Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Pembroke Crowned “King of the Road”

Demers Fends Off Title Contender Michaud for Fisher/Federated Auto Parts Win

2007 "King of the Road" Dave Pembroke

Montpelier stock car driver Dave Pembroke was crowned the 2007 “King of the Road” at Barre’s Thunder Road on Fisher/Federated Auto Parts Night on Tuesday.  Pembroke joins a list 48 years in the making as champion of the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model division at the historic quarter-mile high-banked oval.

“It means so much to my family to win this championship,” Pembroke said as he celebrated his triumph.  “We all grew up here at Thunder Road, and to win the championship a year after Chad Wheeler, whose family has been close with mine forever, is really special.  To have raced down to the last race with drivers like Cris Michaud and Jamie Fisher, it makes everything that much sweeter.”

Pembroke entered the Fisher/Federated Auto Parts event with a 34-point lead over Fisher and a 40-point cushion over Michaud.  While Pembroke and Fisher struggled in their qualifying heats, Michaud advanced to transfer into the bonus-points semi-feature, making up precious points before the main event.

Pembroke finished ninth in the 25-car Fisher/Federated Auto Parts field, and spent the entire 50-lap race trying to reach Michaud, who rocketed toward the front from the 14th starting position.  Michaud contended for the win with South Burlington driver Trampas Demers until the closing laps.  Demers ended a month-long streak of bad luck with his victory.

In Memory - Dr. Gordon R. "Doc" Nielsen

Dr. G.R. "Doc" Nielsen, 1930-2007

Thunder Road mourns the passing of Dr. Gordon R. “Doc” Nielsen.  Doc was the chief scorer for the Thunder Road (Barre, VT) and American-Canadian Tour organizations from 1963 to 1998, and was responsible for innovations used in all types of auto racing to this day.  An intimidating figure with a piercing gaze, Nielsen had a soft spot for rookie racers, often tutoring them in procedural – and life – lessons.

Following his retirement from racing, the highly-respected insect expert and Pesticide Coordinatior (Nielsen received a B.S. in forestry and a Ph.D. in entomology) was honored with the creation of the Dr. G. R. Nielsen Rookie Achievement Award, presented to the top-performing freshman driver across all ACT/Thunder Road racing divisions each season.

Mike Martin, a Street Stock rookie at Thunder Road, was given the honor in 2006.  Other previous winners include Scott Payea, Nick Sweet, Jamie Fisher, and Billy Herring, the inaugural winner in 1998.

Doc passed away at home on Saturday following a courageous battle with cancer.  He was 77.

Lanphear Returns to Thunder Road Winner’s Circle

Rain Washes Sportsmen/Warrior Features Away

Dwayne Lanphear's Kinney Drugs win was his first at Thunder Road since the 2001 Vermont Milk Bowl

Veteran Late Model stock car racer Dwayne Lanphear of Morrisville returned to Victory Lane at Barre’s Thunder Road for the first time in six years with an impressive outside lane run in the 50-lap Kinney Drugs Trophy Dash on Thursday night.  Lanphear battled with Wolcott’s Marcel Gravel, Northfield rookie Chip Grenier, and Essex Junction veteran Dave Whitcomb throughout the event.

Lanphear took the lead from Grenier on lap eight, but surrendered it to Gravel at the half-way point.  A lap 39 caution period brought Lanphear outside Gravel for the restart, and the former Vermont Milk Bowl Champion used the higher, faster groove to his advantage.  Whitcomb made a late charge past Gravel, then pressured Lanphear for the win but ran out of time.  Gravel held on to finish third.

Montpelier’s Dave Pembroke had a productive night, moving from second place in the Thunder Road “King of the Road” Championship standings into an unofficial lead of 34 points with just one event remaining.  Pembroke’s main rivals for the title, Jamie Fisher of Shelburne and Williamstown’s Cris Michaud, suffered their worst finishes of the season in 20th and 17th respectively.  The trio was involved in a crash on lap 40 that vaulted Fisher’s car over the hood of Pembroke’s.  While Fisher and Michaud were forced to pit for repairs, Pembroke continued, finishing an incredible fourth place ahead of Grenier.