Gray Claims Annual Enduro 200

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photo by Alan Ward
Highgate’s Dalton LaPlante was just one of the many unsung Enduro heroes who went flat-out on their one attempt at the Thunder Road highbanks this season, and proved to make quite the show for the capacity crowd on hand.

BARRE – Finally greeted by a beautiful day of weather, Thunder Road opened its gates Sunday to an overflow crowd of fans ready to witness the annual Enduro 200. “The People’s Race” was far from disappointing with ninety of the most ridiculous looking machines in the Green Mountain State each looking to tackle the Thunder Road highbanks for 200 laps. When it was all said and done, after many years of trying, a deserving Bay State driver finally made his mark on the Enduro history books.

As is tradition, Sunday began with the all-important Street Stock Special with the most competitive four-cylinder division in New England going for a long fifty-lap distance. Following the single round of heat race qualifying and their introductions before the capacity crowd on hand, Thomas Peck and Kyle Gravel led the 34-car field to green. Trouble brewed early as point leader Cameron Powers tangled with Trevor Jaques, Justin Blakely and Eric Johnson in turn three. Jumping pit-side, the Powers crew jumped under the hood to replace a lower tie-rod and get him back on track.

While nearly finished the field returned to green only to slam the brakes once more as Peck and Jamie Davis flew sideways across the incoming onslaught of cars. Jeffrey Martin was unable to return with a destroyed rear-end as several others followed him into the pits to knock-out fenders, tape-down hoods and change flat tires. Gravel and Juan “Paco” Marshall would restart the field as Josh Lovely and Dean Switser Jr. followed Gravel on the high side around Paco.

photo by Alan Ward
After years of making the trek north, Granby, Mass.’s, Adam Gray finally conquered the Enduro 200.

Lovely took command at the line on lap 13 before the lap 16 caution for an overheating, and spinning, Derek Farnham slowed the field once more. Powers was awarded the Lucky Dog in the special event and placed back on the lead lap at the tail of the field. Josh Lovely rocketed off with the lead on the final restart and sliced his way through lap traffic to the bitter end of the 50-lap main event. The race was for second between Gravel and Switser until Gravel got tangled with lap-car Robert Audet on the backstretch and Switser got the outside jump to take second. At the line, Lovely took the win followed by Switer and Gravel but post-race technical inspection changed that. An unapproved exhaust on the Lovely machine disqualified him from the win, giving Dean Switser Jr. the victory followed by Kyle Gravel and James Dopp.

photo by Alan Ward
Following post-race technical inspection, second-place runner Dean Switser Jr. was awarded the Street Stock Special win after apparent winner Josh Lovely was found with an unapproved exhaust.

With ninety cars on the grid for the Enduro 200, it’s truly anyone’s game. Around the halfway point, front-runners begin to shine through the carnage of the first 100 laps of metal-crunching thrills. Brandon Gray’s No. 023, Nick DeBlois’ 97VT, the car-show-winning Frog Car of Kyle Botela, Chris LaForest’s No. 15 and Adam Gray’s No. 23 Buick Regal were all beginning to catch the eye of onlookers. Perhaps no-one shared more cheers than Highgate’s Dalton LaPlante. Although many laps down, his patriotic No. 114 made more spin-stop-go cycles than anyone and a late race collision with the turn one tire barrier only to back out and pound the throttle once more brought the pit grandstands to their feet! Unfortunately, LaPlante would bring out the final of four red-flag stoppages for a smoldering fire in his right-rear fender well.

Another heartbreaker came just a few laps into the return to green-flag racing with a blown engine under Brandon Gray’s hood stalling him out in turn three, ruining a seven-lap lead and a second Enduro 200 win. Nick DeBlois and Adam Gray started to make those laps up as they raced out the final circuits among both stationery and rolling roadblocks ahead. After many years of making the trek from Granby, Mass., Adam Gray would take down the annual Enduro 200 and the $3,000 check over DeBlois and former champion Kyle Botela.


(local competitors)

Street Stock Special – (50 Laps)

2. 5, Kyle Gravel, Wolcott

17. 34, Patrick Tibbetts, Plainfield

Enduro – (200 Laps)

7. 00, T.J. Bohannon, Wolcott, 179

28. 222, Bradley Duke, Marshfield, 76

67. 49, Hunter Garduno, Marshfield, 22

* 722, Kyle Perry, Hardwick

*No scorecard submitted

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