by Dick Casey / Defending Milk Bowl champion Eddie MacDonald’s quest to repeat ended with a hard crash into the front stretch wall at Thunder Road in Barre, Vermont after only two laps in the second segment. The 53rd running of the Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl attracted 47 Late Models on Saturday and Sunday October 10 and 11 all vying for the converted 30 starting positions.
Eddie Mac qualified Saturday for the event while posting a third place finish in the first of three qualifying races. The Rowley, Mass. Veteran missed qualifying on speed when he posted the fourth fastest time of the day. The top three cars automatically received starting positions in the race commonly called the “toughest short track race in the country.” With the third place run Eddie Mac, driving the Exit Realty/Hancock Electric Chevy, earned the tenth starting position for the Sunday feature before a packed stadium.
Eddie Mac took the green flag in the first of three fifty lap segments in the tenth position following the single file march established early in an effort to save tires. A red flag on the tenth lap for a fiery crash involved three cars including the father and son Donohue entries. After the track was cleared Eddie Mac decided it was time to go and set a torrid pace passing cars on the outside of the high-banked quarter of a mile bullring. At the halfway mark of lap 25 the #17, owned by Freddie and Sheila Peterson of Peterson Auto Body in Peabody, ran in the sixth position and by lap four “The Outlaw” passed Bryan Hoar for the third spot.
Unfortunately for Eddie Mac the solid finish meant a trip to the rear of the field with the top 24 cars inverted for the second fifty lap segment. The inverted process would be repeated in the third segment and the driver with the lowest combined score in all three races would be crowned champion. The reigning champ never got the chance when a huge pile-up on the front stretch on the second lap sent Eddie Mac to the pits with heavy front end damage after hitting the wall. The crew quickly determined the damage too extensive to continue ending Eddie Mac’s night eventually scored with a 21st place finish.
“This is really a lousy way to end the race,” said the disappointed driver. “There was nowhere for me to go and it is a shame because I think we had a car to compete for the win. It wasn’t as good as it was last year but I think it was getting better. I was able to pass a lot of cars on the outside in the first segment so we were optimistic going forward. Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance. Someone got turned in front of the pack coming off of turn four and it just stacked up everyone behind him. The inverted field is tough because it puts you near the back and we know bad things can happen. It did today. Last year it was a different story. That’s racing.”
“This is such a huge event and it is quite an honor to be one of the champions,” said Eddie Mac. “As part of the opening ceremony I met and walked carrying the milk jug trophy with the first winner fifty three years ago Harold Hannaford and that was awesome. To be a part of the history of the Milk Bowl is something I will always remember. It is just a shame to have it end like this. The crew worked hard over the two day stretch changing everything to get the car better. Rollie (LaChance) and I are lucky to have these guys. I also have to say Happy Anniversary to Rollie and his wife Laura. They spent their anniversary at the track working along with their son Ryan who has been an important member of the crew.”
“We will be in the shop tomorrow making repairs for the upcoming ACT race at the Thompson World Series of Racing this coming weekend October 16-17,” said Eddie Mac. “This is the first time in many years the ACT Series has raced at Thompson so it should be a lot of fun.”