By Lou Modestino

The four race Vermont State Late Model Championship series, which boasts an $11,000 point fund, will see changes in 2014. The series, which features four events split between Vermont’s only two paved oval speedways, will now include the Labor Day Classic at Barre’s Thunder Road on the schedule, instead of the Vermont Governor’s Cup as in years past.

The Vermont State Late Model Championship was created in 2012 and hosts two races each at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven and Thunder Road in Barre. Once again the series will kick off with the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic 100 at Thunder Road on Sunday, May 25. The 1/4-mile portion of the series will conclude with the Labor Day Classic 200 on Sunday, August 31. The Labor Day event will also be the final Thunder Road Late Model point-counting event for 2014.

The Devil’s Bowl 1/2-mile will host a 100-lap event on Friday, May 30 and conclude the series with another 100-lap event during the Vermont 200 weekend on Sunday, September 14. For the third season, the Vermont State Champion will be crowned following the September event at Devil’s Bowl. Past VT State Champions were Dave Pembroke in 2012 and Nick Sweet last season, who each picked up a $2,000 point fund check.

2014 Vermont State Late Model Championship
#, Day, Date, Event, Trac, Laps
1., Sunday, May 25, Memorial Day Classic, Thunder Road, 100
2., Friday, May 30, Devil’s Bowl 100, Devil’s Bowl Speedway, 100
3., Sunday, August 31, Labor Day Classic, Thunder Road, 200
4., Sunday, September 14, Vermont 100, Devil’s Bowl Speedway, 100

In the eyes of Barry Gray, the 2013 season was an off year. The Belchertown, MA driver picked up a win, 4 top 5’s, and finished 7th in points, but had 4 DNF’s, 3 of which occurred before lap 10. Gray’s goals are to have more success during qualifying rounds, and to practice self-preservation. “To finish first, first you must finish,” Gray adds.

Gray’s racing career wasn’t a planned thing. One day, Gray headed to see a man named Bruce Clark to pick up a washing machine. What he brought back with him was a race car. The irony of the situation is that same Bruce Clark’s daughter, Christina, would catch the eye of Gray’s son Adam years later, as they are due to be married this upcoming October.

Barry Gray has enjoyed a storied career. His Pro Stock days at Riverside Park and Monadnock have given him 6 titles, including the New Hampshire State Championship between Monadnock and Twin State Speedway in 2007. He has captured over 100 victories in his career, including a pair of wins in the Granite State Pro Stock Series itself. To say he is a premier level driver would be an understatement.

The Gray family also has some competition for best racer in the family. Adam Gray is a multi-time Late Model champion at Stafford Speedway, including a remarkable 2013 campaign which Adam racked up 6 wins in 18 races. Adam’s first race didn’t start out how he had planned, suffering a flat tire, but then proceeded to go on a tear and pick up 16 straight top threes, and his 17th race fell to a dismal…fourth. Barry and Adam had a year racing families envy in 2008, when Adam won the Late Model championship, and Barry picked up top honors in the Pro Stock division. When asked who would win in a race between father and son, Barry Gray answered with a chuckle. “Would he wreck me for the win? Yes. Would I wreck him for the win? I’m not so sure.”
When the other is racing, Barry and Adam spot for each other. “It’s more stressful when you aren’t in control of the car,” Barry comments. “You aren’t in control of your destiny.” Gray is also quick
to point out spotting for each other has helped each driver. “It’s a lot easier to communicate how the car is handling,” the elder Gray admits.

When not at the race track, Gray is running his Meadows Motor Cars business, and an avid New England Patriots fan. However, Gray admits racing takes up a lot of his time. His family is dear to his racing hobbies, and he is proud to have passed along his racing knowledge to his son. “I try to be slow and steady, and I think that helped Adam this past year,” said Gray. “Again, to finish first, you must first finish.” Gray enjoys the GSPSS because it gives him a chance to travel to different tracks, but has his eyes set on the Monadnock date on the schedule. Gray has two victories and a top five to go with it. He credits his success to his crew, including Gary, Walter, Alan, Leon, Bob, and his son.

The Granite State Pro Stock Series hits Monadnock on May 24th, but you can catch the GSPSS at their first race of the 2014 season at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on April 5th and 6th.
Local stock car racers will be celebrated for their high-speed achievements on Saturday, February 1 at the Devil’s Bowl Speedway Banquet of Champions. The annual awards gala will be held at the Holiday Inn Rutland-Killington in Rutland, VT, honoring champions and top award winners from the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and other divisions.

Todd Stone of Middlebury, VT will collect awards for his championship in the headline Bond Auto Parts Modified division, and crew chief Jeff Carter will be honored as the winner of the UNOH Ultimate Mechanic Challenge. Claremont, NH veteran Chris Bergeron will be toasted as the champion of the highly competitive Late Model division after a four-win campaign. Richie Turner of Fairfax, VT will collect top honors in the Renegade class, and Jake Noble of Benson, VT will be recognized for his title in the Central Vermont Motorcycles Mini Stocks.

Rookie of the Year awards will be given to Modified driver Jamie LaFountain, Late Model pilot Josh Masterson, Renegade racer Brad Bushey, and Mini Stock runner Chuck Bradford. Sportsmanship award winners will be named in each division, as well as the winners of the prestigious Award of Excellence and the John Bruno Award – Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s highest annual honor.

In addition to the weekly divisional champions, Vince Quenneville, Jr., will be saluted as the first-ever champion of the six-race Northern Modified Challenge Series, a traveling circuit sanctioned by Devil’s Bowl Speedway. Nick Sweet will be honored with his first Vermont State Late Model Championship Series title, and Eric Messier will take the stage as the first-ever Enduro Series champion.

The full 2014 season schedule will be revealed at the Banquet of Champions on Saturday, February 1, along with several other major announcements.