The Canadian component of the American-Canadian Tour’s familiar moniker will carry even more significance in 2023.
Tour officials confirmed through a press release on Saturday that, in cooperation with promotional partners in Quebec, the Série ACT will return to competition next year with a ten-race points championship.
After two seasons in which the Tour’s name served as a vestigial reminder of days past, next year will more closely resemble the ACT of old.
Upon its founding in 1986, the American-Canadian Tour’s name represented not only the plethora of competitive race tracks in Ontario, Quebec and the Canadian Maritimes, but the dedicated racers like Jean-Paul Cabana, Claude Leclerc and Roger Laperle who raced and won on both sides of the international border. The relative ease of crossing between the United States and Canada, coupled with solid sponsorship and healthy prize funds, kept the cross-border dynamic healthy through the end of ACT’s Pro Stock era in 1995.
Cross-border competition was less integral in the late 1990s, when ACT’s more cost-conscious Late Models took over as the sanction’s flagship platform. The Late Model platform still gained popularity north of the border, particularly in Quebec. In 2007, ACT assumed control of the two-year-old Série Nationale Castrol LMS Quebec, rechristening it the Série ACT and operating the touring organization for several years as an affiliate of the Vermont-based ACT Tour. While the Série ACT raced almost exclusively in Quebec, the ACT Tour sprinkled in races at Quebec tracks like Sanair Super Speedway in St.-Pie and Autodrome Chaudière in Vallée-Jonction.
Following the 2017 season, the ACT Tour and Série ACT announced harmonized schedules that would allow drivers to run nearly the entire slate of races under both sanctions. But in early 2018, ACT dissolved its partnership with the Série ACT. Former Série ACT director Marc Patrick Roy quickly reorganized to charter the Championnat de Stock-Car Canadien, with an eight-race schedule split between Autodrome Montmagny, Autodrome St.-Eustache, and the Grand Prix Trois-Rivières road course. The CSCC ran one season before its own dissolution.
ACT maintained its relationship with Autodrome Chaudière, with the track hosting the cross-border Bacon Bowl 200 in 2018 and 2019 as well as the ACT Tour’s Claude Leclerc 150, named in honor of the series’ still-active “Ironman.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, though, dealt a punishing blow to ACT’s Canadian connections. Quebec’s strict mitigation policies effectively shuttered stock car racing in the province for the 2020 season. Even if the tracks had been open, the closure of the international border to all but essential travel kept racers from making the trip either way.
Pandemic restrictions loosened in 2021, allowing racing to resume locally. But it was not until 2022 that ACT was able to schedule two Tour points races in Quebec, one at Chaudière and the other at Montmagny. Even then, lingering requirements for cross-border travelers limited how many American racers made the trips north, and Quebec racers Jonathan Bouvrette and Raphael Lessard won the two features.
Bouvrette was among a handful of Canadians who committed to the full ACT Tour schedule, but Alexendre “Fireball” Tardif was the only one to complete the feat, finishing second in points to DJ Shaw and scoring top rookie honors.
Chaudière promoter Andre Poulin and Montmagny director Howard Romanado will spearhead the new incarnation of the Série ACT, with the ten-race schedule equally divided between the two tracks. Chaudiere will open the schedule on May 13 and Montmagny will host the season finale on September 23, with the tracks alternating features back and forth through the summer. The ACT Tour’s two Canadian features, June’s Claude Leclerc 150 at Chaudiere and July’s CAN-AM 200 at Montmagny, are not part of the Série ACT points championship.
The selection of the two tracks may seem limiting, but there are few other viable options. Autodrome St.-Eustache, where Romanado previously served as director, closed after the 2019 season to make way for an easement for public utility company Hydro-Québec. Circuit Riverside Speedway Ste.-Croix, once an ACT staple, has shifted its focus away from oval racing, leaning into sports car events and drift shows. Autodrome St.-Félicien, a third-mile D-oval three hours north of Quebec City, remains active but has not hosted ACT since 2015. Sanair, home of veteran Jean-Paul Cabana’s performance driving school, has not been a spectator facility in years.
That leaves Chaudière and Montmagny, both with long-tenured ties to the ACT Tour and the Série ACT.
Saturday’s schedule release, about two weeks after the announcement of the ACT Tour itinerary, does have one direct conflict, with the June 3 Montmagny feature scheduled against the Tour’s Spring Green at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts. With the Tour’s press release touting the option for drivers to run ACT Tour races as well, time will tell if an adjustment is made to avoid forcing teams to choose a championship.
That said, Quebec’s base of Late Model drivers remains strong despite the pandemic’s impact. Thirty racers took the green flag in August’s CAN-AM 200 at Montmagny, with only three hailing from the United States. Even half of those competitors committing to a full Série ACT program would amount to a competitive championship battle.
With ACT coming off a banner year, and with Canadian competitors still solidly involved in the series in the States, doubling down on ACT’s Canadian ties is a strong move toward not only reinforcing ACT’s Canadian base, but welcoming more competitors back to cross-border touring competition.
|May 13||Autodrome Chaudière||Vallée-Jonction, QC||TBD|
|May 27||Autodrome Chaudière||Vallée-Jonction, QC||TBD|
|June 3||Autodrome Montmagny||Montmagny, QC||TBD|
|June 17||Autodrome Montmagny||Montmagny, QC||TBD|
|June 24*||Autodrome Chaudière||Vallée-Jonction, QC||150|
|July 1||Autodrome Montmagny||Montmagny, QC||TBD|
|July 15||Autodrome Chaudière||Vallée-Jonction, QC||TBD|
|July 22*||Autodrome Montmagny||Montmagny, QC||200|
|August 12||Autodrome Chaudière||Vallée-Jonction, QC||TBD|
|August 19||Autodrome Montmagny||Montmagny, QC||TBD|
|September 9||Autodrome Chaudière||Vallée-Jonction, QC||TBD|
|September 23||Autodrome Montmagny||Montmagny, QC||TBD|