The short track racing community has lost another racer far too soon.
According to Vermont State Police, 17-year-old Joey M. Laquerre was killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident in Washington, Vermont Saturday afternoon. Laquerre, a third generation driver known best as “Lil’ Joey,” competed in the Late Model division at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont.
Laquerre was traveling on a dirt road when he went off the road and struck a tree. He was ejected off of the ATV, State Trooper Brandon Degre said in a Burlington Free Press report.
Laquerre was immediately transported to Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, Vermont, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 12:50 p.m. ET.
Joey M. Laquerre was the grandson of Joey Laquerre, a longtime competitor at Thunder Road, and the son of longtime crew chief Jeff Laquerre. “Lil’ Joey” was the nephew of multi-time Thunder Road victor Jay Laquerre and former Thunder Road champion Joey Laquerre, Jr.
He was predeceased by his mother, as well as his uncle Joey, Jr. who died in a 1991 snowmobile accident the year after claiming the Thunder Road track championship.
During the 2014 racing season, Laquerre started 9 of 15 weekly Late Model events at Thunder Road and recorded one top-10 finish. He will be best known for his never-ending energy that he filled the Thunder Road pit area with on race day.
Thunder Road co-owner and American-Canadian Tour President Tom Curley described Laquerre as an “energetic and youthful teenager” that could put a smile on people’s faces.
“Very few kids are able to come in with the personality that he had and have such an impact,” Curley told Speed51.com. “They’re usually shy, reserved, nervous and intimidated, but he wasn’t.”
Following the death of Joey Laquerre, Jr., “Lil Joey” was like a son to his grandfather Joey Laquerre, Sr. The elder Laquerre, who is now 70 years old, had the desire to race against his grandson before he retired his driver’s suit. He accomplished that goal in recent years. He even won a race competing against the 17-year-old Laquerre in 2014.
The impact his loss will have on the New England racing community is immeasurable.
“If you look at the bright side of things, this is a kid that died at the young age of 17 doing exactly what he loved to do,” said Curley. “He did it with his friends. He did it out on a fall day with a four-wheeler and he didn’t suffer. That’s the only positive you can take out of it.
“The negative side of it is that we lost another in the line of Laquerres. I thought about it last night as I was going to bed and said, ‘geez, that’s it.’ Jeff doesn’t race, Jay doesn’t race. This was the hope for another 30 years of keeping the Laquerre legacy alive in Vermont. He was the kid that was the heir apparent to what has gone on for generations around here. I’m not sure there’s another one that will be able to pick that torch up.”
The entire Speed51.com staff sends our thoughts and prayers to the entire Laquerre family as they mourn the loss of “Lil Joey.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Feature Photo Credit: Speed51.com.