Pit Notes from the Merchants Bank 150

Pit Notes from the Merchants Bank 150 at Thunder Road 5/2/09

  • The 50th Anniversary season at Thunder Road “The Nation’s Site of Excitement” kicks off this weekend with the 11th running of the Merchants Bank 150 on Sunday, May 3rd.
  • The weekend started with the Annual opening day car show in downtown Barre. Main Street was packed with 117 cars from Thunder Road’s four divisions. It was a beautiful day for the thousands of fans that came out to see the cars up close and personal.
  • The fans also got to witness the always-entertaining Pit Stop Contest. Cris Michaud’s crew took home the victory over the crews of Eric Williams, Craig Bushey, Jason Corliss and Travis Hull as well as a crew from Barre City.
  • A total of 39 ACT Tour Late Models showed up to take advantage of Saturday’s practice session, which totaled over two hours. More cars are expected to show up tomorrow and should push the total cars attempting to qualify for the 11th Annual Merchants Bank 150 over 40.
  • Jean-Paul Cyr looked very comfortable in his new ride for 2009. Cyr is planning on a full season at Thunder Road in an attempt to capture the “King of the Road” title in the 50th Anniversary season.
  • Scott Payea also looked fast and should be strong as he tries for a third straight Merchants Bank 150 victory. He is running the full ACT Tour again this second and will be looking to take the title after a tough second place finish last year.
  • “King of the Road” Eric Williams also looked to be a contender, as he will try for his first ever Merchants Bank 150 win.
  • Randy Potter of Groveton, NH missed some valuable practice time this afternoon as he had trouble with warped brake rotors. Competing car owner Pete Duto gets the sportsmanship award for the day as he drove to his shop to pick up new rotors for Potter. Potter completed repairs and was able to practice again.
  • Series ACT Castrol regular Daniel Descoste from Quebec went for a wild ride of the top of turns three and four. It appeared he got too high entering turn three before losing control. His crew says there was no serious damage and he should be ready to go tomorrow.
  • The NAPA Tiger Sportsman looked real sharp during their practice time. They also had a healthy field of cars as over 30 attended the car show and practice. Scott Coburn took home the opening day victory last season and will look to make it back to back this year.
  • The Allen Lumber Street Stocks and Junkyard Warriors practiced together once again. They look like they are ready to really mix it up together this season as they took it three wide a number of times in practice.
  • Other than that, only a few accidents with minor damage occurred throughout the whole day and the cars are ready for competition tomorrow.
The weather forecast looks great for the Merchants Bank 150. Practice will begin at 10:50 p.m., Class Day activities will be at 1 p.m. and post time is set for 1:30 p.m.






Schedule Subject
     to Change     
Saturday,  May 2, 2009 
8:00 - 11:00        Advance pit registration at CAR SHOW
8:00 - Noon        1st round tire(4) for car show entrants only
                             (car must be at car show and hauler in pits)
Noon                    Pit Registration
                             Balance 1st round tires (4)
           (car must be in pits-tires will be based on 1st in pits)
                             2nd round tire by draw ALL (2) tires
Noon               Safety inspection SS/PSW
12:30 - 12:50   NAPA Tiger Sportsman CAR SHOW
12:50 - 1:10     LATE MODEL CAR SHOW
1:10 - 1:30       Allen Lumber/Power Shift Warrior CAR SHOW
1:30 - 2:00      NAPA Tiger Sportsmen
2:00 - 2:30      LATE MODEL
2:30 - 2:50      Allen Lumber/Power Shift Warrior 
2:50 - 3:20      NAPA Tiger Sportsman
3:20 - 3:40      LATE MODEL
3:40 - 4:00      Allen Lumber/Power Shift Warrior 
4:00 - 4:20     NAPA Tiger Sportsman
4:20 - 4:50     LATE MODEL
4:50 - 5:05     Allen Lumber/Power Shift Warrior FINAL
5:05 - 5:25    NAPA Tiger Sportsmen FINAL
5:30 - 6:00    LATE MODEL FINAL
                           CLOSE TRACK
Sunday , May 3, 2009
8:00         Pit Gates Open
                Tire Compound Open
8:30        Merchants Bank 150 Inspection
10:00      Drivers Meeting
10:50                    Past Champions Practice (25,37,11,75,14,91,6,18,44,7)
11:00 - 11:15      Allen Lumber SS/Power Shift Warrior
11:15 - 11:45      LATE MODEL
11:45 - 12:05      NAPA Tiger Sportsman FINAL
12:05 - 12:35      LATE MODEL FINAL
12:35 - 12:50      Allen Lumber SS/Power Shift Warrior FINAL
                                              CLOSE TRACK
 1:00                    CLASS DAY ATIVITIES
 1:30                    ACT HEATS (15 laps)
                             Sportsman Heats (12 laps)
                             SS/PSW Heats (10 laps)
                             ACT Consi (s) TBA
                            Sportsmen Consi (12 laps)
                            SS/PSW Main Event (25 laps)
                                            5 Minute Mini Intermission
                            ACT LAST CHANCE TBA
                           Sportsman “B” Feature TBA
                           SS/PSW ‘Reserve’ Feature (25 laps)
                           Grid 11th Annual Merchants Bank 150
                          Merchants Bank 150
                          Victory Lane
                          SPORTSMAN FEATURE (35 laps)

