BARRE – The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) keeps its early 2021 season rolling with a trip to Thunder Road Speedbowl on Sunday, May 2. The 23rd Community Bank N.A. 150 pits the stars of the ACT Late Model Tour against the track’s Late Model weekly standouts in a showdown that will be broadcast live on FloRacing.
No track has hosted the ACT Late Model Tour more times than Thunder Road. The Community Bank N.A. 150 will be the 76th point-counting visit for the series. Many current ACT drivers, including reigning champion and recent Northeast Classic winner Jimmy Hebert, former Rookie of the Year Dylan Payea, and multi-time top-10 points finisher Stephen Donahue cut their stock car racing teeth at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement”.
Still, the May 2 event will be a challenge for teams in more ways than one. The ACT Tour is going from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the biggest track on the schedule, to one of the smallest tracks on the schedule. Drivers will have to make a complete shift in their setups, driving style, and mental approach to successfully tackle the famed quarter-mile bullring.
When the ACT regulars arrive, there will be a host of Thunder Road’s best Late Model racers waiting for them. It’s no surprise that, given the skill required to tame Thunder Road, drivers who race there weekly or grew up at the track often have the edge. Eight of the last nine ACT winners at Thunder Road were either current or former weekly Thunder Road racers. This means out-of-staters such as Ben Rowe, Tom Carey III, Derek Gluchacki, and D.J. Shaw have a tall order ahead.
Although defending champion Hebert has plenty of laps at Thunder Road and won the track’s Flying Tiger championship in 2009, he has yet to crack the winner’s circle there in a Late Model. A pair of second-place finishes in the 2014 and 2016 Community Bank N.A. 150 are the closest he’s come, which speaks to just how hard it is to win on the Barre high banks.
The Community Bank N.A. 150 will also mark the official switch to Hoosier Racing Tire for the ACT Late Model Tour. This unknown could have a leveling effect on the competition. The first teams to figure out how to make the tires fast for 150 laps will have a clear advantage.
A few ACT regulars got an early start on the Hoosier tire by running the Late Model event at the Thompson Speedway Icebreaker. Others are attending an open practice at New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park this Saturday to get some laps. For everyone else, next weekend will be their first time on the tire specifically developed for ACT competition.
All these factors come together on top of the buzz for Thunder Road’s 62nd season. The Community Bank N.A. 150 is nearly always an entertaining, exciting race full of drivers eager to finally get on track. ACT regulars Hebert, Carey, Rowe, Donahue, and Payea are going up against Bobby Therrien, Trampas Demers, Brooks Clark, Cooper Bouchard, and many other weekly racers starting their season a few weeks early. The action will unfold live on FloRacing, as will every lap of motorsports at Thunder Road in 2021.
The rest of the local divisions also have their season-openers on May 2. The Flying Tigers, Street Stocks, and Road Warriors are often just as entertaining as the main event. Full fields are expected in all three divisions for a pit area teeming with race cars.
The annual Thunder Road Car Show opens the weekend on Saturday, May 1, from 9 a.m. to noon at the track.A limited number of tickets are available for fans who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. Advance tickets can be purchased at happsnow.com/event/Thunder-Road-Speedbowl. Face masks and social distancing are required per Vermont state guidelines.