Thunder Road Unveils Plans for 2019 Track Facility Projects
Thunder Road management has unveiled plans for a series of facility projects that have recently been undertaken at the historic quarter-mile oval. The projects are part of the goal set by track owners Cris Michaud and Pat Malone to make Thunder Road a showplace for racing and entertainment in the Northeastern United States.
It was recently revealed Thunder Road was in the process of building an outside retaining wall that circles the speedway. The wall extends all the way around the track except for the main pit entrance and exit as well as the “Eddie Carroll Highway” that leads onto the backstretch.
Such a wall has not existed in the track’s 60-year history, making its construction a surprise to many teams and fans. But the construction of this wall, which has been completed in time for the season-opening Community Bank N.A. 150 on May 5, is just the first part of a larger plan that will have Thunder Road at the forefront of racing in the region for the next 60 years.
One of the most notable changes is to Forsythe Hill. Workers are currently in the process of moving the Turn 3 viewing area closer to the track so fans will have an even more up-close view of the racing. The hill will also be “terraced” with multi-level seating rows like in the main grandstands.
Due to winter weather delaying the start of construction on the project, Forsythe Hill will be closed for the season opener. However, work on the viewing area will be finished in time for the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic, barring unforeseen circumstances.
The next phase of the larger project will add more viewing options and make it easy to access them. A patio area is planned between turns three and four with additional seating and other amenities. This will give fans a whole new perspective to watch Thunder Road racing from.
In addition, a new ticket booth is being built closer to the track. A walkway will be added from the ticket booth that goes around the outside of the wall. When it is completed, fans can go from Forsythe Hill in Turn 3 all the way to the concession stands in Turn 1 without exiting the gates.
A Kid’s Area is also planned for Turn 3. The exact location of the Kid’s Area is to be determined, but it will likely be in Turn 3 near Forsythe Hill.
“When Pat (Malone) and I bought Thunder Road, it was with the understanding that we were in this for the long haul,” managing partner Cris Michaud said. “It’s about more than just keeping Thunder Road a race track. It’s about making Thunder Road THE race track to come to. Pat has a great vision of how to do just that. The work we’ve done over the past two years, such as the new pavement, new lights, and revamped concession area, was the first phase of his vision. Now we’re entering the next phase that sets up Thunder Road to be a racing and entertainment mainstay for both current and future generations.
”We understand that, for the last week and half, most of the talk from teams and fans has been about the wall,” Michaud continued. “That alone is a big change for many people, and we realize that. However, it’s important to remember the wall is only a small part of the overall picture. None of the things we’re adding over the next year would be possible without a retaining wall that allows people to get closer to the track. We think it’s going to be really exciting to see the finished product.”
Work on these projects will continue in stages throughout the 2019 season. Each new area and amenity will be opened as it is ready so fans can start enjoying the facility additions as soon as possible.
ACT Late Model Tour
RESULTS – April 27 at Oxford: 1. Bryan Kruczek, 2. Joey Polewarczyk, 3. Jimmy Hebert, 4. Chip Grenier, 5. Rich Dubeau, 6. Rowland Robinson Jr., 7. Dany Trepanier, 8. Scott Payea, 9. Quinten Welch, 10. Dylan Payea, 11. Jean-Francois Dery, 12. Tom Carey III, 13. Mathiew Kingsbury, 14. Stephen Donahue, 15. Alexandre Tardif, 16. Wayne Helliwell Jr., 17. Ryan Kuhn, 18. Joshua Hedges, 19. Marc Begin, 20. Shawn Swallow, 21. Steve Fisher, 22. Claude Leclerc, 23. Corey Mason, 24. Peyton Lanphear, 25. Scott Coburn, 26. Christopher Pelkey, 27. Joel Hodgdon, 28. Marcel J. Gravel, 29. Jason Larivee Jr., 30. Mike Foster, 31. Trent Goodrow, 32. Bryan Mason, 33. Jonathan Bouvrette, 34. Jimmy Renfrew Jr., 35. Reilly Lanphear.
• Bobby Therrien crossed the line third but was disqualified in post-race technical inspection for a wheelbase violation.
• The event was shortened from 150 to 125 laps after a rash of cautions.
