Thunder Road SpeedBowl

Roy "Pappy" Forsythe won the first Memorial Day event in 1961 driving this car owned by George Barber

The Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic 100 is more than a stock car race at Barre’s Thunder Road.  It is the event with the longest history at the famed ¼-mile oval, and is among the oldest continuously running short track events in United States.  The list of past winners reads like a “who’s who” of northeastern stock car racing, and winners are often referred to, throughout their entire careers, as champions of the event.  This season marks the 45th running of the race since its inception in 1961.

Roy “Pappy” Forsythe of Keene, NH won the inaugural Memorial Day Classic driving a flathead-powered Ford coupe.  Forsythe won nine more feature races that season, setting a record that still stands in 2007.  Legendary Canadian racer Jean-Paul Cabana won four times from 1965 to 1988, topped only by Hudson, NH’s Dave Dion, a nine-time champion of the event.  Dion won the event four years running on two separate occasions – the first from 1975 through 1978, the second from 1989 through 1992.  Dion also won in 1982.  Other past winners include champion drivers Robbie Crouch, Joey Kourafas, Russ Ingerson, Jean-Paul Cyr, Kevin Lepage, and Joey Laquerre.

MEET: Mike Bailey

Driver: Mike “Beetle” Bailey
Hometown: Barre, VT
Car: #00 ACT Late Model
Sponsors: DB Design, Inc./D+D Smokehouse/Bob’s Camera/Jet Service Envelope
Began Racing: 1995, Thunder Road, Allen Lumber Street Stock division

Quick Q&A…
TR: What was the greatest race you’ve been in?
Beetle: I’d say the 1998 Street Stock Mini Milk Bowl at Thunder Road.  It was the final race of the year and was five points behind Kris Grout for the championship.  I made one point in the heat race, and then I ended up winning the overall feature.  Kris had a bad run and I ended up winning the championship.

TR: You spent a long time in the Tiger Sportsman division, what was your favorite moment there?
Beetle: When I finished second to Shawn Fleury in the 100-lapper at Thunder Road in 2005, I felt like we finally had it all together.  We had won championships at Groveton, but Thunder Road is so much harder to figure out.  I felt like we really were at the top of our game at that point.

TR: What has been your favorite track?
Beetle: Thunder Road, of course.


Trampas Demers and the Thunder Road regulars will face the ACT invaders at the 45th Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic 100

Thunder Road’s Late Model stock car competitors are ready to defend their home turf.  With a challenge expected from the stars of the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) at the 45th Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic 100, the 2007 edition of the traditional holiday weekend event is the “rubber match” between the weekly warriors and the ACT big guns.

The Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic 100 became a stand-alone event in 2005 after spending over two decades as a stop on the ACT schedule.  Trampas Demers of South Burlington fended off the invaders to claim the victory for Thunder Road’s home crowd that season, while perennial ACT championship contender Brent Dragon of Milton evened the score with his win last year.

“As far as our season goes at Thunder Road, it’s one of the key races you really want to win,” said Demers.  “And my car is as good or better this year than it was when I won in 2005.”