BARRE, Vt. — Thunder Road officials have announced that the sale of Thunder Road Speedbowl to former racer Cris Michaud and local businessman Pat Malone has been completed.
The duo has assumed day-to-day operations of the famed quarter-mile oval, which had been owned and operated since 1982 by Ken Squier and Tom Curley.
Michaud is a three-time “King of the Road” and has spent 22 years at and around the high banks as a driver and race director. Malone is the owner of Malone Properties, a Montpelier-based commercial real estate company that has sponsored a number of Thunder Road race teams in previous seasons.
Both had previously explored purchasing the race track separately before joining forces. The two will be equal partners in the track, with Michaud in charge of racing operations and Malone overseeing facility management.
“We had been looking into buying it separately, but I knew that I would still need somebody good to manage the racing aspect, so we got together early this past winter,” Malone said. “With our backgrounds, we think it’s a good situation from both sides.”
Thunder Road was originally founded by Squier in 1960 and gained national prominence under the co-ownership of Squier and Curley. The track is the home of the famed Vermont Milk Bowl, and annually hosts events for the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Pro All Stars Series (PASS) along with its weekly Thursday night program.
“I’ve been raised in the racing world under Ken and Tom’s program, and it’s worked,” Michaud said. “We believe in the philosophy of making racing affordable for our drivers and making it entertaining for our fans. Tom and Ken have done a good job with that, and Thunder Road fans expect a lot – they’re very educated. Our plans are to keep the general philosophy the same while also looking at some facility upgrades and other tweaks.”
“We’ve got big shoes to fill,” Malone added. “It’s hard to come after (Squier and Curley). It’s like having to go after the guy that gives a great speech at a banquet. But we’re going to try and carry on the tradition.”
Both Michaud and Malone stated the facility will remain a race track under their ownership, and they are eager to the racing experience even better for teams and fans.
“Let me make it 100 percent clear: I have no interest, ever, in any kind of development of this race track,” Malone said. “I’m simply involved as a racing fan myself. (Malone Properties) does a lot of projects, but we do them in industrial parks and commercial areas – not places like this. You have my word that it will not happen at Thunder Road.”
Thunder Road will open its 58th season of competition Sunday, April 30 with the 19th Merchants Bank 150 for the ACT Late Model Tour.