The biggest stars of local, regional, and national Late Model racing will be in Barre, VT this Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30 for the 56th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank. A growing list of racers are ready to join the exclusive list of those who have triumphed in Vermont’s most prestigious racing event.
With more than $60,000 in posted awards and the chance to add their name to a granite monument at Thunder Road, the top names in American-Canadian Tour (ACT)-type Late Model racing will take their shot at glory. Each of them knows the significance of the unique 3-segment event and how hard it is to win.
“I would call it the toughest race in New England – it’s got to be,” Memorial Day Classic winner Cody Blake said. “We’ve had five straight top-7s, so we’ve done well in it, but we’ve just never really gotten close to winning. It would be awesome to win it, that’s for sure. But it’s always the second segment that’s the hardest for us. You have to miss the wrecks, and it seems like every year, we do miss the wrecks, but then we either have bad luck or we get caught in one right at the end. I think the Milk Bowl is a good 60 percent luck.”
Five former Milk Bowl winners are expected to tackle the high banks this weekend. Hometown racers Jason Corliss and Nick Sweet are two clear favorites. Corliss is the defending Milk Bowl Champion and could become only the sixth racer to go back-to-back. Sweet is a three-time winner, and a fourth victory would put him alongside Robbie Crouch for most Milk Bowl wins.
Hudson, NH’s Joey Polewarczyk Jr., the 2010 winner, has also entered the Milk Bowl. “Joey Pole” recently stepped into an ACT Late Model for the first time in more than a year at New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park and quickly got back up to speed. The former Late Model track record holder recently stated he is eager to try and reclaim his record.
St-Denis, QC’s Patrick Laperle, who joins Sweet as a 3-time winner, has confirmed to Thunder Road officials he will enter the Milk Bowl. 2009 winner John Donahue of Graniteville has also filed an entry. Corliss, Sweet, Pole, and Laperle will all do double-duty, running the Pro All Star Series (PASS) event on Friday night before attempting to qualify for the Milk Bowl.
Plenty of racers who have long been seen as capable of winning the “Toughest Short Track Race in North America” are ready to finally do so. Milton, VT’s Scott Dragon was recently crowned “King of the Road” for the second time and is trying to become the fourth member of his family to triumph in the Milk Bowl. ACT point leader Scott Payea of Colchester has five victories at Thunder Road to his name, but a Milk Bowl win would clearly be the biggest.
South Burlington’s Trampas Demers lost the Milk Bowl to Corliss on a tiebreaker last year and is eager to come out on the winning end this time. Tour standout Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown is almost always a threat at his home track. Barre’s Blake copped three victories in weekly Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model competition this year and will go for the grand slam.
“The biggest challenge will be fixing and adjusting the car between segments,” Blake said. “We don’t have a ton of time to do stuff. And if we have a fender beat in here or there, we have to fix that before we can adjust the car for the next segment. In a perfect world, we’d like to adjust the car and make it faster for each segment. But we don’t always have that luxury.”
The Milk Bowl also brings out big names from around the region and even the country. Hinesburg’s Bobby Therrien, the 2017 Thunder Road track champion, is in search of his first date with the Victory Lane cow. Blainville, QC’s Jonathan Bouvrette, the 2017 Série ACT Champion, is one of several racers making the trip from la belle province. Former ARCA Racing Series Champion Mason Mitchell of West Des Moines, IA will make his Thunder Road debut, while East Bridgewater, MA’s Ryan Kuhn has impressed in a limited ACT schedule.
The chase for the 56th Vermont Milk Bowl crown begins with Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Qualifying Day on Saturday, September 29 at 1:00pm. The Late Models will have time trials and 50-lap qualifying races to help set the starting field. Sunday, September 30 opens with 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. All three divisions will run time trials and Segment 1 of 2-segment “Mini Milk Bowls” on Saturday. The second segment for each is on 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.
Vermont Milk Bowl Weekend opens with Northfield Savings Bank “Milk Bowl Friday” on September 28 at 6:00pm. The evening will include a 150-lap PASS Super Late Model feature, 50-lap events for the North East Mini Stock Tour and V8 Street Stock Showdown Series, and a 30-lap season finale for the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors. The night will conclude with a colossal fireworks display provided by Northstar Fireworks. Admission is $20 for adults and free for kids age 12 and under.