Story By: JOE GRABIANOWSKI / DIRTCAR – BRADFORD, VT – Nestled in the heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains is the historic Bear Ridge Speedway.
While the quarter-mile dirt oval is celebrating 54 consecutive years of auto racing, this Saturday, in the beautiful hamlet of Bradford, will be a history-making event for the husband/wife promoting duo of Butch and April Elms.
The DIRTcar Sportsman Series will venture to their famed Bear Ridge Speedway in the Series’ first trip to Vermont. The second leg of the East Region will bring a host of outside stars to battle the hometrack faithful looking for the $1,400 top prize being offered from the more than $7,000 total purse.
Jason Gray, of East Thetford, VT, is looking forward to the challenge and can be looked at as a favorite to keep the money in his home state, having claimed the track championship in 2020.
“It’s a huge achievement for the track to have a Series race being a small track in Vermont,” Gray said. “It’s a much smaller track than what you see in New York. The guys from New York will have fun because it’s a bullring but it will be a challenge because our clay is different from theirs. The track surface is different than what anyone is used to. The track stays hard and slick with no rubber. It’s going to be a great race.”
Gray comes into the event at his home turf sitting ninth on the East Region points which puts him in a good position looking for the East Region crown and bragging rights.
The Vermont faithful doesn’t stop at Gray. Fellow competitors Jordan Fornwalt and Richie Simmons were not only top five in Bear Ridge points last year but come into the event this Saturday in the top five in the East Region as well.
“I will be chasing the track championship at Bear Ridge, traveling a little, and following the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified: East Region,” Gray said of his 2021 racing plans. “I think it’s going to be a good series. I was excited to run it last year but obviously, we couldn’t. There’s a lot of good racers in the east that don’t travel much but a lot of guys get to see the talent while on the tour.”
Racing is a family affair for Gray. His grandfather, father, uncle, and sister have all been in racing and the family traces its racing origins to the early 1960s. But he will face stiff competition from outside Vermont’s borders.
The list of outsiders will be strong and looking for the “Green Mountain Money.” Johnny “The Jet” Scarborough won the opening East event two Saturdays ago at the Airborne Speedway. The Vermont native will be making the trip as well as David Boisclair and Justin Severance who finished on the podium on May 1.
Top DIRTcar Sportsman drivers Andrew Buff and Jamie Begor plan on making the trip and for Buff, it could mean redemption as he made contact with a lapped car in the closing stages while leading at Airborne Speedway.
To add to the excitement, Lebanon Valley Speedway promoter Howie Commander gave his Sportsman the night off and is offering $300 and $200 to the top two highest finishing Lebanon regulars.
The DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series: East Region racing starts with Time Trials, which set the Heat Races, Last Chance Showdowns, and of course the 42-lap $1,400-to-win Feature. That plus the DIRTcar Sportsman Coupes, Late Models, Street Stocks, and 4-Cylinder divisions will make for an action-packed night.