ACT Merchants Bank 150 Opens Thunder Road
The ‘Nation’s Site of Excitement’, Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl will open for the 53rd year of stock car racing with the traditional Merchants Bank 150 on Sunday, April 29, 2012. There has been over $30,000.00 in purse and prize money posted for the event, with the winner receiving $3,000.00 for the 150 lap contest. Defending event champion Nick Sweet from Barre, VT has an opportunity to become the first driver to win three in a row. The St J Auto team has back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2011 already in the record books.
“The opening Merchants Bank 150 has become really special for our family team. I was born and raised in Barre, I live and work in Barre, and winning at Thunder Road in front of a home town crowd is about as good as it gets in racing for us,” said Sweet.
Sweet has three ACT US career wins; all have come at Thunder Road. “We have been lucky to finish second at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and second in the Oxford 250--that was unbelievable--but winning at home is, well, there really is nothing like it. I know how tough it is to race with Phil (Scott, three-time Thunder Road Champion), Dave Pembroke (defending Thunder Road Champion) and Cris Michaud (another three-time Champion) every week at the ‘Road. When you add in the ACT US teams….it really sets the bar high. We will sure give it our best effort to win our third one,” concluded Sweet.

The field for this year’s Merchants Bank race is expected to have an exceptionally competitive entry list. Besides the regular Thunder Road teams, the best of the ACT drivers have entered the event. Brian Hoar, an (8) eight-time ACT champion who has won just about every major race on the Tour during his career will look for his first-ever Merchants Bank win.
“I have won a championship title at Thunder Road, I won another Milk Bowl there at the end of last year, it really bugs me that I have not been able to win a Merchants Bank 150 opener. Rick (Paya, owner of RPM racing for whom Hoar drives) and I have talked about how much we would like to add that race to our win list. Unfortunately, there are about a dozen Thunder Road regular teams, and probably that many tour teams, that can make winning any race at Thunder Road a pretty lofty goal to achieve. I do like the idea that, for the first time, we can make a tire change during the race this year. I think it might prove to be a good strategy move, and it should make the race more interesting for the fans,” said Hoar.
Thunder Road will open its doors for the 53rd season on Saturday, April 28, 2012 for the annual car show. With the major construction in downtown Barre, the 2012 car show will be held in the Thunder Road pits from 10am-12am. Admission is free to the public. The pit stop contest will take place at 11:00am. Practice for all divisions will take place from 1-5 pm on Saturday.
Gates open for the 14th Merchants Bank 150 at 10 am on Sunday April 29, 2012. Post time is set for 1:00 pm. Admission is: Adult $20.00, Children 12 and under are free.