Contributed by: ACT Staff
For the third year in a row Jean-Paul Cyr of Milton, VT, carried away the ACT Late Model Tour championship trophy from the ACT Banquet of Champions, Saturday night at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel and Conference Center. Nearly five hundred attended the annual event honoring the top competitors on the ACT Tour and at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT, as well as those who have made special contributions to the sport of auto racing in the northeast region.
Cyr, a five time ACT Tour champion overall, won four races on the Tour in 2005, to improve his career win total to 16. He collected $20,000 for two of those victories by virtue of carrying the checkers in the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road and the RE/MAX Alliance National 150 at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, NH. The five championships move Cyr into a tie with Brian Hoar for most all time on the ACT Late Model Tour, while his 16 wins are good for second place on the win list, seven shy of Hoar’s record 23. Dave Pembroke of Montpelier, VT, was recognized as the Tour’s runner-up in ‘05, while Brent Dragon of Milton earned third place honors.
Phil Scott of Montpelier, the fifth place point man on the ACT Tour in 2005, was presented with the 37th annual Don MacTavish Award for lifelong contributions to the sport of short track stock car racing. ACT president Tom Curley presented the award to Scott, a veteran Late Model competitor who was Tour champion in 2002 and has thrice won the “King of the Road” crown at Thunder Road. Away from the track Scott represents Washington County in the Vermont State Senate, and in the fall of 2005 organized the first annual Wheels for Warmth for the Central Vermont Community Action group’s fuel assistance program.
Meanwhile, Cris Michaud of Williamstown collected his second straight “King of the Road” title and third overall, as he was crowned weekly Late Model champion at Thunder Road. Michaud had one win on the season and was a model of consistency throughout the year. He dedicated his championship to Debbie Laquerre.
Shawn Fleury of Montpelier took home the championship in the NAPA Tiger Sportsman division at the nationally acclaimed short track while in the renewed ACT Tiger Sportsman Series, veteran driver Robin Wood of Plattsburgh, NY, emerged victorious from a season long battle with six other drivers for the top spot. Parity was king on the Tiger Tour in 2005, as seven different drivers reached victory lane in eight races. Fleury finished second in the final tally, just ten points behind Wood. Former Thunder Road Late Model track champion Chuck Beede rounded out the top three.
Joe Small of Milton, driving the Thunder Road experimental ethanol car, won the Allen Lumber Street Stock track championship for the second year in a row. Not to be outdone by their Late Model and Tiger Sportsmen brethren, in 2005 the four cylinder Street Stocks embarked on their own three-race tour schedule. Small also came away the champion in the Sunoco Ethanol Triple Crown Series. Following the awards presentations to the top ten competitors, Burnie Allen of Allen Lumber, the division's sponsor, announced that he's just signed a three-year contract with the track.
Mike Martin of Craftsbury Common, VT, won the Powershift Warriors track title at the Road in 2005 to round out the field of champions. Martin will not return to defend his title but will instead move to the Allen Lumber Street Stocks.
2005 also saw one of the best rookie classes in recent memory. 24-year-old Scott Payea of Milton headlined the group as he was honored as Rookie of the Year on the ACT Late Model Tour. Having graduated from the Thunder Road NAPA Tiger Sportsman class, Payea had a rookie season for the ages, ultimately finishing fourth in final Tour points. Payea also picked up the “Doc” Nielsen award for most outstanding season long performance by a rookie across all ACT divisions.
Twenty-year-old Ryan Nolin from Georgia, VT, was named top rookie in the weekly Late Model class at Thunder Road, while fellow youngster Nick Sweet of Barre was the top newcomer in the NAPA Tiger Sportsmen. Another Granite City resident, Steve “Mudflap” Quenneville, took home the Rookie of the Year title in the Allen Lumber Street Stock division.
In the Late Model ranks Roger Brown of Lancaster, NH, was named Most Improved Driver, joining the likes of Michaud and Scott, who are just two of the numerous previous winners of the award. For the second consecutive year Ron Henry of New Gloucester, ME, won the Late Model Sportsmanship award.
The NAPA Tiger Sportsman Most Improved title went to Brian Delphia of Duxbury, VT, while Chris Gendreau of Waterbury Center, VT, last year’s Most Improved in the division, collected the Tiger Sportsmanship Award. Finally, Barre’s Lloyd Blakely earned the Eddie Carroll Memorial Award in the Street Stock division.
Rounding out the presentations was the Ken Squier Award, which recognizes a person or group that greatly contributes to local stock car racing at and away from the track. On Saturday, ACT VP/GM Darla Hartt presented the award to Seamus Curley. The son of president Tom Curley, Seamus has been the head of property management at Thunder Road and is currently poised at the racetrack his entire life, and is currently poised to lead ACT and Thunder Road into the future.
ACT will begin its 21st season and Thunder Road will embark on its 47th year with the season opening Merchants Bank 150 on Sunday April 30.