Barre, VT — The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers are ready for their biggest event of the season this Sunday, May 30 as part of the 58 Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic. The track’s oldest division will go 100 pulse-pounding laps in the opening round of the Myers Container Service Triple Crown Series on the holiday weekend.
Top Tigers like Jason Woodard, Jaden Perry, Sam Caron, Bryan Wall Jr., and Joel Hodgdon are all looking forward to the Memorial Day Sunday showdown. A field of more than 35 cars is expected, meaning that qualifying could be even more intense than the feature itself.
“(The Triple Crown) brings out a lot more cars and drivers, which is nice,” Hinesburg’s Derrick Calkins said. “We’re usually running these quick 40-lap races, and it sometimes feels like, when you have 28 cars out there, it’s hard to get through traffic and get to the front. This is a longer race where you’ve got to be a lot more patient. It really gets you into a rhythm, and you’ve got plenty of time to make it up through the pack. It’s a real change of pace, and they’re a blast to run. As I get more experience in a Tiger car, it’s fun to run a different type of race, because your approach is definitely a lot different.”
Now in its fifth season, the Myers Container Service Triple Crown has become a highlight of the Thunder Road schedule. Each year, the trio of long-distance events brings huge fields and breathtaking racing to the Barre high banks. All three events last year had more than 30 Flying Tigers on hand with memorable finishes that had the crowd buzzing. There’s every reason to believe the 2021 Triple Crown will be just as good if not better.
With the Memorial Day event also counting towards the season-long track championship, all the locals will be out in force. Point-leader Bryan Wall Jr., Opening Day winner Jaden Perry, and four-time champion Jason Woodard are all in for the Triple Crown. So are 2017 Triple Crown champion Mike Martin and his son Stephen, 2020 Most Improved Driver Sam Caron, and former Triple Crown race winner Colin Cornell. Young hard chargers like Brandon Gray, Kelsea and Tanner Woodard, J.T. Blanchard, and Cooper French would make a big-time statement by getting their first Flying Tiger win in a Triple Crown event.
The three-event series is also attracting part-timers and drivers from across the Connecticut River. White Mountain Motorsports Park regular Matt Potter and Littleton, NH native Russ Clark have entered the series. So has 2018 Triple Crown Champion Joel Hodgdon and veteran Shawn Powell. Dover, FL’s Jeff Oeschger, a former Flying Tiger regular, is returning to the high banks in a car recently purchased by multi-time Street Stock winner Tim Hunt.
All of them will need to be at their best for 100 green-flag laps to carry the checkered flag. The Flying Tigers are running a long-distance race on Hoosier tires for the first time, which adds one more factor to the winning equation.
“Time will tell,” Calkins said. “I don’t think we’ve put on 100 laps yet, and I know (the feature) won’t go green to checkers. But the tires have done well so far. We certainly haven’t mastered them, so I think you’ll have to take care of them and pick your battles when it’s time to get on the outside and pass some cars. I think we’ll all be on a level playing field learning what happens in a long race with them.”
The 100-lap Myers Container Service Triple Crown event is part of a full holiday racing schedule. The Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models have 125 laps on the card in the 58th Memorial Day Classic. In addition to being the start of the “King of the Road” chase, it’s one of 14 Thunder Road events where registered drivers can also earn points towards the New England Late Model Challenge Cup.
Former Memorial Day Classic winners Jason Corliss, Bobby Therrien, and Tyler Cahoon are among those chasing two championships in 2021. So are Brendan Moodie, Matt White, Marcel J. Gravel, Jim “Boomer” Morris, and many other Thunder Road Late Model winners. Although Trampas Demers and Scott Dragon are only pursuing one championship, they’ll surely be threats throughout the season. Community Bank N.A. 150 winner Brooks Clark may be a part-time competitor, but he is officially one to watch at every big Thunder Road event.
The pair of long-distance events are joined by a one-two punch of four-cylinder thrills. The RK Mile Street Stocks have a 25-lap trophy dash that will be hard-pressed to top the opener. Former champion Jeffrey Martin won that event to get an early leg up in his quest for a second crown. But with challengers such as two-time champion Jamie Davis, teenage phenoms Kaiden “Tropical Storm” Fisher and Luke Peters, Thunder Road veteran Josh Lovely, and the returning Will “Weiner” Hennequin, nothing is guaranteed.
The Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors truly make Thunder Road the “Nation’s Site of Excitement”. Local Fred Fleury finally got his first Warrior win on Opening Day after more than three years of trying. Dan Garrett Jr., Paige Whittemore, Mark Beaulieu, and Bert Duffy are also aiming to break into the winner’s circle — but veterans Sean “Chubby Rambo” McCarthy, Frank Putney, Nate “Tater” Brien, and Josh Vilbrin are standing in the way.
The 58th Mekklesen RV Memorial Day Classic comes to Barre’s Thunder Road this Sunday, May 30 at 1:30pm. The Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models go 125 laps in the “King of the Road” opener while the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers have 100 laps for the Myers Container Service Triple Crown Series. The RK Miles Street Stocks and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors round out the card.
Admission is $20 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-12, and $40 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids). All Thunder Road events are also broadcast live on FloRacing for those with a monthly or yearly subscription.
For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, media@thunderroadvt.