Meet the next generation of Vermont race car drivers at Barre’s Thunder Road
The next generation of race car drivers at Barre’s Thunder Road International Speedbowl are not who you think they are. Taylor Hoar, 20, is one of the track’s only female drivers, and Kaiden Fisher, 15, is the youngest ever to win a division championship.
Hoar started racing at Thunder Road in 2021, entering a sport that typically has been male-dominated. The track still crowns its top weekly division champion each year the “King of the Road,” and the first woman to earn the title — Tracie Bellerose, in 2000 — remains its only female track champion.
“So many people just don't even understand when I say I've got to go race this weekend, or I've got to go work on my car,” Hoar said. “People are like, ‘You work on a car? You race a car?’ There are only three or four girls that are racing at this track.”
Kaiden Fisher is one of a handful of racers at Thunder Road who are under 16 years old, the legal driving age for public roads.
“I'm definitely the youngest in my division. I was the youngest champion in history here,” Fisher said. “I feel like it might be an advantage as a younger kid having more endurance and not getting tired on the first 40 laps. They might not like it if I beat them and I'm young, but that's part of racing — getting beat.”
Montpelier filmmaker Lukas Huffman interviewed Hoar and Fisher during Thunder Road’s 2022 season. In the process, he learned that both young racers found their way to the sport through family connections.
“Both Taylor and Kaiden have fathers with long careers racing and winning at Thunder Road,” Huffman said. "These kids grew up going to races and being in the pit. They were exposed to the mechanics of being a race car driver from an early age. Both Taylor and Kaiden are living this race car lifestyle with the support of their family — the last person they talk to before driving onto the track is their mom or dad."
Thunder Road International Speedbowl, which opened in Barre in 1960, is one of an estimated 900 short tracks (dirt or paved ovals measuring less than a mile in length) operating in the country. The track’s 64th season kicked off May 6th.