BARRE— Open wheel racing returns to Thunder Road on May 29 as the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series makes its only stop as part of the 59th Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic racing card. It will be the first time in more than 10 years that the modified class runs at the Road.
The $10,000-to-win Granite Capital 100 for the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series will feature some of the biggest names in Modified racing.
Modifieds first raced at Thunder Road in 1965. Invading the track for seven events that year, the powerful overhead cams on the newfangled modifieds quickly overtook the Flathead V-8 Coupes that had once dominated the Barre highbanks during its infancy.
The Modifieds would also take to Milton’s legendary Catamount Stadium. Catamount would host weekly Modified racing from 1965 to 1968 until track owner Ken Squier made the shift to Late Model Sportsman-type cars. Vermont icon Beaver Dragon won his lone Modified race at Catamount in an underpowered and battered Coupe racing against the big guns in 1967.
Iconic championship drivers like Rene Charland, Ed Flemke, Andre Manny, and Don MacTavish made many trips to victory lane in those days. After cleaning up at Catamount time and time again, Rehoboth, Massachusetts, native Bug Stevens also took the famous Ole Blue #3 to the lone Modified victory lane at West Haven’s Devils Bowl Speedway in 1973.
After sporadic Modified events during the late 1970s, Catamount hosted the NASCAR Modified Tour during its inaugural season in 1985. Jimmy Spencer took the final Modified win over frequent Catamount hard charger John Rosati.
From 1985 on, the open-wheeled rigs returned to their familiar southern New England haunts until the Modified Racing Series made its debut at Thunder Road in 2008. For three years, the Modifieds put on spectacular racing but likewise went off the radar, until now.
Among the expected entries include Connecticut’s Chase Dowling, former New Hampshire State Champion Brian Robie and Pennsylvania’s ‘Big Money’ Matt Hirschman.
The Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic events also include the 125-lap Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model Classic, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, rk Miles Street Stocks, and Burnetts Scrap Metals Road Warriors.