ACT’s Chittenden Milk Bowl Boasts Big Stars, Purse, Honor, and Prestigious History by Justin St. Louis
Historic Race to Take Place on Sunday
It was 38 years ago when Johnny Gammell stood in victory lane at the Milk Bowl, a quirky three-segment, cumulatively scored race at a little track called Thunder Road, way up in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Gammell drove a Chevrolet numbered “Hawaii 5-0” in the famed Flying Tiger division, the car owned and prepared by Joey Laquerre, who, like Gammell, is a Vermont racing legend.
How the Chittenden Milk Bowl is Won
The Chittenden Milk Bowl has a format like no other event in the country. Qualifying begins at 1:00pm on Saturday for the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models and Thunder Road’s NAPA Tiger Sportsman, Allen Lumber Street Stock, and Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior divisions.
ACT drivers will try to earn the $1,000 Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Milk Bowl Pole Award in time trials, followed by “Triple 50” qualifying races. The three fastest time trialers will be locked in based on their best lap times, and will start in the first three positions for Segment I of the Milk Bowl.
“John has always had this remarkable presence at the race track,” says Joan. “He has a temper like anyone else, but in an era when the drivers would duke it out in the pits on any given night, John never showed it. He was always a gentleman, always popular with the fans, and he always stayed out of trouble. And to this day people remember that. It really is fascinating.”
“I started racing in 1949, but the years around ’69, when I got that Milk Bowl win,” John says, “were the greatest times of my life.”
The 44th Annual Chittenden Milk Bowl at Thunder Road runs this weekend, with racing action starting 1:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
Johnny Gammell poses next to Joey Laquerre's "Hawaii 5-0" Chevrolet. Gammell won the 1969 Chittenden Milk Bowl in the car (catamountstadium.com Photo)
Now nearing his 80th birthday, Gammell continues to visit Thunder Road each year and continues to have the respect and admiration of the fans, competitors, and officials, even though many of them were born well after the St. Johnsbury racer stopped strapping into race cars. He is easily identified by his trademark pants – an eye-popping red in color – his towering height, and his demeanor in public.
“Winning that Milk Bowl was the greatest thing that I ever did in my racing career, there’s no question about that,” Gammell said Thursday. “I’ve won a lot of races at a lot of tracks, I won the state championship, but nothing compares to the Milk Bowl.”
“John has a t-shirt that he bought at Thunder Road a couple of years ago,” explains wife Joan. “On the back it lists all of the names of the past Milk Bowl winners. Every September John digs that shirt out and wears it around. He’s so proud to be on that shirt.”
Next to where it says “1969 – Johnny Gammell” on that shirt, it lists the names of New Hampshire legends Russ Ingerson and Stub Fadden. In years prior, Harold “Hardluck” Hanaford and Vermont speedster Larry Demar. Down the list you’ll find regional and
national icons that include the likes of Dave Dion, Kevin Lepage, Dick McCabe, Robbie
Crouch, Randy LaJoie, Butch Lindley, Bill Dennis, Jean-Paul Cabana, Bobby, Beaver, and
Brent Dragon, Jean-Paul Cyr, Brian Hoar, Patrick Laperle, and more.
“How much more prestigious a race can you win?” John asks.
In addition to his 1969 victory in what is now known as the Chittenden Milk Bowl (Chittenden, a 100 year-old Vermont financial institution, is in its first year of underwriting the event), Gammell was the 1964 VT State Champion and won countless races at Thunder Road and bygone venues like Catamount Stadium near Burlington, VT, Northeastern Speedway near his native St. Johnsbury, and at myriad tracks from Massachusetts to Quebec.
Robbie Crouch of Tampa, FL carries the checkers in 1986, the last time a driver swept all three Milk Bowl segments on his way to the overall win (ACT archive Photo)
Harold "Hardluck" Hanaford drove the purple #30 flathead coupe to the first Milk Bowl win in 1962 (Dave Heath
Hood time trials and “Triple 50” heat races on Saturday are no less than ten former winners of the Chittenden Milk Bowl. Six-time American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Champion Jean-Paul Cyr of Milton, VT won the 1996 Milk Bowl, but will try to improve a rather unspectacular record in the fall classic. Cyr has finished 26th or worse three times in his last six Milk Bowl starts, including a 27th-place finish last year after flipping his car. He did, however finish third in 2003 and sixth in 2005.
“I guess I’ve got nowhere to go but up in the Milk Bowl,” Cyr joked in a recent radio interview.
