By Mac Cerullo
---- — Eddie MacDonald has spent his whole adult life racing cars, and next weekend he will have the rare opportunity to compete against some of the sport’s top stars at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Next Sunday, the 33-year-old Rowley resident will be competing in the Camping World RV Sales 301 as part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the highest level of auto racing in America. The field is expected to include names like Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr., and MacDonald described the opportunity as a dream come true.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to do this,” MacDonald said. “I’ve just got to thank everyone who has helped me throughout my career to get me to this point to give me a shot at running in the big time.”
MacDonald will be racing in the No. 32 Go FAS Racing Ford Fusion owned by Archie St. Hilaire from Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and long-time NASCAR crew chief Frank Stoddard from No. Haverhill, N.H. The car’s primary sponsor will be Mike Alden, president and CEO of Blue Vase Marketing in Beverly, and together the group will comprise an All-New England team, a rarity in NASCAR at the Sprint Cup level.
Over the years, MacDonald has competed in a variety of racing circuits, primarily in the K&N Pro Series as part of the Newburyport-based Robert Grimm Racing Team and in the American Canadian Tour.
He has also competed for St. Hilaire in the Nationwide Series, and with next weekend’s start, he said that he’d become the first Massachusetts driver to ever compete at NHMS at the Sprint Cup level.
In addition to the Sprint Cup race, MacDonald will also be competing in the K&N Pro Series race at NHMS that Friday. Between the K&N Pro Series and the American Canadian Tour, MacDonald has won at NHMS a total of six times. He said he’s optimistic about his chances to win again on Friday, though he acknowledged that his expectations for the Sprint Cup race are a little more measured.
“That’s the absolute top level in the sport and we’re going in with a smaller team and it’ll be my first race, so there’s a lot of challenges we have to overcome,” MacDonald said. “You’d like to be able to think you could get into the top 10, but if you look at the roster, you’ll see that some days Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishes 25th or 30th. There’s so many great teams, and in this sport it’s so much a team sport because everything has to be working perfect to win a race or finish in the top 10.”
Regardless, MacDonald said he excited for the opportunity and is hopeful that local racing fans will come out to support him and his team. He added that NHMS is selling special “Eddie Mac Packs” where fans can get tickets for $32 each and be seated together as a group on race day by calling the track’s main office at 603-783-4931. The race will take place on July 13 and is expected to start at 1 p.m.
“It’s going to be really exciting,” he said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’ve got to thank Archie St. Hilaire and Mike Alden for giving me this chance.”