Officially Fast: Vermont Governor Phil Scott Keeps On Speeding At Thunder Road

Vermont Governor Phil Scott following his 18th place finish in the Vermont Governor’s Cup Thursday at Thunder Road (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

BARRE, VT – For most drivers competing in the 42nd Essex Equipment Vermont Governor’s Cup Thursday at Thunder Road International Speedbowl, it was a busy week of balancing work life with the needs of preparing to put a fast race car on the track. 

Like most of the other 25 drivers in the field for the prestigious Late Model event at Thunder Road, Phil Scott had a busy work week away from racing before getting to the track Thursday

Scott actually had to spend his day Wednesday in Washington, D.C. for a business meeting. 

A business meeting at the White House. 

A business meeting with the President of the United States. 

Such is life for Scott, who in addition to having a deep passion for short track racing, also happens to be the Governor of the State of Vermont. 

“I’d definitely rather be here racing than be at the White House,” the 62-year old Scott said Thursday after finishing 18th in the Governor’s Cup at Thunder Road. 

Scott, who grew up in Barre, said his hunger for the sport was handed down to him from his mother Marion. 

“It’s really my passion,” Scott said. “I’ve always loved racing. My mom is a huge race fan. So it’s in our blood. She used to take us to the track. We grew up here. It’s just something that, some people like golf, some people like to play softball and I like racing and I always have.” 

Scott’s life around short track racing began as a teenager working as a crew member for various teams, including legendary Northern New England racers Robbie Crouch and Joey Kourafas. 

He began racing himself in 1991 at Thunder Road and won the first of his three Thunder Road Late Model championships at the track in 1996. He also won track titles in 1998 and 2002. 

“I got started in racing back when I was 16 or 17,” Scott said. “I was working for Joey Kourafas and Robbie Crouch and folks like that. I couldn’t afford to race myself so I didn’t start racing cars until the 1990’s.”

His bursting resume of success in racing also includes the 2002 ACT Late Model championship and a Late Model title at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y that same year. Overall he has nine career ACT Late Model tour victories. 

He won the prestigious Milk Bowl at Thunder Road in 1997 and 2000. His 31 career Late Model victories at Thunder Road tops the division’s all-time win list. 

In 2000 Scott he decided to take a run at politics, hoping to leverage his popularity as a racer as a campaigning tool. He was elected as a Vermont State Senator and served five two-year terms in the post. 

“I believe from name recognition and the fans here – this was my district – I won,” Scott said. “And that really did propel me where to I am today.” 

Scott won the race for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont in 2010, serving three two-year terms in that role before being elected as the 82nd Governor of Vermont in the 2016 election. 

He is now serving in his third term as governor and received a whopping 67 percent of the votes cast for the office in last November’s election. Since being elected governor he has taken a more limited approach to racing, typically competing in six to seven events a year. 

Scott understands that most of his contemporaries in politics have little understanding of the world of short track racing, but he’s quick to illustrate to them how being successful on the track and in political office have many similarities. 

“They don’t know that much about it, so it’s hard to have a conversation about it,” Scott said of introducing his racing life to other politicians. “But what I try to tell them is that there’s a lot of similarities with politics and racing. 

“It’s about how you treat others. On the track sometimes, even though it may not be your day, you might have to compromise a bit and hopefully they give it back to you. If you don’t rough somebody up, they may not rough you up. It’s a kind of give and take that we so desperately need in politics right now. That’s the way I’ve been successful in politics and successful in racing as well. When I have a good car I’m aggressive, but when it’s not my day I know it’s not my day.” 

And being at the track gives Scott a direct link to his constituents in a comfortable setting. 

“I know when I’m here the fans and other drivers and crew members feel comfortable coming to me to talk to issues they might have with the state and I try to do whatever I can to help them,” Scott said. 

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