Joining him in Saturday’s qualifiers will be the likes of defending winner Brent Dragon, recently-crowned Série ACT Castrol Champion Patrick Laperle and 2007 Thunder Road “King of the Road” Dave Pembroke, Eric Williams, Dwayne Lanphear, and multi-time ACT and Thunder Road Champions Cris Michaud, Phil Scott, Robbie Crouch, and Brian Hoar. Each has at least one Chittenden Milk Bowl victory to his credit. Crouch is the all-time win leader with four (1983, ’86, ’88, and ’90), and will make his first Milk Bowl qualifying attempt since 1992.
Local, Regional, and National Stars Flock to Thunder Road
Attempting to show the ten former Milk Bowl winners a thing or two at the will be heroes
from various forms of short track racing throughout the eastern US and Canada.
Three-time Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North Super Late Model Champion and current
point leader Ben Rowe of Turner, ME will bring his Richard Moody Racing #4 Chevrolet
back to Thunder Road after finishing fifth in the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 earlier
this month. His father Mike, the defending PASS South Champion, will drive a car
fielded by Mike Lux and Jerry Hicks.
Former NASCAR Busch East Series Champions Brad Leighton of Center Harbor, NH
and Jamie Aube of Bow, NH will be in attendance, as will 2007 Busch East Series
and ACT Late Model Tour winner Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, MA.
Canada will be well-represented by drivers from Quebec and Ontario, including Série
ACT Castrol Champion Patrick Laperle of Montreal and former Castrol Champion Donald
Theetge of Quebec City, five time ACT Canadian Champion Claude Leclerc of Montreal,
multi-time ALSTAR Late Model Champion Robbie Thompson of Owen Sound, ON, fifth-
place NASCAR Canadian Tire Series point finisher and main event winner Derek Lynch
of Warkworth, ON, and others.
ACT hotshots Scott Payea, Randy Potter, TD Banknorth 250 winner “Rocket” Roger Brown, and Thunder Road track record holder Joey “Pole” Polewarczyk, Jr. will be in town trying to gain ground on perennial ACT king Jean-Paul Cyr.
Multi-time White Mountain Motorsports Park and Riverside Speedway Champion Stacy Cahoon and his son, Tyler (championship runner-up at WMMP in 2007 and former Thunder Road Street Stock title winner), will also return to Thunder Road.
The home crowd will be represented by Thunder Road veterans Joey Becker, Jamie Fisher, Dave Whitcomb, Pete Fecteau, Rich Lowrey, John Donahue, and Kip Stockwell, and young guns Mike “Beetle” Bailey, Shawn Fleury, Marcel Gravel, and 2007 Rookie of the Year Chip Grenier.
Speed51.com will have Trackside Now coverage of the Milk Bowl on Sunday, September 30th.
Projected Entries for the ACTion Super Series 44th Annual Chittenden Milk Bowl
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl – Sat./Sun., September 29/30, 2007
CarNo.DriverHometownTeam/Car 1Mark Anzalone, Jr.Malden, MAAnzalone Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo 4MEBen RoweTurner, MERichard Moody Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo 4VTDoug MurphyTunbridge, VTNE Animal Rescue Chevrolet Monte Carlo 5VTMarcel GravelWolcott, VTRiverview Garage/Foley Services Pontiac Grand Prix 6Cris MichaudWilliamstown, VTMerchants Bank/Burrell Roofing Ford Fusion 7MEGlen LuceTurner, METhule/K&K Excavation Chevrolet Monte Carlo 7VTEric WilliamsHyde Park, VTUnicel Chevrolet Monte Carlo 8VTRich LowreyCharlotte, VTocé/Blockbuster/Benour Plumbing & Heating Dodge Charger 9NHMike GosselinDerby, VTMulkin Automotive/Interstate Concrete Chevrolet Monte Carlo 9ONRobbie ThompsonSouth Hampton, ONShear Metal Products/Thistletown Motor Freight Ford Fusion 9VT #Chip GrenierNorthfield, VTStreeter Concrete/Hillside Mini Storage Ford Fusion 10NHDavid AveryNorth Woodstock, NHAvery’s Sweeping/The Shuttle Connection Dodge Charger 11PQClaude LeclercLanoraie, QCAUTOPRO/Les Automobiles JPD Chevrolet Monte Carlo 11RIRyan VanasseWarwick, RITeam V Transport/Race Basics Chevrolet Monte Carlo 13Jamie AubeBow, NHAube Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo 14VTPhil ScottMontpelier, VTNorthfield Savings Bank Ford Fusion 15ONDerek LynchWarkworth, ONHasiuk Trailer & Container Rentals Dodge Charger 15VTJoey LaquerreEast Montpelier, VTLaquerre Motorsports Pontiac Grand Prix 16Joey