Barre’s Thunder Road caps off the 2017 racing season with the 55th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank on Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1. Drivers from throughout New England and Quebec have already entered the event, but a number of local racers are expected to take on the invaders and defend their home turf in “The Toughest Short Track Stock Car Race in North America”.
Nearly all of the top weekly Thunder Road Late Model weekly racers have entered the prestigious event. Newly crowned “King of the Road” Bobby Therrien of Hinesburg, season runner-up Trampas Demers of South Burlington and three-time 2017 feature winner Jason Corliss of Barre are among those who have filed entries. Corliss will be looking to win his first Milk Bowl after finishing second overall in the 2016 event.
“Perfection is basically what the Milk Bowl boils down to,” Corliss said. “We ran an almost-perfect Milk Bowl last year. Everything went the right way until the very end, and we ended up just a couple spots short of where we needed to be. We have the same game plan this year as last year – you’ve got to be as aggressive as you can, but smart at the same time. You just need to have everything fall your way and hope to be there at the end.”
2016 “King of the Road” Scott Dragon of Milton has also entered the Milk Bowl and looks to become the fourth member of his family to win the event. Other weekly Thunder Road racers who will look to claim the crown include 2017 feature winners Cody Blake of Barre, Tyler Cahoon of Danville, Kyle Pembroke of Montpelier, Boomer Morris of Barre, and Christopher Pelkey of Barre.
The Milk Bowl is run in three 50-lap segments with the finishing order of each segment inverted to start the next segment. The driver with the lowest combined finish will be the winner. Each segment is equal to a weekly Thunder Road Late Model feature, and when combined with the repaving of the track earlier in the season, the locals could have a big edge come Milk Bowl weekend.
“I think the locals have a little bit more of an advantage this year, especially due to the repaving of the track,” Cahoon said. “We’ve done a lot of different things to our setups this year in order to maintain a fast car for the short runs, and I think that’s going to be a huge advantage on our part. For drivers who maybe have shown up once or twice this year, the track has changed so much throughout the season. If they came in the spring, this fall is a different race track.”
“I think that one of the joys of the Milk Bowl is that it definitely caters to the weekly Thunder Road drivers that run those 50-lappers every week,” Corliss added. “If you’re used to that type of pressure and that type of atmosphere – 50 laps of ‘get up on the wheel and go as hard as you can’ – it’s definitely going to favor the weekly guys. Hopefully it favors us the most by the time it’s all over!”
In order to capture the 2017 Vermont Milk Bowl, the locals will have to fend off the top talent in the Northeast. Three-time Milk Bowl winners Nick Sweet, Patrick Laperle, and Kevin Lepage have entered this year’s edition and will look to tie Robbie Crouch with a fourth victory. Current American-Canadian Tour (ACT) point leader Scott Payea, reigning Serié ACT Champion Jonathan Bouvrette, 2014 Serié ACT Champion Alex Labbé, and multi-time ACT Late Model Tour winner Dillon Moltz are among the drivers looking to add their names to the record books.
All the action begins with Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Milk Bowl Qualifying Day on Saturday, September 30 at 1:00pm. Time trials and “Triple 50” qualifying races will help set the starting field, with the 55th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank set for Sunday, October 1 at 1:00pm. The weekend will also include two-segment “Mini Milk Bowls” for the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and New England Dwarf Cars, while the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors will have a Saturday event.
Adult admission for the Vermont Milk Bowl is just $30 for a two-day ticket or $10 for Saturday only. Kids ages 12 and under will be admitted free on both days. The front gates will open at 10:00am on both Saturday and Sunday. An optional practice day for the Thunder Road Late Models, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, and Allen Lumber Street Stocks is scheduled for Friday, September 29 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm.