PHOTO: A granite monument hangs in the minds of Thunder Road Late Model drivers as the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 approaches. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

Holiday classic on the minds of Late Model drivers

BARRE — Athletes inherently want to win every competition they’re in. That much is obvious. In virtually every sport, though, a handful of events are held in a higher regard that the rest: The Super Bowl, Wimbledon, The Masters.

Such is the case this weekend at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, with the 33rd running of the Bond Auto Parts Labor Day Classic.

The race was first run in 1960, Thunder Road’s inaugural season, and was regarded as the marquee event of the year. The Milk Bowl was moved to Labor Day weekend in the late 1970s, and the Classic sat dormant until being revived in 1997.

Through several changes in distance and division — it has progressed from a 30-lap tilt with flathead-powered, open-wheel Coupes to the present-day 200-lap format with state-of-the-art American-Canadian Tour Late Models — the prestige has remained. A large monument made of Barre granite stands in the spectator area bearing the names of each Labor Day Classic winner. It’s a landmark admired by fans and drivers alike.

“A win would be huge,” said Graniteville driver Chip Grenier. “Not really for the five grand [winner’s purse] or any of that stuff, but for the rock up there on the hill.”

Grenier noted that Thunder Road promoter Tom Curley brings his drivers up to the monument — which stands with similar stones honoring winners of the Milk Bowl and Memorial Day Classic events — each year to remind the competitors not to forget their roots.

“You see the names of the old guys I used to watch as a kid, but then you look around and see Dave Pembroke and John Donahue — those are people we race against, and that’s up there forever,” Grenier said. “People forget who won three weeks ago on a Thursday night — I don’t know — but we all know who won those big races.”

Fayston driver Brooks Clark, who earned his first Late Model win in a Thursday-night event two weeks ago, agreed with Grenier.

“Even a top-five finish would be great in this race,” Clark said. “We finished 12th last year and I was pretty happy with that. It would be pretty cool to have my name on that granite. Some day it would be nice.”

Grenier lamented his first Labor Day Classic in 2007, when he ran up front only to have the alternator on his car fail near the finish. “Realistically, that was the only shot I’ve had in this race, and I really don’t know if I’ll have a chance or not on Sunday,” he said. “I’ve kind of been kicking myself ever since that one.”

Whomever the Labor Day Classic 200 winner is, their name will join those of 1960 winner Norman Chaloux, Thunder Road legends Roy “Pappy” Forsythe, Ronnie Marvin, Doug and Russ Ingerson, Jean-Paul Cabana, Dave Dion, and three members of Milton’s famous Dragon family. Patrick Laperle of Quebec won last year.

Racing begins at 1:30pm on Sunday.


Pilotte wins Riverside Street Stock make-up feature

Nick Pilotte took a significant victory in the Street Stock division on Saturday afternoon. Significant, perhaps, because another race like it may never have been contested: The race began at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, N.H., two weeks ago and was finished at Thunder Road.

Rains halted the race — which awarded championship points for the Street Stock class at Thunder Road — after just nine of 50 laps were completed on August 21 at Riverside. Since the majority of the competitors were regulars at Thunder Road, the final 41 laps were moved across the Connecticut River.

Pilotte, of Jefferson, N.H., lined up seventh as the race resumed on Saturday. Al Maynard of Fairfax jumped to the lead after restarting on the outside of the front row and held on to the point until Pilotte nosed ahead on lap 38.

“It’s way different,” Pilotte said after his win. “I never would have thought that we would race nine laps in New Hampshire and then 41 in Vermont. The tracks are very similar. I didn’t really change anything on the setup from Groveton to here. It was a lot of fun.”

Maynard held on to the runner-up finish with M.C. Ingram of Essex Junction third. Garry Bashaw and Greg Adams, Jr., completed the unofficial top five finishers.


Brendan Moodie may have had the perfect Saturday at Thunder Road. The North Wolcott driver set fast time in Tiger Sportsman time trials, lead every lap en route to the victory in 35-lap segment one of the two-segment Tiger Sportsman feature. Moodie was chased to the line by point leader Derrick O’Donnell, of Bradford. Bobby Therrien, of Hinesburg, was reeling in the front two but ran out of laps, finishing third. Middlesex’s Josh Demers and Williamstown’s Mike Ziter completed the top five.

Jason Corliss, Mike Martin, Kyle Pembroke, Blair Bessett, and Dylan Payea completed the top ten.

The field will be inverted for segment two on Sunday based on the finish of segment one. Brendan Moodie is scheduled to start in the 27th position in the 27 car field.

