Barre, VT — The 43rd Optical Expressions Berlin Labor Day Classic comes to Thunder Road this Sunday, September 5. A jam-packed card includes the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) plus all local divisions in an important holiday racing weekend that can be watched live on FloRacing.
Many fans will have their eyes on the 200-lap ACT Late Model Tour main event that pays $5,000 to the winner. ACT is bringing top regional racers like D.J. Shaw, Ben Rowe, Tom Carey III, Jimmy Hebert, and Erick Sands to the Barre high banks. They’ll take on Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model standouts Christopher Pelkey, Bobby Therrien, Kyle Pembroke, Tyler Cahoon, Brooks Clark, Chip Grenier, and others plus renegades chasing a big paycheck.
However, the local racing undercard also has plenty for people to talk about. The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, RK Miles Street Stocks, and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors join the ACT Late Model Tour on the Labor Day Classic card. With just two point-counting events left following Sunday’s show, it’s now or never for these racers to make their moves.
The RK Miles Street Stocks have a busy day ahead. Due to a postponement earlier in the season, the four-cylinder class is running two events in one afternoon. They’ll begin the day with a round of qualifying and the double-purse FloRacing feature that was originally slated for Vermont Tire & Service Night. Then, after updating the points and the handicap, the Street Stocks will have another round of qualifying followed by the Optical Expressions Berlin Labor Day Classic feature.
That means two chances for Williamstown’s Tommy “Thunder” Smith, Berlin’s Kyler Davis, and West Burke’s Dean Switser Jr. to gain ground in the point standings. Shelburne’s Kaiden “Tropical Storm” Fisher broke open the battle with his win in the Street Stock Special on August 20. The 13-year-old currently leads Smith, the 2014 champion, by 33 points.
On Sunday, though, a driver can earn up to 170 points between the two events. Labor Day will effectively be the third “double points night” of the year for the Street Stocks, joining the Times Argus Midseason Championships on July 22 and a double-feature night on June 17 thanks to another rainout. Like at the previous events, drivers must combine aggression to get what they can with the knowledge that any slip-up will be magnified.
The format also means two chances for rising stars like Haidyn Pearce, Kyle MacAskill, Taylor Hoar, and Trevor Jaques to shine in front of a large crowd. The younger racers in the division have made great strides throughout the season. Sunday, they can steal the show from the ACT Late Models.
In the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, the Martin family affair rages on. Stephen Martin took the point lead from his dad Mike at the Thursday night finale. His margin is just four points, however, as the Craftsbury Common racers go tooth and nail each week. Whomever can break out of the pack first on Sunday will likely end the day as the championship leader.
They can’t just battle each other, as Hinesburg’s Derrick Calkins and Hardwick’s Jaden Perry are coming fast. Following a slow start to the season, Calkins has among the division’s best over the last two months. He’s up to third in points and has a better average finish than everyone except Stephen Martin since July 9. Perry broke out of a mid-season malaise with a win on August 20 and another strong run the following week which moved him up to fifth in points. Cameron Ouellette is sandwiched between them with a puncher’s chance at catching the Martins.
But anything can happen in the Flying Tigers. They have witnessed 11 different winners in 13 events this season. That list does not include three drivers in the overall top-10: Calkins, Sam Caron, and Kelsea Woodard. Other drivers who have shown the speed to potentially join the winner’s list includes Robert Gordon, Colin Cornell, and Justin Prescott. Fans will also want to keep an eye on the Rookie of the Year hunt, where Brandon Gray leads Tanner Woodard by a mere two points.
Finally, the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors will run a 20-lap feature to support the Labor Day Classic. They may not race for points, but pride and fun alone have proven more than enough to put on a great show every week.
Right now, the division is chasing Williamstown’s Nate “Tater” Brien and Graniteville’s “Flyin’” Fred Fleury. They’ve now combined for five feature wins this year. Williamstown’s Josh Vilbrin is the closest to catching the flying potato duo, earning four straight runner-up finishes. Bill O’Connor, Rodney Campbell, and Matt Ballard have come a long way since Opening Day, gaining the experience that the Road Warrior division is designed to give them.
Thunder Road celebrates the holiday weekend with the 43rd Optical Expressions Berlin Labor Day Classic this Sunday, September 5 at 1:00pm for the 200. The ACT Late Model Tour takes on the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model elite in a $5,000-to-win bout. They’re joined by double features for the RK Miles Street Stocks plus action for the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors.
Admission to the Labor Day Classic is $25 for adults, $10 for kids ages 6-12, and free for kids ages 5 and under. Advance tickets are available at http://www.happsnow.com/event/thunder-road-speedbowl. The event will also be televised live on FloRacing for those with a paid subscription.
For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.thunderroadvt.com. You can also get updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @ThunderRoadVT.
Thunder Road Speedbowl