Barre, VT – The snow is finally melting as race teams and fans prepare for the first real sign of springtime: The 15th Annual Merchants Bank 150 at Barre’s Thunder Road on the weekend of April 27/28.
The race serves as the opening point-counting event for the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen and Allen Lumber Street Stocks, but will also bring in the stars of the American Canadian Tour to challenge the local Late Model division. Last season fans saw 8-time ACT Champion Brian Hoar pick up his second win of the season at the Nation’s Site of Excitement, with eventual ACT champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr. on his tail. Helliwell will be looking to score the victory at his home track, but he joins a long list of favorites to steal the opening event.
7-time ACT Champion Jean-Paul Cyr knows the toils of the Merchants Bank event all too well.
“Last year I thought we had it won before a mis-communication on pit road,” said Cyr, referring to when he pitted late in a caution, giving up the lead and starting at the back of the field mid-race. “I love Thunder Road, so I’m ready to go out and win it this time around,” he finished.
Defending King of the Road Nick Sweet will lead the charge of Thunder Road regulars looking to defend their home track, including young star Cody Blake, 2-time King of the Road Dave Pembroke, and multi-time Champion Phil Scott. Sweet won the previous two Merchants Bank 150 events back-to-back before a tenth place finish in last year’s race.
The Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen saw long-time veteran Blair Bessett pick up his first victory in his 34-year career in last year’s opener, while Allen Lumber Street Stock driver Tommy “Thunder” Smith picked up his division-leading 23rd victory.
“I love the opening day race. It’s just awesome to get strapped in again and go,” said Smith. “Every race counts in the season, and I want it all this year. This race is a great one to win and get a leg up,” he finished.
The event will start with the Annual Car Show, which will be held in downtown Barre on April 27 once again after a 1-year hiatus for construction. Nearly 100 pristine stock cars will be lined up on Main Street along with drivers and crews, pit crew challenges, and more.
The Merchants Bank 150 will be held the weekend of April 27/28 at Barre’s Thunder Road.