Street Stock point leader Greg Adams, who finished fifth in the 41-lap makeup feature from the Riverside Speedway, also set fast time, led every lap, and won the opening segment for the 25-lap Allen Lumber Street Stocks. Second place point man Nick Pilotte, of Jefferson, N.H., finished second, while third place point man Bunker Hodgdon, of Harwick, was third. MC Igram, of Essex Junction, and Garry Bashaw, of Lincoln, completed the top ten.

Riverside Speedway competitor Dean Switser was sixth. Alan Maynard, Troy Kingsbury, Donny Yates, and Dave Whitcomb completed the unofficial top ten.

Jason Woodard, of Waterbury Center, took the first segment of the Junkyard Warrior feature. Danny Brassard, of East Randolph, was third and Kevin Wheatley, of Williamstown, was third.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Bond Auto Labor Day Classic Saturday
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Saturday, September 03, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

Allen Lumber Street Stocks Riverside 50 (50 laps)
1. Nick Pilotte, Jefferson, N.H.
2. Alan Maynard, Fairfax
3. MC Ingram, Essex Junction
4. Garry Bashaw, Lincoln
5. Greg Adams, Jr., Hardwick
6. Jason Kenison, Groveton
7. Troy Kingsbury, Waitsfield
8. Tim Campbell, Sr., West Topsham
9. Amanda Habel, Roxbury
10. Bunker Hodgdon, Hardwick
11. Jamie Davis, Wolcott
12. David Whitcomb, Elmore
13. Kyle Streeter, Waitsfield
14. Dean Swister, St. Johnsbury
15. Paul Giacherio, Jr., Washington
16. Keith Fortier, Hinesburg
17. Joe Fecteau, Hardwick
18. # Ken Christman, Cabot
19. Sid Sweet, Jr., Williamstown
20. Mike Gay, South Burlington
21. Will Hennequin, Morrisville
22. Alex Whitcomb, Montpelier
23. Brendan Moodie, Wolcott
24. Ben Belanger, Whitefield, N.H.
25. Cody LeBlanc, Gorham, N.H.

Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman Segment One
1. Brendan Moodie, Wolcott
2. Derrick O’Donnell, Bradford
3. Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg
4. Josh Demers, Middlesex
5. Mike Ziter, Williamstown
6. Jason Corliss, Danville
7. Mike Martin, Craftsbury Common
8. # Kyle Pembroke, Montpelier
9. Blair Bessett, Worchester
10. # Dylan Payea, Henniker, N.H.
11. Scott Coburn, South Barre
12. Jason Allen, Barre
13. Eric Badore, Milton
14. Shawn Fleury, Middlesex
15. Matt Potter, Marshfield
16. Chris Pelkey, South Barre
17. George May, Barre
18. Mike Billado, Essex
19. Alex Ferno, East Montpelier
20. Justin Hart, Williamstown
21. Shannon Tomasovich, Burlington
22. Shawn Powell, Jericho
23. Eric Johnson, Randolph
24. # Mike MacAskill, Williamstown
25. Clem Despault, Waterbury
26. Richie LaFond, Colchester
27. Sid Sweet, Jr., Williamstown

Allen Lumber Street Stocks Segment One (25 laps)
1. Greg Adams, Hardwick
2. Nick Pilotte, Jefferson, N.H.
3. Bunker Hodgdon, Hardwick
4. MC Ingram, Essex Junction
5. Garry Bashawn, Lincoln
6. Dean Swister, St. Johnsbury
7. Alan Maynard, Fairfax
8. Troy Kingsbury, Waitsfield
9. Donny Yates, North Montpelier.
10. David Whitcomb, Elmore
11. Paul Giacherio, Jr., Washington
12. Doug Duprey, St. Johnsbury
13. Jamie Davis, Wolcott
14. Tim Campbell, Sr., West Topsham
15. # Cameron Ouellette, Barre
16. Joe Fecteau, Hardwick
17. Kyle Streeter, Waitsfield
18. Sid Sweet, Jr., Williamstown
19. # Ken Christman, Cabot
20. Amanda Habel, Roxbury
21. Gary Mullen, Tunbridge
22. # Danny Emerson, East Ryegate
23. Scott Maynard, Burlington
24. Marvin Johnson, Essex Junction
25. Mike Gay, South Burlington
26. Roscoe Allen, Jr., Morrisville
27. Will Hennequin, Morrisville
28. Jennifer Getty, Cambridge

Junkyard Warrior Segment One (10 laps)
1. Jason Woodard, Waterbury
2. Danny Brassard, East Randolph
3. Kevin Wheatley, Williamstown
4. Paul Grant, East Calais
5. Brock Parrott, Williamstown
6. Mathew Duplantie, Hyde Park