ACT
ACT LATE MODEL PROFILE. MEET: BRENT DRAGON
If there was ever one name synonymous with stock car racing in New England, “Dragon” would be it. Bobby and Harmon “Beaver” Dragon have impacted Vermont auto racing with their performances in some of the biggest races across New England and Canada, including the annual Milk Bowl at Barre’s Thunder Road. The brothers have since retired, but the next generation of the legendary family is following in their footsteps, American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model driver, Brent Dragon.

When Brent was just six years-old, his uncle Bobby claimed a victory in the historic Milk Bowl (1972). Six years later, his own father kissed the cow! The youngster vowed that one day he too, would win the historic race. Brent’s own racing career began at 15 on a motocross motorcycle. But Brent had his sights set on stock car racing… and the Milk Bowl.

In 1986, young Dragon finally got the chance to compete in a stock car. Family friends offered the 19 year-old hopeful a Tiger car, which, back then, ran an old ACT Tour 10 inch slick on the right front. His first event was at Catamount Stadium, the 1/3 mile oval located in his hometown of Milton. A first victory came a few months later at Thunder Road.

(PHOTO: Dragon carries the checkers at Thunder Road in a Tiger car in the late 1980s.)

Over the years, the second generation racer has had a love/hate relationship with the high-banked, quarter-miler thank. His early success made it easy for him to love the “Nation’s Site of Excitement”. His dislike of the place was fueled by some hard wrecks and bad finishes. Over the past three seasons though, his luck has apparently changed at the notoriously tough speedplant and he now states that he looks forward to competing there.

Now, 20 years after his first race at the Central VT track, Dragon hopes that in the upcoming New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl, things will have come full circle for him. While he’s set many goals during his lengthy career, there’s one he vowed to fulfill since he was a child – and that was to win the Milk Bowl.

(PHOTO: Beaver Dragon (left) points out his preferred line through Thunder Road's first and second turns during a pre-race walk around the high-banked, quarter-mile in the early 1990s)

Brent explained why this victory would mean so much, “I’ve won four of what I like to call the five big races - the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic, Bond Auto Labor Day Classic, Fall Foliage, and Spring Green.”

The veteran racer continued, “All I’m missing from that list is the Milk Bowl. I’d sure like to kiss the cow after the race, add my name to the milk can trophy, and the back of the commemorative t-shirt,” he added with a grin.

The 39 year-old racer explained that the Monza style (three segment format) Milk Bowl is so different than any other event on the schedule. “As a Tour racer, I’m accustomed to going out and running 100-200 laps without getting out of my car. At the Milk Bowl you go and race as hard as you can for three 50-laps segments. After each one we go into the pits and wait for the next segment to begin.

(PHOTO: Dragon, who was second in last year's 42nd annual Milk Bowl hopes to improve his finish by one in his 2006 ACT Late Model)

“Unlike other (long distance Tour) races, you can’t wait for it to come to you; you have to get to the front before the checkered flag falls. There are cumulative points on the line and you always have to factor in the inversion of the field, which takes place after each segment to start the next portion. You can’t hold back anything at the Milk Bowl. It’s definitely the hardest race of the season, and one that everyone wants to win.”

The veteran racer currently sits fourth in the standings only eight points behind Roger Brown of Lancaster, NH. Brent, along with his fellow ACT drivers, will finish their season-long point battle at Thunder Road’s Milk Bowl.

The action packed weekend kicks off on Saturday, September 30 with door-to-door qualifying for local divisions and the ACT Late Models. The Tour competitors will run the Booth Brothers/HP Hood Time Trials aiming for a $1,000 bonus for the driver who scores fast time and the pole position. In fact, the three drivers with the best lap times will be guaranteed starting spots in the Milk Bowl while everyone else will compete in one of three planned 50-lap qualifiers. Additional drivers will transfer out of the triple 50s into the starting line-up. Those who fail to qualify Saturday will have a final chance at making the 30-car starting field through Sunday’s Last Chance “B” Feature.

Racing starts at 1:00 on both Sat, Sept 30 and Sun, Oct 1. Adult tickets are $25 for both days and $5 for children (6-12). A $5 Super Discount Coupon is available at New England Dodge Dealers (while supplies last) which can be applied toward the purchase of an adult ticket (one coupon can be redeemed per ticket purchased).