Thunder Road SpeedBowl
ACT Late Model competitor David Pembroke grew up, like most Central Vermont residents, at Barre’s Thunder Road. His story is unique in that he would sit in the grandstands dreaming of becoming a Milk Bowl winner and in 2002, that dream became reality.

Pembroke began racing four wheelers in 1993 with his cousin Eric and in ‘95 the pair purchased a NAPA Tiger Sportsman car and shared the driving duties at Thunder Road. By the end of the season another car was purchased so both drivers could compete full time. David won the NAPA Tiger Sportsman title in ‘99 and made the decision to move to the Late Model class. He claimed the Thunder Road Late Model Rookie of the Year honors proving that he was up to the challenges the division would provide.

“The ACT spec engine was crucial in my decision to move up. I couldn’t afford what a lot of teams were spending on engines at the time but the new motor really fit my budget.” Pembroke finished, “We were only one of three teams to run the motor in 2000 so we were essentially the guinea pigs. It worked out well because now all ACT teams have the package and a lot of tracks in the country are adopting this affordable option for racers making Late Model racing even more competitive.”

On September 29th, 2002, his third season of Late Model competition, Pembroke captured the coveted New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl. The unique three segment format makes the Milk Bowl the toughest short track race in America, just one of the many reasons why it's the one race everyone wants to win. By claiming the prestigious event he added his name to the list of winners including Harold Hanaford, the winner of the inaugural Milk Bowl, and legendary New England racers Robbie Crouch, Bobby and Beaver Dragon.

“The best thing about being a part of the history of that race is I will always be able to say that I was the winner of the 2002 Milk Bowl, that’s really special. I wasn’t sure about kissing the cow after the race but it really wasn’t that bad. It’s part of the tradition of the race which makes it so important to keep alive. I’ve won races and a Sportsman championship but winning the Milk Bowl is definitely the highlight of my racing career.”

The 43rd Annual New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl falls four weeks after the 200 lap ACT Bond Auto Labor Day Classic which took place on September 3rd. Pembroke led from lap 75 to 148 and finished the event second to another former Milk Bowl winner (2003), Eric Williams of Hyde Park. “While it’s hard to predict because of the format of the race, I’m sure a lot of teams will be strong at the Milk Bowl including Eric (Williams) and Jean-Paul (Cyr). We are going to show up as prepared as we can and just see what happens.”

Everyone who has won the Milk Bowl has a different theory on the best way to claim the victory, Pembroke is no exception. “I think that you must have a solid second segment and must finish all of the segments. Hopefully you do well in the first so when the field is inverted you will be starting out back. It’s hard to come from deep in the pack but you have to finish in the top 10 in that second segment if you want to kiss the cow!”

The New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl will take place on September 30th/October 1st. Post time for both days is 1pm. Qualifying for the local divisions as well as the ACT Late Models will take place on Saturday. The ACT competitors will run the Booth Bros Dairy Time Trials which will award a $1,000 bonus to the driver who scores the pole position.

Image 1- David's ACT Late Model car
Image 2- 2002 Milk Bowl. Post race ceremonies. Kissing the cow
Image 3- 2002 Milk Bowl. Post race ceremonies. Drinking Booth Bros. milk