Austin Update; Maine Man’s Skills Keep Top Fuel Driver Safe; Brothers 1st and 2nd; and Death of A Motorsports Legend

It has been a long time since a Mainer has raced in the top levels of NASCAR. Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault raced his way to 15th place in Sunday’s Get To Know Newton, Iowa 250 at Iowa Speedway. Theriault was running in 9th place with 22 laps remaining when he was shuffled backward on the restart where he finished 15th. When compared to the racing debuts in the junior circuit of several NASCAR stars Theriault did exceptionally well. Maine’s Ricky Craven placed 25th, Jeff Gordon 39th, Jimmie Johnson 25th and Kevin Harvick 42nd in their first race. This research was done by Mike Roderick. Thanks Mike.
Theriault hoped for a top 10 finish, “But the way that last restart worked out it didn’t work in our favor”, he said.Austin Theriault pit stop at the Iowa Speedway. The youngster handled his first NASCAR pit stops exceptionally well. Photo courtesy AT Racing

Austin Theriault pit stop at the Iowa Speedway. The youngster handled his first NASCAR pit stops exceptionally well. Photo courtesy AT Racing
Maine Man Skill Keep Top Fuel Driver Safe

Tom Patsis of Ellsworth loves his work as a fabricator at Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) in Brownsburg, Indiana. Patsis and his fellow fabricator crew members, who produce all of the DSR Top Fuel and Funny Car chassis, are under a great deal of pressure to produce safe and fast cars.
Top Fuel driver Antron Brown put the chassis to the test during last Friday night’s qualifying run at the Summit Southern Nationals in Atlanta. After the finish line was crossed the dragster turned violently left into the guard rail at over 300 miles per hour. After hammering both walls, Brown jumped out of his driver’s safety capsule and over the wall unscathed.

In post-crash interviews, Brown attributed his safety to his fabricators back at the shop.
I will be including more stories about the Ellsworth man in future columns. You can check the Bangor Daily News archives for a story I wrote about Patsis. While there, check out the You Tube video of Antron’s crash to get an appreciation of these highly skilled welder/fabricators.

Skilled fabricator team at Don Schumacher Racing whose skills protect driver Antron Brown despite 300 mph crash. Left to right  Dan Murphy, Maine's Tom Patsis, Travis Orr, and Joe Fitzpatrick. Facebook photo

Skilled fabricator team at Don Schumacher Racing whose skills protect driver Antron Brown despite 300 mph crash. Left to right Dan Murphy, Maine’s Tom Patsis, Travis Orr, and Joe Fitzpatrick. Facebook photo

My Friends,the Swanson Brothers, Finish One/Two

Some time ago while reading a racing newspaper I noticed that a winning Sprint Car driver from Kingsburg, California was an FFA member. As an FFA Advisor I had to find out more about this talented young man. I should add theFFA is the Student Organization for Agriculture Education with over 550,000 members nationwide.

I agreed to meet up with Kody Swanson when he raced at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Indiana less than five miles from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was racing both Midget and Sprint cars at the historic track. It is his photo that adorns my blog cover shot at Lucas Oil Raceway which was O’Reilly Raceway Park in those days.
I met Kody’s brother Tanner as the two raced in the Indianapolis area.
The Swanson Brothers became the first brother’s to finish first and second in any United States Auto Club (USAC) race having first done so in 2010 at the Silver Crown Lakes 150. In that race Tanner was first and Kody second.

Last Saturday night the Swanson’s duplicated that finish at the 100 lap USAC Hall of Fame Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway. The younger Swanson, Tanner, lapped the entire field except his brother Kody when a restart on lap 99 put the two brothers side-by-side. The younger held off his older brother to win his second Classic in two years.

Tanner Swanson, right and Kody Swanson finish one-two in the USAC Silver Crown Hall of Fame Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway. This is the second time brothers finished 1-2 in USAC history. The Swanson's first did it in 2010. photo courtesy Dean Mills

Tanner Swanson, right and Kody Swanson finish one-two in the USAC Silver Crown Hall of Fame Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway. This is the second time brothers finished 1-2 in USAC history. The Swanson’s first did it in 2010. photo courtesy Dean Mills

Racing Legend Dies
Sir Jack Brabham, 88, died this past weekend. The Formula 1 driver/constructor/owner was the only driver to win a Formula 1 season championship driving a race car that he designed and built. The Australian left behind three sons, Geoff, Gary, and David who all have careers in some form of motorsports.

Big Weekend in Motorsports
Racing fans have got to be excited about the upcoming Memorial weekend. Races include the Indy 500,Coca Cola 600 from Charlotte, North Carolina, NHRA Finals from Topeka, Kansas, and the F! race in Monaco. Local tracks will feature some of the best races so go out and take in a race or two.
Last, but not least, I got my final racing tune-up at Maine Indoor Karting last weekend in preparation for races at Spud Speedway in June.

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.