50th Anniversary Season at Thunder Road
Unidilla, Georgia’s Sprint Cup Series aspiring stock car driver, David Ragan, will race at Thunder Road Thursday August 27th in the final evening program of its 50th season.
“We wanted superstars from our past, present, and future to highlight our 50th anniversary activities,” said track co-owner Tom Curley. With 82-time Cup winner and Daytona 500 Champion Bobby Allison appearing on Thursday, June 18th and one of the very best NASCAR stars of today, Tony Stewart, coming to race the CARQUEST Vt Governor’s Cup on June 25th, we wanted a racer who we believe is ready for future stardom on NASCAR’s top level of racing. David Ragan is the real deal,” concluded Curley.


Brad Leighton of Center Harbor, NH wins the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150. Leighton came from deep in the field starting 19th to become the first qualifier for the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The deciding battle of the race came on lap 130 when Leighton got by defending NH Governor’s Cup Champ Joey Pole of Hudson, NH. The two had to fight through heavy lap traffic due to a long green flag run from lap 52 to the finish.


Leighton said, “It’s a real honor to be the first qualifier for the New Hampshire Invitational. The Invitational is going to be a huge boost for the ACT series and attract tremendous regional exposure. And it’s great to be part of it.”


Rounding out the top five were Joey Pole, Scott Payea, Eddie MacDonald, and Quinny Welch. Coming home sixth was Ricky Wolf Jr., John Donahue, Wayne Helliwell Jr., Brian Hoar, followed by teammate Mike Olsen finishing in tenth.

ACT Tour

Pit Notes from Lee USA Speedway 4/19/09


  • Yesterday 45 cars took advantage of the two one-hour practice sessions at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, NH. The practice served as a test and tune for today’s New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150. As drivers shook off the rust from a long winter, they appeared to get comfortable and became racier as the day went on. There were few wrecks or issues throughout the day.
  • Among the fastest cars of the day was Lee regular Bryan Kruczek of Newmarket, NH. He was fast right out of the trailer and spent the majority of his time on the high side of the track. Throughout the day non-Lee regulars attempted to mimic his line and find the fast way around.
  • Also near the top of the speed charts was five-time ACT Tour Champion Brian Hoar in the #37 Rick Paya machine. Hoar has signed on for the full 2009 season after several years’ absence. Paya and Hoar will be a strong team as Paya has also won several Tour championships with his previous driver, Jean-Paul Cyr.
  • Tour full-timer Jeff Zuidema had a rough start to the season. His first practice session ended early when he broke a push rod. They pulled the motor at the track and trucked it to Dave McMaster’s shop about two hours away. The repair took four hours and the crew had it back at the track first thing this morning. They are currently re-installing the motor and should be ready in time for practice.
  • One of the two accidents of the day involved Pete Potvin on the first lap of the final practice. Potvin appeared to get loose coming off turn four before overcorrecting and hitting the wall nose first at the flag stand. He was able to drive away with no serious damage. The only casualty was his bumper, which had to be cut off and welded back on. He will be ready for today’s race.
  • The second incident of the day occurred when Joey Laquerre broke a tie rod and tangled with Travis Stearns. Stearns suffered only cosmetic damage while Laquerre’s only damage was the tie rod. This accident ended the day’s practice. Both Stearns and Laquerre are expected to be fixed before post time.
  • James Linardy also had some issues yesterday. They too had to pull the motor to make a repair. The problem has been fixed and they are ready to race.
  •  The anticipation is mounting for today’s New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 as the 45 or more drivers will battle for 30 qualifying spots.
  • Today the pit gate opens at 9 a.m., front gate opens at 10 a.m. Practice will begin at 12 noon with post time at 1 p.m. It is currently sunny with no clouds in the sky and no threat of rain for the day.

