True Value Mods and Thunder Road Come Together for '08
Memorial Day Classic Will See Modifieds Return to Storied Short Track
Ground-pounding, open-wheel Modified stock cars will return to Vermont in 2008, as the True Value Modified Racing Series makes its debut at Barre’s Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl during the 46th Annual Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic, Sunday, May 25. TVMRS founder and competitor Jack Bateman of Canaan, NH tested his car at the high-banked ¼-mile oval recently, and made the agreement with Thunder Road Promoter Tom Curley to bring the touring series to “The Nation’s Site of Excitement” next season for a 100-lap event as part of a doubleheader with the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Thunder Road Late Models.
The True Value Modifieds will hit the high banks of Thunder Road next season. (Jim DuPont Photos)
“I think it’s going to be a great race,” said Bateman. “I’ve raced Thunder Road a lot in my career, but always in full-fendered cars like a Late Model or a Pro Stock. I wanted to test my Modified at the track before we made the decision to have a race there, and it went extremely well, better than I expected.”
Bateman reports that on used tires, his lap times were in the 12.6-second range – three-tenths of a second quicker than the Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Pole Award time set by Joey Polewarczyk at the Chittenden Milk Bowl last month. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see lap times in the 12.1s and 12.2s for cars on new tires,” said Bateman. “If the guys are really hooked up, the laps could be even faster.”
“I’ve heard Thunder Road is a fast, tight race track, a real bullring like Star (NH) Speedway or Seekonk (MA),” said driver Andy Seuss, 20, of Hampstead, NH. “No matter where you go, Thunder Road is the place for Late Model racing, and people
everywhere talk about it. It’s exciting that we’ll get a chance to race our Modifieds there next year.”
Seuss was the 2004 TVMRS Rookie of the Year and the 2006 Florida Speedweeks Champion at New Smyrna Speedway.
Top True Value Modified Racing Series drivers include Seuss, three-time series Champion Kirk Alexander of West Swanzey, NH, 2006 Champion Dwight Jarvis of Ascutney, VT, Windsor, CT’s Les Hinckley, and Massachusetts drivers Louie Mechalides and Vinnie “Who?” Annarummo. Top-ten Série ACT Castrol driver Marc-André Cliche of Vallée-Jct., QC is a part-time racer with the open-wheeled series, and ACT Chittenden Milk Bowl runner-up Ben Rowe of Turner, ME has also made selected TVMRS appearances.
The last official Modified race at Thunder Road was in June 1965, won by former National Champion Dick Nephew of Mooers Forks, NY. Canadian legend Jean-Paul Cabana won the Memorial Day Classic in 1965 at the wheel of a Modified car, as well. A special “match race” was held at Thunder Road ten years later between the full-bodied Late Model Sportsman car of Dave Dion and the open-wheeled Modified of Donnie “The Golden Jet” Miller – Miller won in a landslide.
The ACT Thunder Road Late Models will hold their traditional Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic 100 on Sunday, May 25, 2008. Montpelier, VT’s Dave Pembroke won the event in 2007, and ended the year as the “King of the Road” Track Champion. Thunder Road’s weekly NAPA Tiger Sportsman, Allen Lumber Street Stock, and Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior divisions will also be in action during the weekend.
Practice for the True Value Modified Racing Series and qualifying for Thunder Road’s weekly divisions will take place on Saturday, May 24. Qualifying action for the Modifieds will take place on Sunday, May 25, followed by the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic Doubleheader 100s and feature events for the Sportsmen, Street Stocks, and Warriors.