Anything for Speed

Dec 27, 2018

People have raced cars in the Green Mountains since 1903. There were racetracks in every corner of the state: at fairgrounds, in farmers’ back fields, and finally at dozens of dedicated racetracks. Thousands of Vermonters have been drivers, mechanics, track officials, and spectators at those tracks over the past 115 years.

This Episode’s Featured Object:

Interviews with Vermont Racers

Racing is known for its personalities. And for the past two years, the Vermont Historical Society has been assembling an exhibit about auto racing in Vermont, called “Anything for Speed.” They’ve also collected a new archive of oral histories with some of the sport’s most legendary figures.

Photo: Racing announcer Ken Squier (right) with racer Russ Ingerson. Squier was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2018.

Images: Catamount Stadium in Milton opened in 1965 and closed in the 1980s.

Beaver Dragon (at right in red) with racing promoter Tom Curley

Robbie Crouch (in blue) was nearly unbeatable in the 1980s.

The Burlington Free Press: History Space: Auto racing in Vermont

Vermont Historical Society: Anything for Speed: Automobile Racing in Vermont

Episode Transcript

[racing sounds]

It’s a Thursday night in August, and hundreds of people have come to the Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre to take part in a Vermont tradition.

[racing sounds]

Beaver Dragon: Oh yeah, raced a lot of times at Thunder Road. I’ve had good days and bad days.

This is Beaver Dragon, a legendary auto racer from Milton.

[Finish Line audio]: Dragon winning last night at Plattsburgh, trying to put together two in a row. It’s Dragon on the outside, number 99, Matt Miller on the inside as they battle for the lead. Up, up, up goes Dragon. And oh! They jam on the backstretch.

Beaver Dragon: Thunder Road was not one of my favorite tracks. I won some shows there, but not as many as I won in other places. The bigger tracks, I seemed to do better on bigger tracks than I did at smaller tracks.

Amanda Gustin: Why do you think that is?

Beaver Dragon: I liked the speed.

Read the full transcript.

Episode Credits

Before Your Time is presented by the Vermont Historical Society, the Vermont Humanities Council, and VTDigger. This episode was produced by Amanda Gustin and Mike Dougherty. Thanks to our guests for their time and insights. Thanks also to Thunder Road International Speedbowl, and to Joey Kourafas and Greg Gilbert for recordings of the Finish Line radio show.