2022 Season Wraps Up Officially at Banquet of Champions

Barre, VT — The top runners of the 2022 American-Canadian Tour and Thunder Road seasons were honored with the annual Banquet of Champions in Barre, Vermont on Saturday. Over 300 drivers, team members, family and series staff flooded into the Barre Elks Club to celebrate the season’s accomplishments with over $75,000 in point funds and contingency awards released to the hard-earned weekly warriors of Thunder Road and the touring powerhouse teams of the American-Canadian Tour.

Alongside the top-10 drivers and rookies in each Thunder Road division, including the Myers Container Service Flying Tiger Triple Crown Series, several special awards were received by some very deserving individuals that call the Barre track home on Thursday nights. Among them, Justin ‘El Chopo’ Blakely was awarded the Ed Carroll Sportsmanship Award for the rk Miles Street Stocks for his comradery among his 4-cylinder peers and stepping up to assist American-Canadian Tour events at Thunder Road and White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, New Hampshire in 2022. 

Fellow Street Stocker Luke Peters was awarded the annual Most Improved Driver award for the weekly track after taking huge strides in his sophomore year to end up 4th in overall points and stealing away the season ending Mini Milk Bowl in October. Dean Switser Jr. received his 2022 rk Miles Street Stock Championship hardware, thanking his family for the support needed to tackle one of the most competitive four-cylinder divisions in the Northeast. 

Along with his 2022 Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tiger Championship hardware, Milton’s Sam Caron was awarded the Thunder Road Sportsmanship Award by Head Technical Inspector Chuck Beede for his consistent good spirits, fun attitude and willingness to help others in his division and beyond. Top Flying Tiger rookie Kaiden Fisher was awarded the Doc Nielsen Award for an outstanding run in his inaugural season, tackling the top support division at both Thunder Road and White Mountain Motorsports Park in a grueling 31-event stretch. 

Thunder Road’s most illustrious award, the Ken Squier Award for contributions to the iconic Barre Speedbowl was given to longtime staff members Eric and Brooke Wright. Along with completing the best track safety crew in the Northeast, these brothers are seen across the racetrack property throughout the summer tackling all the projects that help make Thunder Road stand out among the crowd. 

2022 King of the Road, Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model champion Christopher Pelkey rounded out the Thunder Road portion of the ceremony with his season-ending championship speech. Highlighting the strengths of his crew and family, especially the team wives, Pelkey took time to thank everyone along the length of his career on the Barre highbanks that helped elevate him to the top. He takes great pride in having the family business etch his name in the granite monuments at Thunder Road and is looking forward to next season.

On the American-Canadian Tour side, Groveton, New Hampshire’s Shawn Swallow received the 2022 Most Improved Driver award after advancing his career best points finish and coming up just short of his first win in amazing fashion at this year’s Labor Day Classic behind D.J. Shaw. A banner year for the Granite Stater promises much to come in the seasons ahead.

Speaking of Shaw, both D.J. and car owner Arny Hill were in attendance to accept their first ACT Championship honors. While the soft-spoken Hill opted out of the acceptance speech, a very grateful Shaw thanked the team, his fellow drivers and the series itself and hinted that his ACT days are far from over. The A.H. Fence Co. Ford Mustang team leader Andrew Cimonetti was given the Crew Chief of the Year award by ACT Director of Competition Pete Knights after posting top-ten finishes in all 13 events partnered with Shaw and Hill, showing his strength to overcome the obstacles and changing conditions of new tracks throughout the year. 

Sophomore touring driver Erick Sands from Derry, New Hampshire earned the 2022 ACT Sportsmanship Award for being the light of any pit area with his can-do attitude who enjoys all the successes, both small and large. ACT Rookie of the Year Alexendre Tardif was also awarded for his successful inaugural season that saw him in victory five times with podium finishes across the Northeast. Tardif is also the first ever American-Canadian Tour rookie to hail from Quebec and the first Canadian rookie since Ontario’s Kim Wallace took the honors back in 1992. 

To end the evening’s award ceremony, American-Canadian Tour and Thunder Road managing partner Cris Michaud joined the stage to gift longtime car owner Richard Green the 2022 Thomas M. Curley Memorial Award. In the vein of longtime Northeast promoter, the Memorial was awarded to Green for his contributions to the Thunder Road late model program over the last twenty-plus years as he grew from humble beginnings to make his team the car the beat week in and week out. An emotional Green thanked his longtime crew for their support and success as a proud member of the Thunder Road family. 

The American-Canadian Tour and Thunder Road Banquet of Champions officially closes out the 2022 season. Officials are hard at work finalizing the 2023 schedule of events for Thunder Road and the American-Canadian Tour with exciting announcements still to come. Rules for all American-Canadian Tour divisions are also in the process of finalization and will be released in the near future. All pre-season forms including license applications, full season entries and season pass forms will also be released in the coming weeks. 

For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, media@thunderroadvt.com, or visit http://www.thunderroadvt.com. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @ThunderRoadVT.

(Alan Ward photo, Car Owner Arnold Hill (L) and Driver D.J. Shaw (R) celebrate the 2022 American-Canadian Tour Championship.)

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