Consequences are piling up for Modified racer Sam Rameau.
Rameau and his team were at the center of controversy Sunday evening at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, when they were involved in an infield brawl in the waning laps of the weekend’s Sunoco World Series.
Drama unfolding at the front of the Outlaw Open Modified Feature, as George Bessette Jr and Sam Rameau get together with less than 20 to go at Thompson.— Racing America (@RacingAmerica) October 9, 2023
Buy the PPV and watch the finish live: https://t.co/adP0a0DvHv pic.twitter.com/TGHAcZaAxC
And in the wake of the conflagration, sanctioning organizations are washing their hands of the Westminster, Mass. racer.
The American-Canadian Tour and Pro All Stars Series, the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series, the Race of Champions Series, JDV Productions and others issued statements on Wednesday indefinitely suspending Rameau, his father Randy, and the Rameau Family Motorsports team from participating in their events. And on Friday, NASCAR followed their lead, issuing their own suspension.
And after Friday’s announcement, where the Rameaus are able to race in New England is a very short list.
Sunday’s altercation occurred in the final circuits of the Outlaw Open Modified Series Sunoco 100, the seventh of ten feature races for the day’s program. Rameau had just wrested the lead from Keith Rocco, but quickly came under fire for the top spot. On lap 85, George Bessette, Jr. made a play for the lead, but the two racers made contact entering turn three. Bessette vaulted over Rameau’s front end as Rameau was stuffed into the turn three wall.
Bessette was able to soldier on, while Rameau expressed his displeasure from alongside his mangled car. As the field gridded for the restart, Bessette’s car stalled on the frontstretch, necessitating a push to the infield.
Videos shared on social media this week show Rameau and his team awaiting Bessette’s arrival, dragging Bessette from the car and erupting into a physical confrontation. One crewmember can be seen attacking another with a helmet.
Bessette and a track official reportedly received medical attention after the brawl. A police presence near the Rameau team’s hauler was evident following the race, but as of Friday no arrests or charges had been publicly disclosed.
Sanctioning bodies and track operators, on the other hand, were quick to render judgment.
ACT and PASS, co-promoters of Thompson Speedway’s oval-track operations since 2020, were the first to issue a suspension to the Rameaus, publishing a terse release on Wednesday morning.
“Due to the violent actions by you and your team on Sunday, October 8, 2023,” the release read, “you and your entire team have been permanently suspended from any events by ACT and all connected or sanctioned tracks, PASS Racing and all connected or sanctioned tracks, and Thompson Speedway.
“This type of behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
In addition to its namesake touring series, ACT and managing partner Cris Michaud operate Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt. and White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H. PASS and owner Tom Mayberry sanction competition at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway.
The Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series, an all-star Tour-type Modified series that races at Thunder Road as well as Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway and New London-Waterford Speedbowl, was next to announce a suspension. The series confirmed plans this week to make its Thompson debut as part of next April’s Icebreaker.
The New York-based Race of Champions Series followed suit, issuing its own indefinite suspension to Rameau and his team.
Ben Bosowski, the owner of New Hampshire ovals Lee USA Speedway and Hudson Speedway and a part owner of Claremont Motorsports Park, suspended Rameau from events at his tracks as well.
“After careful review of the events that transpired at Thompson Speedway during the World Series we feel as if allowing Sam Rameau, Randy Rameau, and team to compete at our facilities would be condoning the horrible actions of his team,” Bosowski’s statement reads in part.
Lee hosted the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in May 2023, a race in which Rameau finished fourth. Claremont was scheduled for a July date but the event was canceled after a rainout.
JDV Productions, promoter of the Lee and Claremont events for the last two seasons, recently announced a lease arrangement with Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. next year. Rameau scored top-six finishes in both NWMT dates at the track in 2023, but he will not be welcome at the facility in 2024.
“JDV Productions and Monadnock Speedway stand in solidarity with Cris Michaud, Tom Mayberry, and the other tracks and series who view this behavior as unacceptable and will not tolerate it,” read the promoter’s statement.
Though NASCAR no longer sanctions racing at Thompson Speedway, the organization was present for the evening’s NWMT World Series 150, in which Rameau finished 21st in his fifth series start of the season. NASCAR notably suspended Tour driver J.B. Fortin earlier this year for his team’s involvement in a pit fight at Wall Stadium Speedway, a suspension that has since been rescinded.
NASCAR made its own announcement on Friday, suspending Rameau for conduct detrimental to the sport. Unlike Fortin’s suspension, in which anger-management training and fines were explicitly defined, NASCAR did not publicly outline any provisions for a return to competition.
This is not the Rameau family’s first brush with controversy. In 2018, Rameau was leading the Modified Racing Series points standings when a crew member allegedly attacked an official following a crash in the season’s penultimate race. Rameau was suspended prior to the season finale, and all points he had earned for the season were revoked.
Rameau and his team have been under fire for similar conduct concerns in other series as well.
And while suspensions for poor behavior are nothing new, the cascade of suspensions levied upon Rameau is unprecedented.
Indeed, past driver suspensions have generally not extended beyond the events of one track or sanctioning body, allowing a driver to race elsewhere and perform some measure of on-track atonement to earn reinstatement.
That path to atonement appears to be closed to Rameau.
After all, the Modified Racing Series, the organization that suspended Rameau in 2018, is the only major Modified option in the Northeast not to issue a statement yet. Even if they do not take action, a number of dates on a prospective 2024 schedule are likely to be unwelcome tracks for the racer and his team.
Rameau’s only option in 2024 may be road-tripping.
Either way, for the racer and his father and team, a period of reflection lies ahead.