Barre, VT — The month of April has arrived, and with it the promise of another year of racing atop Quarry Hill. Barre’s Thunder Road is less than four weeks away from its 60th season of competition, making it an important anniversary for race teams and fans at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement”.
The historic track will open its season with the 21st Community Bank N.A. 150 on Sunday, April 28 at 1:30pm. The event, which will once again feature the American-Canadian Tour (Late Models), is the first of many big shows to help celebrate Thunder Road’s 60th season in style.
“Any race track getting to year 60 is no small feat,” Thunder Road managing partner Cris Michaud said. “For three generations now, Thunder Road has been where friends and family gather in central Vermont to race — but more importantly, to have a good time and create lasting memories. We have a lot of great things happening this year to thank teams and fans for their support, forge more of those memories, and set Thunder Road up for another 60 years.”
The 2019 season will feature many of the track’s favorite long-standing events. The Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank, Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic, VP Fuels Vermont Governor’s Cup, and Vermont Country Campers Mid-Season Championships all return in 2019. The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers have the Myers Container Service Triple Crown Series to look forward to while the Allen Lumber Street Stocks once again have a special event as part of the Bolduc Metal Recycling Enduro 200.
Several new additions have also been made to the schedule. The biggest is a date for the new Bullring Bash Quarter Mile Challenge. Both the Bullring Bash Modifieds and Midstate Site Development Legends join the ACT Late Model Tour for the Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic, turning the weekend into a two-day event. The Milk Bowl reverts back to a two-day show, but retains a visit from the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Models, who race on Saturday this year.
Thunder Road has also brought back a previous tradition by adding an event between the Labor Day Classic and the Milk Bowl. “Championship Night” on Saturday, September 14 will double as the track’s official 60th-anniversary party with added-distance events and a post-race pit party.
In addition to putting on big events, Thunder Road is also bringing in big names in 2019. Two of the most respected drivers in national stock car racing will come to Barre for the first time this year. Current Xfinity Series star and three-time Chili Bowl Nationals winner Christopher Bell of Oklahoma is making the trip to Thunder Road on Thursday, July 18 for the Vermont Governor’s Cup. Then, at the end of September, Super Late Model legend Andrew “Bubba” Pollard of Georgia is entering the 57th Vermont Milk Bowl. Both are already generating buzz as they prepare to tackle the high banks for the first time.
The excitement for the 60th season is showing up in driver support. Registration numbers for all Thunder Road divisions are expected to maintain or surpass their 2018 levels. Nearly all Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model regulars are returning, including reigning “King of the Road” Scott Dragon of Milton, two-time defending Milk Bowl winner Jason Corliss of Barre, perennial title contender Trampas Demers of South Burlington, and three-time 2018 winner Cody Blake of Barre.
Defending Flying Tiger Champion Joel Hodgdon of Craftsbury Common and veteran Trevor Lyman of Hinesburg have moved up to the Late Models with the latter planning a full-time schedule. Reports are that Graniteville’s John Donahue is returning to weekly Late Model competition after a two-year hiatus.
The Flying Tigers continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Veterans such as Grand Isle’s Joe Steffen and Craftsbury Common’s Mike Martin are joined by rising stars like Waitsfield’s Kyle Streeter and E. Calais’s Tyler Austin. Every driver from 2018’s impressive rookie class, including Rookie of the Year Brandon Lanphear of Morrisville and Doc Nielsen Award winner Kelsea Woodard of Waterbury Ctr., has purchased their 2019 license. Defending Allen Lumber Street Stock Champion Stephen Martin of Craftsbury Common leads the drivers moving up to the Tigers. Several racers who competed elsewhere in 2018 have stated they will make Thunder Road home this year.
In the Street Stocks, there will once again be a mix of popular veterans and talented newcomers. Top contenders such as Barre’s Jeffrey Martin, Derby’s Tim Hunt, and Williamstown’s Tommy “Thunder” Smith will be back, as will sophomores like Barre’s Tyler Pepin and Pittsfield’s Juan “Paco” Marshall. The void from drivers moving up will be filled by young guns such as Hunter King, Cooper French, Tanner Woodard, and Keegan Lamson who are joining the Thunder Road ranks.
And the season wouldn’t be complete without the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors. Fan favorites such as Eric “Pork” Chase, “Flyin’” Fred Fleury, Brodie Frazier, and Todd Raymo are set for another year of racing. New names are also signing up for the division that puts fun first.
The 60th season of Thunder Road racing begins on Sunday, April 28 at 1:30pm with the Community Bank N.A. 150. The ACT Late Model Tour event pits top touring stars against the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model standouts. The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Allen Lumber Street Stocks begin their title chases while the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors complete the card.
Admission for the Community Bank N.A. 150 is $25 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under. The weekend begins with the Downtown Barre Car Show on Saturday, April 27 from 9:00am-12:00pm. Open practice is scheduled from 1:00-5:00pm and is open to the public.
-Thunder Road Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51.com