The Northeast Media have picked the ‘outlaw’, Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, MA to win the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 this weekend at the Lee USA Speedway.
The contest, conducted by the American Canadian Tour sanctioning body, (ACT) asked media from throughout the Northeast to send in their picks for those drivers they think will qualify for the inaugural ACT INVITATIONAL Late Model event to be held this September at New England’s only Super-Speedway, the New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS). 

ACT FORD Crate Motor Passes Initial Tests
The American Canadian Tour (ACT) has successfully completed the first two tests on a new Ford crate engine program. The tests were conducted at the White Mountain Motorsports Park in Lincoln, NH last week, and during a test and tune session at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, VT on Tuesday, April 14, 2009.
Veteran ACT driver Cris Michaud, of Williamstown, VT, along with his crew chief Kendell Legendre, was asked to do the testing. “It took a bit of work to convert our existing GM-equipped car to the Ford, but we managed to accomplish it. We were pretty happy with the first test, and yesterday at Thunder Road we felt we might be a little short on gear, but the FORD motor never skipped a beat. The times were certainly in line with what the GM crates average at White Mountain and Thunder Road”, said Legendre, who is a former Late Model racer at both facilities.

LEE USA SCHEDULE & Information
Forecast: Long term shows 60 and sunny Saturday
              Sunday partial sunshine…mid 50’s
             [Rain is not forecast until Monday at this time]
Saturday Schedule 
April 18, 2009
                            A FOUR-TIRE EVENT
·        Pits open (Late Models will pit in main pit area)
·        Tire compound open --- practice tires
                      NOTE:(LEE competitors are encouraged
                      to purchase practice tires from the
                      the Lee tire supplier)
·    Tech opens (preliminary safety check)
 Full Tech will be conducted on Sunday morning
·    Tire Draw for first round race tires maximum (4)
·    First round mounting and impound (tires will be released at 3:45 for ‘scuffing’ at final practice session and will be immediately returned to impound following practice.)
·        PRACTICE (schedule subject to change)
·        12:00 - 1:00 ACT Late Model practice
·        1:00 – 2:00 Divisional practices
·        2:15          Qualifying heats for support divisions
·        3:45 – 5:00 ACT Late Model final practice
(scuff session)
·         5:00 – Track Closed
(Haulers may be left in pits overnight)

50th Anniversary Celebrations at Thunder Road
Richard Petty, stock car racing’s all-time Champion, will appear at Barre’s Thunder Road as part of the track’s season-long 50th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday Night, July 30th. The 7-time National Champion, and record 7-time Daytona 500 mile winner, holds the record of 200 major wins in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His closest rival on that win list is David Pearson at 105, with Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison tied for third at 84.
Petty is considered the cornerstone of the sport’s popularity and growth. Thunder Road’s history parallels the Petty legend. The Level Cross, North Carolina native won his first race in 1960 on a half-mile dirt track in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Petty name still dominates the sport 17 years after he retired as a driver. Many consider his 27 wins--including 10 in a row in 1967--the greatest single season performance in NASCAR history.

50th Anniversary Celebration at Thunder Road


Three-time Daytona 500 mile stock car champion Bobby Allison will participate in the 50th anniversary celebration at Barre, Vermont’s Thunder Road this summer. Allison will make an appearance at the high-banked track on Thursday night June 18th.

Ken Squier, co-owner of Thunder Road said the announcement of Allison’s appearance was part of a year-long Thunder Road effort to recognize and honor great racing talent from the beginning of the Barre track’s history to today. "The track’s intention is to honor the greats from the 60’s to today, national stars and Thunder Road’s own greats. Actually we’re planning to present another NASCAR star driver for the future who will compete against Thunder Road regulars later this season," said Squier.

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