Thunder Road SpeedBowl
NAPA Sportsmen Take On The Road
The Merchant’s Bank 150 marks the beginning of the 2006 season for the NAPA Tiger Sportsman at Thunder Road Intl’ Speedbowl, a high-banked, quarter-mile asphalt, oval located on Quarry Hill in Barre, VT, on Saturday, April 30th. Defending Tiger Sportsman champion Shawn Fleury of Montpelier, Vermont hopes the momentum of his 2005 season will carry over to the 2006 season. “The competition at Thunder Road is always tough, it’s quite an accomplishment to be the 2005 Tiger Sportsman title holder, and I’d love to be a repeat champion.” Fleury continued “The plan for the 2006 season is to be consistent, and win some races; but in this division just qualifying is a feat.” If the 32 year-old racer successfully defends his title he’ll be the fourth driver since 1997 to win back-to-back championships at the Nation’s Site of Excitement.

Class Day To Honor Champions & Teams
Barre, VT – Race fans, teams and officials will honor the four defending Thunder Road Track Champions during the annual “Class Day” ceremonies as the Barre, Vermont speedplant opens for its 47th season of exciting stock car racing on Sunday, April 30. The ACT Late Model Tour’s Merchants Bank 150, which has a post time of 1:30 pm, will again serve as the annual lid lifter for the high-banked, quarter-mile paved oval

For the second consecutive year and third time overall, Cris Michaud of Williamstown is the defending “King of the Road” in the ACT Late Model division. As the reigning track champ, Michaud is among the favorites to win the season opener. The veteran campaigner hopes to place a Merchants Bank-sponsored car in the Winner’s Circle for the first time in the event’s eight year history. Jeff Laquerre and crew will again maintain Michaud’s Ford Fusion in 2006.

Nearly 100 At Opening Practice
Nearly 100 race teams showed up Wednesday afternoon as Thunder Road officially kicked off its 2006 race season with the first practice session of the year. Keeping track of who was in what car was a bit of a challenge as many cars were not yet in full trim – including numbers. Several teams have switched their color schemes during the off-season and while the number might have been familiar, the car’s livery belied who was at the wheel.

“I can’t believe how many cars there are,” commented Quebec’s Patrick Laperle, winner of the New England Dodge Milk Bowl at the high banked, quarter-mile oval last October. “I had to come down today because I won’t be able to make the practice after the car show next Saturday, (April 29).” Laperle will perform double duty by racing a Pro Stock car at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday night before heading to Barre for Thunder Road’s Merchants Bank 150 ACT Late Model Tour opener on Sunday (April 30).

Thirty-four Late Model teams representing five of the six New England states as well as New York and Quebec were in the pits, many shaking down their cars for the first time. “I just want to make sure nothing’s going to fall off or leak,” laughed Mark Lamberton from Mooers Forks, NY. Lamberton, a veteran Late Model driver and former Airborne Speedway champion has developed a fondness for Thunder Road, “The more I run here, the better I feel. It’s a real handling track that’s never quite the same twice, and seat time here really counts,” he explained.