Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl in Barre, VT held it’s annual car show on Main Street in Barre on Saturday, April 29th to kick off the opening weekend for the ¼ mile asphalt oval. The car show provided race fans young and old with something to smile about, with clowns making balloon animals, and mascots greeting drivers and fans on the street. Barre City police report that there were as many as 5,000 fans at the event, which stretched from the Lenny’s Outlet Store location to the corner of Depot Square.

Fan’s lined the street to watch the annual Frost Heaves Pit Stop Competition featuring the championship crews of American-Canadian Tour (ACT) driver Jean-Paul Cyr, Thunder Road regular, Cris Michaud, of Northfield, NAPA Tiger Sportsman stand-out Shawn Fleury of Montpelier and the defending pit stop competition champion team of Allen Lumber Street Stock youngster Joel Hodgdon, a 17-year-old from Craftsbury. Representatives of Barre City and Barre Town also participated in the annual competition. The kids proved it wasn’t a fluke that they won the competition in 2005. Joel Hodgdon, team captain and driver of the #36 Street Stock stated “We beat Michaud and Cyr’s crew and that’s awesome. We are younger and have a lot more energy than those other teams. My crew has no experience with Late Models, but we still got the job done, again.”

Following the car show, the drivers all strapped into their racing machines and provided the crowded city streets with a parade from Main Street to the track atop Quarry Hill a distance of about 2.5 miles. The rest of Saturday was spent practicing for the 47th season opener, the Merchant’s Bank 150 on Sunday, April 30th. The ACT Late Models were in town headlining the event. Supporting divisions included the NAPA Tiger Sportsman, Allen Lumber Street Stocks and the Power Shift Junkyard Warriors, all of which provided the packed grandstands with incredible racing on Sunday.

Doug Murphy of Middlesex captured the first NAPA Tiger Sportsman victory of the season over runners up, Chris Gendreau of North Middlesex and sophomore driver Matt White of Northfield, Vermont. The Tigers had 36 cars attempting to qualify for 26 starting spots in the Merchant’s Bank Trophy Dash. The division completed the 35-lap race with no cautions flags which pleased the enthusiastic crowd. Murphy credited his victory to the hard work of his crew, “My dedicated crew worked on my car all winter, and it paid off.” Murphy, a veteran of the Tiger division, plans to run the Thursday shows at Thunder Road in addition to the seven-race Tiger Sportsman Series which kicks off Saturday, (May 6) at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, New York.

The Allen Lumber Street Stock victory went to Steve “Mud Flap” Quenneville of Barre, the 2005 Thunder Road Street Stock rookie of the Year. Quenneville proved that he has what it takes to win the title in ’06 and would not let the sophomore jinx keep him out of the winner’s circle. “Mud Flap” was joined in victory lane by veteran racer, “Dancing” David Allen of North Troy and Geoff Forsey of Westford.

The Power Shift Junkyard Warriors provided fans with their first roll over of the season. Leonard Sanborn of Graniteville thrilled the crowd by landing driver’s side up on the front stretch. The Warriors checkered flag went to Washington County driver, Jeff Martin Jr of Moretown. Runners up were Bunker Hodgdon of Hardwick and Jared Henry of Barre.

The next event at Thunder Road is the Casella Mothers Day 100 on Sunday, May 14th, post time for that event is set for 2:00pm. The Late Models, NAPA Tiger Sportsman, Allen Lumber Street Stocks and Power Shift Junkyard Warriors will be in attendance for the event.