In the over half-century of short track racing in Vermont, the tradition and will to drive often spans more than one generation. This is true of the Dragon family and brothers Bobby and Beaver, who forged a great legacy over three decades, both inside and outside the Green Mountain State. Eventually, their sons Scott and Brent have gone on to make their own marks, especially at their home track of Thunder Road.
Among the accomplishments for the cousins Dragon, Brent made his name known in the middle of the previous decade with wins in most of the big races on the Thunder Road schedule. Recently, Scott has gotten recognition for his 2016 and 2018 “King of the Road” titles in the Late Models at “The Nation’s Site of Excitement.”
Now after a leave of absence from racing since late 2016, Brent is ready to return to the cockpit this weekend for the track’s biggest event of them all, the Vermont Milk Bowl. Meanwhile, Scott is focused on taking some recent winning momentum and turning it into his first ever Milk Bowl triumph.
Both Dragons enter the event with the goal of kissing the cow in Victory Lane.
“I think we got a pretty good car, but you never know though,” Scott Dragon told Speed51. “There’s been other years where we go into it thinking that this is going to be the year, and you’re not even close. But, we had a really good car last Sunday for the points finale, hopefully if we can find the right tires we should be pretty good.”
Scott, along with a host of other experienced Late Model drivers, have come to recognize the importance of having a great qualifying performance on Saturday to get a good starting start in the first of three 50-lap segments in the Milk Bowl feature on Sunday.
“Qualifying well is the key, starting up front for that first segment. I’ve watched and raced in the Milk Bowl many times, and I’ve heard guys like Nick Sweet say that’s the key,” Scott stated. “Getting a good finish in the first one and saving the tires the best you can, I know that’s critical. I’m not the best time trial guy, I’m more of a consistent type of racer. But the last few attempts, we’ve managed to lock ourselves in with our time. So, I think we have a good shot of timing in the top ten.”
While consistency has helped produce two Thunder Road Late Model championships, it has not always transferred over to big races. But, Scott has collected 10 career win in the division over his career, including a big victory in the 2016 Vermont Governor’s Cup 150.
“We’ve been racing up at Thunder Road regularly for our sixth season now, winning the Governor’s Cup has been huge, but there’s still the ‘big three’ that we haven’t managed to win yet; the Memorial Day Classic, the Labor Day Classic, and the Milk Bowl. I would love to win one of them this year, so maybe this is the year. I’d love to get all three before I call it quits or move on to something else. I think we’ll be pretty good, but you got to have everything go your way to win the thing.”
Despite being focused on capturing that elusive kiss with the cow, Scott is very much looking forward to having his older cousin Brent back in action. But, that doesn’t mean he will go any easier on him should they battle on track.
“It’s pretty neat to have Brent getting back behind the wheel, I knew it was only a matter of time before he came out of his temporary retirement.”
For Brent Dragon, the excitement of getting back in a Late Model at Thunder Road on Milk Bowl weekend has been building over many weeks. Though the eventual anxiety of actually doing it is just now hitting home.
“I’m pretty excited, I wasn’t too nervous about it until Tuesday morning when I realized that we only got a couple of days,” Brent said. “I haven’t been in an ACT car in six years, and I haven’t been in any race car in three years, that was a PASS Super Late Model. We did test at Thunder Road a couple of weeks ago and it was a struggle, because you drive the PASS car differently with all that power you have to use. But, by the end of the day we got to where we could be competitive. Looking forward to Friday’s practice to get back in the car.”
It has been a long three years for Brent, who stepped out of his racecar not so much by choice. Rather, it was necessary for a much-needed recovery.
“Not many people knew when I got out of the car three years ago, I had crashed the car up at White Mountain, and I got a concussion again. I used to have them quite often when I raced motorcycles. This time was pretty bad, something was wrong, when I tried to race after that at the Oxford 250, I couldn’t hit my marks, I knew I could see where I needed to be, but by the time I got to that point I had missed it. My reaction time had slowed up something wicked.”
Now, I feel good again. I feel like things are back to where they should be, and I would really like to race the Milk Bowl one more time.”
With his full attention now on getting a second Milk Bowl victory, putting down consistent laps in Friday practice will be a critical first step into spring boarding Brent into Saturday when, like his cousin Scott and all others in attendance, he will be focused on getting that great time trial lap to either lock into the front row Sunday, or get a solid starting spot in one of the two 50-lap qualifying races Saturday evening.
“It’s all going to depend on that time trial lap, is a big thing. If you can time trial well on Saturday and start in the top five or six cars on the first segment, you’re going to have a good day. I think we have a shot at it, but there’s some good cars there. Scott is running very well, Jason Corliss just got the championship, all those guys that have run all summer and know the track way better than we do.”
Back in 2006, Brent’s one and only Milk Bowl win was the icing on top of a spectacular trio of years which saw him winning some of the biggest races at Thunder Road and on the American-Canadian Tour. It is a feeling he hopes to capture one more time in his career before he decides to hang up the helmet for good at some point in the future.
“It was the highest of highs. We had won the Labor Day Classic and Memorial Day Classic at Thunder Road. We won the Spring Green and Fall Foliage at Airborne in New York, so that was four out of the big five for us. In 2005, I lost the Milk Bowl with about two laps to go, there was an accident, and it took out a few cars between me and Patrick Laperle and he ended up winning. So, when we went back in 2006, we were lucky enough to finally put everything together and win. That was a relief, that was a big deal finally get that one.”
Many race fans from Vermont, New Hampshire, Quebec, and beyond will make the climb up Quarry Hill in Barre, Vermont this Saturday and Sunday for the 57th Vermont Milk Bowl. But everyone across the country can see all of the racing from both days live on Speed51’s pay-per-view broadcast.
Saturday, see qualifying time trials and racing for the ACT Late Models, the first half of the Mini Milk Bowls for the Flying Tiger Sportsman and Street Stocks, plus the features for the Road Warriors, and heat races and the Prelude to Milk Bowl 150 for the PASS Super Late Models.
Sunday, the day starts with the last chance B-feature for the ACT Late Models, before launching into the 57th Milk Bowl, with the final halves of the Flying Tiger and Street Stock Mini Milk Bowls, plus the Dwarf Cars taking center stage.
To order your PPV ticket, click here.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Leif Tillotson