MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – Canada will be more than just a word in the name of the American Canadian Tour next summer when the stock car-racing circuit returns to race tracks in Quebec and Ontario.

The American Canadian Tour, based in Waterbury, has reached agreement to manage not only its own races in the Northeastern United States, but also the Quebec Late Model Series in Quebec and Ontario.

That tour will be managed separately from the ACT races run at tracks in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Massachusetts and Quebec, said ACT Marketing Director Marjorie Fay.

Four of the ACT’s 14-race schedule for 2007 will be run in Quebec and a fifth will be held in Ontario. There will be two additional races in Canada in which drivers will be awarded points for both the ACT and Quebec Late Model tours.

The ACT series is popular with fans at the small tracks such as Thunder Road in Barre, typically drawing between 5,000 and 6,000 spectators.

“This is a big deal. For Quebec drivers it’s huge,” Fay said.

Racing rules between the two countries will be standardized, which was the biggest reason that the two-country tour was restored, Fay said. The Canadian drivers will now be bound by ACT rules.

Some of the rules that will now be standard on both sides of the border will be the types of engines, tires and shock absorbers the drivers can use. The goal is to keep racing affordable, said Fay.

For example, drivers are limited to one new set of tires for each race and they must use a common type of shock absorber.

“We don’t want people to blow their brains out by trying to keep up with the Smiths and the Joneses,” Fay said.

The ACT dropped its Canadian races about a decade ago because of the unfavorable currency exchange rate between the two countries and because of the different rules.

“We are very proud that ACT is coming to Quebec,” racer Donald Theetge of Boischatel, Quebec, said in a statement released by the ACT. “The rules will put everyone on the same playing field, which will allow us to race across the Northeast without changing the car.”

In the just-completed racing season there were two ACT races in Quebec. In 2004 there were none, Fay said.

The ACT currently races at tracks in Plattsburgh, N.Y., Barre, North Woodstock, N.H., Oxford, Maine, and Seekonk, Mass. The Quebec tracks are at Ste. Croix, Ste. Eustache and St. Pie. The Ontario track is in Peterborough.

Fay said she hoped the cross-border racing would encourage healthy rivalries between drivers from the two countries.

“The hometown heroes race against the outlaws,” Fay said.

“When we go into Canada, we can have their local guys race with our guys and try to beat them. It’s great to let the hometown guys try to stomp the invaders and that sells tickets.”

On the Net:

American Canadian Tour:

AP-ES-11-29-06 1408EST

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