This year, the thirst for victory in the Milk Bowl will extend far beyond the Northeast. West Des Moines, Iowa’s Mason Mitchell, the 2014 ARCA Racing Series Champion, has officially entered the 56th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank and will look to bring the famed milk can trophy back to the heartland.
Mitchell will make his debut on the Barre high banks in the prestigious event on Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30 as first reported by Speed51.com. He will drive a car owned by 7-time White Mountain Motorsports Park Late Model Champion Quinny Welch and prepared by Crazy Horse Racing, a premier American-Canadian Tour (ACT) chassis builder based in South Paris, Maine.
The 24-year-old has become familiar with Thunder Road through his own interest in short track racing and his friendship with Austin Theriault, the 2017 ARCA Champion and a former ACT competitor. He said he started talking about entering the event months ago, but admitted “your answer is as good as mine” as to how the idea came about.
“I’ve known of the track for a long time, and I know it’s a special race that’s coming up,” Mitchell said. “And with my current situation, I thought, ‘Heck, why not? Let put something together.’ It’s going to be totally random, but I’m looking forward to it.”
In addition to being his first visit to Thunder Road, the Milk Bowl will also be Mitchell’s first time behind the wheel of an ACT Late Model. He has been doing his homework on both the cars and the track in preparation for his debut.
“I’ve been watching film as much as I can and taking notes,” he said. “I’ve been talking to a few local drivers that have been more than helpful with any questions I’ve had. The team I’m running for obviously has a lot of experience, so I’m leaning on those guys as much as I can to help me get up to speed as soon as I can. I’ve just been using all of the friends and resources I can to help me learn.”
“The track and the competitors are no slouches,” Mitchell added. “I have huge respect for everybody who races the event and for the guys who race weekly there. The track looks like a blast to drive. It’s a short track, but it looks like it you have to have a lot of discipline, or it can come out and bite you. It puts on some great races – I’ve watched a ton of video on YouTube. And it’s great to see how the fans come out and support it. You don’t see that (in short track racing) as much as you used to. It’s cool to see that interaction.”
For Mitchell, the event is also the first major step in getting back to what he loves about racing. Since winning the ARCA championship, Mitchell had competed on an increasingly sporadic basis behind the wheel while running his Mason Mitchell Motorsports team. Mitchell elected to shut the team down this past July and is looking forward to just enjoying racing at Milk Bowl Weekend.
“It might seem like a negative, but (shutting down my team) was actually a positive for me,” Mitchell said. “It’s allowing me to regroup and refocus so I can get myself behind the wheel. With the situation I was in with my team, we had a lot of success, but I wasn’t able to drive. And the reason I got involved with racing was so I could be driving and enjoy it, and I just wasn’t enjoying it doing what I was doing. So I decided to shut my team down and regroup and get back behind the wheel. This is really the first opportunity I’ve had and position I’ve been able to put myself in to get to racing again.”
“This sounds crazy, but I haven’t been this excited to go a race track and race probably since my ARCA debut,” he continued. “It’s more than just going to a race for me. It’s the whole element of going up there, racing for a team, enjoying myself, and being able to focus on just one thing, and that’s doing the best job I can possibly do for the team and for the people that helped me put this whole deal together. For all the years that I raced ARCA – except for when I first started – I was always racing for myself. When you’re doing that, the ups are probably more enjoyable than anything you can ever do in life, but the downs are just an awful experience, and you’ve got so much on your plate to deal with all the time. It’s way more than just focusing on racing. You’ve got to do so much more, so it takes a lot of the fun out of it. This is just so much more fun. We’ve been working on this for a long time, we’ve known we’ve been wanting to do the event for a while, and we put it together a long time ago. I’ve been so anxious, pumped up, and excited to do this race for months now, and it’s right around the corner.”
Mitchell’s quest to take home the 56th Vermont Milk Bowl begins with Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Qualifying Day on Saturday, September 29 at 1:00pm. The Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models will set the first 22 spots on the 26-car starting grid with Time Trials and 50-lap qualifying races to help set the 26-car starting field. Sunday, September 30 will see the Last Chance “B” Feature at 12:15pm followed by Milk Bowl Opening Ceremonies at 1:00pm. The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and New England Dwarf Cars are also on the schedule for both Saturday and Sunday.
Adult admission for the 56th Vermont Milk Bowl is $30 for a 2-day Saturday/Sunday ticket and $10 for Saturday only. Kids age 12 and under will be admitted free on both days. The front gates open at 10:00am on Saturday and Sunday.