This past Sunday, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway hosted what could have been the track’s final “NASCAR Nite” program in history. The lineup included all 3 NASCAR Nite divisions and was headlined by a final $5,000 to win Pro Series race.
30 drivers showed up to compete in the 100 lap main event, which is nearly triple the turnout of a typical Saturday night race in the division.
The competition kicked off with three 12 lap heat races. Former BRMS track champion, Curt Gerry, pulled ahead with the early lead in the first qualifying heat.
Rusty Poland, in a borrowed #90 machine from Derek Kneeland, was also on the move early. He was all over Barry Poulin’s back bumper on lap 5, hungry for a spot on the podium. Poland pulled to his door the following lap, quickly taking over the position.
Curt Gerry continued to hold off his competitors in the closing laps, scoring the heat victory. Joey Doiron and Rusty Poland rounded out the top 3.
Nick Reno and Ryan Littlefield tangled on the initial lap of the second qualifying heat, resulting in an early race caution.
Joe Pastore pulled ahead with the advantage on the restart. Matt Dow, trying his hand in Nick Cusack’s Super Late Model, nearly lost control on the backstretch on lap 1. Dow managed to hold onto it, but ultimately fell to the back of the pack.
Travis Buzzell made his way to Jamie Wright’s outside door on lap 5, challenging for the runner-up spot. Buzzell took over the position two laps later as Glen Luce followed in succession.
Glen Luce came to life in the closing laps, igniting a battle for the runner-up spot with Travis Buzzell on lap 8. Luce took over the following lap and began tracking down his son-in-law, Joe Pastore, for the top spot.
Pastore was able to fend off Luce to the finish, picking up the heat victory. Travis Buzzell rounded out the top 3.
The initial start of the third and final qualifying heat was called off by race control. Once the field got rolling, Evan Beaulieu took off with the lead while Brandon Barker filed in behind him.
Wyatt Alexander was maneuvering through the field early, advancing to third over Josh Childs on lap 2.
Brandon Barker was all over Evan Beaulieu’s back bumper at the mid-point of the race, hungry for the top spot. Wyatt Alexander pulled up to them on lap 10, joining the battle with just two laps to go.
Barker pulled ahead with sole possession of the lead on lap 10, leaving Wyatt Alexander and Evan Beaulieu battling it out for the runner-up spot. The competition was so heated in the closing laps that Brandon Barker came to a spin at the finish line.
Following the wild finish, Beaulieu was deemed the heat race winner as Wyatt Alexander and Brandon Barker rounded out the top 3.
The final event was special, as all Pro Series competitors were able to participate in out of car introductions on the front stretch prior to the start of the race.
Curt Gerry hopped out to the early lead in the 100 lap feature. Drivers were three wide for the runner-up spot early, with Joe Pastore ultimately holding onto the spot.
After facing some heavy tire rub in the opening laps of the race, Evan Beaulieu dropped to fifth on lap 5. His friend and competitor, Wyatt Alexander, was on the move early, overtaking Joey Doiron for the runner-up spot on lap 8.
Max Rowe took a spin on lap 11 in turn 2, resulting in an early race caution.
Drivers were 3-wide for the top spot on the restart, with Joey Doiron taking over as Curt Gerry descended back to third behind Wyatt Alexander. Gerry wasn’t giving up without a fight, pulling to Alexander’s door on lap 15 and reigniting the battle for the position. After battling it out for over a dozen laps, Alexander pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 29.
Jamie Wright went around on lap 30 in turn 1, leading to another caution. Following the drop of the green flag, Dave Oliver and others went for spins in turn 3. This led to another quick yellow.
Joey Doiron pulled ahead with the advantage on the restart, leaving Wyatt Alexander and Curt Gerry battling it out for the runner-up spot. Alexander was able to fend him off once again and quickly began tracking down Joey Doiron for the top spot.
The leaders began to approach heavy lap traffic on lap 48, but trouble was brewing right in front of the leaders as Josh Childs took a spin on lap 49. This resulted in a mid-race caution.
Joey Doiron held the advantage on the restart, but Jeremy Davis took a spin in turn 2, leading to another caution.
Doiron held his line on the restart as Curt Gerry made his way back under Wyatt Alexander, challenging for the runner-up spot. Meanwhile, Brandon Barker and Corey Bubar spearheaded a head to head battle for fourth behind them.
Justin Larsen took a spin in turn 2 shortly after the restart, which brought the leaders back together once again.
Joey Doiron and Wyatt Alexander broke free on the restart, leaving Brandon Barker and Curt Gerry battling it out for position behind them. Gerry won the battle and dove to Alexander’s inside door, challenging for the runner-up spot yet again.
The leaders began approaching lap traffic again on lap 72. The competition slowed down once more on lap 76 as Dalton Gagnon spun in turn 4, making hard contact with the wall.
Joey Doiron maintained his advantage on the restart, pulling away from Wyatt Alexander. Corey Bubar also began to come to life in the closing laps of the race, overtaking third from Curt Gerry on lap 83.
Wyatt Alexander reeled in Joey Doiron by lap 84, making his way to Doiron’s outside door to challenge for the top spot. The battle surprisingly didn’t last long as Alexander took off with the advantage the following lap.
Ivan Kaffel took a spin on lap 85 in turn 2, resulting in a late race caution. After strong showings all day from both drivers, Evan Beaulieu and Glen Luce both took spins on the restart. This led to another quick caution.
Wyatt Alexander pulled ahead with the advantage on the restart and never looked back, capturing the feature victory. The win was special for Wyatt and the WAR team for many reasons.
First of all, Wyatt Alexander ran a special #51 paint scheme on Sunday, honoring the Walker family, namely Dan Walker and Jeff Walker. Dan has worked at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway for nearly his entire life. He has selflessly devoted his time to the track in a handful of different positions and most recently as the pit steward. He also raced at the track for years, with #51 being the number of his first racecar. Jeff followed in his father’s footsteps, racing (and winning) in the Beetle Bugs division on Thursday nights. Jeff’s son and Dan’s grandson, Ethan, has recently dipped his feet into the racing pool by competing weekly at Bartlett Bridge Raceway in a go-kart.
Gail Peters was also in attendance on Sunday, cheering on Wyatt and his team. Gail is the loving wife of the late Greg Peters, who was a mentor and a friend to many, including Wyatt Alexander. John Peters, Greg’s son, is also Wyatt’s best friend. It was bittersweet watching Gail and Wyatt share a hug on the front stretch of the track following his momentous victory.
Joey Doiron, Corey Bubar, Curt Gerry and Brandon Barker rounded out the top five.
Following the conclusion of the night’s events, “Happy Half Hour” lasted a bit longer than usual, giving both fans and drivers the opportunity to soak everything in.
Some fans (like myself) took this time to walk the track and share hugs and memories with members of the racing family. Others took this time to take home small pieces of the track, like loose rubber and cracked pieces of the track surface. Some fans sat by themselves in the stands, practicing self-reflection and reminiscing about their favorite memories at the track.
Some drivers elected to burn out upon leaving the track, leaving their mark in a big and bold way.
Everyone soaked in the moment in their own way. Although it was sad for all of us at the end of the day, it was undoubtedly a beautiful experience.
If you’d like to share your thoughts on how we can save the track, please join the Save Beech Ridge Speedway group on Facebook. We are all in this together.
Continue chasing the checkered and support our local short tracks. This is more important now than it ever has been before.
#weareBRMS and I love you all.
Until next time…
Cover photo credit: Jamie Williams – Finish Line Photography