PHOTO: Mike Bruno is one of the racers who won’t be able to compete this weekend due to complications from flooding. Bruno Tweeted this photo of Cold River Road in Shrewsbury on Sunday. (Mike Bruno photo via Twitter)

-by Justin St. Louis
VMM Editor

There’s an image going around on Facebook this week claiming “I Am Vermont Strong.” Lord knows we need that little reminder right now.

I learn of ten new people every day that either lost their house, their car, or more in the wake of Hurricane Irene, and it seems as though most of them are connected to racing in some way.

Thunder Road official Steve Fisk lost nearly everything. Bear Ridge official Penny Davis and Thunder Road driver Pete Ainsworth lost their homes. Steve Longchamp, my partner in crime on the WDEV Radio broadcasts this year, has no place to live, and just about everyone in the Devil’s Bowl community has been affected.

And that, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg.

It might be silly to think about anything but “real life” this week after all the trouble this state is in. Sometimes, though, real life drags so hard that you just need to get away.

Let this weekend’s Labor Day racing be that mini-vacation. There’s something going on at just about every track in the northeast this weekend, and we encourage you to return to normal — even if only for a couple hours — and catch some of the action.

Thunder Road and Bond Auto Parts are reaching out with a donation drive this weekend for the Waterbury Food Shelf, which lost its entire inventory in the disaster. Bring non-perishable food items to Thunder Road on Sunday to help out.

Bear Ridge has announced that it will hold a fundraiser for Davis on Saturday at the track, and Fisk’s family has set up a donation drive through Facebook to assist in his recuperation.

Obviously, I encourage all racers and fans to get to a track this weekend, but more so to help those in need.

Stay strong.

***

So, about that racing. Sunday’s Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road will likely continue its tradition as one of the toughest yearly tests for the American-Canadian Tour Late Models, and is always full of dramatic pit stop strategy.

Patrick Laperle stopped on lap 78 last year and won. Phil Scott waited almost 100 laps longer, though, and was within perhaps a lap or two of beating Laperle for the victory.

Dave Pembroke won in 2009 without pitting. Brad Leighton won the year before that with an incredible four pit stops.

Saturday, the Tiger Sportsman, Street Stock, and Junkyard Warrior classes run qualifying races, along with the final (and very strange) 41 laps of a 50-lap Street Stock race that was started at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, N.H., two weeks ago.

Saturday night a half-dozen ACT/Thunder Road drivers head up to Bear Ridge to play in the dirt. Brian Hoar, Dave Pembroke, Nick Sweet, John Donahue, Wayne Helliwell, and Chip Grenier — not a single one of them a slouch behind the wheel — will try the clay for the first time inside center-seat, open-wheel DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds. It should be interesting, to say the least.

The barely-on-the-edge-of-control Sprint Cars of New England series holds its second annual “Triple Crown” weekend at Canaan (N.H.) Dirt Speedway on Friday, Bear Ridge on Saturday, and Legion Speedway in Rumney, N.H., on Sunday, where Dan Douville will try to repeat his incredible sweep of last year’s trifecta.

The two-track complex at Canaan was hammered by Hurricane Irene, but promoter Dick Therrien told VMM that — thanks in no small part to many volunteers — he expects the dirt track to be fully operational on Friday night, and for the asphalt track to up and running on Saturday for the Pro Stock Six Pack Series.

White Mountain Motorsports Park suffered some minor land damage to the race track property (although much more damage was done to the adjacent campground) and expects to be racing on Saturday with no problems.

Devil’s Bowl Speedway closes out its troubled season on Sunday with the annual CVRA.com 100 for the NASCAR Modified division, plus Renegades, two Bomber Warrior features, and a 100-lap Enduro.

Tonight, VMM is taking in the “Mr. DIRT Track U.S.A.” event — postponed a week by rain — at Lebanon Valley Speedway. The event is part of the Big Block Modified Super DIRTcar Series and pays $17,500 to win.

If you can’t find something else somewhere, well, you’re not looking very hard.