Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl News
Milk Bowl Undergoes Format Change
PHOTO: The 2010 Milk Bowl at Barre's Thunder Road got a facelift on Wednesday. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)
BARRE -- Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl made official what’s been suspected for nearly a year: The Milk Bowl is being extended.
The Barre track announced Wednesday that the three-segment, cumulatively scored event has been increased from 150 laps to 200 total. The first segment will be 50 laps, followed by two 75-lap rounds.
The race has been comprised of three 50-lap segments since the 1960s.
“Over the past few years the racing by the weekly Late Models at Thunder Road and on the American-Canadian Tour has been remarkably respectful. It has left little time for drivers stuck out back to have a fair opportunity to challenge for many wins,” said Thunder Road and ACT president Tom Curley in and official press release.
The Milk Bowl -- presented this year by People’s United Bank after long-time Vermont bank Chittenden was absorbed by its parent company -- is contested in three parts, each round awarding points to drivers to determine the overall winner. The driver finishing first in each segment receives one point, second place two points, etc.
The finish of each segment is inverted to start the next, meaning the first-segment winner starts last in the second segment; the driver with the lowest combined score is the overall winner.
Curley -- who successfully tested the 75-lap format during the final regular season event at Thunder Road on August 26 -- says the change was designed to increase the number of passes in the race.
“In the interest of fair competition, and in an attempt to provide the fans with the most exciting racing we can, we are going to expand the laps,” Curley said. “We hope it will increase the excitement of the overall Milk Bowl.”
Many times since the inaugural event in 1962, the Milk Bowl has been won with single-digit scores, meaning a driver has finished inside the top-three or top-five -- or in some cases won -- in all three segments.
The last such occasion was a decade ago in 2000 when Phil Scott and Tracie Bellerose tied at 8 points. Scott was awarded the overall victory based on his better final-segment finish. Recent winning scores have been as high as 23 points. John Donahue finished third, ninth, and fifth in last year’s race for a 17-point winning score; overall runner-up Brent Dragon won the first segment, then finished tenth in the other two segments for a total score of 21 points.
The last driver to win all three segments was Robbie Crouch in 1986. Brian Hoar scored a four-point victory (two segment wins and a second-place finish) in 1998.
“I know how difficult it is to get to the front in 50 laps on Thursday nights with only 22 or 24 cars,” said three-time Thunder Road champion and 2004 Milk Bowl winner Cris Michaud or East Montpelier. “It is much harder with 30 high-quality teams that usually show up for the Milk Bowl starting grid. I really like this change. It will probably bring the points in three segments back to the teens to win, rather than the recent 20-plus points.”
The Milk Bowl is scheduled for the weekend of October 2nd and 3rd.