Contributed by: ACT Staff
ACTion News – Wednesday, January 16, 2008
-by Justin St. Louis
The American-Canadian Tour/Thunder Road Banquet of Champions closed the curtain on the 2007 racing season Saturday night at the Sheraton-Burlington Hotel & Conference Center in South Burlington, VT. Among the honorees were seven-time ACT Late Model Tour Champion Jean-Paul Cyr and his car owner, Rick Paya, Thunder Road “King of the Road” Dave Pembroke, and Thunder Road weekly division Champions Nick Sweet (NAPA Tiger Sportsman), Bobby Therrien (Allen Lumber Street Stock), and Bunker Hodgdon (Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior).
Also picking up special honors were Sportsmanship Award winners Shawn Fleury (Late Model), Justin Hart (Tiger Sportsman), Mike Martin (Ed Carroll Memorial Street Stock), and Neal Foster (Warrior). The Most Improved Drivers, each winning in a landslide vote by their fellow competitors and track officials, were Mike “Beetle” Bailey in the Late Model division and sophomore Tiger runner Chris Chambers.
The Dr. Gordon R. “Doc” Nielsen Rookie Achievement Award went to 20 year-old Therrien, the Allen Lumber Street Stock Champion and Rookie of the Year with six feature wins.
Mike McGill of WCAX Channel 3 (CBS affiliate, Burlington, VT) and Jamie Scavotto of WPTZ NewsChannel 5 (NBC affiliate, Plattsburgh, NY) were the co-winners of the Ken Squier Award. The Ken Squier Award, in its 20th year, merits a person or group who fosters and elevates local stock car racing through exceptional service to fans and competitors. The season-long efforts of McGill and Scavotto through their television and online coverage of Thunder Road and ACT race events were among the very best in the track’s 48-year history.
Late Model driver Jamie Fisher of Shelburne, VT was honored with the Don MacTavish Award for his long-lasting and profound impact on stock car racing in the region. Fisher began his career in 1995 in the four-cylinder Street Stock division at Thunder Road, behind the wheel of a tiny yellow Chevrolet Chevette with sponsorship from the S.D. Ireland Brothers construction and concrete company based in Burlington, VT. Since his humble beginnings, Fisher’s trademark yellow #18 car has become one of the most popular and recognizable race cars in New England. Fisher was the 2003 “King of the Road,” the 2001 ACT Late Model Tour runner-up, and a three-time Rookie of the Year (1999 ACT, 1999 Thunder Road Late Model, 1997 NAPA Tiger Sportsman). He is a four-time winner in ACT competition, and owns more than 20 feature wins in weekly events across three divisions.
MacTavish was a young racer from Dover, MA that first made his mark in demolition derbies. He was even featured on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and the game show “To Tell The Truth” for his car-smashing exploits. But MacTavish is best known as one of open-wheel Modified racing’s all-time greats. He captured the 1966 NASCAR National Sportsman Championship by competing in an exhaustive schedule of 122 events, winning the title by more than 3,000 points over Connecticut’s “Wild” Bill Slater. MacTavish raced – and won – regularly at Vermont’s Catamount Stadium and Plattsburgh, NY’s Airborne Speedway on his way to the ’66 championship. “Mac” earned his big break during the winter of 1968-69, when he landed a ride on what is now the Sprint Cup Series. During his debut at Daytona Int’l Speedway in February 1969, during the famous Permatex 300 support race, he was involved in one of auto racing’s most horrific crashes. MacTavish was killed instantly, ending a dream for New England race fans of the era to see one of their own make it big in the upper echelon of the sport.
The first Don MacTavish Award was given to NASCAR Founder William H. G. “Bill” France, Sr. in the year MacTavish’s life was tragically taken. Since that time, honorees have included drivers Tom Tiller (1971), Jean-Paul Cabana (‘74), Beaver (’79) and Bobby Dragon (’83), Robbie Crouch (’88), Claude Leclerc (’90), Jean-Paul Cyr (’96), Brian Hoar (2000), Joey Laquerre (’04), and Phil Scott (’05). Other distinguished winners have included Thunder Road Founder Ken Squier (‘72), ACT President Tom Curley (’81), Thunder Road Chief Starters Archie Blackadar (’75), Dick Willett (’85), and Mike Wilder (’98), car owners C.A. Crouch (’77) and Smitty McKay (‘03), and officials Doc Nielsen (‘80), Bubby Wilder (’84), and Dean Gallison (’06).
