The Community Bank N.A. 150 on Sunday, April 29 at 1:00pm will kick off the 59th season of racing at Barre’s Thunder Road. While the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models headline the card, the track’s famed Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers are certain to shine as well. One of the largest Opening Day fields in years is anticipated for Thunder Road’s longest-running racing class.
The Tigers begin their 2018 championship chase at the Community Bank 150 as the division enters its 37th consecutive season of competition. Many drivers from the 2017 season will return for this year’s campaign with the title up for grabs. Defending Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tiger Champion Jason Woodard will begin the season on the sidelines while runner-up Brendan Moodie has moved up to the Maplewood/Irving Late Models. A number of veterans and rising stars will thus look to ascend the throne.
Morrisville’s Dwayne Lanphear and Hinesburg’s Trevor Lyman come in as the early favorites for the title. The duo finished third and fourth in the 2017 standings and combined for six wins. Lanphear was the 1991 Flying Tiger champion while Lyman is seeking his first crown.
“I can’t wait for the season to start,” Lyman said. “We’d like to contend for the title. But there’s a lot of luck that’s involved. You don’t know what’s going to happen on any given night. You just have to try and keep momentum in your favor and be in the right place at the right time.”
Craftsbury Common’s Mike Martin, the defending Myers Container Service Triple Crown Series, will figure to be in the championship hunt as well. Former Champion Joe Steffen of Grand Isle is a perennial contender, as is Essex veteran Mike Billado. Both could end up in the title chase this year.
Other veterans look to take the next step. Milton’s Robert Gordon is a multi-time Super Stock champion around the region and is ready to build on a solid first season at Thunder Road. Multi-time Tiger winner Cameron Ouellette of Barre also plans to return after an abbreviated 2017 campaign.
They will have to contend with a huge fleet of up-and-coming Tiger racers. Most of last year’s strong rookie class will return, and a number of drivers have moved up from the Allen Lumber Street Stock or Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior ranks. The incoming class includes Cooper Bouchard, Kelsea Woodard, Kevin Streeter, and Brandon Lanphear, all of whom finished in the top-6 in the 2017 Street Stock standings. Other young drivers such as Colin Cornell and Eric Messier will join the Tigers after having success at other tracks.
“It’s great to have so many new drivers,” Lyman said. “I remember years ago when I was racing Tigers, there were 30 or 35 every week. It’s good for the division. It makes everybody work that much harder. You can’t take anything for granted.”
The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers will open their 2018 season as part of the 20th Community Bank N.A. 150 on Sunday, April 29 at 1:30pm. The event will feature 150 green-flag laps for the ACT Late Model Tour along with the Tigers, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors. The pits will open at 8:00am and the front gates will open at 10:00am. Admission is $25 for adults and free for kids age 12 and under.
The weekend begins with the annual Downtown Barre Car Show on Saturday, April 28 from 9:00am to 12:00pm. The show, which features a pit stop competition for all 2017 champions, will be followed by a parade to the track. An open practice session for all divisions will follow.