-by Justin St. Louis

Must be even Mother Nature is a race fan.  She put up a fuss all day on Saturday during the Thunder Road Merchants Bank Car Show and wiped out half of the afternoon practice, but kindly stepped aside to let the 10th Annual Merchants Bank 150 – Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl’s 49th season opener – go on as planned.

Scott Payea served notice that he is definitely ready to wrestle the American-Canadian Tour championship away from Jean-Paul Cyr by taking the Merchants Bank 150 checkered flag for the second year in a row.  After three events, Payea now leads the point standings by five markers over Patrick Laperle.  In perhaps a bit of a surprise to some, John Donahue sits third ahead of Cyr and Brent Dragon.  Donahue, by the way, drove from 30th to finish 9th in the

The Tour cranks back up on Sat., May 17 at Plattsburgh, NY’s Airborne Speedway for the 34th Annual Furniture World of VT Spring Green 100.


KIDS!  Want your mom to race at Thunder Road?  Harvest Equipment presents the annual Mother’s Day Special at “The Nation’s Site of Excitement” this Sunday, May 11.

Six lucky moms will be chosen to participate in a Lawn Mower Race, but they’ll need YOUR help – Send a short essay explaining why you think your mom should race at Thunder Road by email to media@acttour.com, by fax to (802) 244-1616, or by post to Mother’s Day Contest, P.O. Box 296, Waterbury, VT 05676.  Entries must be received no later than Thursday, May 8 at 5:00pm, as the winning moms will be notified on Friday, May 9.

Please include your mom’s name and a daytime phone number in your essay.

Kids, you’ll be rewarded with race car rides at Thunder Road from 2-3pm at the Harvest Equipment Mother’s Day Special.  Gates open at 1:30pm, racing begins at 5:00pm.  Tickets are only $9.50 for adults, $3 for kids (6-12), and the best family fare in New England – just $20 for any two adults and two kids.


Scott Payea’s battle for the Merchants Bank 150 victory with Dave Pembroke (who eventually finished third after Patrick Laperle passed him late in the going) was sensational.  The pair officially traded the lead four times, right up until the 20-to-go mark.  With Thunder Road’s faster outside lane not working quite as well as normal in colder temperatures, it came down to a matter of guts.  Both drivers employed some psychology in their pursuit of the victory, using strategic “pinch” moves to distract the other.

It was a hard-fought, very clean, very interesting 130-lap chess game.  Restarts played a big role in deciding who would lead laps, as three of the four lead changes came within a lap of going back to green – and as much as the outside wasn’t always the preferred lane, it was the place to be during said restarts.

A real thinker, that 10th Annual Merchants Bank 150 was.


Big congratulations to Pete Potvin and Tyler Cahoon on impressive showings at Thunder Road.  Potvin raced inside the top three for nearly 100 laps, and showed that his program was stepped up immensely during the off-season. Potvin fell to the wayside late in the race as the veteran racers made their way to the front, but he held on for his first career Top 10 finish.

Cahoon, an ACT Late Model Tour rookie this season, had a very solid drive to take an 11th place finish.  Cahoon began the race in 12th position, fell back in the field, but raced his way back toward the top and was in the process of moving forward as the checkers flew.

Maine veteran Glen Luce also made lemonade out of expired bananas with a 15th-place effort.  Luce had to take a provisional to start the main event after some rough qualifying events, but looked very good running with the pack during the feature.


Scott Coburn, Dave LaFleche, and Neal Foster scored the opening day victories for the Thunder Road weekly championship divisions.  Coburn, a hometown Barre, VT boy, took NAPA Tiger Sportsman career win #4 with his wire- to-wire victory.  LaFleche stole the Allen Lumber Street Stock victory from “Super” Joe Fecteau in the final corner for his first-ever win, while Foster made a similar move to take his first career Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior victory.


Congratulations to Saturday’s big winners in the Merchants Bank Car Show and Pit Stop Contest.

ACT Late Model Tour Car Show Top 3: 1. Dave Pembroke, VSECU/Cabot/Tech Group #44VT Chevrolet Monte Carlo.  2. Shawn Fleury, VT Army Guard/Times Argus/Classic Auto #31VT Dodge Charger.  3. Matt White, White’s Heating, Inc./Bethel Central Market #42VT Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

NAPA Tiger Sportsman Car Show Top 3: 1. Craig Bushey, VT Life Safety/Robinson’s Fuels/Barry’s Transmission #05 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.  2. Mike Ziter, Ziter Masonry, Inc./Hunt Companies, Inc./Trowel Trades Supply Co. #26 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.  3. Rick Garand, SR Services/Capital City Floors/j. Morgans #41 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Allen Lumber Street Stock Car Show Top 3: 1. Justin Gordon, VT Lazerwash, Inc./Capitol Earth Moving, Inc. #02 Ford Mustang.  2. Mike Martin, Martin Motorsports #01 Ford Escort.  3. David Greenslit, Greenslit Motorsports #20 Ford Mustang.

Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior Car Show Top 3: 1. Donny Yates, Subway/Yates Auto Body #05 Honda Civic.  2. Dale Bickford, PDL Racing #59 Chevrolet Cavalier.  3. Brad LaFountain, Cedar Creek Home Improvements, Inc./Got That Rental & Sales #2 VW Jetta.

Pit Stop Contest: 1. STJAuto.com/Fortier’s Community Care Home #88 ACT Late Model team, Crew Chief Shayne Sweet –25.44 seconds.  2. Ehler’s RV/RPM Racing Engines #32 ACT Late Model team, Crew Chief Rick Paya – 27.28 seconds. 3. A.H. Fence Co./Hess’ Used Cars #83 Allen Lumber Street Stock team, Crew Chief Bunker Hodgdon – 29.03 seconds. 4. Lyman Excavating/Sign-A-Rama #4 NAPA Tiger Sportsman team, Crew Chief Arny Hill – 30.06 seconds.  5. Merchants Bank/Burrell Roofing #6 ACT Late Model team, Crew Chief Kendell Legendre – 32.90 seconds.  6. VSECU/Cabot #44VT ACT Late Model team, Crew Chief Ed Pembroke – 35.38 seconds.


Did you know…?

-The Merchants Bank 150 winner’s trophy has gone back to the town of Milton, VT in six of its ten runnings. Milton natives Jean-Paul Cyr, Scott Payea, and Scott Dragon have put a stranglehold on the race it seems.  Cyr owns three victories in the race (2002, ’04, ’06), while Payea has two (2007, ’08), and Dragon has one (2003). Incidentally, the other four winners hailed from Montpelier, VT (Phil Scott, 1999), Gorham, NH (Tracie Bellerose, 2000), Bethlehem, NH (Kenny Dufour, 2001), and Middlesex, VT (Dave Pembroke, 2005).

-Eric Williams, driver of the #7VT ACT Late Model, started 7th and finished 7th in the Merchants Bank 150.

-The ACT Rookie of the Year battle is shaping up to be tremendous.  Ricky Wolf, Jr. still leads the standings after three events with 29 points, but he has Jonathan Urlin, Nick Sweet, and Tyler Cahoon all within five points of him.  This may be the best fight to watch all year!

Comments and questions?  Ship ‘em to media@acttour.com.  Stay tuned to www.acttour.com and
www.thunderroadspeedbowl.com for all the latest!