With the completion of the “Top 25 ACT Drivers of 2007” poll, it is time to announce the ten best drivers that just missed the cut. These drivers (listed in alphabetical order) each had very good seasons and are very deserving of applause, but fell just short of the Top 25 list, as voted by a panel of 15 media members, officials, and guests:
Karl Allard, #48QC Larue Industrial Snow Blower Chevrolet ACT Late Model. (5th place in Série ACT Castrol points)
Chuck Beede, #54 Beede Motorsports/South Hill Auto Body Chevrolet NAPA Tiger Sportsman. (10th place in Thunder Road points)
Jean-François Déry, #21PQ Piscine Trévi/Polycem Pontiac ACT Late Model. (4th place in Série ACT Castrol points)
Ron Henry, #05 Wayne Excavators, Inc./Sunset Dist. Chevrolet ACT Late Model. (9th place in ACT Late Model Tour points)
Brian Hoar, #45 Goss Dodge Dodge ACT Late Model. (6th place in ACT Late Model Tour points)
Brendan Moodie, #94 Custom Collision/Menard’s Rental Ford NAPA Tiger Sportsman. (Tied for 7th place in Thunder Road points)
Ben Rowe, #4ME Richard Moody & Sons Construction Chevrolet ACT Late Model. (Two Top 5 finishes in four ACT Late Model Tour starts)
Phil Scott, #14VT Northfield Savings Bank Ford ACT Late Model. (5th place in Thunder Road points)
Joe Steffen, #00 Winooski Press/Northern Coal & Oil Chevrolet NAPA Tiger Sportsman. (Tied for 7th place in Thunder Road points)
David Whitcomb, #77 Whitcomb Aviation/Hess’s Used Autos Ford Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior. (3rd place in Thunder Road points)
Canadian ACT racers Patrick Laperle and Spencer MacPherson have been nominated by Inside Track Motorsport News, one of Canada’s leading auto racing magazines in the 6th annual Readers’ Choice Awards presented by Castrol. Laperle, the 2007 Série ACT Castrol Champion, is up for Canadian Stock Car racer of the Year against stiff competition from both asphalt and dirt surfaces, from the eastern Maritimes to western Alberta.
MacPherson, an 18 year-old Série ACT Castrol rookie and podium finisher in 2007, is in the running for Up and Coming Canadian Stock Car Racer of the Year. MacPherson finished in the Top 10 in three of his four Castrol starts, including a third-place run at Autodrome Montmagny in June. He was also the points runner-up (with five victories) at Ottawa’s Capital City Speedway. He faces young drivers from both the blacktop and dirt worlds in a geographical stretch that matches Laperle’s competition.
To vote for Laperle and MacPherson, visit www.insidetracknews.com and follow the link for the Readers’ Choice Awards, or click the link posted on www.acttour.com.
Did you know…?
-In the 39-year history of the Don MacTavish Award, twice has the trophy gone to a business that supported stock car racing – in 1973, the former Howard Bank received the honors in recognition of their event sponsorship and support of race teams. Bobby Dragon flew Howard Bank colors for several years, and the company sponsored cars into the late 1990s, ending their tenure with then-Late Model driver Chuck Beede. The Molson Brewery of Montréal was given the Don MacTavish Award in 1982 for their support of the NASCAR North Tour, the predecessor to what is now the American-Canadian Tour. The Molson Tour, as it was called, held 33 events in 1982, including the series’ first-ever appearance at Dover Downs Int’l Speedway.
-Jamie Fisher is the 18th person to win the Don MacTavish Award during his time as a driver. John Gammell of St. Johnsbury, VT was the first in 1970, following Bill France, Sr. the year before. The most recent driver to win was Phil Scott in 2005.
-Mike McGill and Jamie Scavotto became the fourth and fifth media-affiliated winners of the Ken Squier Award on Saturday night. McGill’s fellow WCAX man, Steve Longchamp, was honored in 2002. The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus was honored as an organization in 2000, while long-time Thunder Road announcer and journalist Dave Moody won in 1990.
Keep in touch with ACT and Thunder Road this winter, send us your favorite stories from 2007 and years past at email@example.com!