This past weekend might have been the busiest one of the auto racing season for area drivers. While many found success, others met frustration and even injury in their efforts.
Bobby Melvin of Groton spent the winter and part of this race season putting together a new car for himself to compete at the Lee (N.H.) USA Speedway. His first outing was so successful, that Melvin had high hopes of winning his second time out.
Instead it took him a few weeks to make his first return to victory lane in two years, which happened on Friday night. Melvin started third, but with some of the best Late Model Sportsman competition right there with him for the 25-lap event, but he took the lead around the halfway point and never looked back.
"This week we went back with a completely different setup than what we've been running," Melvin reasoned. "We wanted to try something different. The car seemed to turn a little bit better. I just tuned on it a little bit and I guess luck was on our side."
Melvin will get this Friday off, as the ISMA Supermodifieds replace them on the Friday schedule for one week at Lee. Ed Witkum Jr., from Westford was very much looking to compete in that race, but a scary crash in a Small Block Supermodified on Friday might keep him from competing.
Witkum suffered a compression fracture in his back from the incident, which ripped the wing off his car by the flag stand, and his car finally coming to a rest in turn one.
Another big winner this past weekend was Jen Lord from Lowell, who won her first race of the season on Sunday night at Hudson (N.H.) in a highly competitive Roadrunners feature event. Lord had a car, set up by her family that was handling perfectly, and it allowed her to win the race perhaps without the fastest, but the best handling car.
Sunday was double features night at Hudson, and with one of the largest crowds of the season on hand and no heat races, the racing was a first rate four hours of entertainment. Lord also finished second in the first feature event. Nick Dombroski finished third and second respectively with his Lowell car, while Bob Williams of Dracut took third in the nightcap.
The B & L Used Auto parts of Lowell Thunder Lights also had two feature races, and Mikayla Lord followed up last week's feature win with second and third place finishes. Her second place in the opener was a photo finish at the line.
Geoff Rollins of Groton arrived late to Hudson after running an afternoon race in Claremont, N.H., and he made it pay off with a third place finish in the Outlaw Late Model finale. Roger Tanguay of Lowell also recorded a third place finish on Sunday in the first Rookie Stock feature event.
Bill Helliwell had the fastest car in the Rookie Stock nightcap, but a caution-free race forced him to settle for a second place finish as the Pelham, N.H. driver was closing on the race leader when the checkers were waved. Wayne Helliwell Jr., finished third in the ACT Tour race in Canada, recovering from a heat race penalty that forced him to start at the rear of the field.
Barry Gray of Belchertown was the winner of the 100-lap Granite State Pro Stock series event at NH's Monadnock Speedway. Derek Griffith of Hudson advanced to fourth place before a broken valve spring in his motor forced him out of the race on lap 30.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series was in Maine with Steve Masse from Belllingham scoring the win in that 100-lap main. Louie Mechalides of Tyngsboro finished highest among the locals with a seventh place finish. Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford finished tenth, with Nashua's Norm Wrenn in 11th place.