Story By: THUNDER ROAD INTERNATIONAL SPEEDBOWL – BARRE, VT – One of the most accomplished drivers in Thunder Road’s modern era will try to add another notch to his belt at the 59th Northfield Savings Bank Vermont Milk Bowl on Saturday, October 2 and Sunday, October 3.
Barre’s Jason Corliss is one of the early favorites as he pursues a record-tying fourth victory at the “Toughest Short Track Race in North America”, which can be seen live on FloRacing.
Corliss has been the man to beat in the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models over the past five seasons. He is fresh off clinching his third straight “King of the Road” title after another outstanding season where he set a record with five point-counting wins. Corliss became only the third driver to be “King of the Road” for three straight years, joining Chuck Beede (1992-94) and Derrick O’Donnell (2013-15).
Now he and his Burnett Motorsports team enter the Milk Bowl, an event they have won three of the previous four years. A fourth victory would tie Corliss with New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Robbie Crouch for the most all time. With his recent track record, which also includes a victory in this year’s Midsummer Classic 250 at White Mountain Motorsports Park, Corliss has the ultimate momentum on his side.
“We feel really good about where the car is at and where the team is at heading into this weekend,” Corliss said. “And we obviously know what’s on the line historically. But it’s nothing that we dwell on or focus on. We’re definitely appreciative of the history books, and the records, and some of the great drivers that came before us. So we understand that (a fourth win) could happen, but we’re going to take things one step at a time just like always. We’re going to put our heads down, do the work, and make sure the car is well-prepared.”
Corliss is already in elite company when it comes to the Northfield Savings Bank Vermont Milk Bowl. His three wins make him part of a group that includes Northeast racing legends Crouch, Brian Hoar, Russ Ingerson, Patrick Laperle, Kevin Lepage, and Nick Sweet. Of those drivers, only Ingerson, Laperle, and Sweet had pulled off the three-in-four-years feat prior to Corliss. Even Crouch never had such a run, scoring his four Milk Bowl victories over an eight-year span (1983, 1986, 1988, 1990).
Now the Burnett Motorsports team chases that fourth win along with an unprecedented four in five years. They’ll do so while paying tribute to Lloyd Hutchins, who has been a part of Thunder Road since the track opened in 1960. Hutchins was a car owner in the original Class A Flathead Coupes that ran the Milk Bowl from 1962-1965 and competed at many other Vermont tracks. Alongside Ken Squier, Hutchins helped design Catamount Stadium, which operated in Milton, VT from 1965 to 1987.
In recent years, Hutchins has played a pivotal role in preserving Vermont racing history. He represented the state of Vermont on the committee that helped develop the Northeast Motorsports Museum of Loudon, NH. His vintage cars are still displayed and raced as part of events throughout the region. The Hutchins family roofing business has also been a longtime sponsor of Corliss’s racing ventures.
For Milk Bowl weekend, the Corliss car will be redone to resemble one of Hutchins’ classic coupes. The team is currently finalizing the design, which will be unveiled on race day.
“Lloyd Hutchins is someone really special to us,” Corliss said. “He means a lot to our race team, to our program, and to me personally. But more than that, he means a lot to the racing community and Thunder Road. He’s been part of Thunder Road for a long time. So we wanted to do our part with a big race weekend to honor him, honor the track’s history, and honor the track’s tradition all at the same time. We’re really jacked up about it.”
Corliss will face some of his stiffest competition yet as he tries for the Milk Bowl grand slam. Three other Milk Bowl winners — Bobby Therrien, Joey Polewarczyk, and John Donahue — have dreams of adding to their ledger. Other Thunder Road standouts such as Trampas Demers, Christopher Pelkey, Kyle Pembroke, and Marcel J. Gravel are looking for their first Milk Bowl triumph. ACT Late Model Tour invaders D.J. Shaw, Jimmy Hebert, and Stephen Donahue, plus outsiders like Alby Ovitt, will try to upset the apple cart.
For all of them, winning a Milk Bowl would be a career-defining moment. The event goes back to 1962 and holds a revered place among the short track racing community. The prestige goes beyond the $10,000 winner’s prize and a place on the track’s granite monument. A Milk Bowl winner has conquered an event that, by its nature, is as tough as they come.
“It’s just special,” Corliss said. “Everybody puts in their best effort, and everybody looks forward to this race the most. There’s so much history, so much tradition, and everybody knows going into the Milk Bowl that it’s not going to be easy. No one’s going to handicap their way to a good finish, no one’s going to luck into anything. You know that you have to show up ready to go to war. I think everybody goes there to have a good time, and we’re headed to a racetrack, so we’re all going to have fun. But there’s a different mindset that goes into it, and I know my team really embraces that.”
Thunder Road caps the 2021 racing season with Vermont Milk Bowl Weekend from Friday, October 1 to Sunday, October 3. The weekend begins with Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Milk Bowl Friday on October 1 at 6:00pm. The Milk Bowl prelude includes the PASS Super Late Models, PASS Modifieds, North East Mini Stock Tour, and Honey Badger Bar & Grill Street Stock Series.
Saturday, October 2 at 1:00pm is Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Qualifying Day. The Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models run time trials and 50-lap qualifying races on Saturday to set the Milk Bowl starting field. The Last Chance B-Feature is Sunday, October 3 at 12:15pm followed by the 59th Northfield Savings Bank Vermont Milk Bowl. The weekend also includes Mini Milk Bowls for the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, RK Miles Street Stocks, Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors, Dads 4 By Tool & Supply Kids Trucks, and Junior Champ Karts.
A three-day ticket to Vermont Milk Bowl Weekend is just $50 for adults, $15 for kids ages 6-12, and free for kids ages 5 and under. Single-day tickets for each day are also available. Advance tickets can be purchased at www.happsnow.com/event/Thunder-Road-Speedbowl.