It was an emotional scene Saturday evening at Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven. Thirty American Canadian Tour drivers and their teams, plus the drivers and teams from each of Devil's Bowls' three regular asphalt divisions, all out on the track to pay homage to a legend.
"Mr. Curley was a visionary, a fiercely independent Irishman, and an unrivaled leader in the world of short track stock car racing," said Devils Bowl Media and Marketing chief Justin St. Louis over the loudspeaker.
"Racing on the ACT is one of the hardest tours to run on because Tom's rule package, he doesn't give you much," added driver Joey Polewarczyk Jr. "You're not working with a lot and that's what Tom wanted."
There were plenty of signs of Curley's memory on hand: multiple drivers had decals added to their cars, and his iconic pink piggy flag fluttered in the wind.
Polewarczyk, or "Joey Pole" as he's called on the racing circuit, ran just three races on last season's American Canadian Tour. But the 2014 tour champ was not going to miss the opportunity to pay tribute to his mentor.
"I ran local things before Tom saw me and had me come run his tour, and we struggled. I mean, we really struggled but he told us never to quit and he was the first one to tell me when I did something wrong, not to do that and things like that," he said. "I owe a lot of it to him."
But Joey knew he wasn't the only driver who looked up to Curley. So he made a prediction.
"There'd be no better feeling at the end of the day than to be able to be out on victory lane and be able to dedicate it to Tom. I'm sure whoever's gonna win, I'm sure is gonna do it," he said.
Joey Pole was right. Just about every victorious driver Saturday had something to say about Curley. It was Jonathan Bouvrette who took the Spring Green 117, and his car prominently featured a Curley decal. Curley's tour...allowing Bouvrette to become the first Quebec native to win at Devil's Bowl in more than 40 years.
"It's very happy to that, the car was very, very fast today, and joy to the last Quebecois to win after Jean Paul Cabana," said Bouvrette. As for his thoughts on the tour, he added, "I'll probably try to race the ACT Tour full time."
The next stop on Curley's tour will be at his home track as Thunder Road hosts the Community Bank 150 on June 11th.
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