Hometown: Hinesburg, VT
Division: Thunder Road Late Models
Car: Maplewood/Casella #5VT Chevrolet Impala
2017 Season: Late Model Champion; Thunder Road “King of the Road” (1 feature win)
What are your favorite non-racing hobbies?
This time of year, hunting for sure. I enjoy fishing in the wintertime as well – I don’t do a lot of fishing in the summertime because I’ve got my hands pretty well tied up with racing, but I do like ice fishing when I can. I also like carpentry work. I usually get into a kick in the wintertime where I like do little projects and stuff like that. It usually keeps me pretty busy.
What sort of carpentry projects do you do?
It’s usually little household stuff. Last year I built a big picture frame for my brother (Tom) and my sister-in-law for Christmas that had a bunch of little pictures of when they had just barely had their baby. It was a cool little Christmas gift to put together. I like reusing old wood, so I was able to collect some pallets over time, chop them apart, and make something cool out of it. I enjoy doing that.
What do you do for work?
I work for Control Technologies. Our office is based out of Williston, VT, and we also have offices in New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, and California. I mostly stay in this area and go into New Hampshire a little bit as well. We’re an energy management company. Air handlers, rooftop units, ventilation stuff – we basically go in and make things more efficient for the customer. I’m a project manager for them. It’s a lot of fun to be able to go into businesses and save them money by making them more comfortable, and it makes them happy as well.
What is your biggest life accomplishment so far?
I’m really proud of my racing stuff. Getting a track championship in the Late Models was a huge thing on my list that I wanted to get done after getting the Street Stock and the Tiger titles, so I’m really, really proud of that. I’m proud of my job, too. Being a licensed electrician and getting to a project management role is pretty cool. It’s made me enjoy going to work a lot more. As of right now, I’m just getting ready to start building a house, and once that’s done, that’ll probably be near the top of the list – but I don’t want to say that yet, because it’s not done yet!
What are your current racing plans for 2018? Do you have any goals?
We’re definitely going to do some more Late Model racing. We’re excited and curious to see what Cris (Michaud) and Pat (Malone) are going to put out for an (ACT) Tour schedule, and with Thunder Road being close to home and having so much meaning behind it, we plan on making a presence there. We’re not completely sure how much, but one way or another, we’re definitely planning on supporting Thunder Road. We still have our PASS car as well, so we’re looking to get in a few shows outside of the Late Model racing, which is fun. You have a different group of people, for sure, but I enjoy doing it. It’s the same crew that does everything with us. I’m hoping to race as much as possible next summer for sure.
What was the highlight of the 2017 season for you?
Winning the championship was definitely cool, to be able to close that out – it was stressful there for a while for all of us. But right in the beginning of the season, getting that first win at Thunder Road, was something I wanted to do in a Late Model since I first got in it. To be able to get that in the Memorial Day race was awesome. The only thing that was a little bit weird about it was we had to hop right in the PASS car right off, so there wasn’t much celebrating to do to start with. But to get that crossed off the bucket list was huge, and then to add the extra meaning to that with the granite monuments that are at the track and add my name to one of those was something else – I didn’t even realize until afterwards that was one of the races. To have that is pretty cool. I was excited about that.
How did you get started in racing?
It started when I was really young. My father and my uncles grew up racing Mini Stocks, where were the Volkswagen Beetles at Catamount and Thunder Road. It was what they grew up doing, and they loved doing it. Then they made the decision to stop racing, so when I was born, I wasn’t born at the race track like a lot of people are that are in the sport. When my father got out of it, he stepped away from it completely for a while. Then growing up, my brother and I has a four-wheeler and a three-wheeler and a little go-kart, and that led into Soap Box Derby, which is not talked about a lot around Vermont anymore. But me and brother both won state titles in that – he actually did it twice. From there we went into go-kart racing, and every summer since has been racing in one form or another. We went through the go-kart ranks, and my brother started racing Tigers at Thunder Road, and I just kind of figured I was happy with helping him out. But then I formed a relationship with Arnie Hill, who owns the #04VT Late Model now. We got together and we built our first Street Stock together working out of his shop. From there, it went up to the Tigers, and then the relationship I have with Pete with the Late Models.
Do you have someone that you consider a hero or that you take after?
I have my guys that I cheer for on Sunday and that I like to see do well and be successful, but as far as looking at the local spectrum, growing up, when I started going to Thunder Road and knowing the past stories, Joey Laquerre was one of the guys that my father used to race against. That was somebody who I more or less knew them right when I got to the track, as far as the stories that were always told. And then being able to race with him and see what he’s done with another track to continue it has been cool as well. Joey’s definitely one of the guys that I’ve heard the most about.
Who are your biggest supporters at the track?
My parents are at the track pretty much every week. My father’s actually now one of the racing commissioners for the state of Vermont, so he’s always at the track. And there are some friends who are always around. It’s either a text Thursdays before getting to the track saying good luck for that night, or a text first thing Friday morning asking how it went. My girlfriend’s a huge supporter; she’s at the race shop just about every night that I’m there, and she’s at every race with me. She’s definitely my biggest critic – she’ll be the first one to tell me when things have gone well and asking what happened when things didn’t go well. It takes everybody – it takes a room, and it takes a team. All the guys that we had on the crew this year, when a night didn’t go well, it was always, “Don’t worry, we’re gonna come back next week and win.” So it feels like after a race and if it didn’t go well, I’d have my head hung low, and I’d come in, and the guys were all excited and ready to come back the following week. It takes a crew like that to have the season that we did, to be able to rebound and come back even stronger, so I think the entire crew is considered huge supporters.
