Contributed by: ACT Staff
"It was hard to pass up an opportunity to run in the race that is my favorite as both a spectator and a driver," the 40+ year stock car racing veteran stated Thursday. "The Milk Bowl is the most exciting race in the country; it's a long day that takes you through the entire gamut of emotions. You can run the best race of your life and still lose. As a driver and team, you have to keep reacting to circumstances all day long, and afterwards, the hindsight can really beat you up!"
It is the format of the New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl that makes it 'the most exciting race in the country.' Spread over two days, the Late Model competitors participate in time trials, triple 50-lap qualifiers, "C" Feature, Last Chance "B" Feature to winnow the field to the 30 starters. Then there's the race itself, consisting of three, 50-lap segments, with each driver's aggregate performance determining the overall winner. As each portion is run, drivers are awarded points based on finishing position (a win is worth one point, fifth gets five, etc). At the end of the day, the driver with the lowest total score is the winner. Adding another twist, following the completion of each segment, the field is inverted to start the next portion.
Even though Dion has won but a single Milk Bowl, his name is associated with several records in the event's history books. Among them - the most segment wins (12), Most Fast Times (4 - tied with Robbie Crouch and Brian Hoar), and Milk Bowl Winner Winning All Three Segments, which Dion did in 1975, (tied with Larry Demar, 1967 and Robbie Crouch, 1986).
Dion explained his philosophy in running the Milk Bowl, "The first segment is easy, you do the best you can. The second is the turning point. It's the most nerve wrecking; the die will be cast for the rest of the race. In the third, you're just reacting to what happened in the second. All the driver and crew do all day, after the first segment is strategize."
Dion, will pilot a car prepared by Ron Bevins of Colchester, VT, and driven in 2004 by NASCAR BGNN competitor, Mike Olsen. Dion was last in an ACT Late Model in 1997 when he finished second to two-time Milk Bowl winner, Phil Scott of Montpelier, VT. "I'm still not that familiar with those cars," he stated. Even though he may be lacking in experience at the helm of a Late Model, he does have better than 40 years of seat time from which to draw, coupled with an uncanny ability to do well at the high-banked, quarter-mile Thunder Road oval.
Dion's return to Thunder Road will coincide with a busy weekend for the veteran racer which includes the launch of his unabridged autobiography, Dave Dion: No Holds Barred Life Wide Open. Information on the book can be obtained through Coastal 181 at 1-877-906-8181 or online at www.coastal181.com.
Qualifying action for the 42nd annual New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl and Thunder Road's weekly competitors starts on Saturday, Oct 1 at 1:30. Sunday's racing kicks off at 1:00 with the Last Chance "B" Qualifier. Spectator gates open both days at 10:00 am.