The American-Canadian Tour and its partner tour, the Québec, Canada-based Série ACT, confirmed their touring schedules for 2018 on Friday. The combined schedules will offer fans of the crate-based Late Model tour at least nineteen opportunities to see their favorite drivers in action.
For the US-based Tour, the schedule provides stability for Tour teams and supporters after a season that concluded with the Tour changing ownership last month. The Série ACT, which went through its own change of the guard a year before, gets a longer schedule for its second year under new management.
The opening race of the ACT Tour’s ten-race season will be the annual Governor’s Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, NH. The race is scheduled for Sunday, April 15, a date that will hopefully avoid the weather-related postponements of the last few years. Lee has been scheduled as the ACT opener since 2008, though late-winter storms have forced the race to be rescheduled several times since then.
The Tour returns home to Vermont twice in 2018, both times at Barre’s Thunder Road International Speedbowl. The de facto home track of the ACT, and the last remaining paved oval in the Green Mountain State, will host the second race of the season, the Community Bank 150 on April 29, and the penultimate points race, the Labor Day Classic 200 on September 2.
Three tracks that previously hosted the ACT Tour return to the schedule for 2018, hosting the third, fourth and fifth races of the season. Oxford Plains Speedway will host the only Maine dates for the Tour with a race in May and a late-August event in conjunction with the famed Oxford 250. Speedway 51 in Groveton, NH will host June and July 151-lap features. And New London-Waterford Speedbowl in Connecticut returns to the schedule with a 150-lap event in mid-June.
White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, NH will host one race this year in early August. The ten-race schedule wraps up on Saturday, October 13 with a return to Thompson Speedway in Connecticut, where the ACT Tour champion will be crowned as part of Thompson’s annual World Series.
Absent from the 2018 schedule is Scarborough, Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Beech Ridge hosted the Tour since 2009 and held the Tour’s only 2017 race in the Pine Tree State. Also missing from the schedule is Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts. Only added to the Tour schedule in 2016, the “Cement Palace” runs ACT rules for its weekly Late Model class, making it a natural stop for a Tour date.
A third track, Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, VT, had fallen off the schedule late in the year when track management opted to fast-track a transition to a dirt racing surface for 2018. Devil’s Bowl was also the most recent host of the ACT’s traditional “Spring Green” event, with the number of laps matched to the calendar year. Most of this year’s Tour events are at least 150 laps long, so without changes in the coming weeks, there will be no Spring Green 118. With the “Fall Foliage” moniker also slipping away in the last year or so, it marks a quiet end to two staple events on the annual ACT calendar.
The mere loss of historic race names pales in comparison to the concerns that faced Série ACT teams at the end of 2016. Press releases at the end of that season suggested that the Canadian late model tour, associated with the ACT since 2007, might not race in 2017. Last-minute agreements were cast, though, a new tour director stepped forward, and the Série ACT was able to pull together a six-race championship schedule for 2017.
For 2018, the Série ACT schedule has expanded to nine races. Last year’s schedule was split evenly between two tracks, and both tracks will add an additional race to cover eight of the nine events on the schedule.
The schedule opens on May 20 at Autodrome St.-Eustache in Saint-Eustache, a short drive northwest of the island of Montréal. The next two events are in June at Autodrome Montmagny, on the southern banks of the St. Lawrence Seaway east of Québec City. The Série ACT returns to St.-Eustache in July, with another event at Montmagny two weeks later.
Autodrome Chaudière, a quarter-mile oval in Vallée-Jonction just south of Québec City, returns to the Série ACT schedule for 2018, hosting its sole race of the year at the end of July. The Série ACT returns to St.-Eustache in mid-August, makes a Saturday stop on Labor Day weekend at Montmagny, then closes out the season at St.-Eustache on September 23.
Série ACT managing director Marc Patrick Roy also suggested that a tenth race could still be added to the schedule, as series management is still finalizing agreements for the new year. Race distances have not yet been confirmed; last year’s Série ACT events were all 100-lap features.
The 2018 schedule, with the exception of one conflict in May, will allow drivers to compete in eighteen of the nineteen scheduled races if they so choose. For the third consecutive year, there are no points races that require teams to cross the border. Four such races, two in the States and two in Québec, were on the series’ schedules in 2015. After that season, travel costs and a poor exchange rate for the Canadian teams were cited as reasons for a change.
The schedule announcement also lacks a date for the ACT Invitational, ACT’s all-star event hosted at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With the loss of NHMS’ September NASCAR Cup Series event and that weekend’s conversion to a NASCAR tripleheader featuring the Whelen Modified Tour, there was concern that the ACT may not fit into a busy schedule. The scheduling of the Série ACT finale that weekend, coupled with Thunder Road’s Milk Bowl the following weekend, may hint that the Invitational is off the table. However, last year’s Invitational was only announced several weeks after the schedule reveal, so there may be a possibility of an all-star event in 2018.
While some details still remain to be ironed out, the American-Canadian Tour teams, drivers and fans can breathe easier with an itinerary for the season ahead. From April to mid-October, the 2018 season promises a busy schedule of competition for racers on both sides of the border.