Thunder Road SpeedBowl
TITLE DEFENSES BEGIN IN EARNEST
Barre, VT – Thunder Road’s “Kings of the Road” begin defense of their stock car racing championships in earnest on Sunday with the 41st running of the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic. The event is expected to draw over 120 cars from across the track’s four divisions.
The 100-lap race will be the first point counting event of the season for the Late Model competitors. Cris Michaud, from Williamstown, VT, the division’s defending champion, won the 2001 Mekkelsen event. Other past titleholders expected to attend the Memorial Day Classic include Phil Scott (1996, 1998 & 2002), Jamie Fisher (2003), Pete Fecteau (1997) and Dave Whitcomb (1995). Scott and Fecteau are also past winners.
Many ACT Late Model Tour regulars are also expected to attempt to qualify for the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic. Among them are Brent Dragon, David Avery, Jean-Paul Cyr, Dave Wilcox, as well as others. “With two of the biggest ACT Tour events of the season scheduled at Thunder Road (the $10,000 to win Labor Day Classic on Sept 3-4 and the New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl, Oct 1-2), it only makes sense to get as much seat time at the track as possible,” explained Brent Dragon. Dragon posted his first career Late Model win at Thunder Road last August and ran second to Dave Pembroke earlier this year in the Merchants Bank 150.

Reno Gervais of Island Pond, VT, the NAPA Tiger Sportsman Champion for the past two consecutive years, knows a lot about winning titles. In fact, Gervais and his team are quite adept at putting in strong performances when the pressure’s on. Entering last year’s final race of the season, the “King of the Kingdom” was fourth in points and looking at qualifying through the “B” feature. “Not only did he qualify but he also earned enough points to repeat as champion by a single digit.
Once again there’s great depth in the Sportsman division, with any one of 20 or so drivers able to win on a given night. Plus there’s an impressive rookie class that will keep things interesting. Shawn Fleury from Montpelier, VT won the Merchants Bank opener and leads the point standings, but there’s a tie for second between Chris Gendreau and Jeff French only nine points back.
With only the feature race awarding points on opening day, none of the Allen Lumber Street Stock competitors were able to gain an advantage after then first race. Eric Johnson, the division’s winningest driver last year, picked up where he left off – in victory lane. But right on his rear bumper was defending champion, Joe Small and 2004 Rookie of the Year, 17 year-old Joel Hodgdon. Small, of Milton, VT and Hodgdon, from Craftsbury, VT lead a lengthy list of 2005 title contenders.
Like the Late Models, the Power Shift Warriors will have their first point counting events in the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic events. With reigning champion, Ron Gabaree from Barre now a member of the Allen Lumber Street Stock class, the battle for the 2005 crown is wide open.
Post time for Sunday’s 41st annual Memorial Day Classic is 1:30 pm. Spectator gates will open at 10:00 am. Adult admission is $13 and kids (ages 6-12) are $3.00.