Monday, April 13, 2009

King Richard Returning to Thunder Road

Thankfully, Ken Squier and Tom Curley don't know when to quit.

The co-owners of Barre's Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl have announced that Richard Petty, NASCAR's all-time leading race winner and champion, will return to the track on Thursday, July 30 to help celebrate its 50th anniversary season. "The King" last visited the track in 1992 as part of his Fan Appreciation Tour prior to his retirement from driving later that year. Few spectator crowds at Thunder Road have been comparable in size before or since.

"Richard set the bar not only as a driver but as the sport’s spokesman, and still does today", said Squier. "No one made themselves so available to fans or to the press as Richard. You could find him signing autographs hours after a race. He even created a signature that took an extra moment to write as he wanted to look a fan in the eye, and thank them for their support."

Petty won 200 races in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during a career that began in 1958, including 10 consecutively and 27 overall in 1967, records that will likely never be broken. He is tied with the late Dale Earnhardt for most championships on the series at seven, won between 1964 and 1979, and continues today as a co-owner in the newly forged Richard Petty Motorsports with drivers Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson, and A.J. Allmendinger. It was recently revealed that Petty will make his first foray into open-wheel racing with John Andretti behind the wheel of a Richard Petty Motorsports entry at the Indianapolis 500 in May.

Thunder Road officials announced that Bobby Allison, Petty's chief rival for most of his career, would be visiting the track on June 18, with two-time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart competing in the CARQUEST Vermont Governor's Cup 150 on June 25. Officials have also repeatedly dropped hints at another current NASCAR driver competing at Thunder Road this season.

Thunder Road's 50th season unofficially begins with a practice session for its American-Canadian Tour Late Model, NAPA Tiger Sportsman, Allen Lumber Street Stock, and Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior divisions on Tuesday, April 14 from 4:00-7:00pm. The official opening event is Sat./Sun., May 2/3 with the ACT Late Model Tour's Merchants Bank 150 and annual car show in downtown Barre.

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