Barre, VT — The 59th Northfield Savings Bank Vermont Milk Bowl Weekend arrives at Barre’s Thunder Road from Friday, October 1 to Sunday, October 3. Excitement is reaching a fever pitch among teams and fans about the capstone to the 62nd season of competition atop Quarry Hill, which can be experienced live at the track or around the world on FloRacing.
The biggest names in local and regional Late Model racing have already signed up for “The Toughest Short Track Race in North America”. Pre-registration numbers are well ahead of last year’s edition with former Milk Bowl winners, regional touring champions, weekly racing heroes, and a few surprises. All of them are getting ready for three 50-lap segments with $10,000 guaranteed to the winner and $62,000 in posted awards.
“Every year around this time, you know what’s coming,” Wolcott, VT’s Marcel J. Gravel said. “Since I’ve been a kid just a couple of years old, I’ve been going to the Milk Bowl. I know that it’s the biggest, baddest short track race in America, and I know that I want to win it someday. Everything about the event gets me jazzed up at this time of year.”
Gravel’s excitement is shared by the rest of the competitors preparing for battle. At least four previous Northfield Savings Bank Vermont Milk Bowl winners will attempt to add another kiss of a genuine Vermont dairy cow to their memory book. Barre, VT’s Jason Corliss. The three-time defending “King of the Road” has won three of the last four Milk Bowls. He now aims to try and tie Robbie Crouch’s record of four Milk Bowls.
Other previous winners on the Milk Bowl entry list include 2019 winner Bobby Therrien, 2010 winner Joey Polewarczyk Jr., and 2009 winner John Donahue. For the Donahue’s, this year’s Milk Bowl will be a true family affair, with John’s brother Bill and son Stephen also entered.
Every driver who finished in the top-10 of this year’s Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model weekly points has committed to the Milk Bowl. This includes Graniteville’s Christopher Pelkey, Danville’s Tyler Cahoon, Shelburne’s Trampas Demers, and Wolcott’s Brendan Moodie. Hinesburg’s Cooper Bouchard, who pulled the year’s biggest upset in the Late Models, is now looking for another.
Waitsfield’s Brooks Clark emerged as a Milk Bowl favorite by sweeped the ACT Late Model Tour races at Thunder Road this year. He has started 11 straight Milk Bowls, the longest such active streak, with a second and a third to his credit. Matt White is another part-time Thunder Road stud on the entry list. Craftsbury Common’s Stephen Martin, who just finished runner-up in Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tiger points, will make his Late Model debut at the Milk Bowl.
ACT point leader D.J. Shaw and reigning ACT champion Jimmy Hebert lead the charge of regional stars. Center Conway, NH’s Shaw is part of an Arnold Hill Motorsports team effort with Matthew Smith. Hebert was the runner-up at the Labor Day Classic, showing he’s close to that elusive Thunder Road Late Model win. Rhode Island’s Mike Benevides has become a Milk Bowl regular and will make the trek to Vermont again.
Sisters Reilly and Peyton Lanphear of Waterbury are also attempting to qualify for this year’s Milk Bowl. It will be the first attempt for Reilly and the second attempt for Peyton. Veterans Blair Bessett and Terry Reil are dusting off their rides for a shot at the Milk Bowl.
With such a stout field and the unique three-segment format, racers are looking for edges where they can find them. That begins with Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Qualifying Day on Saturday, October 2. It’s the only time all year that the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models time trial at Thunder Road. The fastest two times are locked into the front row for Segment 1. The times then determine the line-ups for the 50-lap qualifying races that set positions 3-18 on the Segment 1 starting grid.
“Those are essentially, at least for me, the two most important laps of the season,” said Gravel, who set the Thunder Road track record in time trials for the 2017 Milk Bowl. “Yeah, we race weekly and everything like that, but I want to nail those laps. There’s a lot of pressure on those laps, because to really have a shot at winning (the Milk Bowl), you need to start inside probably the top 6 or 8. I’m sure people have won it from deeper, but with guys like Jason Corliss, and Bobby Therrien, and all these top guys who are going to start inside the top-10 of this race, you need every advantage you can get.”
Once drivers are in the field, they must be on their game every lap. The finish of each segment is inverted for the start of the second segment. Drivers earn one point per position, and the driver with the fewest points at the end of three segments is the overall winner. They would join short track racing legends such as Robbie Crouch, Patrick Laperle, Dave Dion, Russ Ingerson, the Dragon brothers, Kevin Lepage, and Nick Sweet on the granite monument behind the track’s main tower.
The Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl is part of a huge three-day racing weekend. A total of 10 divisions are in action at the 62nd season finale. Fans will get treated to a National Championship event for the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Models, the thrill-seeking PASS Modifieds, Mini Milk Bowls for Thunder Road’s support divisions, and even two youth racing classes.
Three-day general admission and pit passes are available to come see one of the country’s most famous races. Camping is available on-site from Thursday, September 30 until Monday, October 4, letting people spend literally every second of their weekend at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement”.
Thunder Road caps the 2021 racing season with Vermont Milk Bowl Weekend from Friday, October 1 to Sunday, October 3. The weekend begins with Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Milk Bowl Friday on October 1 at 6:00pm. The Milk Bowl prelude includes the PASS Super Late Models, PASS Modifieds, North East Mini Stock Tour, and Honey Badger Bar & Grill Street Stock Series.
Saturday, October 2 at 1:00pm is Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Qualifying Day. The Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models run time trials and 50-lap qualifying races on Saturday to set the Milk Bowl starting field. The Last Chance B-Feature is Sunday, October 3 at 12:15pm followed by the 59th Northfield Savings Bank Vermont Milk Bowl. The weekend also includes Mini Milk Bowls for the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, RK Miles Street Stocks, Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors, Dads 4 By Tool & Supply Kids Trucks, and Junior Champ Karts.
A three-day ticket to Vermont Milk Bowl Weekend is just $50 for adults, $15 for kids ages 6-12, and free for kids ages 5 and under. Single-day tickets for each day are also available. Advance tickets can be purchased at http://www.happsnow.com/event/
For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, media@thunderroadvt.