Barre, VT — As part of last weekend’s 63rd Season Opener and Community Bank 150, Thunder Road and the American-Canadian Tour celebrated their 2021 champions, top runners and rookies as well as the various annual special awards presented by the ACT sanctioning body. Because of COVID-19 concerns, the annual dinner and awards ceremony was once again held outdoors on the Thunder Road property under the afternoon sun.
Although light on attendees, there was no shortage of fun in the rk Miles Street Stocks with 8th-place ‘El Chapo’ Justin Blakely and 7th-place Jamie Davis joining young champion Kaiden ‘Tropical Storm’ Fisher to accept their point-standings trophies. Rookie of the Year Trevor Jaques was also on hand. The annual Ed Carroll Memorial Sportsmanship Award went to now-sophomore Street Stock driver Taylor Hoar. Through thick or thin in her rookie campaign, the daughter of Thunder Road track champion Brian Hoar persevered and mirrored many of the qualities the late Carroll embodied, including a love for racing.
In the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, 10th-place Tanner Woodard, 9th-place Jason Pelkey and 7th-place Sam Caron started off the season-ending list of hard chargers. 4th-in-points Bryan Wall Jr. accepted what may be his last full season effort in the division with his 2022 jump to ACT Late Models at White Mountain Motorsports Park. Lastly coming down to the father and son duo of Mike and Stephen Martin. The younger was barely edged out by his old man, with Mike earning his first Flying Tiger championship as a longtime veteran of the division.
It was the complete opposite when it came to the Myers Container Service Triple Crown top runners with Stephen earning the three-race crown and father Mike coming home 5th-in-points. Kelsea Woodard and Robert Gordon were also on hand to collect their top-5 trophies following their involvement in a three-way tie for the championship going into the final round last August. Flying Tiger Rookie of the Year Tanner Woodard was humbled when he earned the Doc Nielsen Outstanding Rookie award for 2021. By earning his first Flying Tiger win in the second Myers extra distance event, and racking up both the Thunder Road and White Mountain rookie honors, Woodard exemplified the former Thunder Road scorer’s love for mentoring rookie drivers in all divisions at The Road.
Included with the beloved division that bears their name, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel was awarded the prestigious Ken Squier Award. Annual awarded to individuals and businesses that put their hearts and souls into Thunder Road just as Ken Squier has since the day he helped build it, Lenny’s handily met the credentials. Being a sponsor since 2003, Lenny’s has gone from contingency to event and divisional sponsor with many Thunder Road faithful fondly remembering their ‘Hot Shoe Challenge’ that followed each and every post time playing of Foggy Mountain Breakdown at the track for many years.
In the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models, the top ten celebrated in style looking back on their 2021 exploits. Outside of the top points drivers of last season, two very special awards went to two very deserving members of the division. For enormous growth in ability and confidence in 2021, even after a crushing wallop into the turn one wall midseason, Chris Roberts received Thunder Road’s Most Improved Driver award. And after a season marked by the highest of highs and lowest of lows, Scott Dragon was awarded the Thunder Road Sportsmanship award for his coolness in hard situations and being a voice of reason with advice for drivers who are still a little wet behind the ears.
Rookie of the Year Brandon Lanphear was honored as he looks for more in 2022 with the Richard Green team and three-peat champion Jason Corliss graciously accepted his third-in-a-row King of the Road track championship trophy, as well as the top honors in the 2021 NE Late Model Challenge Cup. Corliss congratulated his fellow 2021 champions and gave a simple word of warning to up-and-comer Kaiden Fisher – “Do us all a favor and slow down. I think I speak for all of us Late Model drivers when I say stay down with the Tigers for awhile, we don’t want you up here kicking our [behinds].”
The annual Pete Hartt Memorial Media Award went to longtime Thunder Road and Vermont Sports supporters, Barre’s Time Argus newspaper. Ever since Thunder Road opened the gates for the first time in the summer of 1960, the Times Argus has been printing stories and legends that have made the Quarry Hill highbanks one of the most famous short tracks in the nation, and a home-away-from-home for many Vermont locals.
Last, but far from least, longtime member of the Vermont and Northeast racing community, and Thunder Road championship car owner, Larry Hebert was awarded the fifth annual Thomas M. Curley Memorial Award. As someone who lives out the same passion for stock car racing that the late, longtime promoter of Thunder Road did, Hebert was a number one choice for Thunder Road managing partner Cris Michaud. “For answering all the late-night calls and simply being one we can always count on for advice and ideas, good and bad, Larry is always there for the betterment of our sport,” said Michaud. “Because of this, he deserves the Tom Curley award more than most and I am proud to present it to [him].”
Thunder Road will roar again on Sunday, May 29th for the 59th running of the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic. Along with 125 laps for the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, rk Miles Street Stocks and Burnetts Scrap Metals Road Warriors, the mighty tour-type modifieds return to ‘The Road.’ The $10,000-to-win Granite Capital 100 for the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series will feature some of the biggest names in Modified racing when they hit the track, it’s a can’t miss show!
For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, media@thunderroadvt.