Oh For a Gallon of Sunoco Gas

Episode 12
July 13, 2014

Before the race on the grid  at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Fort Kent's Austin Theriault poses  for Boston Red Sox assistant groundskeeper Jason Griffeth of Caribou.

Before the race on the grid at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault poses for Boston Red Sox assistant groundskeeper Jason Griffeth of Caribou.

Thousands of New England race fans would have gladly given Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault a gallon of Sunoco Racing fuel as his JR Motorsports Chevy Camaro coasted to a stop only 3 laps from the end of the Nationwide Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Theriault, who was running 12th at the time, eventually was classified in 21st spot.

The final result was not any indication of the performance turned in by Theriault. He ran a clean race and brought the #5 car home with no major damage.

Theriault said, “You know it’s coming (running out of fuel) when your fuel pressure gauge drops. You want to save as much fuel as you can. I was shutting off on the straightaways and coasting through the turns to attempt to save fuel. People may have wondered why the #5 car was running so slow. It was to save fuel.”

Theriault needed to save five laps worth of fuel and was successful in making two of the five. All five laps would have been a super human achievement. Most teams were getting slightly less than 5 miles per gallon.

One team took the chance and ran 92 laps which figured out to be about 5.1 miles per gallon. The gamble paid off for Roush-Fenway driver Chris Buescher who placed fifth, the best of the Nationwide drivers with Sprint Cup drivers finished 1-4. Brad Keselowski dominated the race leading 152 laps of the 200 lap event.

On the Buesher pit box was Fenway Park’s assistant groundskeeper Jason Griffeth of Caribou. Earlier that day Griffeth was interviewed by Claire Lang, whose show “Dialed In” is heard on Sirius Radio. “My biggest thrill of the day was meeting Claire. I listen to her radio show regularily. To be interviewed by her was hard to imagine.”

“She asked me if I was rooting for the Roush-Fenway drivers to which I replied ‘I am hoping Buesher would be succesful since I am on his pitbox, however being from Northern Maine my favorite is Austin Theriualt who is also from that area. She replied that Theriault fans were everywhere at the Speedway!’”

Jason Griffeth of Caribou on right is interviewed by Claire Lang for her motorsports show "Dialed In" heard on Sirius Radio. They are in the Chris Buescher #60 race car hauler.

Jason Griffeth of Caribou on right is interviewed by Claire Lang for her motorsports show “Dialed In” heard on Sirius Radio. They are in the Chris Buescher #60 race car hauler.

Theriault is back in Maine preparing the family-owned #57 Super Late Model car for the Oxford 250 Sunday July 20. “I know the 250 is a big race but I am more relaxed for it than recent races. We have experience at that track which helps make it so.”

Another Successful Motorsports County Man Home

Van Buren native Phil LaPointe was home on vacation with his family this past week. I caught up with him at Spud Speedway where he made his kart racing debut in the early 80′s.The son of Mr. and Mrs. Danny LaPointe, now is a top engineer with Honda Performance Development (HPD) in Southern California.

LaPointe has worked on a variety of projects at HPD which we will get into details in a later Up North Motorsports column. Suffice it to say that even though he does not have the notoriety of an Austin Theriault he does some very high profile engineering as a valued member of the HPD team.

Spud Speedway Motorsports Fair a Success

Carnival-like background at Spud Speedway's Motorsports Fair

Carnival-like background at Spud Speedway’s Motorsports Fair

With crowds of nearly 1200 for the Monster Truck show at Spud Speedway in Caribou on Friday night, track owner Troy Haney has to be pleased with the overall success of the first of its kind combination of a country fair with racing events. The track at night reminded me of photos taken at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Daytona with their brightly lit ferris wheels and squeals of delight from their patrons combined with events on the racetrack.

Over 20 bomber cars raced on Thursday. Six monster trucks stole the limelight on Friday evening wowing young and old alike with their roaring engines and car crushing power. Kris Watson from the Bangor area took the North vs South 100 lap Outlaw Sportsman leading almost every lap. A Car Show on Sunday honoring theĀ 50th year of the Ford Mustang took center stage.

The track’s 50th year celebration “Door to Door Since ’64″ on Saturday included honoring drivers who raced at the track sometime in the past. Special recognition was given to two Spud Speedway racers who were inducted into the 2014 Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame, Rodney “Chink” Maynard of Presque Isle and Bobby Alexander formerly of Mars Hill now residing in Ellsworth.

Left to right Deane Smart second place, winner of North-South Outlaw Sportsman 100 Kris Watson and third  place Dave Sinclair. In addition to the $1000 first place check Watson picked up the $100 mid-race bonus.

Left to right Deane Smart second place, winner of North-South Outlaw Sportsman 100 Kris Watson and third place Dave Sinclair. In addition to the $1000 first place check Watson picked up the $100 mid-race bonus.

Had my share of loses this weekend in Kart Racing at Spud Speedway as I finished 4th on Friday evening and 6th on Saturday afternoon. Saturday's top three were second place Todd Rollins of Clinton, Third Place Tyler Raymond of Caribou, and feature winner Ripley's Jason Morse.

Had my share of loses this weekend in Kart Racing at Spud Speedway as I finished 4th on Friday evening and 6th on Saturday afternoon. Saturday’s top three were left to right second place Todd Rollins of Clinton, third place Tyler Raymond of Caribou, and feature winner Ripley’s Jason Morse.

Up Coming Events

Motorsports enthusiasts will have several choices to select from this upcoming weekend. Rally enthusiast will gather at Sunday River beginning on Thursday for Rally America’s New England Forest Rally. Bangor’s Last Ditch Racing team hot off their 3rd place in class finish at the Mt. Washington Hillclimb in June will pit their Subaru Imprezza WRX against the unforgiving forest roads in the Newry area.

Forty-eight other competitors will join Last Ditch Racing owner/driver John Cassidy. Included in this list is the current record holder at the “Climb to the Clouds” Mt. Washington Hillclimb, Vermont Sports Car’s David Higgins. Higgins team mate, Travis Pastrana, will not be looking to place second and figures to be a tough one to beat.

Racing kicks off Friday the 18th and finishes Saturday the 19th from the Sunday River South Ridge Parking Lot #2.

The “Fastest Man in Maine” Jason Theriault hopes to become the overall fastest at Loring Timing Association’s Maine Event Speed Trials at the former Loring Air Force Base July 18-20. The Caribou man hopes to be wheeling his Nissan Pickup on the mile and one-half track at speeds faster than his previous record of 207 mph set in 2013. The 1995 pickup has the aerodynamic shape of a brick thus requiring massive amounts of power to push it through the wall of air it encounters. Theriault claims his 1300 horsepower plus four cylinder turbo-charged engine may be capable of reaching 200 miles per hour in the mile and maybe 225 in the mile and one half.

Over eighty competitors have pre-registered for the speed trials. Carl Theriault formerly of Caribou, hopes to make the 200 Miles per Hour Club with his 1987 Ford Mustang LS with a 427 small block Ford naturally aspirated engine.

Henry Paga will be there with his Kawasaki motorcycle that was driven by New Brunswick’s Scott Davis. Davis ran 222.086 to garner top speed at the fall event in 2013. Will that be enough to hold onto the top speed honors? My guess is that it hinges on fellow competitors equipment and the weather.

The low key Maine Event at Loring is an enjoyable place to be since competitors are very accessible and love to answer questions about their racers.

Regardless where you find yourself this next weekend say your prayers and look to God for your strength and while you are at it would you thank Him for this beautiful summer weather?

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.