Thunder Road SpeedBowl
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 Winnerís 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.

Scott, Becker Not Giving Up Thunder Road Title Fight

Phil Scott in victory lane last Thursday

Stock car drivers Phil Scott and Joey Becker are currently chasing a trio of tightly-grouped championship point leaders at Barre’s Thunder Road entering Thursday’s 50-lap Kinney Drugs trophy dash, the final Thursday night event on the Thunder Road schedule.  Veteran racer Scott is a three-time American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model “King of the Road” while Becker is a young up-and-comer, having won the Rookie of the Year title in 2003.

“We’re still in this thing,” said Scott.  “We’ve been on a roll lately, and we’re really building momentum.”  The Middlesex driver picked up his first victory of the season in last week’s Vermont ACE Hardware Dealers feature and now trails leader Jamie Fisher by 57 points.  “We had a tough early season, but we can chase the leaders down, it’s been done before.  The good part is that there’s no pressure from where my team sits; the top three are fighting tooth-and-nail, and my job right now is to sneak into it.”

Fisher, a Shelburne native, leads Dave Pembroke of Montpelier and Williamstown’s Cris Michaud by a total spread of just seven points, the closest three-way battle in Thunder Road’s 48-year history.  Scott paces Becker by two points.  In terms of sheer mathematics, fifteen drivers are still within the championship window with two races remaining.  The final point-counting race for the Late Model division is at next Tuesday’s Fisher/Federated Auto Parts event.