Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Chad Wheeler of Waterbury Ctr, VT, was crowned as Thunder Road’s 2006 Late Model “King of the Road” Saturday night at the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center in Burlington, VT. Wheeler became the first driver to win a Late Model title without benefit of a win since Phil Scott performed the feat in 1996. In accepting his award an emotional Wheeler announced that he was hanging up his racing helmet and would not return to defend the title he’d chased for so many years, “My wife has given me three beautiful sons and now it’s time to be with them,” he said. The 33 year-old received a standing ovation following his heartfelt remarks which included thanks to his crew, many of whom he had grown up with.

Shawn Fleury from Montpelier, VT claimed his second consecutive NAPA Tiger Sportsman title and announced to the nearly 500 in attendance that he too would not return to defend his title. The veteran competitor stated that he had recently solidified a deal to run a Late Model at Thunder Road in 2007 although he did not publicly offer details about his plans for the coming season.

Eric Badore from Georgia, VT was presented with the championship hardware and a coat for his Allen Lumber Street Stock title from Burnie Allen of Allen Lumber. Badore was the third 2006 “King of the Road” to announce that he would not defend a crown. The youngster’s remarks surprised few as he had briefly tested the waters in the NAPA Tiger Sportsman ranks last year.

Maynard Bartlett Jr of Wolcott, VT was the crowned as 2006 PowerShift Warrior champion, the fourth different driver in the division’s four year history.

Top right - Late Model Champion, Chad Wheeler
Top left - NAPA Tiger Sportsman Champion, Shawn Fleury
Lower right - Allen Lumber Street Stock Champion, Eric Badore
Lower left - Power Shift Warrior Champion, Maynard Bartlett Jr.

The Late Model, NAPA Tiger Sportsman and Allen Lumber Street Stock divisions also crowned their Rookies of the Year. Wolcott, Vermont's Marcel Gravel was honored from Thunder Road's Late Model class, Matt Potter from Plainfield, VT was the Sportsman division's top first year racer and Shawn Sicard from Williamstown, VT edged out his fellow rookie in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks.

Several special awards, voted on by the ACT membership, were also bestowed at the annual Banquet of Champions. The Ed Carroll Memorial Award for Street Stock Sportsmanship went to Sicard. The award, started in 2002, is named in honor of a former Thunder Road official. Other drivers on the ballot for the award were Joel Hodgdon, Gary Mullen and Tim Potter.

A Most Improved Driver Award and a Sportsmanship Award are given annually in the NAPA Tiger Sportsman division. Nominating ballots are sent out in the fall and the drivers names appearing most frequently are put on a final ballot, which is also sent to the membership and officials for voting. On the ballot for the Most Improved Driver Award were Scott Coburn, Jeff French, Brendan Moodie and Matt White. Second year driver White of Northfield, VT who finished second in the season long standings got the nod. The Sportsmanship nominees were Chuck Beede, Chris Gendreau, Justin Hart and Moodie. Moodie, one of the Sportsman division's young guns was voted as the Sportsmanship award winner.

The Dr. G.R. Nielsen Rookie Award for the outstanding freshman driver from across all first year racers went to Mike Martin from Craftsbury Common, VT. Martin, the 2005 PowerShift Warrior champion, competed in the Allen Lumber Street Stock class and finished a close second to Sicard.

The battle for the 2007 “King of the Road” crowns begins on Sunday, May 6 in the Merchants Bank 150.

For information on the ACT Tour and other special award visit or click on the ACT logo in the top right corner.