Spectators, fans, teams and drivers traveled from New England and beyond this past weekend for the first inaugural Commonwealth Classic, a full-weekend racing event at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia.


The weekend started out with a full day of practice on Friday, followed by a jam-packed day of practice, qualifying and feature races on Saturday, an event that started during the daytime and concluded under the lights.


Fans who purchased a ticket for the event were allowed full access to the track and garage area throughout the weekend, allowing them to interact and get up close & personal with local short track superstars from New England and beyond.


6 different divisions hit to the track for qualifying on Saturday, followed by their feature races. Divisions featured were the 4-cylinders, the American Canadian Tour, Street Stocks, Modified’s and the Pro All Star Series. The Pro All Star Series competition was split into 2 events due to the difference in motors. PASS fans got the best of both worlds, a 75-lap crate motor main feature and a 75-lap PASS Open main feature.


The 4-cylinder division kicked off the feature races with their 25-lap race. After 2 early-race cautions, Nick Maniatis (who won the New England Short Track Showdown in 2018) took over the lead on lap 6 after a 3-wide battle for the top spot. 


After dominating the early laps of the race, Maniatis’ car began to smoke on lap 12, beginning to slow.


The #50 of Matt Kimball pulled to the lead the following lap as Maniatis fell back to fifth place.


Photo Credit: Richmond Raceway

The #88 of Emerson Cayer, who is no stranger to winning races on the North East Mini Stock Tour, slowly began catching up to Kimball in the final stretch of the race.


Cayer pulled to Kimball’s inside with just 3 laps to go, making a late-race pass for the lead.


Cayer wound up taking home the big win, followed by Matt Kimball, Shane Canipe, Nick Maniatis and Maine’s own Zach Audet, who put on a strong performance throughout the weekend.


The American Canadian Tour hit the track next with their 65-lap main event. The #40 of Nick Sweet took to the early lead as New Hampshire’s Joey Pole quickly advanced into the runner-up spot.


The first caution of the feature was brought out by Bryan Kruczek, who took a solo spin in turn 4.


Joey Pole advanced to the lead on the restart, taking off like a rocket. Meanwhile, the #5vt of Bobby Therrien was on the move, stealing away the runner-up spot from Sweet just a handful of laps later.


Wayne Helliwell, Jr. was on a mission mid-race, going from fifth place to the runner-up spot in one single lap. He began to pedal down, slowly reeling in Joey Pole as the laps wound down.


Two consecutive cautions on lap 40 slowed the competition. After becoming involved in the second incident, Stephen Donahue came to a stop on the front stretch, clearly disheveled from the impact. Emergency crews came to the scene and thankfully, Donahue was able to walk away under his own power.


Photo Credit: Joey Polewarczyk Facebook

Helliwell and Joey Pole were neck-and-neck on the restart, but Pole managed to pull away with the lead once again, leaving Helliwell and Sweet to battle it out for the runner-up spot behind him.


After losing the battle to Sweet, Helliwell was once again on the move, crawling back up to the runner-up spot with just 10 laps to go.


Helliwell gave it his all in the closing laps, but Joey Pole was able to pick up the victory. Rich Dubeau, Nick Sweet and Jake Johnson rounded out the top five. This made it a 1-2-3 finish for drivers based out of New Hampshire, putting on a great show for the New England fans.


The Street Stock division showed up in numbers, with 36 cars pulling onto the track for their main feature after a handful of rounds of qualifying.


2019 Lee USA Speedway Street Stock champion, Alby Ovitt, started the race back in third place after a solid qualifying effort.


Photo Credit: Pro All Star Series (Norm Marx)

 The field was spread out for the majority of the race until lap traffic allowed the leaders to bunch back up, making for some exciting late-race action. This included a near-collision late race between Alby Ovitt and the #30 of Jason “J-Mac” McDowell, a South Carolina native.


Alby gave it his all, but McDowell took home the victory, followed by Ovitt and Ricky Locklair, Sr., who also hails from South Carolina.


Fans from New England got to see many familiar faces in the 75-lap Pro All Star Series crate motor feature, like Gabe Brown, Ray Christian III, Reid Lanpher, Garrett Hall, Dan McKeage and more.


