Thunder Road SpeedBowl
NAPA Tiger Sportsmen “All Good” at Thunder Road

A change has begun at Barre, VT’s Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl.  Stock car racing is a 49 year-old tradition at the Quarry Hill oval, and one of its benchmarks has been the NAPA Tiger Sportsman division – an intermediate, budget-minded class utilizing stock chassis and V8 power.  Over 35 Sportsman cars are expected on Ferguson Waterworks Night, Thursday, June 12 at 6:30pm at “The Nation’s Site of Excitement,” to continue producing some of the closest racing of the season.

But in that, there’s a problem: Everyone is good.

Gone are the days of the dominant seasons where a driver could win four, five, or six races on his way to the championship.  In fact, no driver has been able to win more than three times a season in the last seven years.  The racing is razor-close, taking for example the finish between veteran Rick Garand and teenager James Hebert at the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic, where the pair raced side-by-side inches apart for the win.  But now more than ever, there is no clear-cut favorite to win the title.

Alexander Adds Thunder Road to Modified Win List

Open-wheel True Value Modified Racing Series stock car driver Kirk Alexander of West Swanzey, NH won the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic 100 at Barre, VT’s Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl on Sunday afternoon.  Alexander has now posted at least one victory on every track the True Value Modifieds have visited since 2004.  The Memorial Day Classic was the series’ first appearance at the historic 1/4-mile oval, and the first Modified division event at the track since 1965.

“You know, I’m fortunate to win a lot of races, but I just can’t believe I won at Thunder Road,” said an exhausted Alexander in victory lane.  “This place is so great, with so many great fans, and it’s so important for all of us to race here.  It’s an amazing feeling to win here.”

Alexander started next-to-last on the 25-car grid, and methodically picked his way through traffic before restarting on outside of the front row on the final restart at lap 83.  From there, he passed leader Peter Jarvis of Ascutney, VT and pulled away to a four car-length lead for the win.  Jarvis was passed on lap 94 by his brother, Dwight.  Dwight Jarvis, also of Ascutney, VT, finished second.  Peter Jarvis held off Eddie Dachenhausen of Danbury, CT for the third position.

Garand Edges Hebert for Thunder Road Sportsman Victory

Veteran stock car driver Rick Garand of Middlesex, VT edged 17 year-old James Hebert of Williamstown, VT for his first NAPA Tiger Sportsman victory since 1995 at Barre, VT’s Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl on Sunday.  Garand and Hebert raced inches apart over the final five laps for the win during the 46th Annual Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic.

“The last race I won was the day before my son was born 13 years ago,” said Garand in victory lane.  “I’m glad I finally got to win again for him, and I’m happy for these young kids like Jimmy Hebert.  It was a lot of fun out there today.”

Garand’s Dukette Sandblast/J. Morgans Chevrolet notched the win over Hebert, Milton, VT’s Eric Badore, Barre, VT’s Doug Crowningshield, and Midlesex, VT’s Pete Ainsworth.  Joel Hodgdon, Tom Therrien, Ricky Roberts, Craig Bushey, and Mark Barnier completed the unofficial top ten in order.