After Two Years, ACT is Ready to Return to Quebec
Jun 21, 2022
The 2022 American-Canadian Tour season still has a trace of celebration even after three races, that being the return of Quebec teams to racing in New England following the two-year closure of the Canadian border due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This weekend, the ACT is set to make its return to north of the border for the first time since 2019.
Autodrome Chaudière will play host to the Claude Leclerc 150 this Saturday, June 25; which will be streamed live on Racing America. RA is also making its first trip to Canada since 2019 under the Speed51 banner.
For many ACT teams based in New England, this will also be their first trip north in three years as well, while some have elected to sit this race, out there are also a few other teams and drivers that will make their first ever border crossing to race.
This includes 2021 ACT Late Model Tour Rookie of the Year Erick Sands. The Seabrook, New Hampshire native is looking forward to taking on the quarter-mile oval in Vallée-Jonction, Quebec.
“It's our first time out of the country actually. It looks like a fun bullring; I asked Dale Shaw what he thinks is a good gear to run up there, and it’s what we run for a quarter-mile. That’s my type of racing personally, I like the quarter-miles like Thunder Road and White Mountain; places like Loudon and Thompson I don’t fare well there,” Sands told Racing America.
Transitioning to the ACT Tour fulltime in 2021, Sands has been in a sophomore slump for the first three races of 2022, but the driver of the No. 36NH is confidant that the team has pinned down the problem and has found a way to tackle it this Saturday.
“Most of the problem lately has been tires, whether the compound of the tires has been different, and struggling with air pressure. Last time at White Mountain we had a really bad tire strategy that didn’t work out for us. But now, I feel like we’ve learned what not to do. Heading up to Chaudière we got a good piece, we just got nail the tire strategy; we’ve gone from either end of the spectrum, now we just got to hit at it.”
With all American drivers not having had the chance to race Chaudière in three years, Sands is confident that this will help to provide an opportunity to gain positions in the points standings with just a solid showing this weekend.
“Absolutely, I think us U.S. guys are going to be on an equal playing field to start the day. Obviously, the Canadian drivers will have the upper hand being a home track. But, I’m hoping to rebound especially points wise. With the few teams that are not going it will help get ahead of them, and then if we can string some strong runs after we’ll be in better shape.”
But, with the long process of preparing for the border crossing, racecar prep has already concluded. In addition, Canada still has strict requirements for foreign visitors in the wake of COVID-19. Sands shared some of what must be done by himself and everyone else from the U.S. heading to Quebec.
“Obviously passport, number one. You still have to be fully vaccinated, that’s a requirement. You have to do the “Arrive CAN” app 72 hours before you arrive at the border. It’s a survey which you upload with your vaccination card, they ask you a bunch of questions; have you had contact with anyone who’s been sick, stuff like that. But, that wasn’t too bad.”
Ultimately, it is the rules that have existed from before COVID that are proving to be the most laborious process, especially for a driver and team that will compete in Canada for the first time.
“Talking to people who raced in Canada before COVID, big thing is that you have to inventory everything in trailer, make a big list, label every cabinet, and get all of your ducks in a row with everything you have with you. Canadians want to know what’s going in and the Americans what’s coming out when we come back. That was a whole day process in itself, inventory for a 48 foot trailer, and realizing we got a bunch of stuff!”
For Sands, it’s well worth the time. Not just to compete at a new track, but also to race against his Canadian friends/competitors, only this time on their asphalt.
“They’re fun people to race with down here, some of them I’ve raced can get pretty rowdy and rough, but we can say the same. That’s the nature of the beast of ACT where everybody is under such a tight blanket; if you’re off a tenth or so, you’re going backwards quick. Doesn’t matter if you’re American or Canadian, ACT is very close and challenging.”
Post time for the Claude Leclerc 150 is 5pm ET this Saturday, with Racing America going live from Autodrome Chaudière at the same time.