Barre’s Thunder Road is the place to be this week for fans of short-track racing. The Aubuchon Hardware Holiday Fireworks Spectacular this Tuesday, July 3 at 7:00pm kicks off a doubleheader that celebrates the nation’s Independence Day with not one, but two nights of high-octane thrills.
The Holiday Spectacular is one of the biggest events every year on the Thunder Road calendar. A full house is expected Tuesday to cheer on a night of championship action for the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, and Allen Lumber Street Stocks. Fans will be treated to one of the best fireworks displays in the region to cap off the evening.
Just two days later, Thunder Road is back to business with Renewable Energies Night on Thursday, July 5 at 7:00pm. The Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors will join the Late Models, Flying Tigers, and Street Stocks with twin 25-lap features. Also on the program is the annual Marvin Johnson Memorial Street Stock Non-Winners race. The event is presented by a consortium of companies and organizations that work to help people save money by reducing energy use.
The holiday twin bill concludes a busy stretch of three events in seven days at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement”. This demanding run will play a big role in shaping the rest of the 2018 season. By the time the final checkered flag falls on Thursday, drivers and fans may know who they can expect to fight it out for the 2018 track championships.
Each of Thunder Road’s divisions has a lot on the line over the next three days. An off night by South Burlington’s Trampas Demers last Friday tightened the Late Model championship chase considerably. In fact, Barre’s Jason Corliss now has a 3-point edge over Demers in the “King of the Road” battle. Milton’s Scott Dragon vaulted to the third spot, 20 points back of Corliss, on the strength of his third straight top-5 finish.
Memorial Day Classic winner Cody Blake and first-year Thunder Road competitor Evan Hallstrom complete the top-5. Friday winner Stephen Donahue, veteran Mike Bailey, and former Rookie of the Year Darrell Morin all sit right on the cusp of title contention and could vault into the hunt with two strong runs.
The Flying Tiger championship picture looks different as well after their double features last Friday. Morrisville’s Dwayne Lanphear has cooled off a little since his torrid start, allowing several other racers into the mix. Craftsbury Common’s Joel Hodgdon continues to sit second in points and has trimmed Lanphear’s advantage to 13 markers. Grand Isle’s Joe Steffen is up to third after scoring his win on Friday.
Lanphear’s son Brandon was the hottest driver at Thunder Road in June. He has posted podium finishes in four straight Tiger features, vaulting him to fourth in points and giving him a big lead in the Rookie of the Year battle. Hinesburg’s Trevor Lyman rounds out the overall top-5.
In the Street Stocks, Matthew Smith’s attempt to run away and hide hit a large pothole on Friday. The Essex Jct. veteran was in a hard heat-race crash with Will Hennequin and retired early from the feature as a result. This misfortune, combined with a runner-up finish for Barre’s Jeffrey Martin, cut Smith’s lead over Martin to just five points. Logan Powers, Stephen Martin, and Tim Hunt are all in a tie for third, but still have some ground to make up on the front two.
A strong field of Road Warriors is expected on Thursday for their “Twin 25s”. James Dopp, Kyle MacAskill, and Frank Putney have all scored wins this year and will be threats to do so again.
The Independence Day celebration at Thunder Road begins Tuesday, July 3 at 7:00pm with the Aubuchon Hardware Holiday Spectacular. Admission for both events is just $12 for adults, $3 for kids ages 6-12, and $25 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids). The pits will open at 3:30pm and the front gates will open at 5:15pm.