The woman that became the face of short track racing at the turn of the millenium is back at Thunder Road.
Tracie Bellerose of Gorham, N.H., the first woman to win a premier division track championship in the United States -- the 2000 Late Model crown at Barre's Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl -- will again team up with the crew chief that brought her so much success, East Montpelier's Jeff Laquerre. Together, Bellerose and Laquerre won six feature events from 2000-03, including three ACT Late Model Tour events at Thunder Road and White Mountain Motorsports Park in New Hampshire.
Bellerose was sidelined by a serious arm injury in the 2003 Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl at the track, and has made only sporadic appearances behind the wheel since. Laquerre is coming off his fifth career championship with Milton driver Jean-Paul Cyr in 2009; he also won titles with his brother, the late Joey Laquerre, Jr., in 1990, and Cris Michaud in 2004-05. Cyr, a seven-time ACT champion, will return to that series with car owner Gary Caron.
Bellerose announced her return in a Thunder Road press release on Thursday. "When the opportunity came calling, this kid knew exactly what she wanted and that was to go back to racing competitively," Bellerose said. "I tried golf, but the golf carts were too slow, I then bought a Harley, but wrecking that on the highway was way worse than a couple of memorable wrecks I had at Thunder Road. Quite frankly, I have not even been able to visit Thunder Road as a spectator -- I have missed racing so much. Obviously, I am pretty excited."
"This is really special for the 2010 season at Thunder Road," said promoter Tom Curley. "Tracie was one of the most popular, respectful, and competitive racers we have ever had at the 'Nation’s Site of Excitement'. The combination of Jeff Laquerre and Tracie, with the team they assembled in 2000 coming back together, will not only bring a high level of competition, but they will bring a great spirit to the track. That is what the 'Road' is all about." Curley said that Bellerose is also interested in racing the TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains (Me.) Speedway in July.
The Bellerose-Laquerre team has secured sponsorship from long-time Bellerose supporter Amoskeag Beverage Distributor of New Hampshire, and Scorpio's Sports Bar in Lancaster, N.H. The team will begin their season when the American-Canadian Tour comes to Thunder Road for the 12th Annual Merchants Bank 150 on May 2.