Former Thunder Road stock car champion Tracie Bellerose has announced her return to the track she dominated in 2000. The Gorham, NH race driver was forced into retirement following a serious crash in 2003, which left her with a badly shattered arm.
“Earlier this year I watched the ACT race haulers pass through Gorham on their way to Oxford (Plains Speedway, Oxford, ME) and I cried all day. It’s time for me to return to the one thing I love best. I’ll be at Thunder Road for the Merchants Bank 150 opener on Sunday, May 6, with a great car, and I couldn’t be more excited,” she said. Bellerose was victorious in the same event in 2000 at the Barre, VT quarter-mile oval.
Bellerose will drive for Scott Fearn of Springfield, MA but the car will be maintained at Jeff Laquerre’s shop in Montpelier, VT. Laquerre was crew chief during her championship run when she became one of the first women in the U.S. stock car racing to win a major short track crown.
With the 2007 lid lifter still some five months away, Laquerre and crew are already planning the extra precautions they will take to prevent injury to her arm, “We’ve talked about some additional bracing and a different steering wheel,” she explained, “I’ve got to get back to a comfort level in the car. I still feel I’ve got the ability. I’m grateful to Jeff for still believing in me and to Tom Leavitt at Merchants Bank for providing their support. And I can’t forget Scott Fearn who is the one who’s making this all possible”
She finished, “Plans currently call for me to run the Merchants Bank 150, the TD Bank North 250 and the Milk Bowl. But Scott’s giving us the option to run more races if we want to – we’ll see how things go.”
Bellerose joins a large contingent of former Tour drivers intending to return to the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and its Thunder Road base for 2007 and the 48th season at the high banked track. Among those who’ve recently declared their intentions are former Milk Bowl winner, Dwayne Lanphear from Morrisville, VT, five-time ACT Champion, Brian Hoar of Williston, VT and Braintree, Vermont’s Kip Stockwell.
Tour organizer Tom Curley commented, “We are delighted that Tracie will be returning to competition. There’s not a more fitting place than at Thunder Road’s Merchants Bank 150 season opener. It’s the race that jump-started her phenomenal run to the 2000 “Queen of the Road” title. She’s a great competitor who has been sorely missed. It will be great to see her back behind the wheel.”
The Merchants Bank 150 is slated as the second event on the 2007 ACT Tour schedule and first of the year at Thunder Road.