BeckerJeffersonville, VTRichard Green Trucking Ford Taurus 17MAEddie MacDonaldRowley, MANew England Mechanical Overlay Pontiac Grand Prix 18Jamie FisherShelburne, VTS.D. Ireland Brothers Chevrolet Monte Carlo 22VTGary CaronColchester, VTCaron Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo 24MEMike RoweTurner, MELux Enterprises/Jerry’s Truck Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo 25Dave WhitcombEssex Jct., VTSun Ray Fire & Security Chevrolet Monte Carlo 26John DonahueGraniteville, VTNational Guard Ford Fusion 27MAMarc Curtis, Jr.Worcester, MATD Banknorth/TD Banknorth Oxford 250 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 28VTDwayne LanphearMorrisville, VTCasella Waste Management/KAS Environmental Dodge Charger 31ON #Spencer MacPhersonCarleton Place, ONNAPA Auto Parts/Cavanagh Construction Chevrolet Monte Carlo 31VTShawn FleuryMiddlesex, VTVT Army Guard/Ultramar HomEnergy Dodge Intrepid 32Jean-Paul CyrMilton, VTEhler’s RV/Sticks & Stuff Chevrolet Monte Carlo 36Kip StockwellBraintree, VTSabil & Son/Stockwell’s Garage Chevrolet Monte Carlo 38Tyler CahoonDanville, VTR&R Fireworks/Gilmour Jeep-Ford-Dodge Dodge Charger 40Eric ChaseMilton, VTGary Clay Builders/Chicken Charlie’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo 41NHMike JurkowskiClaremont, NHJurkowski Motorsports Ford Taurus 41VTPete Potvin, IIIGraniteville, VTA.J. Rander/Tenco New England Chevrolet Monte Carlo 42VTMatt WhiteNorthfield, VTWhite’s Heating/Lyman Excavating Chevrolet Monte Carlo 44Dave PembrokeMontpelier, VTVT State Employees Credit Union/Cabot Chevrolet Monte Carlo 45Brian HoarWilliston, VTGoss Dodge Dodge Charger 46David ChagnonColchester, VTLA Memorial Scholarship/Smuggs.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo 48VTRobbie CrouchTampa, FLSecond Storey Homes, Inc. Chevrolet Monte Carlo 50Jay LaquerreEast Montpelier, VTLaquerre Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo 55NHBrad LeightonCenter Harbor, NHIrving Oil/Coca-Cola Chevrolet Monte Carlo 55VTBrent DragonMilton, VTBeverage Mart/Furniture World of VT Chevrolet Monte Carlo 66MAA.J. BeginMerrimac, MABegin Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo 70VTScott DragonColchester, VTHarrison Steel & Concrete/Jeffords Steel Chevrolet Monte Carlo 74Jerry LesageWinooski, VTAlpine Sprinkler Chevrolet Monte Carlo 75Pete FecteauMorrisville, VTFecteau Homes Pontiac Grand Prix 77MAJames LinardyMalden, MALinardy Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo 78Ryan NolinGeorgia, VTMountain Air Systems/Subway of Milton Chevrolet Monte Carlo 80Donald TheetgeBoischatel, QCAuto Frank et Michel/Le Centre Honda Chevrolet Monte Carlo 82Dave RiopelleOttawa, ONRV Canada/Praxair/Concordia Carstar Chevrolet Monte Carlo 83Stacy CahoonSt. Johnsbury, VTR&R Fireworks/Marty’s 1st Stop Pontiac Grand Prix 85Trampas DemersSouth Burlington, VTJiffy Mart Chevrolet Monte Carlo 86Dennis DemersShelburne, VTShelburne Limestone Corp. Chevrolet Monte Carlo 87Cal PoulinBraintree, VTTri-State Basement Systems Chevrolet Monte Carlo 88Alan TardiffLyman, MEBBI Waste/St. Hilare Bros. Chevrolet Monte Carlo 89Scott PayeaMilton, VTOuellette’s Plumbing & Heating/Leahy Press Ford Fusion 91Patrick LaperleSt-Denis, QCJPN Racing/Patriote Auto Chevrolet Monte Carlo 97NHJoey Polewarczyk. Jr.Hudson, NHPole’s Automotive Chevrolet Monte Carlo 98Owen Wimble, Jr.Waitsfield, VTTire Warehouse/Duxbury AutoTech Pontiac Grand Prix 99NHRoger Brown, IILancaster, NHRoger Brown Trucking/Simon Labranche Trucking Ford Fusion 00ONSteve MunroCarp, ONHot Wheels/Mattel Dodge Charger 00VTMike BaileySouth Barre, VTDB Design, Inc./D+D Smokehouse Pontiac Grand Prix 02NHRandy PotterGroveton, NHP&R Excavating Services/JML Grinding Chevrolet Monte Carlo 05Ron HenryNew Gloucester, MEWayne Excavators/Sunset Dist. Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Positions 4-18 will be determined by the “Triple 50” races. The top five finishers in each 50-lap heat race (which are lined up according to time trials) will transfer to the Segment I starting field, followed by the next six-best time trialers not already in the show. (Think of it kind of like the procedure for the Daytona 500.) The last-chance “B” Feature begins at 1:00pm on Sunday, where two more drivers will transfer. Provisionals (up to four) may be added.
