BARRE, Vt. – The 57th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank is just days away, and one of the biggest stars of North American short track racing will be there.
Georgia’s Andrew “Bubba” Pollard is gearing up for his maiden voyage at Barre’s Thunder Road on Sept. 28-29, as he attempts to bring the famed Milk Bowl trophy down south.
Pollard has won nearly every major Super Late Model and Pro Late Model race there is to win over the past decade. He triumphed in the first two Canadian Short Track Nationals, banking $75,000 CAD for his victory earlier this month.
Pollard is also a previous winner of the Oxford 250, the All-American 400, the Rattler 250, the Snowflake 100, and many other nationally-known events, along with boasting multiple track and touring series championships.
Pollard remarked over the winter that the Milk Bowl was on his list of races he’d like to run, which led to a deal with 2010 Milk Bowl winner Joey Polewarczyk and his team to try and score a kiss with a Vermont dairy cow.
“I’ve been following the race for the last couple years, and it really fascinating to me how the race was run with the segments, getting points for each one, inverting the field, and things like that,” Pollard said. “It’s really unique the way the race is run. And there’s also the cow! I’ve gotten to meet some of the guys like Patrick Laperle that have been up there racing and talked to them about the race.
“I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to doing it, and I think it’s a cool event.”
Pollard expects a challenge when he arrives at Thunder Road. He’ll be stepping into an American-Canadian Tour late model for the first time against drivers with decades of success on the Barre high banks.
He also admitted he may have to tweak his driving style to adapt to the “short sprint” format of three 50-lap segments, but Pollard has been doing his homework in recent months to get ready for when he rolls onto the track.
“I watched last year’s race on MAVTV a couple months ago,” Pollard noted. “We sat down and watched it, we studied the segments, and we studied the guys that have won a lot of races up there. I watched a lot of videos on the internet to try to prepare myself for the track. I’ve also talked to guys like Patrick, Joey, and a lot of other guys to try and prepare myself the best I can for when we get up there. You can kind of know what to expect, but you really don’t know until you get there.”
“As far as the car, that’s kind of the easy part,” Pollard continued. “You’ve got the same feel you’re looking for in each car, even though it’s different. Just getting more familiar with the racetrack and how the race is run is going to be the biggest thing – and also who you’re racing against and the guys you’re racing around. It’s going to be important to learn all that throughout the weekend as well.
“I’ll really lean on Joey and those guys to get as much information and feedback as I can to carry on into the weekend.”
Pollard isn’t the only one excited about his impending trip to Barre.
Drivers and fans have been buzzing about the modern short track legend’s arrival and are eager to see what he can do in the Northeast’s biggest Late Model event.
“He’s the People’s Champion of short-track racers,” Tom Carey III said. “He just loves to short-track race, and he doesn’t really care about moving on up with the big boys. That’s always been my whole thing, too – I never really wanted to do anything more than run short track races in New England at the late model level. And he’s a big, heavy, tall boy like me, so it makes me feel good that he’s whupping everybody’s butt down South!”
“I think it’s great that somebody like Bubba Pollard, who has had success almost everywhere he goes, is coming to the Milk Bowl,” Tyler Cahoon added. “At the same time, these cars are a little bit different than the super late model he’s used to racing.
“He’s also going to be driving somebody else’s car, which is always a little bit different … but if you put a good, talented driver behind the wheel of a good car, I think they can race anywhere.”
While Pollard has the ultimate goal of winning like he does at every event, he knows it will be a tall task. He’ll be going up against some of the modern greats of Thunder Road and ACT such as Jason Corliss, Scott Dragon, Scott Payea, Polewarczyk, and Laperle.
If he did triumph in the Milk Bowl, he would be the first true “invader” to do so since Butch Lindley in 1977. Regardless, he hopes to make the most of his experience this weekend.
“I’ve been traveling a lot for so many years racing in different places all over the country,” Pollard said. “I’ve watched some of the races on TV and online, and to see that many people and the fans (at Thunder Road) is incredible. I’ve heard the place is packed out and it draws a great crowd. I’m really looking forward to racing against some new guys – some guys I’ve heard of for a long time, but never gotten the opportunity to race with.
“I’m looking forward to that, and I’m looking forward to the fans, getting to meet new people, and hopefully we can have a good showing and make some new fans.”