Racing fans celebrate Catamount Stadium

Milton’s Catamount Stadium was immortalized after receiving a historic marker from the state of Vermont last weekend.

The dedication ceremony, held along Milton’s Route 7, featured stories from hometown heroes Beaver and Bobby Dragon, the latter of whom won a record 52 feature races at Catamount. Other attendees included Jean Paul Cabana, winner of the first feature race in 1965 and the final one in 1987, and Milton Historical Society member Bill Kaigle.

“I personally dedicate today’s ceremony to my dad, Roger Kaigle, who brought me to Catamount for the first time as a 9-year-old boy,” he told the crowd. “I became instantly hooked on stock car racing, and some of my best memories with my dad were spent here. I know I share this sentiment with many of you here today.”

Last year, the Milton Historical Society, with the help of the Vt. Humanities Council, developed “The History of Racing in Milton” exhibit to highlight when racing was a mainstay in town from the 1960s to ’80s, headlined by the Catamount and the Milton Speedway dragstrip.

Milton Dragstrip racer Frankie Woodward (center) grins for the camera. (Rick Stowell | Milton Historical Society)

Self-proclaimed “Catamount kid” Greg Gilbert reminisced about visiting the stadium as a child. He said he and classmate Rick Stowell, today a Milton Historical Society member, never imagined that 45 years later, they’d be traveling to Montpelier to pick up the green-and-gold historical marker.

“To many, Catamount was much more than just something that we did somewhere we went,” Gilbert said. “It was something we were, something we still are and something that we will always be.”

Gilbert said Catamount’s recognition was long-awaited. Many fans drive through the present-day Catamount Industrial Park at the stadium’s former site and remember the good old racing days, he said.

“Each of us who quietly remembers is a member of a fortunate group who had the privilege of a special connection with the competition, competitors, family, friends and team members of the great Catamount Stadium,” he said.

Other speakers included racing historian Bill Ladabouche, town manager Don Turner and a representative from the Vt. Division for Historic Preservation. The event included a track walk and barbecue.

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