The Chittenden Milk Bowl is then run in three 50-lap segments. The winner of each segment is awarded one point, the runner-up two points, the third-place finishers, three points, etc. The finish of the first round is then completely inverted for the second segment, meaning the Segment I winner starts last. Repeat the process for Segments II and III, and the driver with the lowest combined point total at the end of the day is the Milk Bowl Champion. In the event of ties for overall position, the driver with the higher final-segment finish is given the higher overall finishing position.
Only three drivers in history have swept all three segments for a perfect score of three
points, and none in the last 21 years. Larry Demar of Hardwick, VT was the first in
1967, followed by “Dynamite” Dave Dion of Hudson, NH in 1975 and “The Tampa Tornado” Robbie Crouch of Tampa, FL in 1986.
A victory in this year’s Chittenden Milk Bowl is worth $10,000 in ACTion Super Series money, with bonuses available in lap money and contingencies. The Milk Bowl was voted by American race promoters and Chris Economaki’s National Speed Sport News as the “Outstanding Annual Short Track Event” in 2006, the highest honor for a stock car race in the country, and boasts a total purse topping $60,000.
Dickens Crowned Thunder Road’s Chittenden Milk Bowl Queen
Annie Burke of Harvest Hills Farm in Berlin, VT reports that her lovely Ayrshire cow, Dickens, has won the annual Milk Bowl Beauty Pageant for a record fourth time. Dickens will be standing in Victory Lane at Thunder Road on Sunday as the winner of the 44th Annual Chittenden Milk Bowl is presented to her for the traditional winning kiss. Dickens adds the Milk Bowl contest win to her lengthy list of achievements in 2007, which include first-place award ribbons at Vermont fairs in Barton, Rutland, Tunbridge, and Essex.
“Dickens won the ribbon at Essex for production – she produced 20,000 pounds of milk over a period of 305 days,” said Burke. “That’s a high-performance cow. Who else would you want among high-performance racing machines at Thunder Road?”
The 2007 Chittenden Milk Bowl will be Dickens’ fourth tenure as beauty queen for the race. She unseats Ferry Queen, last year’s winner. Dickens has previously received victory smooches from American-Canadian Tour (ACT) competitors Patrick Laperle of Montreal in 2005, Hyde Park, VT native Eric Williams in 2003, and Morrisville’s Dwayne Lanphear in 2001.
Lanphear, a dairy farmer himself, planted upon Dickens’ lips the most enthusiastic kiss in Milk Bowl history. Photographs of the scene, scandalous as they were, were sent along the Associated Press wire and appeared throughout major newspapers in cities including Detroit, Toronto, and Los Angeles.
Ten Former Chittenden Milk Bowl Winners to Attempt Qualifying
Among the drivers and teams expected to attempt qualifying in the Booth Bros./H.P.
Patrick Laperle (right) had every past Milk Bowl Champion sign his 2005 trophy before last year's event. Here, Phil Scott (1997 and 2000 winner) autographs Laperle's silver bowl (Dave Heath photo)
Dickens the cow gets up close and personal with 2001 winner Dwayne Lanphear. Lanphear, a dairy farmer, knew just what his waiting lady wanted in victory lane (Toby Talbot/AP photo)