Cris Michaud has left his post as race director for the American-Canadian Tour and Thunder Road International Speedbowl (VT). The former racer turned official from Northfield, Vermont confirmed to Speed51.com powered by JEGS on Thursday that he no longer works for either entity.
Michaud declined to go into details surrounding his departure from ACT and Thunder Road, saying “it just didn’t work out.”
ACT President and Thunder Road co-owner Tom Curley acknowledged Michaud’s departure on Thursday, stating that he was “disappointed” by his former race director’s decision to quit.
“I’m disappointed that he quit. I don’t know what else to say,” said Curley.
“He’s been approached by several people; he’s not interested and he’s done. That’s pretty much the end of it, and that’s a disappointment after a couple years of doing what I thought was a pretty good job.”
Despite not wanting to go into details about his sudden departure, Michaud did admit that his decision to leave the position wasn’t something that happened overnight.
“It wasn’t all of a sudden; it was just over time. I just finally had enough of it and moved on.”
According to Curley, Michaud was directing Sunday’s 32nd M&M Beverage Enduro when a chain of events led to Michaud walking out of the official’s tower.
For the first time in nearly 18 months, Curley was in the tower at Thunder Road to help score the Enduro. While in the tower, he noticed a few procedural errors being made by the officials and made a comment to the group of officials including Michaud.
“I watched some of the Street Stock special, and I made some comments to some of the staff up there because it’s like a coffee club up there; they’re having a hell of a good time,” said Curley. “This is not a joke. These guys spend a lot of money and they deserve to be treated fair and they all deserve proper race direction.
“I mentioned what I thought was a procedural problem, two cars were put to the rear when there were three cars that sat out there by themselves. I asked the question, ‘What about the third car?’ That was it. Cris didn’t like that and off he went. I’ll take some of the blame for going back into the tower and trying to fix some problems, but I think it had built up and built up.”
Michaud was over halfway through his second year as the race director for both entities. With the position being a “thankless job,” Curley believes the stress was starting to wear on Michaud and factored into his decision.
“It takes somebody that is willing to be a real prick to race direct because you’re going to get pricked back,” stated Curley. “You’ve got to be the pin pusher, and if you’re not willing to do that it gets old real quick. Nobody likes to get beaten up constantly.
“They give you a honeymoon usually, and by the second year you’ve got to have your feet to the fire. Cris is a very nice guy, he’s a peach of a guy. Sadly, that doesn’t work when you’re the guy in charge.”
According to Curley, Michaud had plans to lease Thunder Road for the 2017 season but those plans are no longer in place.
“We had a lease/purchase deal in place, and that kind of went away when Cris went away,” explained Curley. “We made an agreement in the offseason that this would be his year to get him involved in the office, the bookwork and the internal workings to see if this year produced a bottom line that was sustainable for him. That kind of went away a couple weeks ago, three weeks ago for some reason. We had a meeting and he came in and said that he and his dad had decided they weren’t going to pursue that.”
Michaud’s departure leaves both ACT and Thunder Road with a big void to fill for the remainder of the 2016 season. Curley indicated that he will attempt to direct the remainder of the ACT races, while the staff at Thunder Road is “working on a few things” for the remainder of the year.
“It’s a thankless job and there’s not a big line of people wanting to do it. It’s a tough play,” stated Curley. “We’re just going to take it race by race. We’re lucky in one regard where we’re coming to the end of the season. We’ll just have to play it by ear and see what pops up. Right now we don’t have many choices. Not everybody gets in line to do that job because there’s no way there’s any reward in it.
“I’ll have to fill in if I can I guess to finish off the tour races and that’s going to be a struggle, but I guess it’s a necessary one. Thunder Road we’re trying to get some things to happen as well. We’ll survive. We’ve been around a long time and this isn’t the first disappointment and it probably won’t be the last.”
Michaud, a former Thunder Road track champion and four-time ACT winner, hopes to stay involved in racing but is unsure of which direction he will go next.
“I don’t really have any plans,” he said. “I would still like to be involved with racing because I grew up racing and love it, but I’m not sure. I’m going to tend to my business and make some money. I’d like to still be involved in it somehow, whether it’s working with a team or racing once in a while. I haven’t really given it much thought.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Vermont Motorsports Magazine/TJ Ingerson