As of press time, five drivers from la belle province have filed full-season ACT entries, with several others stating they will attend some events this year. The large Quebec presence was hinted at in March when eight such racers made their way to Virginia’s Richmond Raceway for the Commonwealth Classic 65. Early indications are that this presence will continue throughout the season.
Blainville, QC’s Jonathan Bouvrette is one of the clear favorites to lead the Canadian charge. Bouvrette won the final Série ACT championship in 2017 before the series was discontinued and has regularly appeared at U.S. events in recent years. With five ACT-sanctioned wins, including the Bacon Bowl 200 at Vallée-Jct., QC’s Autodrome Chaudiere, he is ready to try his hand at the full ACT Late Model Tour championship slate.
“I’ve wanted to run the full ACT U.S. schedule for a couple of years,” Bouvrette said. “I think this year is the right timing for it. We have more experience now, and in Quebec, there is currently no touring championship. I sincerely think that Quebec needs a touring championship presented by ACT and I think this is the best way to make our name.”
Bouvrette isn’t the only former Série ACT Champion planning a run on the ACT Late Model Tour this season. Québec City’s Jean-François Déry, the 2013 champion in Canada, has also registered for the full season. Déry earned nine wins in Série ACT competition and has posted several podium finishes in U.S. events. Most recently, he finished third in the 2018 finale at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway.
Furthermore, the ACT Late Model Tour will once again enjoy the presence of Lanoraie, QC’s Claude Leclerc in 2019. “The Ironman” has been with ACT since its founding and ran the full U.S. schedule last year. Not only that, but Leclerc finished seventh in points at age 77, showing he is still competitive behind the wheel.
Two up-and-coming drivers have also submitted their ACT entries and will be teammates to more established racers. Blainville, QC’s Mathiew Kingsbury, a teammate to Bouvrette, will join him for the 2019 campaign. Kingsbury finished 10th in Série ACT points in 2017 and fifth in Canadian Stock Car Championship (CSCC) points for 2018.
Terrebonne’s Jean-Philippe Bergeron is also joining the ACT Late Model Tour. Bergeron was the top CSCC rookie this past season and finished sixth in the final standings. Leclerc served as Bergeron’s team leader at Richmond Raceway and will provide guidance to the team throughout the season.
All five drivers will be competing against the best ACT Late Model drivers the U.S. has to offer. Many are also visiting new tracks. While they are sure to be favorites in the $5,000-to-win Claude Leclerc 150 at Autodrome Chaudiere on June 1, some will have to work to find speed at tracks such as Thompson Speedway, New Hampshire’s Star Speedway, and Vermont’s Thunder Road Speedbowl.
“I personally think we will get better by competing against the best,” Bouvrette said. “ACT is really competitive, and the tracks this year are ones we don’t visit often. It’s a huge challenge coming for us because we want to fight for the championship. In particular, I’m really interested in Thompson, because it is a pretty fast track and I’ve never tried it.”
The top American and Canadian ACT racers head to Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday, April 28 at 1:30pm for the ACT Late Model Tour season opener. The Oxford 150 is part of a doubleheader with the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Models that also features the PASS Modifieds, Honey Badger Street Stock Series, and North East Mini Stock Tour. The pits open at 8:00am and the grandstands open at 10:00am. Admission is $25 for adults, $12 for kids ages 6-12, and $60 for a family of four (two adults, two kids).