Monday, May 18, 2009

Dragon Family Headed to Bear Ridge

BRADFORD -- The historic Bear Ridge Speedway dirt track will pay homage to a famous Vermont racing family in two weeks. But it's not necessarily a dirt track family.

Legendary brothers Bobby and Harmon "Beaver" Dragon, along with Beaver's son, Brent, will compete in a special event on Saturday, May 30 at the track in Modified cars. The Milton family rose to national prominence in the barnstorming days of the early 1970s NASCAR Late Model Sportsman circuit, as Beaver and Bobby won countless races and championships across the northeastern United States and Canada, and participated in several of the country's biggest events, including Daytona Int'l Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. Much of their success came at asphalt short tracks like Thunder Road in Barre and the former Catamount Stadium in their hometown.

Brent Dragon has been a regional star for more than 20 years, and is a top driver on the ACT Late Model Tour. Bobby, 63, is still a part-time competitor with ACT, while Beaver, now retired from driving at age 68, serves on the Motor Vehicle Racing Comission for the State of Vermont. Both are members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame.

Brent Dragon said he is a bit skeptical, but excited to try the dirt. "It's something I've never done before in my life," he laughed, "and of course Dad and Bobby raced a lot of dirt in their early days, so I'm hoping I don't look too bad out there." Brent also said that his uncle is particularly looking forward to the event. "Bobby's very excited to race there. He has kept track of all of his races, and Bear Ridge is one the only tracks around here that he'd never raced at."

If all goes well in the special race, Brent Dragon is scheduled to compete in the night's regular Modified feature as well. He said he hopes his experience at Bear Ridge Speedway is better than that of another famous asphalt short tracker that tried the dirt.

"One night about four years ago, we all went to Lebanon Valley [in New York] to watch the Modifieds, and they announced that Ted Christopher was there to race that night," Brent Dragon remembered. "And didn't he sail off into Turn 1 and cause a huge wreck on the first lap.

"I'll try not to do that."

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