RESULTS –April 28, Oxford, Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150: 1. Garrett Hall, 2. DJ Shaw, 3. Cassius Clark, 4. Cole Butcher, 5. Gabe Brown, 6. Derek Griffith, 7. Mike Rowe, 8. Alan Tardiff, 9. Travis Benjamin, 10. Ashton Tucker, 11. Dan Winter, 12. Evan Hallstrom, 13. Eddie MacDonald, 14. John Peters, 15. Ben Rowe, 16. Shawn Martin, 17. Rusty Poland, 18. Ben Tinker, 19. Glen Luce, 20. Craig Weinstein, 21. TJ Brackett, 22. Johnny Clark, 23. Calvin Rose, 24. Brandon Barker, 25. Ryan Green, 26. Nick Sweet, 27. Curtis Gerry, 28. Tracy Gordon, 29. Ryan Robbins, 30. Tim Brackett, 31. Bryan Kruczek, 32. Reid Lanpher, 33. Scott McDaniel.
• The next event for the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models is at Star Speedway in Epping, NH, May 11. Post time is 4:30 p.m.
Short-tracking This Weekend
May 3 and 4
• WMMP – Will have a practice both days. Friday’s practice will run from 4 to 8 p.m. with the pits opening at 3.
Saturday’s practice will run from noon to 4 with the pits opening at 11 a.m.
Tires and fuel will be available. WMMP opens the 2019 season on May 11.
• May 4 – The Thunder Road Car Show will be at the track from 9 a.m. to noon. Note – the car show will be at the track and not in downtown Barre.
The morning also includes a Pit Stop Competition at 10:30, a bounce house from Sky High Slides N’ Such, face painting and live music from local band Rumblecaddy. Open practice for all divisions will follow from 1 to 5 p.m.
• Bear Ridge: Opening Night sponsored by NAPA of Bradford. The Car Show has moved to the Bradford Fair Grounds from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Test and tune will go from 2-4 p.m.
Everyone – the DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds, DIRTcar Sportsman Coupes, USAC DMA Midgets, Limited Late Models and the Four Cylinders – will be earning double points.
The pit and front gates open at 3 p.m., racing starts at 5 p.m.
• May 5 – Thunder Road opens the 2019 season with the 21st Community Bank N.A. 150. The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Thunder Road Late Models will do battle for 150 green-flag laps with Flying Tigers, Street Stocks and Road Warriors in action. Class Day Activities go from 12:55-1:20 p.m. The first heat rolls at 1:30.
• Looking at The Road’s weekend schedule, one thing that jumped out at me was “Sunday morning, 10:00-10:10 a.m. Champions Practice”.
Tom Curley started this tradition years ago. Any Late Model driver racing this weekend who has won an ACT Late Model Tour or Thunder Road Championship can take part in this practice.
Just before 10 a.m. the champions would line up in the pits behind the pace car. When the clock struck 10:00 they stormed out of the pits with Curley driving the pace car. He’d race around out there with them in tow going at a pretty good clip. After about 10 laps Curley would ”fly” down pit road and the champs would pick it up for a few more hot laps.
As a lover of Thunder Road traditions, I enjoyed watching these. It’s kinda too bad so few people see this.
The speedway wasn’t planning on running Late Models in 2019 because of the low car counts in 2018. After multiple hours of recruiting, promoter Dick Therrien believes he has enough cars to run a five-race series.
Therrien explained, “It was a long, tough off-season trying to salvage our Late Model program. I was on the phone to as many as 30 race teams trying to drum up interest in running our series.”
The purse will depend on car counts. The purse will range from $700 to $1,000 and possibly $1,200 to win. Therrien also said, “Our fans will be enjoying local heroes such as Mike Kenison, Corey Mason, Bryan Mason, Floyd Bennett Jr. and Doug Laleme. John Savage will debut his new Late Model and David Ofsuryk will return after several year’s absence. Craig Bushey, Terry Reil and Thomas Merchant have signed on for the full series. Marcel Gravel has verbally committed as has Steve Fisher and Mike Ziter. Also on board is a pair of Canadian drivers, James Laroche and Mike Giroux.
The five-race series commences on June 8 with a 75-lap event. The next three races will also be 75-lappers and will be held on June 22, July 13, August 17 and the series wraps up on Championship Day, September 8 with a 100-lap main event.
Until Next Week
Get out and see some live racing this weekend. But remember: “If you’re not having fun, stay home and don’t bother those of us who are.”