My Motorsports Heroes Part One, Austin Update, and Pitcrew Challenge

Episode 4 May 11, 2014

Heroes, a term used nowadays for many who may simply be doing ordinary things which they are expected to do in the course of everyday life. I want to talk about one of my motorsports heroes who, at least in my opinion, is not simply just doing his job.
I have traveled fairly extensively covering motorsports events with an emphasis on Indianapolis. During all those trips to Indy I have yet to meet one of my heroes, Dan Gurney.
Dan started his racing career in 1955 in a Triumph TR2 with his first win the next year in a Porsche 1600. His driving career spanned 15 years when he decided to trade in the driving gloves for team owner/ manager and racecar manufacturer at his company, All American Racers (AAR), based in Santa Ana, California. Some may not know that in 1970 Gurney bought out his partner Carroll Shelby to become the sole owner and CEO.
Gurney cars would win 8 championships, 78 victories and 83 pole positions. Wins at the Indy 500, 12 Hours of Sebring, and the 24 Hours of Daytona put AAR on the motorsports map. Gurney was a racing innovator which captured my imagination since I often cheer for the person who thinks outside the box.
My first toolbox, a Craftsmen’s grey tool box, had the AAR label placed on the top. I dreamed of maybe working for the team. Reality soon took over as I headed off to Orono for college. I met some brilliant engineers, machinists and students whose skills made me look out of place. I shifted gears from a career in racing to one a little more realistic and practical for me, agriculture education.
At age 83 Gurney still has a sharp mind and travels very little so it looks like I may never have a face-to-face conversation with my hero. All my carefully preserved articles about Dan may be all I have to remember him by. His multiple quotes include my favorite, “I never wanted it to be just a job. I wanted it to be fueled by passion which it was. Right up to the end.”
Racer.com will be featuring Dan each Tuesday over the next several weeks in a video project sponsored by Bell Helmets one of Dan’s long time sponsors.
I have viewed part one and await eagerly each of the weekly segments. Non-Gurney fans who value motorsports history will get an insider’s glimpse of the working of Dan Gurney, the man, the cars, the company.
To me that is a way to live life. I will be sharing with you some of my other motorsports heroes with names like Penske, Donohue, Holbert, and several more.

Austin Theriault Update
The Fort Kent native will be making his Nationwide Series debut next Sunday May 18, 2014 at the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. The race will be covered by ESPN with a 2:30 start time. Theriault will be in the JR Motorsports #5 Spyoptics.com Chevy. This is the same car and team which fields a Nationwide car for Kevin Harvick.
Theriault, along with teammate Chase Elliott, took part in a test session at the Iowa facility on May 6. Only five cars were allowed to test so JR Motorsports brought the #9 NAPA car for Elliott and Theriault. No word yet on how Theriault fared in the practice session.
This race is the first of three Nationwide races that Theriault will be taking part in over the course of the summer and early fall. He will be racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12 and Kentucky Speedway September 20.

Austin Theriault seen here at Spud Speedway will make his NASCAR Nationwide debut at Iowa Speedway May 18. He will be driving Dale Earnhardt Junior's JR Motorsports #5 Chevy.

Austin Theriault seen here at Spud Speedway will make his NASCAR Nationwide debut at Iowa Speedway May 18. He will be driving Dale Earnhardt Junior’s JR Motorsports #5 Chevy.

Pit Stop Challenge June 12
Spud Speedway will help kick off the City of Caribou’s Summer Series, Thursday Nights on Sweden Street, on June 12. As part of the Caribou racetrack’s 50 Anniversary Celebration, “Door to Door Since ‘64”, much of the downtown activities that evening will be motorsports themed. A parade of race cars will end at the Post Office where a best of show award will be awarded.
A race kart demonstration race, Radio Controlled (RC) Monster truck show, pedal car races for kids, pit stop challenge and a live concert featuring Rik Reese from Moncton will be some of the attractions downtown. Food vendors will be avalable on location.

The Pit Stop Challenge at downtown Caribou on June 12 will be similar to the one pictured here at the Maine Motorsports Expo in Augusta in January 2014. The NELCAR Legends team placed first in the Track/Tour Category.

The Pit Stop Challenge at downtown Caribou on June 12 will be similar to the one pictured here at the Maine Motorsports Expo in Augusta in January 2014. The NELCAR Legends team placed first in the Track/Tour Category.

The Pit Stop Challenge will involve teams of five changing four tires on a stock car in the shortest period of time. Several categories of challenge crews will compete for prize money for their favorite charity or in the open class may pocket $250 cash. Teams need to start gathering members now since the number of total Pit Stop Challenge crews may be limited to ten in each category. Check the Spud Speedway website or look here on Up North Motorsports for more information.
Phew! Lots of motorsports activity going on here in Northern Maine. Stay tuned as we enjoy a spring and summer of motorsports racing.
Let’s Go Racing!
Tom Hale
Soli Deo Gloria

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

For the past 14 years, Tom has written freelance for the Bangor Daily sports covering motorsports in Maine.