The Helliwell brothers have always been competitive on the track.
"If we were all in one race we’d all pretty much wreck each other for the win," George Helliwell said with a laugh. "We want it that bad."
Thankfully for the trio they were all able to race at different tracks this year.
And since they weren’t at the same track, George, Bill, and Dave Helliwell were all able to race for, and win, their own championship.
George won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I Late Model championship at Hudson Speedway in Hudson, New Hampshire. Bill won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I Late Model championship at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway, and Dave won the super modified championship at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire. Dave has won five super modified titles in the last four years, and George has one previous late model championship, but 2019 was the first championship for Bill — making 2019 was the first year the three brothers have all won a title in the same season.
All three brothers would work together to help each win, especially since they were typically racing on different nights. Since Dave had a really good team behind him, he was able to help his brothers more on their cars during the week.
The titles all came down to the final night for the trio. Bill’s team made changes to their car over the winter to go for a championship, and he never finished outside of the top-3 until three weeks prior to the final race when he cut a rear tire and was put into the fence, failing to finish the race.
He needed to finish fifth or better on championship night, and put an exclamation point on his season by winning the final race for the championship.
The super modified field at Star was deep, so even though Dave had a healthy lead going into the final race, he knew a bad night could change things. After having to start the final feature from the rear of the field, he saw the driver in second in the standings win the race, forcing Dave to try to do the math in his head during the final laps of the race.
He ended up finishing the race fifth, and winning the championship by six points.
"It wasn’t our best night and were playing the cautious side of things. You have to finish," Dave said. "Had I fell back one more position I would have lost the championship. So it was very, very close… I was counting. I had the worst case scenario in my head."
George had to wait three weeks after his brothers won their championship before he was able to race for his. The final night wasn’t any less stressful. He had a 10 point lead going into the championship race, but he was wrecked out of the qualifying race, forcing him to start the feature from the back of the field.
Then, right as they were getting calls to line up for the main event, George was checking air pressure on the tires and realized there was a puncture on his right front, meaning he had to take brand new tires off and run the race on an old set he hadn’t practiced on.
It was no matter, as he finished the race second to gain four points in the standings for the title.
The three Helliwells have learned how to deal with issues and stress on the track from their father, Wayne Hellwell Sr., who helped them all this season.
"For the most part we’ve always fallen back on his advice or his knowledge of the sport," George said of their dad. "Back when our father started there was nobody in our family that ever raced. He’s the one that figured out all of this on his own and he’s let the information trickle out to us. His old school ways of doing things and some of the new technology that has come out in our lifetime, it’s kind of co-mingles and I think we’ve got probably the best of both worlds… it works out pretty well."
George said the three brothers all winning in the same season is probably "once in a lifetime," and getting to celebrate with each other and their dad, who is unable to drive now, made it more special.
All of the brothers agreed.
"It’s more special to me at least that every single one of us can say that we’re a good driver and that basically we learned from our father," Bill said. "He’s a tough type of guy, he’s old school, he doesn’t give anything away, he makes you work for it. So I think it’s pretty cool he can say… every single one of his boys was a success with racing just like he was."
Bill thanked his sponsors Lorie’s Skin Care, Battery Shop of New England, and Traditional Mortgage for allowing him to keep racing. George thanked Dan Thorpe for the help on and off the track.
The three brothers also thanked John Starkey with CustomIronCraft.com, who has been sponsoring the family for five years.
The Helliwell family all got to go to the NASCAR awards banquet in Charlotte, North Carolina, this past weekend together for the first and likely last time. Both George and Dave said they plan to step back from full-time racing next season.
George had one final goal in his career – win at Hudson Speedway. Now that he’s done that, he wants to spend time with his four kids, help his brothers on some weekends, and just run select races here and there.
"I’ve been chasing that for a really long time. I’m not retiring, but winning a championship at Hudson Speedway, the place I started racing at kind of caps it off," George said.
Dave will be gifting his super modified to Bill, who will move divisions next season, and the two will work together to help Bill with another championship.
"I feel like I don’t really get too stressed out at least on race nights," Bill said. "I don’t think about it too much. I just know I have to go out there and be consistent and let the cards fall where they may."
The 2019 season may have been a first for the Helliwell family, but the trio is going out on top.
"Once you get the points lead and you’re on top there’s only one way you can go and it’s pretty much backwards," Dave said. "Everybody’s looking at you to fail. It’s anxiety. So I was happy when the checkered fell and we were able to finish it."