The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) has announced the winners of the year-end contingency programs for the inaugural New England Late Model Challenge Cup. Awards from Port City Racecars, Five Star Race Car Bodies, and ARBodies came on top of the $17,300 in point fund money that has been distributed to the top-10 finishers.
Barre, VT’s Jason Corliss received the lion’s share of the point fund, pocketing $5,000 for capturing the first-ever Challenge Cup championship. Corliss and his Burnett Motorsports team had a season to remember at Vermont’s Thunder Road, winning their third straight “King of the Road” title. Their five point-counting feature victories was the most ever in the Late Model class at the track.
However, Norton, MA’s Mark Hudson was nearly as big a winner as Corliss. The Southern New England veteran was chosen to receive a new Port City Racecars ACT Late Model chassis posted by the North Carolina-based manufacturer.
Hudson’s name was selected from the 25 registered drivers who made at least 10 Challenge Cup-eligible starts. He did far more than that in 2021, running 35 Challenge Cup events across the region. In addition to competing weekly at Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway, Hudson also made regular visits to Lee USA Speedway, Hudson International Speedway, and Claremont Motorsports Park. Although Hudson only finished 16th in final points under the “Pick 10” format, his tenacity and spirit make him a perfect recipient of the new Port City chassis.
Graniteville, VT’s Christopher Pelkey and East Providence, RI’s Gerry DeGasparre Jr. were also Challenge Cup contingency award winners. Pelkey, the seventh-place finisher in final points, will take home a $500 Five Star Race Car Bodies merchandise certificate along with his point-fund money. Meanwhile, eighth-place Challenge Cup racer DeGasparre is pocketing a $500 certificate from ARBodies. These certificates were randomly awarded among top-10 point drivers who ran the specific body manufacturer during the 2021 season.
Pelkey had a breakout season at Thunder Road, copping three wins and leading the weekly points for several weeks before coming second overall at the track. DeGasparre is a multi-time Seekonk Speedway champion who led the Challenge Cup standings for several weeks. He was the only Southern New England driver to finish in the Challenge Cup top-10.
The rest of the top Challenge Cup finishers also received point fund checks. Gilman, VT’s Jeff Marshall ended up second in the Challenge Cup standings while competing at New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park. From July through September, Marshall was arguably the best weekly Late Model driver in the region. He won three features in that span and posted a Challenge Cup score of 40 points or more five times. That three-month hot streak helped him beat out Jimmy Renfrew Jr. and Quinny Welch for the White Mountain track championship.
Third place in the Challenge Cup went to Raymond, NH’s Alby Ovitt. The veteran was the only driver in the top-10 not to run the full season at a participating track. But what Ovitt lacked in quantity, he made up for in quality, scoring 40 points or more 6 times in 12 starts at White Mountain Motorsports Park. Ovitt also traveled to Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the World Series of Speedway Racing, earning points that jumped him three spots in the final Challenge Cup rundown.
Candia, NH’s Renfrew and Groveton, NH’s Welch completed the Challenge Cup top-five after finishing second and third in the White Mountain weekly standings. Both put together wins and podium finishes all season long, staying in the hunt until the very end. They were buoyed by consistently large White Mountain car counts, opening the door for high scores every week.
Sixth overall went to Graniteville, VT’s Stephen Donahue, who ran the full season at Thunder Road while also making select starts at White Mountain. Donahue replaced his dad John in the family car for the final three White Mountain events, and all three events ended up being part of his “Pick 10”.
Montpelier, VT’s Kyle Pembroke was the ninth-place Challenge Cup finisher. Pembroke’s “hot-and-cold” season prevented a serious run at the Thunder Road title, but his two wins and five outings of 40-plus points played right into the Challenge Cup format. Pembroke, along with Lisbon, CT’s Charles Bailey III, also won two free Hoosier Racing tires before the season began.
Danville, VT’s Tyler Cahoon rounded out the top-10. Cahoon used a similar approach to Donahue, combining a full Thunder Road season with select White Mountain appearances to edge out Marcel J. Gravel by 4 points and his dad Stacy by 12 points. A total of 25 registered drivers made at least 10 Challenge Cup-eligible starts in 2021.
More information will be announced over the winter regarding the 2022 New England Late Model Challenge Cup. Please visit www.acttour.com/nelmcc for updates.