Thunder Road SpeedBowl
The summer battle for the Late Model “King of the Road” and Rookie of the Year, have drawn to a close following the Kinney Drugs Trophy Dash at Barre’s Thunder Road. Chad Wheeler, the Waterbury Center veteran captured the Championship title while Wolcott’s Marcel Gravel claimed the Rookie of the Year honors. Gravel is no stranger to the Rookie of the Year status as he secured the title over a decade ago (1995) at the helm of an Allen Lumber Street Stock.

The Late Model division’s top freshman driver graduated from the NAPA Tiger Sportsman class where he had six wins to his credit in the highly competitive division. While he’s yet to visit the Winner’s Circle in the powerful Late Model, he has led races, posted several top finishes and raced side-by-side with many of the division’s veterans. The 30 year-old driver had been a contender for most of the 14 race weekly schedule, a testament to the knowledge he has gained both on the track and in the pit area talking to other drivers.

Gravel is the teammate to veteran racer Pete Fecteau of Morrisville who won the 1997 Thunder Road title and the 2001 American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model championship. Fecteau and Gravel formed their partnership in the latter part of the 2005 season. Fecteau approached the year as an opportunity to teach Gravel the ins and outs of the Late Model division. Gravel will be presented an award for his achievement at the annual Banquet of Champions which will take place in January, 2007.

The ACT Tour Rookie of the Year, NAPA Tiger Sportsman, and Allen Lumber Street Stock’s will be determined following the New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl on Sunday, October 1st.

Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl management has just released the name of the Grand Marshall for the track’s $10,000 win Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200, Sunday, September 3. Marherita Pierina Domenica Scanzaroli Comolli, known locally as “Grammy Comolli,” will preside over the 28th annual event at the high-banked, quarter-mile race track.

Comolli was born in Cassio, Italy and immigrated with her parents in 1909 to the Granite City, Barre, VT. She celebrated her 100th birthday on August 22.

Her home in Barre was a second home to many of the students at nearby Norwich University. In the 1960s “Grammy” cooked meals, shared much laughter, and provided welcomed relief from the school grind to legions of cadets.

“We are very excited to have Rita Camolli as grand Marshall of the Bond Auto Parts Labor Day Classic. She is an outstanding person. It is an honor to have her part of our Bond family,” Mark Mast, marketing vice president at Bond Auto remarked.

“Grammy Comolli is one of those special people you meet in your life whose affect lasts forever. I guess it was and continues to be her positive attitude, support and love of her family, community and those that have been fortunate enough to have met her that sets her apart from most,” commented Thunder Road president Tom Curley. He continued, “Grammy Comolli had a lasting impression on me as a young Norwich cadet in 1961, and when I recently saw her, celebrating her 100th birthday, remarkably, she hadn't changed all that much. I am proud that Thunder Road can have Barre, Vermont's favorite citizen as our honorary Grand Marshall for the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200".

The 28th Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 is the second of three $10,000 to win ACTion Super Series races for the American-Canadian Tour’s (ACT) Late Model stock cars. Over 50 drivers from all six New England states and New York have entered the Sunday, September 3 race. Discount advanced sale tickets are available through the ACT office in Waterbury, VT as well as all 35 Bond Auto stores in VT, NH and MA. Adult tickets are $20 in advance but will cost $25 at the track on race weekend.

Thursday night at Barre’s Thunder Road, Chad Wheeler’s fourth place finish in the Kinney Drugs 50 secured the 2006 King of the Road title for the Waterbury Center Late Model driver. His margin of victory over two-time and defending champion, Cris Michaud of Williamstown was 41 points in the final tally (1020-979). Entering the final point counting event of the season the pair was separated by 37. The difference between the two came down to qualifying – Wheeler earned points while Michaud had to resort to the Last Chance “B” feature to make the main event.

“We had more car than we showed, I was more worried about the battle,” the veteran competitor stated. He used his trademark patience to work his way toward the front. He resisted putting himself in a risky position to go for the win and opted, instead to protect his chances at the championship. Wheeler is not the first Late Model driver to claim a title without benefit of a feature win. Phil Scott previously attained the same feat en route to one of his three crowns.

While Wheeler and Michaud kept an eye on each other’s positions in the main event, Rich Lowery of Charlotte went on to celebrate his first Late Model victory of the season at the Kinney Drugs Trophy Dash. Lowery’s performance at the Barre oval paralleled that of last week’s ACE Hardware Dash. Lowrey used the outside groove to advance his position and once in front, he was able to distance himself from the field. Unlike last week’s race, where the victory was torn from his hands by a late race caution, Lowrey was able to hold off Cambridge’s Craig Bushey when the yellow flew in the final laps of the Kinney Drugs main event. Bushey’s runner-up outing was a career best for the former NAPA Sportsman Series Champion. The man on the move was Jamie Fisher from Shelburne who finished the event third after starting 15th in the 26-car starting field. Fisher used his favored high groove to work his way into contention for the third position. Rounding out the top five were championship contenders, Wheeler and Michaud.