Thunder Road management has unveiled its plans for a series of facility projects that have recently been undertaken at the historic quarter-mile oval. The projects are part of the goal set by track owners Cris Michaud and Pat Malone to make Thunder Road a showplace for racing and entertainment in the Northeastern United States.
It was recently revealed that Thunder Road was in the process of building an outside retaining wall that circles the speedway. The wall extends all the way around the track except for the main pit entrance and exit as well as the “Eddie Carroll Highway” that leads onto the backstretch.
Such a wall had not previously existed in the track’s 60-year history, making its construction a surprise to many teams and fans. But the construction of this wall, which has been completed in time for the season-opening Community Bank N.A. 150 on Sunday, May 5, is just the first part of a larger plan that will have Thunder Road at the forefront of racing in the region for the next 60 years.
One of the most notable changes is to Forsythe Hill. Workers are currently in the process of moving the Turn-3 viewing area closer to the track so fans will have an even more up-close view of the racing. The hill will also be “terraced” with multi-level seating rows like in the main grandstands.
Due to winter weather delaying the start of construction on the project, Forsythe Hill will be closed for the season opener. However, work on the viewing area will be finished in time for the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic barring unforeseen circumstances.
The next phase of the larger project will add more viewing options and make it easy to access them. A patio area is planned between turns three and four with additional seating and other amenities. This will give fans a whole new perspective to watch Thunder Road racing from.
In addition, a new ticket booth is being built closer to the track. A walkway will be added from the ticket booth that goes around the outside of the wall. When it is completed, fans can go from Forsythe Hill in Turn 3 all the way to the concession stands in Turn 1 without exiting the gates.
A Kid’s Area is also planned for Turn 3. This will provide a place for young children and their families to hang out before and during the races on Thursday nights. The exact location of the Kid’s Area is to-be-determined, but it will likely be in Turn 3 near Forsythe Hill.
“When Pat (Malone) and I bought Thunder Road, it was with the understanding that we were in this for the long haul,” managing partner Cris Michaud said. “It’s about more than just keeping Thunder Road a race track. It’s about making Thunder Road THE race track to come to. Pat has a great vision of how to do just that. The work we’ve done over the past two years, such as the new pavement, new lights, and revamped concession area, was the first phase of his vision. Now we’re entering the next phase that sets up Thunder Road to be a racing and entertainment mainstay for both current and future generations.”
“We understand that, for the last week and half, most of the talk from teams and fans has been about the wall,” Michaud continued. “That alone is a big change for many people, and we realize that. However, it’s important to remember the wall is only a small part of the overall picture. None of the things we’re adding over the next year would be possible without a retaining wall that allows people to get closer to the track. We think it’s going to be really exciting to see the finished product.”
Work on these projects will continue in stages throughout the 2019 season. Each new area and amenity will be opened as it is ready so fans can start enjoying the facility additions as soon as possible.
Thunder Road opens the 2019 season on Sunday, May 5 at 1:30pm with the 21st Community Bank N.A. 150. The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Maplewood/Irving Late Models will do battle for 150 green-flag laps with the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors also in action. Admission is $25 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under.
The weekend starts with the Thunder Road Car Show at the track on Saturday, May 4 from 9:00am-12:00pm. The morning also includes a Pit Stop Competition at 10:30am, a bounce house from Sky High Slides N’ Such, face painting for kids, and live music from local band Rumblecaddy. Open practice for all divisions will follow from 1:00-5:00pm.