Street Stock Racers Exemplify What Racing is About

Episode 18

August 24, 2014

What I like about local stock car racing.

Comrades in Racing from left to right Derek Finnemore, Presque Isle, JR Howlett Mapleton, Jon Dixon, Presque Isle and Matt Farnham Mapleton. All but Farnham race in the Street Stock division at Spud Speedway in Caribou.

Comrades in Racing from left to right Derek Finnemore, Presque Isle, JR Howlett Mapleton, Jon Dixon, Presque Isle and Matt Farnham Mapleton. All but Farnham race in the Street Stock division at Spud Speedway in Caribou.

One good thing about blogging is that I get to express my opinion about topics that I find interesting. I have been following the exploits of the four guys in the above photo this season as well as previous seasons.
I believe these racers in the Street Stock division at Caribou’s Spud Speedway have something special that makes an evening at the local short track enjoyable. Derek Finnemore, Jon Dixon, and JR Howlett are three of the seven race car drivers that regularly contest for the win on Saturday nights in Caribou.
The class also features perennial favorite Bobby Anderson of Limestone who has more wins than anyone can count. Eric Argraves from Castle Hill, Carl Tucker from Presque Isle, and Jeff Willette also from Presque Isle make up the group of regulars in the division.
What makes the class special is the affordability of campaigning a car for a season. A top notch car at the local track may have $5000 or less tied up in a season of racing. A large number yes, however, that may not even cover the tire bill in some of the top divisions.
What fascinates me is the relationship of the four men pictured above. It is their story that helps me to have hope that local stock car racing has a decent future when people like these inhabit the racing ranks.
I talked to three of the four drivers after the races on Saturday night where Dixon finished 4th, Howlett 2nd, and Finnemore 7th. Jon Dixon had to leave immediately after the race after getting word that a relative had passed away that evening after a tough bout with cancer.
I found out that the other racers had rallied around Dixon the previous week knowing that his close relative was living out her last few days on earth. They helped prepare Dixon’s car to enable him to take a small amount of time away from the stress of watching a loved one slipping away in to eternity. It just seemed to them to be the natural thing to do for the fellow racer and friend.
With three and one-half years experience to his credit Mapleton’s JR Howlett (his first name is Wayne)said “Everybody’s trying to be friends, the cars are really close. No one has a super advantage. So if you know you are close and you know you have a chance to win once in a while you are going to have more fun.”
Howlett’s shop at his home seems to be a popular spot for race car repairs and maintenance. Outlaw Sportsman Matt Farnham lives less than a mile away and said, “It is almost not worth loading the car to go there but I know the State troopers would be waiting for me on top of the hill.”
Maybe the racers are such good friends that they will back off and let the other man win just to be nice guys. After being asked what it would be like out there if with five laps to go he was racing side-by-side with Jon Dixon? Howlett replied, “Pretty much every man for himself. You are there to win; that is what you came here for, to get the checkered flag. When it’s all over we laugh, talk go outside the fence, and share a beverage together.”
Derek Finnemore of Presque Isle rents a home from Jon Dixon which also has a garage which he works out of. When asked why Street Stock he replied, ” The close competition. Everyone is running pretty much the same stuff. This is a really good group of guys. Not a lot of whining.”
“It’s plain good-old-boys racing, doing what we can. I work out of Jon’s garage. We swap parts and help.”
Finnemore started racing in 1997 in the Bomber class and currently races an 85 Pontiac Grand prix with a 79 Buick Regal body.He was the 2011 track champion in his class.He had a rough outing on this particular evening but noted fellow racers had already offered parts and help to get his car ready for the next week’s races which he greatly appreciated.
Matt Farnham is not a Street Stock competitor instead chose to race in the Outlaw Sportsman division. Despite having a 1976 Camaro framed race car, he has enjoyed recent success winning two features in the last three races.
Farnham attributes some of that success to racing in the Outlaw Super Series race held in July at Oxford Plains Speedway just prior to the Oxford 250. “We changed some things we had never changed before which helped,” said Farnham.
“We enjoy racing. Must be something in the water at Creasy Ridge. If somebody needs something we go to each others house. JR’s got a nice shop down there. Any tools I need he is more than happy to let me use. Anything he needs I am happy to lend a hand”
Farnham began his racing career when Spud Speedway re-opened in 2007 in the Northern Lights class moving up to the Fast Fours then the Super Streets which were blended into the current Outlaw Sportsman class.
To me that is what stock car racing at the local track is all about. A group of individuals with similar interests trying their hand at racing in similar configured race cars trying their best to out duel the other competitors and having FUN.
These guys are like men’s league softball players, they will not be moving up the ranks into the major league. They do it for the enjoyment and camaraderie. Any other reason or a poor attitude would cause me to suggest they take up another hobby.
I would suspect there are pockets of individuals at every track who make up the backbone of small track racing in Maine. I suggest you support your local track.

WAR and PASS Super Late Models at Speedway 95

Inspecting the damage to the Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) Super Late Model after an on-track incident at Bangor's  Speedway 95

Inspecting the damage to the Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) Super Late Model after an on-track incident at Bangor’s Speedway 95

Ellsworth’s Wyatt Alexander’s debut in the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) came to a premature end after another car slid up into him in turn two at Speedway 95′s PASS Race Sunday afternoon. Alexander made a good showing up to that point finishing 5th in his heat race and starting 10th in the feature.
With a full schedule of Legends Car races coming up and extensive damage to the Super Late Model, WAR will delay repairs to the car and concentrate on getting it ready for the 2015 season. Alexander plans to spend the 2015 season racing the Super Late Model.

Labor Day Weekend Features Lots of Racing Up North

Labor Day means racing at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine as the Loring Timing Association features their 5th Annual Fall Event August 29-31. At 2 1/2 miles the Loring track is the largest LSR asphalt track in the USA. Cooler air and a top-notch track promises to yield some fast times once again. Racers will get many runs at the mile and mile and a half marks since lower registration numbers than the summer event allows for multiple passes over the two-day period.
Meanwhile just a couple of miles down the road Spud Speedway features $5 admission prices and a full card of racing for their Annual Red Cross fundraising night with double points races on Saturday evening.
Just a few hours south on Sunday, Speedway 660 will play host to the ReMax Pro Stock 250 at 2 pm Atlantic. Thirty five teams have registered for the event including Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault. Theriault will be bringing the family owned AT Racing number 57 T-Rex race car that he finished second at the Oxford 250 in July.
The 250 lap race is part of Speedway 660′s SpeedWeek 2014 end-of-season weekend featuring races Friday through Monday.
Finally all you Tanner Foust fans may already know that he finished 6th at the Red Bull Global Rallycross race at Daytona International Speedway in the Andretti Motorsports VW Polo.
Support your local track and see some of the best racing anywhere.

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.