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Thunder Road Banquet of Champions

Dave Pembroke Crowned “King of the Road” at 2011 Thunder Road Banquet of Champions

Montpelier’s Dave Pembroke was honored as the 2011 “King of the Road” at the 2011 Thunder Road Banquet of Champions on Saturday, December 10 at the Barre Elks Club. Pembroke put together one of the biggest comebacks in Thunder Road history to claim his second career Late Model title. During their first season in a Ford powered ride, Pembroke and his family team erased an 80 point deficit with back-to-back feature wins at mid-season. The Vermont State Employees Credit Union/Lamoille Valley Ford team earned the first Thunder Road track title for Ford in over twenty years. The Barre Elks Club was sold out with team members, officials and fans on hand to honor Pembroke, who claimed a $5,000 point fund check.

 Bradford’s Derrick O’Donnell received the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen Thunder Road and the Bond/WIX Tiger Tour titles following his dominant 2011 season. O’Donnell claimed a total of four wins between the two titles and never trailed in either point standings for the year. It was O’Donnell’s first titles for both the Thunder Road Tigers and the Tour.

Greg Adams, Jr. of Hardwick was honored for his first Allen Lumber Street Stock track title. After a season long battle, Adams took the championship by just three points. He earned three feature wins during his championship run.

First year Junkyard Warrior driver Jason Woodard of Waterbury took the crown. He took home nine wins during his dominant season. He will move up to the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen ranks for the 2012 season.

The 2011 Ken Squier Award went to Thunder Road Director of Operations Steve Melendy. Melendy has been a long-time employee of Thunder Road and the American Canadian Tour and is an invaluable asset to keeping both running smoothly. He was recognized for his countless hours of dedication to both Thunder Road and ACT.

The third annual Pete Hartt Memorial Media Award was given to Richard “Big” Bigelow of the Caledonian Record. The award is given in memory of former WDEV personality and Times Argus Sports Editor Pete Hartt. Bigelow has been covering Thunder Road and the American Canadian Tour through radio and print since the mid-1990’s. His weekly “Strap In” article for the Caledonian Record has been in print since 1998 and has supplied countless coverage of Thunder Road and ACT.

The Gordon R. Nielsen Rookie Achievement Award went to Montpelier’s Kyle Pembroke. Pembroke earned the 2011 Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen Rookie of the Year honors, while improving throughout the season. His clean and respectful style earned him the award, which is given in memory of former Thunder Road and ACT chief scorer Dr. Gordon Nielson.

Rookie of the Year honors went to Williamstown’s Jimmy Hebert in the Late Models, Pembroke in the Tigers, and Cabot’s Ken Christman in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks.

Sportsmanship Awards were voted on by drivers and officials for each division. Honors went to Barre’s Nick Sweet in the Late Models, and Williamstown’s Mike Ziter in the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen. Waitsfield’s Troy Kingsbury took the 2011 Ed Carroll Memorial Award for Sportsmanship in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks and Northfield’s George Sanders claimed the Junkyard Warriors award.

Most Improved Driver Awards were also voted on by the drivers and officials of the Late Models and Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen. Cody Blake of Barre earned the Late Model award, while Jason Allen also of Barre earned the Tiger award.

For the first time in several years, the Thunder Road Banquet of Champions was separate from the ACT Banquet of Champions. Thunder Road teams, fans and officials responded in overwhelming numbers as the banquet returned to Barre. The 2011 ACT Banquet of Champions will honor eight-time ACT Late Model Tour Champion Brian Hoar and two-time Série ACT Castrol Champion Patrick Laperle at the Doubletree Inn in South Burlington, VT on Saturday, January 21.