UBAD’s Hedberg: “It’s Not Our Fight”

SpeedReading

By DAVE MOODY

Barre/Montpelier (VT) Times-Argus

 

Bill Hedberg wants to make one thing perfectly clear. Co-chair of UBAD - United Barre Against the Dump - Hedberg said this week that a series of allegations by former racer Kevin Cyr against Thunder Road International Speedbowl are not sanctioned or endorsed by his organization.

Cyr, an outspoken opponent of the now-abandoned plan to build a regional landfill adjacent to the Barre Town speedway, appeared before the town’s Select Board recently, urging board members to take a close look at the track before issuing permits for the coming season. Cyr alleged problems with inadequate access, alcohol abuse, and noise pollution, among other issues, and claimed to have the unqualified support of UBAD in his campaign against the speedway.

“UBAD is there for me if I need them,” said Cyr last week. “They are willing to back me 100 percent.”

Contacted this week, Hedberg said nothing could be further from the truth.

“At the risk of introducing some facts into this discussion, I want to make it perfectly clear that this is Kevin Cyr’s battle, not ours,” he said. “(UBAD’s) fight was with the landfill, and that fight ended December 20th.”

Hedberg called Cyr’s claim of support from UBAD, “totally inaccurate,” saying the group has “absolutely no interest” in pursuing any of Cyr’s allegations. “I called (Thunder Road co-owner) Ken Squier this week to make it crystal clear; this is Kevin Cyr’s battle, not ours,” he said. “Kevin has the right to proceed however he chooses, but UBAD does not support him in any way. In fact, I believe a number of our members have already straightened him out on that point, in no uncertain terms.”

In fact, Hedberg said Cyr was not even a part of UBAD’s “core group” of organizers.

“We had a core group of about 15 people, and Kevin was not among them,” said the UBAD co-chair. “He attended some of the meetings, and spoke at a number of public hearings, but I would absolutely not characterize him as a spokesman for, or a leader of, UBAD. Our group had one issue, and one issue only; defeating the dump. That goal was accomplished on December 20.

“As far as I’m concerned, and as far as UBAD is concerned, we wish Thunder Road a successful 2002 season.”

Hedberg is not the only one taking issue with Cyr this week. In fact, in all the years we’ve been filling this space, rarely -- if ever -- has a column generated as much response as last week’s. The majority of feedback supported the track, including two letters published in yesterday’s edition of the Times-Argus.

“Race fans bring a lot of money into the surrounding communities,” wrote Rosann Sayers of Barre. “I’d watch out, Mr. Cyr. These patrons help keep your property taxes low. Should Thunder Road not be allowed to open…you will find something else to complain about, like how high your property taxes are.”

Reader Dawn Donahue urged local race fans to use Cyr’s own tactics against him.

“It’s time to unite and fight,” said Donahue, a driver in Thunder Road’s Street Stock division. “It’s time to step up to the plate and fight for what…we love to do as racers and fans. Send letters to the Select Board of Barre Town, and the editor of the Times-Argus. Let’s fight for Thunder Road, like UBAD fought against the dump.”

Not surprisingly, drivers and crewmembers at the historic Barre speedplant also lined up in lockstep against Cyr’s complaints.

“Why now?” asked 2001 Vermont Milk Bowl champion Dwayne Lanphear of Morrisville. “The guy has hung around Thunder Road for 20 years, and now, all of a sudden, he’s got a problem? It sounds a little fishy to me. Thunder Road was there long before Kevin Cyr. It was there long before Dwayne Lanphear. And hopefully, it’ll still be there long after we’re gone.”

Defending Thunder Road Late Model champion Cris Michaud called Cyr’s allegations, “a 100-percent personal vendetta. (Cyr) raced at Thunder Road for a while, and if I recall correctly, he was also an employee of the track for a time. In my opinion, he’s got an axe to grind with Tom Curley and Ken Squier -- personal issues from the past - and he’s trying to use UBAD to settle an old score.

“It’s sour grapes, pure and simple.”

