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REDLINE Performance Engines addresses ACT Northeast Classic controversy

The engine builder mired in controversy this week shared its side of the story Saturday, pledging to move forward and seek reinstatement in ACT’s Approved Engine Builder program.

Maine Super Late Model racer Scott Robbins brings his car to the pits during last fall's PASS 400 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Robbins' brother Spencer operates REDLINE Performance Engines, the engine builder caught up in controversy after Sunday's American-Canadian Tour Northeast Classic. (STS/Jeff Brown)

The recently-disbarred builder of Jesse Switser’s disqualified engine from last week’s American-Canadian Tour Northeast Classic has issued a public statement about the sanctions handed down.

REDLINE Performance Engines’ Spencer Robbins took accountability for the situation in a Facebook post shared Saturday.

Switser took the checkered flag in last Sunday’s ACT Late Model Tour lidlifter, but the victory was rescinded on Thursday after the results of an off-site engine inspection of three of the top five finishers. ACT cited “multiple infractions” on Switser’s crate engine, relegating the 2023 Midsummer Classic 250 winner to last place in the field.

Jesse Switser celebrates what he believed was his second ACT Tour triumph in last Sunday’s Northeast Classic. The Lyndonville, Vt. driver was disqualified a few days later, but the most stunning sanctions were delivered to his engine builder. (STS/Jeff Brown)

However, ACT took the additional measure of levying sanctions against REDLINE, one of ten engine builders in the United States and Canada approved to maintain and seal crate engines for ACT competition. REDLINE was delisted from the program, with the opportunity to apply for reinstatement in April 2025.

Robbins, who owns the Hallowell, Me. engine shop, shared the following post to Facebook Saturday evening:

“Earlier this week, after a technical inspection of an engine that we had sealed, the ACT Tour made the decision to suspend REDLINE Performance Engines as an approved engine builder for the next calendar year. ACT Tour management contacted us with their findings, and frankly had no choice.

“How did this happen? This particular engine was not our build, but we did seal it 4 years ago for a prior owner. There were some parts that were out of stock that we SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT, and we often do catch, but this one got by us. We offer no excuse, but it was a simple oversight that caused a serious infraction.

“We apologize to the Switzer Race Team as they were completely unaware of what was inside this engine when they purchased it. They were simply victims of our mistake. Their professionalism during this situation is a testament to their class, and we will make sure they have a legal engine for their next race.

“We would also like to apologize to the ACT Tour management and staff for putting them in this position. We understand that their engine program is a cornerstone of fair competition, and appreciate the lengths they go to in order to provide a level playing field.

“To our customers, we understand that this event has caused questions and concerns. Our already sealed engines are still legal to run. We can no longer seal any additional engines for the next calendar year. REDLINE can and WILL reapply to be reinstated to ACT’s list of approved engine builders.

“We understand this event gives us a black eye, is embarrassing to the ACT Tour and Switzer Race Team, and leaves our other ACT customers perhaps a little concerned. Despite our 25+ years experience and hundreds of previous inspections and tear-downs, there is nothing we can do to undo this mistake. All we can do is learn from it and move on. We sincerely appreciate the outpouring of support from our customers and we are committed to moving on with some internal adjustments to ensure that this never happens again.”

Neither REDLINE nor ACT has confirmed which components were not in compliance.

Robbins’ release clears up a significant concern that went unaddressed in ACT’s own press release earlier this week, as to the fate of REDLINE powerplants already in the field. Star Speedway, one of the tracks that utilizes ACT’s rulebook for its weekly Late Model program, posted Friday on Facebook that sealed REDLINE engines would be legal, but teams could be held accountable if a further teardown revealed parts that were not in compliance.

The other two engines inspected this week were from other ACT-approved engine builders. Second-place finisher Derek Gluchacki, who inherited the victory, has his engines maintained by Nat’s Racing Engines in Massachusetts. Brian Hoar has a long-standing relationship with RPM Racing Engines in Vermont; owner Rick Paya fielded Hoar’s cars prior to his 2015 retirement, and is planning to serve as crew chief for Hoar’s daughter Taylor as she moves to Late Models this year.

REDLINE, an established crate engine supplier in both ACT and Pro All Stars Series competition, has no recent history of running afoul of the rules in either series. Indeed, the engine builder swept the 2021 Northeast Classic ACT and PASS features with Jimmy Hebert and Johnny Clark, respectively. Both Robbins’ and Switser’s stories suggest that this is an isolated case.

Whether it becomes a running story through the season remains to be seen.

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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