Christian took off with the early lead, pulling away from his competitors in the early laps.


Scarborough, Maine native, Garrett Hall, faced trouble in the early stage of the race, blowing a right rear tire on lap 10. This brought out the first caution of the feature.


Jake Johnson was on the move on the restart, stealing away the runner-up spot from Quebec driver, Martin Latulippe.


Mike Hopkins, who is no stranger to winning in the Northeast, was on the move in the early stage of the race, climbing up to third on lap 17.


Reid Lanpher had an uncharacteristically rough weekend from the get-go, being forced into a backup car after mechanical issues during final practice on Saturday. His struggles continued during the main feature, as he faced more mechanical issues on lap 25. 


Lanpher’s tough luck brought more tough luck to the #94 of Garrett Hall, who was collected in the aftermath in turn 4.


By lap 40, Ray Christian III and Mike Hopkins were setting a blistering pace at the front of the field, breaking away from the pack. A competition caution was brought out that lap, bringing the field back together.


Photo Credit: Richmond Raceway

 Christian pulled away on the restart once again, but fell off the pace on lap 63 after facing mechanical troubles. After dominating the leader board all day, this was a heartbreaking moment for the #93 team.


Christian’s late-race troubles changed the game completely, leaving Hopkins now at the top of the leader board.


Hopkins took home the victory, followed by Jake Johnson, Matt Craig, Martin Latulippe and Gabe Brown, who barely edged out Ben Rowe for the fifth place finish on the very last lap of competition.


Next up was the 75-lap Modified feature under the lights, where Pennsylvania’s Matt Hirschmann took off with the early lead.


The #02 of Dan Clatterbuck faced troubles on the backstretch on lap 10, bringing the field together once again.


The #17 of Bobby Measamer, Jr. topped a 3-wide battle for the runner-up spot on lap 15, then setting his sights on Hirschmann at the top of the leader board.


Photo Credit: Pro All Star Series (Norm Marx)

 As Hirschmann continued to pull away, the competition caution was brought out on lap 36, bringing the field back together and allowing each team to perform a scheduled pit stop under the yellow.


Hirschmann pulled away and never looked back once the field went back to green, winning the feature in dominant fashion. New Hampshire’s Andy Seuss, Bobby Measamer, Jr., Jimmy Zacharias and Bryan Dauzat rounded out the top five. 


After a full day of racing, the Pro All Star Series 75-lap Open was the final event of the night.


Cory Heim set a blistering pace from the get-go, sailing away from the pack in the early laps of the race.


With Heim still leading the charge, a competition caution was brought out later in the race on lap 40, bringing the field together once more.


Heim pulled away once again on the restart, but trouble was brewing behind the leaders.


Lap 48 made for a scary lap for Tate Fogleman, whose car suddenly burst into flames on the backstretch. Fogleman walked away unscathed, but this incident ended the night abruptly for the #8f team.


Photo Credit: Richmond Raceway

 Young gun, Jared Irvan, was on the move in the closing stages of the race, climbing into the runner-up spot on lap 54. But, Austin Reed was quick to steal it away.


Corey Heim captured the checkered flag, but fans and teams were shocked to hear that he was disqualified during post-race inspection due to an engine violation. He was stripped of the victory and Austin Reed was declared the winner. Jared Irvan, Matt Craig, Ben Rowe and Augie Grill rounded out the official top five.


Overall, the weekend was full of very exciting and game-changing racing action. New England drivers represented very well among all 6 divisions and kicked off the 2019 race season with a bang. 


I’d personally like to thank the Pro All Star Series for allowing me to attend the event as media on a last-minute whim and I can’t wait to see where 2019 leads for all of these competitors!


Plus, a big shout out to Kyle Reid from Canada, who is now representing Chasing the Checkered on his #42 machine in addition to the #40 of Dan McKeage, who also donned Chasing the Checkered on his car this weekend!


The race season continues on this Sunday, April 7th, at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the 45th Annual Icebreaker Weekend. I will be there, covering the full day of events. We hope to see you there!


Thank you to my amazing website sponsors for their support of Chasing the Checkered. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without their support! Thank you, Texas Roadhouse Scarborough, Four Season Synthetic and Drown Excavation!