Pro All Stars Series
10 Things to Know: Northeast Classic at New Hampshire
Apr 15, 2022
The winters for Northeast racers may be long, but they usually turn out to be rigorous none-the-less, whether it’s pressure on backing up a winning season or seeking redemption of a tough one. For Jimmy Hebert, 2021 brought both on the American-Canadian Tour; following up his title season in 2020 with being the winningest driver, but struggling with wrecks and mechanical woes the rest of the time with his Late Model.
However, the winter has not been too bad from a preparation standpoint, with the No. 58VT team refocusing their efforts for 2022. Part one begins this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the American-Canadian Tour takes part in the 2nd Northeast Classic.
“It’s been a strange winter, we haven’t had a lot to do. We stripped the car down bare bones and made a bunch of improvements, we hope. It seems like we’ve put all of our eggs in one basket for Loudon, after that I’m not sure what we’re going to do, but the car should be good there,” Hebert told Racing America.
Officially, Hebert is going for two straight wins at ‘The Magic Mile’. Last year’s win came after he finished second on track to D.J. Shaw, only for the No. 04VT to be disqualified postrace for a technical infraction, thus handing the win to Hebert who’s car checked the boxes in inspection. He wants to be the one in victory lane this time, and the Williamstown, VT driver feels he’s got the Late Model to do it.
“We want to do it the right way this time. It's great to get the name on the trophy, but it’s not the same as standing in victory lane with the team and all that. We’re going after it guns blazing, I really do think we’re going to have the best car we’ve ever had there. Just got to hope as many things out of our control go our way, a lot of things can happen there.”
At first, Hebert struggled in the old ACT Invitational races at Loudon, but then started to improve, only then to have runner-up finishes in three-straight appearances (four-straight in Hebert’s eyes). Following in the tire tracks of Loudon aces such as Eddie MacDonald, and even his racing experience as a kid in karts has aided him in his improvement on the one-mile oval.
“The first year we went there, we were just starting out at Thunder Road and we didn’t do too hot. But ever since then, for whatever odd reason, I’ve come to really like the track, I caught on quick there. I got to race with Eddie early on which helped me quite a bit. My go-kart experience as a kid has helped when conserving momentum. Of course, there’s been a dark cloud when it comes to all the ways we can lose one there, then last year went the other way for once.”
One unknown that Hebert and his fellow competitors will have to keep an eye on potentially is tire wear. Last year, Hoosier Racing Tires took over as ACT tire provider, but not until after they had run at NHMS in April 2021, which was the final race on American Racer tires.
“There’s some unknowns, this will be our first time there racing on Hoosier tires. I remember when we switched from Goodyear to American Racer there wasn’t necessarily a learning curve as far as setup and handling; it was more of testing the limits of the tire and staying within them so you avoid tire trouble.”
As for the refocus we had mentioned earlier for Hebert and the 58VT team, they will be focusing solely on winning races in 2022, as they shift to a majority schedule on the American-Canadian Tour. The plan is to stick closer to home to allow himself and his entire team more time with family and to tend to their own tasks.
“We’re looking at about eight races. Last year was tough between the wreck at Lee and a bunch of mechanical failures that put us behind. It’s good to see the schedule the Tour has put out, but with more overnighters; having a family and working on taking over the family business at the same time, it would’ve been tough. Most of the crew guys have their own businesses too. But, I think we’ll have more quality races with the ones we have planned, and we can have fun with it.”
Balancing family time and the racing schedule is never easy, but it has been more than worth it for Hebert, who for the past couple of seasons has been in the prime of his racing career, and his daughters have been able to enjoy it too.
“When your kids are watching it means more to do well. It’s also been rewarding because we used to be like most people, you get the latest and greatest, whatever it takes to go faster, then have it never work. We put a lot of knowledge into ourselves between reading, school, and seminars, to make what we had work, and that’s when we really took off. It’s great doing so much on our own, we obviously get our chassis from Dale Shaw, and he’s been extremely supportive with imparting his knowledge. But, we’ve taken it and put our own spin on it, makes it that more special.”