A simple comment made on Speed51’s “The Morning Bullring” talk show has developed into one of the nation’s top Late Model racers entering the 57th Vermont Milk Bowl at Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT) this September. Senoia, Georgia’s Bubba Pollard has announced his intentions to compete in the race with the ultimate goal of kissing a Vermont dairy cow in victory lane.
Pollard originally expressed interest in competing in the race during the inaugural episode of “The Morning Bullring” on January 14. After speaking with track owner Cris Michaud, plans were put together for Pollard to make his Milk Bowl debut on September 29 at “The Nation’s Site of Excitement.”
“Over the last few years I never really thought I’d have the chance to do some of the races I’ve done and race at some of the places I’ve raced,” Pollard told Speed51.com. “I’ve been really fortunate to have good people and good sponsors. When you surround yourself with good people, good things come and I think that’s part of it. We’ve been able to make contacts, win races and I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to be able to do this. It will be a fun trip and hopefully we can have a good time and do good.”
In recent years, Pollard has established himself as one of, if not the best Late Model racers in North America. His resume includes wins in the All American 400, Winter Showdown, Canadian Short Track Nationals, Slinger Nationals, Summer Showdown, CRA SpeedFest and Snowflake 100.
One year ago, Pollard made his way to the Northeast to make his debut in another crown jewel event, the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME). He did the unthinkable by winning the $25,000-to-win race in his first attempt.
Coincidentally enough, the driver and team that finished second to Pollard that day will be the team he will drive for in his Milk Bowl debut. Pollard has teamed up with the Joey Pole Racing team led by Joey Polewarczyk, Sr. and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. to give him a great shot at reaching victory lane in his first trip to Barre, Vermont.
“I’ve talked with them a few times and they seem like really great people. They seem like they’re hard workers,” Pollard stated. “I’ve watched [Joey Pole, Jr.] race over the years and I have a lot of respect for what he’s done on the race track. It’s really exciting to be able to drive his race car and his equipment. They seem like the same type of people that we are that work hard and have fun racing.”
This won’t be the first time that the Pole family has teamed up to give a national star a shot at Thunder Road glory. They also provided a car to former NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart when he made the trip to compete in the Vermont’s Governor’s Cup in 2009.
Ten years later, they are excited to give another big name an opportunity to chase a checkered flag at the historic race track.
“It’s crazy to think that deal with Tony Stewart was 10 years ago,” Joey Pole, Jr. said. “But this brings back a lot of memories like that. It’s exciting. Bubba’s a big deal for short track racing. He lives and breathes it, and people know that, and he’s well-known throughout the whole country. I’m interested to see what he thinks of Thunder Road and the ACT Late Models. I just think people are going to be excited to see him there.”
Despite being from Georgia, Pollard has kept a close eye on the Vermont Milk Bowl in recent years. He’s also looked back on the history of the race and noticed the list of winners that includes racing legends such as Butch Lindley, Dave Dion and Robbie Crouch.
“I’ve watched a couple of YouTube videos and I watched the race last year; it seems like a pretty cool race,” Pollard said. “You don’t know what to expect when you get there but it seems like it would fit my driving style of what I like to do and how I race. Watching videos and things like that, seeing all the people who have won the race. There are some all-time greats that have won that race.”
Known as “The Nation’s Toughest Short Track Race,” a slogan introduced by the legendary Ken Squier, the Milk Bowl presents a variety of challenges to drivers. One of those challenges is the unique three-segment format that sees the field inverted after each segment.
Pollard admits that he’s never competed in a race quite like the Milk Bowl; however, he’s confident that he’ll be able to get up on the wheel and race towards a victory.
“It’s very different. Not being familiar with the people you’re racing around and the guys you’re racing against, that’s the biggest thing is learning how to race and how to race the race track,” he commented. “Hopefully Joey can give me some good pointers there of what to do and what not to do. The goal for me is to win every segment. If you win every segment, the rest of it will take care of itself. It’s definitely going to be tough but I think it’s a pretty racy race track. I think you’ll be about to move to the front from the back and things like that. Hopefully we can put ourselves in position at the end of those segments to make something happen at the end.”
Another challenge facing Pollard will be the type of race car that he’ll be behind the wheel of. Although it is still a Late Model, the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) rules package is very different compared to what he is accustomed to at Super and Pro Late Model races throughout the country.
“I got to looking and I think it’s going to be more like a – I know it sounds crazy – but more like a Pro Truck with eight-inch tire,” Pollard said. “We’ve driven some of those races at Pensacola, Mobile and tracks like that in the past. It is different for me but the one thing is that it doesn’t matter what type of race car it is, you have that feel that you’re looking for. As long as I can apply that to that car, I think we’ll be fine.
“I feel like we have a general idea of what we’re looking for as far as feel and things like that. I think we can apply that to this race car. I know it’s going to be a lot different than what I’m used to setup wise in the past but it will be fun. It will be fun to do something different and see how we adapt to the cars, the race track and the people we’re racing with.”
In addition to competing in the main event of the weekend on Sunday, September 29, Pollard is also planning on competing in the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North event at the track on Saturday, September 28. If all goes well throughout the summer, he’s hoping he can use the Saturday night race to better prepare himself for Sunday.
“As long as everything is going smooth through the summer here and we get the opportunity, we are planning to take the Super Late Model up there and run the night before,” he explained. “Just the experience being at the place, learning how to pass, how to move around on the race track, it will be a key to winning the Milk Bowl I feel like. Getting as much experience I can get will be huge I feel like.”
If the stars align during Vermont Milk Bowl weekend, Pollard hopes to have a shot at doing something he’s never done before, at least in a victory lane setting.
“The best part of it is kissing the cow. We have a cow farm here and we’re used to cows. It would be pretty cool to be able to kiss one. I’ve probably kissed one a time or two but not for a win or anything like that. It would be pretty cool to get the opportunity to do that.”
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com