What’s your dream vacation?
A dream vacation is one you don’t have to come back to work from. (Laughs) A lot of people might find this surprising, but I’ve never been down South to see racing shops. That’s something that I definitely want to do. I’ve been on a cruise and stuff like that, but it’s not necessarily about getting away to a different country. I’d like the opportunity to go down South to see some of the shops. Another thing on my bucket list is going out West to see the rolling hills and open pastures. That’s something I’d really like to do as well. It’s something my girlfriend and I were just talking about recently – being able to see something like that would be really cool.
If someone turned on the radio/media player in your car, what would they most likely be listening to?
They’re either going to hear comedy from my Pandora, which keeps me laughing every day, or it’s going to be country music. For comedians, it’s a little bit of a mixture. Bob Marley from Maine is one of my favorites because most of the topics his skits consist of are things people can relate to very well. As for singers, I more prefer ‘90s country, actually. There’s some stuff nowadays that I like, but it’s usually the older country. There could be a very good possibility that it’ll be Johnny Cash playing too – he’s definitely one of my favorites. It might surprise a lot of people when they get in my car, that’s for sure.
If someone asked you to appear on a TV show, which one would you want it to be and why?
It would be between “The Big Bang Theory”, because I think it’s hilarious – it usually ends up on the TV at the race shop most nights – or “Family Guy”. I get a lot of crap for watching that, because I find it very funny. Not everybody finds the humor in it, but I do. I’m also a big YouTube fanatic, because you can get lost in there – time will pass so fast. (Laughs) But I watch a ton of YouTube clips. That’s usually how I wind down after a race or after work – I spend a little time just playing on the phone and going through videos.
Do you have any sports outside of racing that you play or used to play?
I played soccer in high school – I grew up playing that a lot. I played baseball for a while as well, but once I got to high school, it was mostly just soccer that I stuck with. I don’t do anything on a regular basis right now. I enjoy baseball, and I enjoy soccer – I’m horrible at golf, but I find that a lot of fun. But usually those sports are summer-related, and I don’t have a lot of time for them during the summer. (Laughs)
Who or what has had the greatest influence on your racing career?
I’ve got a couple for this one, and it might go back into the role model topic as well. When I first starting working with Pete Duto, obviously Phil Scott was there, and at that time Brad Leighton was there as well. That was back when I’d first gotten into Tiger cars, and when I first started really getting teamed up with Pete and traveling around when they were running the ACT Tour with Brad. And if I wasn’t racing at Thunder Road for some reason, I was there helping Pete with Phil. Having both of those guys around and being brought into the more serious side of racing around both of them made an impact on me. Phil because of who he is and what he’s accomplished racing at Thunder Road, Airborne, and the ACT Tour at the time, and obviously Brad’s résumé speaks for itself with the Busch North Series and things like that. Being able to work with those guys when I was still really young definitely made an impact.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
This is one that took me a long time to figure out, but it’s to keep your head on your shoulders. That’s the biggest thing. When I was really young and first got into racing, that was hard – I don’t think I did a very good job of it. Now I feel like I’m a completely different person at the race track from who I used to be, and I think that helped lead into the success that we had this year. I remember the first Tour race at Thunder Road that we were leading at the beginning of the year and I blew a tire and we wrecked the car pretty bad. It was one of those deals where there was nothing we could do about it – it wasn’t anything we had control over. And I remember Cris (Michaud) coming over and talking to me afterwards at the picnic table, and we were laughing and joking about something, and the first thing he asked me is, “Why are you laughing right now? Your car’s wrecked.” And it’s like, “That’s actually a really good question. (Laughs) But you know what? We’re going to fix it and we’ll be back for the next race.” It is what it is. It’s the sport that we chose knowing the consequences that can possibly happen. It opened my eyes a little bit – Cris had come over to make sure that we were alright, and to be laughing about it and having him point out the fact of, “Why are you laughing?” In the beginning, it was definitely tough to do, but that’s the best advice I can give anybody – just keep your head regardless. You never know who’s around. It could be a fan; it could be a potential sponsor. The way you handle yourself in good situations and in bad is extremely important.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
There’s definitely going to be racing involved, just because ever since I started out with go-karts, I’ve done it every single year, so I can’t imagine a summer without doing it. So I’ll still be racing, whether at a local or a tour level around here – I’m not sure which. But the relationship that I have with Pete Duto and FastOne Motorsports is something that I cherish a lot, so keeping that relationship with Pete is a dream come true, to have the shop that we have and the equipment that we have, and the resources. We’ll see what that brings. It’s one of the deals of “live life one day at a time and see what happens.”
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I’d go on that vacation and not come back. (Laughs) I can say what a lot of people would say as far as I’d still go to work and stuff like that, but I wouldn’t be going because I had to. So I would definitely be one of the guys who would take the opportunity and enjoy life, have my toys, and have vacations. It would give me a lot more time to do stuff that I wanted to do versus stuff that I had to do.