PHOTO: Kevin Chaffee, of Fairlee, Vt., had three top five point finishes in three dirt track divisions and was named 2011 Vermont Motorsports Magazine Driver of the Year by the readers of www.vtmotormag.com. (Alan Ward photos)

Dirt Track Racing Front Runner edges out ACT Tiger Champion O’Donnell

BURLINGTON, VT — Dirt track stock car racing driver Kevin Chaffee has been named the Vermont Motorsports Magazine 2011 Driver of the Year by the readers of www.vtmotormag.com

Over 13,000 votes were cast across eleven categories in a two-week online poll at the Vermont Motorsports Magazine website. Fairlee, Vt., driver Chaffee earned 26% of the vote in the overall VMM 2011 Driver of the Year category. The DIRTcar Sportsman Modified, USAC Dirt Midget Association, and Sprint Cars of New England winner edged ACT Bond/WIX Tiger Tour and Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl Tiger Sportsman champion Derrick O’Donnell, of Bradford, Vt., by 35 votes for the award.

Brian Hoar, of Williston, Vt., finished third with 16% of the vote after his record breaking eighth American-Canadian Tour championship. Pro All Stars Series North Super Late Model champion Johnny Clark of Hallowell, Me., was fourth with 10% of the final vote, and Bear Ridge Speedway DIRTcar Sportsman Modified champion Adam Pierson was fifth with 7% of the vote. Dave Pembroke of Montpelier, Vt., Robin Wood of Plattsburgh, N.Y., Dan Douville of Bridgewater, N.H., Ron Proctor of Charlton, N.Y., and Martin Roy of Napierville, Que., were also on the ballot.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with how the fans made their voices heard and took these nominations seriously,” said Vermont Motorsports Magazine Editor T.J. Ingerson. “All 67 nominees should be proud of their recognition. We are very thankful for the support from our readers for the votes we received. The entire staff at VMM congratulates Kevin Chaffee and the rest of the winners on their well-deserved honors.”

Chaffee also claimed top honors in the Open-Wheel category in addition to his VMM 2011 Driver of the Year award; Bear Ridge Speedway DIRTcar Modified champion Pierson was second and Sprint Cars of New England runner up and Bear Ridge Sprint Car champion Chris Donnelly, of Piermont, N.H., was third. Donnelly was voted Touring Series Driver of the Year, with Brian Hoar second and American-Canadian Tour runner-up Wayne Helliwell, Jr., of Dover, N.H., third.

O’Donnell took top honors in two categories, winning driver of the year on the Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl and Late Model ballots. Late Model competitors Nick Sweet, of Barre, Vt., and John Donahue, of Graniteville, Vt., were second and third respectively on the Thunder Road ballot. Sweet was second on the Late Model ballot, as well, with Hoar third.

Adam Pierson was voted Bear Ridge Speedway Driver of the Year over Overall Driver of the Year Kevin Chaffee. Sportsman Coupe champion Josh Harrington was third. With seven overall wins in two divisions, Mike Bruno, of Castleton, Vt., was named Devil’s Bowl Speedway Driver of the Year. Pro Late Model champion Hunter Bates, of Pittsford, Vt., was second and NASCAR Modified Champion Proctor was third.

Sportsman champion Robin Wood was named Airborne Speedway Driver of the Year by the fans. Wood beat out his uncle, Bucko Branham, of Plattsburgh, N.Y., who finished second. DIRTcar Modified champion Martin Roy was third. In the closest category, Thunder Road Junkyard Warrior champion Jason Woodard, of Waterbury, Vt., was voted Four Cylinder Driver of the Year by a mere five votes over Bear Ridge Speedway Hornet champion Eric Lang, of Groton, Vt. Thunder Road Street Stock runner-up Nick Pilotte, of Jefferson, N.H., was third.

Bear Ridge Limited Late Model Rookie of the Year Jordan Fornwalt, of Bradford, Vt., was voted Rookie of the Year after an impressive four win season. Thunder Road Late Model Rookie of the Year Jimmy Hebert was second and Sprint Cars of New England Rookie of the Year Tyler Rich, of Lyme, N.H., was third. After six straight top-five finishes to end the American-Canadian Tour season, Fort Kent, Me.’s Austin Theriault was voted Breakout Driver of the Year. Bear Ridge Sportsman Coupe competitor Terry Williams, of Well River, Vt., was second and Thunder Road Late Model competitor Brooks Clark, of Fayston, Vt., was third.

Kevin Chaffee becomes the third driver to win the overall Vermont Motorsports Magazine Driver of the Year award; Don Miller donned the honors for the 2010 season, while Tom Placey won the honors for the inaugural 2009 season.

Vermont Motorsports Magazine covers stock car racing in and around Vermont with on-site event reporting, breaking news, feature stories, weekly columns, photography, and more. For more information, visit the website at www.vtmotormag.com, follow VMM on Twitter at @VMMUpdates, or find VMM on Facebook and Youtube.

Vermont Motorsports Magazine Driver of the Year Award Winners:
Vermont Motorsports Magazine 2011 Driver of the Year: Kevin Chaffee, Fairlee, Vt.
VMM Airborne Speedway Driver of the Year: Robin Wood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
VMM Bear Ridge Speedway Driver of the Year: Adam Pierson, Fairlee, Vt.
VMM Devil’s Bowl Speedway Driver of the Year: Mike Bruno, Castleton, Vt.
VMM Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl Driver of the Year: Derrick O’Donnell, Bradford, Vt.
VMM Touring Series Driver of the Year: Chris Donnelly, Piermont, N.H.
VMM Late Model Driver of the Year: Derrick O’Donnell, Bradford, Vt.
VMM Open Wheel Driver of the Year: Kevin Chaffee, Fairlee, Vt.
VMM Four Cylinder Driver of the Year: Jason Woodard, Waterbury, Vt.
VMM Breakout Driver of the Year: Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Me.
VMM Rookie Driver of the Year: Jordan Fornwalt, Bradford, Vt.