Barre, VT – Barre’s Thunder Road will be the stage for two big days of holiday racing this Saturday, August 31 and Sunday, September 1. The final Thursday event may have been run, but there is plenty of action left to be had at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement” before the curtains are drawn on 2019.
The 41st Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic this Sunday will bring in the biggest stars of American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model racing from across the Northeast. Racers such as Plainfield, NH’s Rich Dubeau, Colchester’s Scott Payea, E. Bridgewater, MA’s Ryan Kuhn, and Williamstown’s Jimmy Hebert are coming to do battle in the 200-lap event for the ACT Late Model Tour. With just two point-counting events remaining in the ACT season, no holds will be barred in the drive to become the 2019 ACT champion.
But they’re just one part of the packed holiday weekend doubleheader. Five divisions and touring series are in action with more than 600 laps of racing planned. Every one of those laps will have something on the line as racers battle for points, money, and pride.
“Labor Day is one of those holidays that just screams ‘let’s go racing’”, Thunder Road managing partner Cris Michaud said. “Making the weekend a doubleheader this year, and putting on a unique show each day, just adds to the experience for fans. It’s just one of the many exciting things we still have to offer during Thunder Road’s 60th season.”
The Labor Day Classic itself, which caps off this weekend, is a battle of speed and strategy like few others in the region. ACT’s best and brightest are expected to be faced with the unenviable challenge of beating out Thunder Road’s Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model stars. Although the event does not count for track championship points, the locals always jump at the chance to take on the outsiders.
More often than not, the locals have gotten the upper hand. At last year’s Labor Day Classic, the top-four finishers were all weekly Thunder Road competitors, and they’ll be ready to roar again this year. Jason Corliss, Scott Dragon, Cody Blake, and Marcel J. Gravel are just some of the Thunder Road runners expected to be in attendance. Add in entries from strong part-timers such as 2019 Vermont Governor’s Cup winner Brooks Clark and multi-time Devil’s Bowl Speedway Champion Josh Masterson, and the pits will be full of racers trying to get their name on one of Thunder Road’s granite monuments.
Sunday’s event also includes 50-lap features for the both the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors. The Flying Tigers have two events left in their championship season, and heading into the weekend, Waterbury Center’s Jason Woodard is in the catbird’s seat for a third championship. Woodard surged to a 29-point lead last week after Craftsbury’s Stephen Martin spent the feature mired in traffic. Martin knows he needs to bounce back in a hurry — but he’ll have to beat out other top runners such as Brandon Lanphear, Tyler Austin, and Kelsea Woodard in order to gain ground.
The Warriors will be competing in the first annual Road Warrior Challenge. The 50-lap, $500-to-win event is the biggest in the division history and has been the talk of the pits. Favorites such as Brian Putney, Eric Chase, Josh Vilbrin, Kylar Davis, and Sean McCarthy may have to compete with some outsiders as well who hope to swipe the glory.
The prologue to the Labor Day Classic will surely be an outstanding show in its own right. Four Cylinder Saturday on Saturday, August 31 brings together three divisions that make up for their lower cylinder count in sheer thrills. The North East Mini Stock Tour (NEMST) returns to Thunder Road for a 50-lap feature. It will be the third-ever NEMST visit to the Barre high banks as drivers like Matthew Kimball, Emerson Cayer, Michael Vien, and Erin Aiken look to break into the track’s hallowed Victory Lane.
The Allen Lumber Street Stocks and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors join the Saturday card for added-distance features. The 35-lap Street Stock feature arrives just as the championship battle has tightened up. Barre’s Jeffrey Martin is still the man on top, but his lead over 2014 Champion Tommy “Thunder” Smith of Williamstown is down to just 12 points.
Wolcott’s Jamie Davis, a two-time Street Stock Champion, also made significant gains last week and is now 36 points out of first. The Road Warriors have a 30-lap feature on Saturday, giving Kylar Davis, Brian Putney, James Dopp, Haidyn Pearce, and others in Thunder Road’s entry-level division a doubleheader weekend to showcase their popular brand of excitement.
The doubleheader weekend at Thunder Road begins at 6:00pm on Saturday, August 31 with Four Cylinder Saturday. Admission for the trio of four-cylinder showdowns is just $10 for adults and $3 for kids age 6-12. The pits open at 3:00pm and the front gates open at 4:15pm.
Action continues Sunday, September 1 with the 41st Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic. Post time is 1:30pm for a program that includes the ACT Late Model Tour, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, and the first annual Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior Challenge. The pits open at 8:30am and the front gates open at 10:30am. Admission is $25 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under.
Holiday camping is also available at Thunder Road for the weekend. The grounds will be open from 12:00pm on Friday, August 30 to 12:00pm on Monday, September 2. Site fees are $35 per self-contained camper.