One week ago, Kevin Cyr appeared to be riding the same tidal wave of public opinion that drowned the proposed Barre Town landfill. Now, it appears that same wave may be set to drive him face-first into the sand.

rrrr

Short (Track) Subjects…

…PPI Motorsports announced last week that Tide will remain as primary sponsorship of PPI’s #32 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Fords through the 2004 season. In addition, PPI has extended driver Ricky Craven’s contract, also through 2004. In only its second season of Winston Cup competition, the “Tide Ride” earned its first win (at Martinsville), as well its first pole, four top-five and eight top-10 finishes. Craven finished the 2001 campaign 21st in points, and was named "Comeback Driver of the Year" by The Sporting News.

…In sponsorship news, Thunder Road’s popular Street Stock division will be back under a familiar banner this season, as the Allen Lumber Company returns to sponsor the Crunch Bunch. Allen Lumber, one of Vermont’s oldest family businesses, has been a long-time patron of the Street Stock division, as recently as 1998.

NAPA Auto Parts will once again sponsor the Flying Tiger division at “The Nation’s Site of Excitement”, as well as at Airborne International Raceway, the 10th consecutive year of NAPA support for the Tiger tour.

Speaking of Airborne, the Late Model division will make only six appearances at the Plattsburgh half-mile this season, beginning with the winners-only Remington “4-10 Shootout” on Sunday, April 28. That race will be followed by the 27th annual ACT Dodge Tour “Spring Green 100” -- presented by Ehler’s RV - on Saturday, May 11. The ACT Dodge Tour returns to Plattsburgh on Saturday, July 6 for the “True Value 150” and the 31st annual Dodge Dealers “Fall Foliage 200” on Sunday, September 15. The 2002 schedule also calls for two non-Tour special events for the Late Model troops with purses in excess of $10,000; the Leo’s Furniture 100 on Saturday, June 15, and the McDonald’s 100 on Saturday, August 17.

The NAPA Flying Tigers will become the weekly headline division this season, along the companion Street Stocks and Renegades. Airborne officials recently announced a 2002 NAPA Flying Tiger point fund of $10,340, a 500% increase over last year. Weekly Flying Tiger purses have been raised 33%, to $3815.

…Channellock, Robert Yates Racing and driver Kasey Kahne will reportedly combine to contest 21 NASCAR Busch Series races this season. Yates’ new No. 98 Channellock Ford Taurus will make its debut at the North Carolina Speedway on February 23. The 21-year-old Kahne comes from an open wheel, dirt track background.

…From the “Why Not To Get Excited About Testing Speeds” Department: early in last Tuesday’s Winston Cup practice at Daytona, Bill Elliott turned some heads with a fast lap of 187.052 mph. Not long afterward, the lap was removed from the speed chart after officials discovered the team was using a 15/16th restrictor plate, instead of the mandated 7/8th. There’s no tech inspection for practice, people.

…Winston Cup team owner Mark Melling, has confirmed that his team will compete in the 2002 Daytona 500 after all, with sponsorship from BrandSource. Veteran driver Robert Pressley will steer Melling’s #92 BrandSource Dodge, with the possibility that the deal could expand to include more than a single race.

…Injured driver Steve Park says he will be back in the Pennzoil Chevrolet this season, perhaps in time for the Daytona 500. In his letter posted on his official website, Park said his vision is back to 95% of normal without correction, 100% with glasses. Park has been plagued with double vision and other problems since suffering a concussion in a Busch Series crash at Darlington last season.

The New York native recently completed a testing session at Lowe's Motor Speedway, and experienced no problems with vertigo or depth perception. Another successful test is required before Park can be cleared by his doctors to resume racing. As he did last year, Kenny Wallace is set to fill in for Park until the former Featherlite Modified Tour standout can return to full time Winston Cup duty.

…Money makes strange bedfellows, indeed. Despite being released by Ray Evernham Motorsports at the end of the 2001 season, Casey Atwood will compete in next month’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, in Evernham’s #19 Dodge.

The 21-year-old Atwood earned a spot in the race by winning the pole at Phoenix last season in Evernham’s #19, which will be driven by Jeremy Mayfield in 2002. Atwood, meanwhile, will steer the #7 Dodge this season, with technical and marketing support from Evernham. Jason Leffler, who won a Winston Cup pole in 2001 but is without a Cup ride for 2002, will steer Atwood’s #7 Dodge in the Bud Shootout.

Got all that? Good.