The town of Milton, VT has impacted stock car racing in New England over the decades. Everyone remembers the town for Catamount Stadium, a 1/3 mile asphalt track but, it’s the ordinary men from Milton who became stock car racing legends that influenced the sport’s history. American Canadian Tour (ACT) competitor, Scott Payea of Milton, is surrounded by these legends, including defending ACT champion, Jean-Paul Cyr, and the Dragon brothers, Bobby and Beaver who claimed victories at tracks across the region. Cyr and the Dragons share a special honor; they are former winners of the historic Milk Bowl at Barre’s Thunder Road, the most sought after victory in New England. With neighbors who have impressive stock car racing trophies on their mantels, Payea is aiming for similar success, and is on the right path to achieve that goal.

The young racer began his career like so many do, at the age of sixteen in a four cylinder Street Stock. The young racer would travel to Plattsburgh, NY to compete at Airborne Speedway in the track’s entry-level division. Payea raced for two seasons in the division before purchasing a NAPA Tiger Sportsman to participate at Thunder Road. He competed in the intermediate division for four years and fell a few points short of the title his final year with the Sportsmen.

In 2005, Payea acquired an ACT Tour car to compete with the traveling series. As a rookie, he proved that he had the skills to handle a car much different than he was accustomed to. The “kid” astonished competitors and fans as his top finishes led him to fourth in the overall point standings and the Rookie of the Year honors.

The second year competitor admits he suffers from what some refer to as the dreaded “Sophomore Jinx”. Payea averages a 12.8 place finish in the ten events thus far; his best finish of the season, a second place at Thunder Road’s opening event. “We set the bar high by doing so well last year. This season we haven’t had as many top tens as we’d like, but I’m not disappointed, it’s been a good learning experience. I haven’t won a Tour race yet so I’d like to finish the year off with a win at the Milk Bowl, but I’ll settle for just qualifying.”

Payea is one of many drivers chasing the lure of the New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl and all its glory. This historic three 50-lap segment race is deemed the “Toughest Short Track Race in America” due to its unique format which includes inverting the field following each segment. At the age of 24, he has a lot of experience behind the wheel of a stock car but only one start in the Milk Bowl, he finished fourth.

The youngster realizes that winning the Milk Bowl is a difficult task but that qualifying is just as challenging. “To run well in any race you need to make sure the car is set-up right. We only Time Trial once a year (at the Milk Bowl) and the crews work hard to give their drivers a car that’s fast for the two laps.”

He continued, “As a driver, I need to remember that the Milk Bowl isn’t a straight 100 or 150 lap race, like the rest of the races on the schedule. At every other event, the mentality is to ride around and save my equipment for the final stretch. You can’t do that at the Milk Bowl,” he explained, “When you strap in for each of the 50-lap segments you know you have to pass as many cars as possible to get to the front if you want to have a shot at winning.”

The 43-year history, traditions and prestige of the Milk Bowl leaves many ACT competitors in awe, including Payea. ” I’ve been going to the Milk Bowl since I was a kid.” he recalled, “I remember sitting in the grandstands watching Jean-Paul Cabana, Robbie Crouch and the Dragons. I’ve always looked up to those guys and for me to be able to make the race and participate in pre-race festivities last season as a rookie was really special.”

In 1986, one of his heroes, the “Tampa Tornado” (Crouch) won all three segments of the Milk Bowl, a feat that no driver has accomplished since. “The days of winning all of the segments are over, and that’s a good thing. The cars are so competitive due to the tires and spec engine that we are all on an even playing field.”

He continued, “The Milk Bowl requires patience, skill and luck but if you are good enough to qualify for the Milk Bowl, you are good enough to win it. I think that all 30 of the starting cars will have a shot at winning.”

Payea, with his fellow ACT drivers will finish their season-long point battle, in which he currently sits sixth, at Thunder Roads Milk Bowl.

The action packed weekend begins 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 seeking the $1,000 bonus for the driver who scores fast time and pole position. The three drivers with the best lap times will be guaranteed starting spots in the Milk Bowl while everyone else will battle in one of three 50-lap qualifiers. Those who fail to qualify Saturday will have a final chance at a spot in the 30-car starting field in Sunday’s Last Chance “B” Feature.

Racing begins 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 general admission ticket (one coupon can be redeemed per ticket purchased).

Image 1- Scott Payea

Image 2- Scott Payea racing his NAPA Tiger Sportsman in 2004

Image 3- Payea receiving the Rookie of the Year award from Darla Hartt at the 2005 Banquet of Champions

Image 4- The Milton driver clinches the checkered flag following a heat race at Thunder Road