short track.

The ISMA Supermodifieds will race 50 laps on Sunday.  The technology in those cars, its amazing to watch the side by side battle and the speeds that they are turning. around the 5/8 mile oval.  Vanada told 22News that the last two years have been some of the most exciting he has ever seen taking place in 2015.

“I always enjoy watching them. Tremendous amount of respect to their competitors to the amount of speed and car control they have to have.” Vanada Said

The NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites will be on hand for the Shane Hammond Memorial. The Midgets will race on Saturday and the NEMA Lites will be apart of the program on Sunday. Vanada told 22News that he is glad to get to honor Shane’s memory.

“His tragic death has been used for positive things through the Shane Hammond Believe Foundation and the contributions that have been made there and the work Shane’s mom has put in to really making Shane’s death not just a tragic thing but something that has been able to be used for good.” Vanada Said

The NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions have improved in car counts at Thompson. When Vanada worked for the speedway back in 2008 as he was getting involved at a higher level, they we’re struggling to get cars for their race program. At their last race a month, Thompson had 24 Sunoco Modifieds for the 20/20 Sprint.

“We’ve proved to folks that Thompson is worthy of racing at. It can produce terrific Sunoco Modified racing. I am proud of everybody that has to put some work into that. Our officials, the competitors that hung in with us through thick and thin.” Vanada Said

The Sunoco Modifieds will have four drivers going for the championship next weekend as Keith Rocco holds a 12 point lead over Todd Owen and Ryan Preece along with Woody Pitkat are on the outside looking in. Owen had not planned on racing the whole season at Thompson. He came to the first two races of the year and was in contention.

The Late Models will come down to two as Ray Parent and Will Wall will contention for the championship.  They are both talented race car drivers. Wall is the defending champion of the Late Models. Ray Parent won the the Icebreaker as well as another race in the season.

Vanada told 22News that with the 18 divisions racing next weekend its all about the stage and the amount that goes into this event.

“The amount of fans in the stands. Its about the people that are there to watch it. Its about the level of competition in the event. Its about the national recognition in providing an opportunity to provide the grassroots racers of New England to compete in front of a national audience I think thats what it really comes down to and I think its variety. Where else can you go ? I can’t think of another short track event in the country. I really truly can’t where you can get the winged midgets and super modifieds, you get the ACT, Granite State Pro Stock Series, Thompson Late Models, Limited Sportsman, Street Stocks, two divisions of Mini Stocks, you have trucks, you have the Sunoco Modifieds, You’ve got tour type modified divisions.” Vanada Said

The 55th Annual Sunoco World Series Of Racing with have a variety and diverse race program. The Granite State Pro Stock Series will be returning the World Series as they have not this event since 2014.  The series was apart of the Icebreaker in 2015. Vanada told 22News that the speedway received a lot of feedback in bringing the Pro Stocks back for the World Series. PASS will have their season finale event next weekend in Maine as they are apart of the Icebreaker in April.  Granite State Pro Stock Series President Mike Parks wanted to come back to Thompson and Parks and Vanada had talked about figuring out way to make it work. Vanada and Parks thought this would be a good way to do this.

“Obviously his team wants to race in front of a big audience. This gives him a big audience and we really needed something to support our Whelen All American Series Late Model championship event that was credible and the Granite State Pro Stock Series we believe is going to provide that content.” Vanada Said

The 55th Annual Sunoco World Series Of Racing at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will kickoff next Friday October 13 and run through Sunday October 15.