Among the new additions to the Thunder Road Late Models are Chris Chambers of Brookfield (#20VT), David Paya of Milton (#72VT), and Craig Bushey of Cambridge (#05). Paya was a top Flying Tiger star in the mid-1990s at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., but has been out of action for over a decade. Chambers raced three seasons in the Tiger Sportsman class at Thunder Road, picking up featrue victories in each of the last two years, as well as earning the Most Improved Driver award for the 2007 season. Bushey (photo right, courtesy ACT) is a four-time champion in the Tiger ranks, earning back-to-back Grand Slam Series titles in 2002-03, as well as the Airborne Speedway title in 2002 and the Thunder Road championship last season. He previously raced Late Models on a limited basis from 2004-06, and made a spectacular debut behind the wheel of Bolton car owner Leigh Sykes' Vermont Life Safety "Freedom Eagle" car at the Chittenden Milk Bowl last September, setting the second-fastest time trial speed and winning his 50-lap qualifying race.
In Thunder Road's Tiger Sportsman division, John Lambert (#2) returns to the division full-time after purchasing the former Rick Garand car. Lambert was a three-time winner in the division in the mid-1990s. George May (#16), who has competed at Thunder Road off and on for two decades, is back on the roster, as are former top Thunder Road drivers Shawn Fleury (#31), Chuck Beede (#53), and Jeff French (#06). Fleury was the 2005 and 2006 Sportsman champion, while Beede won the 2006 Sportsman Series title. New drivers include Waterbury's Neal Foster (#19), up from the Warrior division, Street Stock graduates Erik Steel (#32) of Barre and Shawn Powell (#40) of Jericho, and Kevin Godfrey (#21) of Wentworth, N.H.
The Street Stocks welcome back Joe Blais (#14), who was a top runner earlier in the decade, along with Warrior champion Travis Hull (#66). Other former Warrior racers include two-time division runner-up Jamie Davis (#43), Justin Gay (#16), Mike Ducey (#86), and Scott Weston (#04), White Mountain Motorsports Park racer and champion Late Model crew chief Tucker Williams (#99), Bear Ridge Speedway racer Amanda Habel (#09), and Chuck Hess (#21). In a peculiar move, all-time divisional win leader Tommy "Thunder" Smith has swapped numbers, from his familiar #22 to #50, presumably in honor of Thunder Road's upcoming 50th season of racing. Smith's wife, Melissa, will drive the #22 this year. .
The Warrior roster is expectedly thin - as it always is in February - but lists new drivers Ed White, Jr. (#5), Troy (#7) and Cheryl Kingsbury (#13), Bob Mays (#71), Thomas Elwood (#88), and Casey Sweet (#93).
The ACT Late Model Tour and Série ACT-Castrol see many new additions, including White Mountain Motorsports Park standouts Quinny Welch (#78NH). and Ben Lynch (#7NH), top Beech Ridge Motor Speedway driver and former PASS Sportsman Series champion Dan McKeage of Gorham, Me (#40ME, photo left courtesy PASS), and Speedway 95 Strictly Street division graduate Rowland Robinson, Jr. of Steuben, Me (#28).
Among the registered car owners listed is David Maynard, Jr., who is expected to field a car for driver Jeff Zuidema. Zuidema, of North Brookfield, Mass., is a multi-time champion at Monadnock (N.H.) Speedway, Thompson Int'l (Conn.) Speedway, and has won races in Pro Stock, Late Model, and Pro-4 Modified competition. He is also expected to make selected starts on the True Value Modified Racing Series in 2009. Also listed among car owners are John Casey, who has assumed full ownership of car #48 from previous owner David Storey for driver Robbie Crouch, and Brock Rouse, who will now operate the former RLD Motorsports #70 team in alliance with Pete Duto and drivers Phil Scott and Brad Leighton.
North of the border, new drivers expected to compete on the Série ACT-Castrol include Etienne Lemay (#12PQ), Éric Lehoux (#20PQ), and Valérie Chiasson (#26PQ). Lehoux previously competed with the Série ACT-Castrol in 2007 and was the Rookie of the Year on the forerunning Série Nationale Castrol in 2006. Chiasson (photo right, courtesy valeriechiasson.com) is a former road, ice, and kart racer who has spent the last year studying and training with legendary short track driver Jean-Paul Cabana.