Rich Dubeau may end up being the star that nobody saw coming. Yes, this column spent a little bit of time on him two weeks ago and even predicted a breakthrough, but his success still seems somewhat unlikely.
Dubeau comes from the eastern side of the Connecticut River Valley in Plainfield, New Hampshire, which, historically, is a disadvantage. While that area has always been a hotbed for stock car racing — on both paved and dirt tracks — there are precious few teams from the greater Lebanon/White River region that have been successful in the full-fender American-Canadian Tour Late Models.
Prior to Dubeau’s win at the tough-as-nails Autodrome Chaudière in Québec on Saturday, only three drivers from the Valley had won races — Mark Hayward, Dana Patten and Allen Whipple — combining for a grand total of just four victories in ACT’s 40-year footprint.
For Dubeau, who won a Late Model championship at Claremont Speedway in 2014 and a Super Street title at the now-closed Canaan Fair Speedway in 2011, his ACT victory should be about more than just personal accomplishment. It’s also about regional pride and about carrying the banner for the gritty, low-buck teams that usually don’t get a chance to shine.
Dubeau’s win is good for ACT, good for the under-recognized Claremont-Canaan-Monadnock bunch, and good for the “little guy” drivers like Dylan Payea, Christopher Pelkey, Stephen Donahue or Rowland Robinson, or for veteran Chip Grenier, or for any other hometown-type driver who scoops up some family members and volunteer help to take on the ACT schedule.
It took four hard years of grinding and bloody noses on the Tour for Dubeau to get to the point where he is now, and that point is being the ACT championship leader and the only driver to finish in the top-five in every race this year. He could very well keep running away, too, since he nearly won at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park last year, and that Connecticut venue just so happens to be the next stop for ACT.
It’s high time to stop playing dumb and embrace Rich Dubeau as a winner. He has arrived, and right now he deserves to be the center of every ACT fan’s attention.
Bear Ridge Speedway — Bradford
LAST WEEK: Hometown driver Kevin Chaffee swept both halves of Saturday’s DIRTcar Sportsman Modified doubleheader and Waitsfield’s Adam Whitney grabbed his first USAC Dirt Midget Association win in two years. Orford, N.H.’s Tanner Siemons and Bradford rookie Jeremy Hodge split the Sportsman Coupe features, while Barre’s John Neddo and Corinth’s George Osgood won the Limited Late Model races and East Corinth’s Buddy Welch won the lone Four Cylinder feature.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 6 p.m. with the Sprint Cars of New England and Granite State Mini Sprints joining the four weekly divisions, plus kids’ race car rides at intermission.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway — West Haven
LAST WEEK: Sunday’s races were rained out.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Sunday at 6 p.m., with a makeup event from the May 19 and June 2 rainouts.
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl — Barre
LAST WEEK: No racing.
THIS WEEK: The weekly summer schedule begins on Friday at 7 p.m. with all four weekly divisions including the opening race for the Myers Containers Flying Tiger Triple Crown Series. Kids’ race car rides start at 4 p.m.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway — Malta, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Marc Johnson won Friday’s DIRTcar Modified feature after passing Rocky Warner in the final corner. Justin Buff inherited the Sportsman Modified win after inspection.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Friday at 7 p.m.
LAST WEEK: Plainfield, N.H.’s Rich Dubeau was a first-time ACT winner in Saturday’s Claude Leclerc 150 at Autodrome Chaudière in Québec. Sunday’s Jean-Paul Cabana 125 at Circuit Ste-Croix Riverside Speedway was postponed by rain to Aug. 18.
NEXT: The ACT Late Model Tour is at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Connecticut on Saturday, June 15.
Claremont Speedway — Claremont, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Brian Robie won Friday’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sportsman Modified race, Aaron Fellows made it 4-for-4 in the Late Model Sportsman division, and Ascutney’s Chris Riendeau won the Street Stock feature.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Friday at 7 p.m. with five weekly divisions.
Fonda Speedway — Fonda, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Bobby Varin and Stewart Friesen won Saturday’s double Modified features, and Brian Calabrese topped the Sportsman Modifieds.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 7 p.m. with five weekly divisions and another double feature program for the Modifieds.
Glen Ridge Motorsports Park — Fultonville, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Rocky Warner won Sunday’s Crate Modified feature and Cory Sparks won the CRSA Sprint Cars race.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Sunday at 5 p.m. with Modifieds joining the eight weekly divisions.
Lebanon Valley Speedway — West Lebanon, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Chris Murphy and Jeff Meltz Sr. won Pure Stock features before rain cancelled the rest of the event.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 5 p.m. with the J.C. Flach Memorial event.
Monadnock Speedway — Winchester, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Joel Monahan won Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sportsman Modified feature. Vernon’s Solomon Brow took his second Late Model Sportsman win of the year and his fifth straight, including the final three races of 2018.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 6 p.m. with the Valenti Modified Racing Series joining the weekly divisions.
Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway — Plattsburgh, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Jessey Mueller won Saturday’s DIRTcar 358 Modified feature and 11-year-old Derrick McGrew Jr. won the Sportsman Modified race.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 6 p.m. with the Empire Super Sprints, the Quebec Lightning Sprints and four weekly divisions.
RumTown Speedway — Rumney, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Mark Cole won Saturday’s Wingless Sprint Car feature and Ricky Sanville topped the Sportsman Modifieds.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 4 p.m. with weekly divisions.
Speedway 51 – Groveton, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Swanton’s Kevin Boutin won Saturday’s Tiger Sportsman Triple Crown race, Lyndonville’s Dean Switser won the Street Stock feature, and East Montpelier’s Jesse Laquerre won the Daredevil race.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 6 p.m. with a Late Model special highlighting the card.
White Mountain Motorsports Park — North Woodstock, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Quinny Welch won Saturday’s Late Model feature and Barton’s Shane Sicard took his third consecutive Flying Tiger win. Kyle Hewins won the Street Stock Showdown Series race and Matt Kimball topped the Northeast Mini Stock Tour.
THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with weekly divisions and a $500-to-win special for the Strictly Stock Mini class.
Justin St. Louis is a motorsports journalist, publicist, broadcaster, historian and former driver. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Twitter: @Justin_StLouis