After months of anticipation, a fourth Granite State speedway has finally changed hands. Monadnock Speedway owners Larry Cirillo and Fred Pafumi and Lee USA Speedway owner Norman Wrenn, Jr. announced this month that Wrenn had at last completed the purchase of the western New Hampshire track. The news confirmed what one release deemed one of regional racing’s worst-kept secrets.
Monadnock Speedway, a distinctively-shaped high-banked quarter-mile, sits in the town of Winchester, roughly ten miles from the city of Keene and about the same distance from the borders of Vermont and Massachusetts. Since the 1970s, Monadnock has played host to some of the region’s top touring racing, including the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA), the International Supermodified Association (ISMA), and NASCAR’s Busch North Series and Whelen Modified Tour. An active weekly racing program also features mud bog events throughout the year.
Word of Monadnock’s sale first broke this summer, when a local paper claimed that Wrenn was in the process of acquiring the track. Wrenn responded, confirming he was in the process of purchasing Monadnock but could not make any official announcements until the end of the season. In the track’s official release, Wrenn elaborated that an agreement was in the works in April, but all parties opted to wait until season’s end to make the change, rather than delay the start of the 2018 season.
Wrenn, a Nashua, N.H. businessman, added track ownership to his racing résumé earlier this year. The former Pro Stock and Modified driver purchased Lee USA Speedway in the offseason from the retiring Red and Judy MacDonald, taking control of the speedway in time for the season opener. Under Wrenn’s ownership, the track underwent minor renovations while keeping the racing program unchanged for the season.
A similar approach is planned for Monadnock, with Wrenn retaining longtime track manager Michelle Cloutier, who will serve as operations manager for Monadnock going forward. Wrenn’s son, Norman III, will be involved as well. The Wrenns have moved ahead with replacing the track’s bleachers, with new grandstands to be in place for May’s season-opening weekend.
Monadnock’s weekly racing card, like that of Lee, will remain part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Wrenn’s tracks are the only two short tracks in the state presently sanctioned by NASCAR. Lee’s Friday-night weekly program will not conflict with Monadnock’s Saturday features.
While the schedule for 2019 has not been finalized yet, some touring events have been confirmed by the individual series’ schedules. The track’s opener in May will feature the Valenti Modified Racing Series. The Granite State Pro Stock Series will return in 2019 with the annual JBH 100 in August, and the Tri-Track Open Modified Series is scheduled for a mid-September 100-lap feature. Feature events for NEMA and ISMA are anticipated as well, among others.
By virtue of Wrenn’s ownership, Monadnock is also a member of the newly-formed New Hampshire Short Track Racing Association. The cooperative effort is finalizing a common rulebook to be shared by weekly classes at its five member tracks, including Monadnock, Lee, Star, Hudson and Claremont Speedways.
With the closing of Massachusetts’ Riverside Park Speedway in 1999, and Vermont’s Devil’s Bowl Speedway returning to dirt last year, competitors and fans alike in the western reaches of New England have relied on Monadnock Speedway to satisfy their cravings for racing on pavement. With the Wrenn family’s involvement, Monadnock Speedway can continue to serve the region well for the future.