PHOTO: Dave Pembroke’s 2011 season included two victories en route to the Thunder Road “King of the Road” crown. Pembroke will defend the track championship, and race a part time Super Late Model schedule in 2012. (Leif Tillotson photo)

Thunder Road champ to defend title, race Super Late Model part-time in 2012

–by T.J. Ingerson

MONTPELIER — Dave Pembroke has been one of the most consistent sights at the Barre high banks in his familiar No. 44 for over the past ten years. Pembroke, along the way, has been “King of the Road” twice, 2002 Milk Bowl champion, 12-time Late Model winner, and 1999 Tiger Sportsman champion. Those accomplishments place him in the discussion as one of the best racers in the northeast.

Pembroke will have an opportunity to put those accomplishments to the test with a new group of competitors in 2012, however.

Pembroke confirmed to Vermont Motorsports Magazine that he will drive a Dan Keene-owned Super Late Model in a few Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model North races in 2012. Keene is the owner of two Vermont based Ford dealerships: Lamoille Valley Ford in Hardwick, Vt., and Twin State Ford in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Keene’s Ford dealerships also sponsor Pembroke’s Late Model at Thunder Road.

“We’re looking to run a couple of the White Mountain races, and possibly Riverside with the Super Late Model,” Pembroke said. “One of our sponsors, Twin State Ford, is close to those areas. And, hopefully, we’ll run the night before the 250. We watched that race last year and it was a pretty exciting race to watch. Hopefully we can take part in that.

“Watching guys like Brian [Hoar], Joey [Polewarczyk], John [Donahue], and Patrick [Laperle] last year, guys we’re competitive with in the Late Model, and see how well they were gives me encouragement,” Pembroke said. “It’ll be interesting to try something different. I’ve never driven anything with that much power. It’s a bit different than anything I’ve ever done before, and who we’re going to be racing with is a great group of competitors. But I really don’t have any expectations going in, we’re just trying something new.”

Pembroke will be back to defend his Thunder Road crown in 2012. A midseason track championship win helped propel the two-time and defending Thunder Road champion Pembroke to the 2011 championship.

“We gave up a good Chevrolet motor and went with a Ford one last year, and it took us some time to figure it out,” Pembroke said. “It was a lot of fun the second half of the season after we figure out what the car needed. It’s our goal to come back and defend. There’s never a lack of competition at Thunder Road and we’ll have our work cut out for us. But now that we know what we need for the car, I hope we can start off with a good car. It’ll be a lot of work to do it again. I can’t see racing anywhere else fulltime.”

A race Pembroke said he is looking forward to is the TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway along with his Super Late Model plans. Pembroke has started two 250’s, finishing ninth in 2010 and 13th in 2011.

“I love going to the 250. We’ve done that the last couple of years and have had a blast,” said Pembroke. “Not that we’ve had the best finishes the past couple years, but it’s been a fun race to get into and be a part of. Then we can throw in the Super Late Model for the night before, it’ll be fun.”