Caribou Snow Drags, Motorsports Expo, Austin Update, and LaPointe Latest

Episode 37

January 4, 2015

The site of the January 25th Snow Drags at 416 Van Buren Road in Caribou

The site of the January 25th Snow Drags at 416 Van Buren Road in Caribou

I have never been an avid snowmobile race fan probably because of childhood memories of trying to get an old Polaris snowmobile to run with zero money and extremely limited skills while fighting off frostbite in my cousins garage. Little did I know my cousin, Myron Hale who I shared snowmobile experiences and motorcycle riding adventures with, would later own his own successful  snowmobile/motorcycle business, County Sports.

Even though I am a cold temperature wimp I think the excitement and enthusiasm of a group of Caribou area men has inspired me to write about their project.

In a phone interview with organizer Kurt Dumond of Caribou he mentioned that a conversation with Ryan Everett of Woodland and Ken Lloyd of Caribou was the starting point for this year’s race. The three men believed that with the help of landowner Neil Griffeth and the Caribou Snowmobile Club a top-notch snow drag race could be held locally at  Griffeth’s Van Buren Road property.

When Griffeth consented to the use of the land, the group of three approached the members of the Caribou Snowmobile Club for sanctioning help, use of their snowmobile trail drag, and volunteers in exchange for profits from the race to help pay for trail grooming.

The snowmobile club members agreed to help with the task thus clearing the way for a full speed ahead planning effort. Sponsors were approached to help with the purse and volunteers were sought.

Electronic timing services provided by Bill and Lisa Sawyer of Newport will allow precise elapsed times, top speed, and reaction times for the racers.

Jimmy Jones of Caribou will bring his 25 plus years of technical inspection experience  to help maintain strict  adherence to the International Snowmobile Racing (ISR) rules. Each entrant will pay a $5 tech fee in addition to the $20 entry fee per class.

Spud Speedway track announcer, Marcel Bosse, brings his experience behind the microphone to the event to keep the expected large crowd up-to-date on all the action on the track as well as the pits.

This is not the first time snowmobile drag racing  has been held at the Van Buren Road site. Larry Doody of Caribou around 2001, with the help of the Caribou Lions Club, promoted snowmobile grass drags on the same course racers will be using on the 25th.

According to promoter Dumond this will be a first for snow drag races at the site. He said, “We will have 25 feet of crusher stone at the start. A wall will separate the start finish line from the pit area to keep the flying debris in place and away from the pit area. We have an awesome base that is really hard. The site will be continually groomed right up to race day”

Dumond also mentioned, “This is private property and we have posted no trespassing signs and remind people to stay out of that area. It is for race day use only!”

Concessions for the snow drags are the responsibility of the  Aroostook Harley Owners Group (HOG)  at on-site locations. There will be plenty of free parking according to Dumond.

General admission is only $5 and $10 for the pit area. A wide variety of classes ensure that the person who rides their sled to the event can compete against similar sleds. There will also be classes for non-stock sleds with some machines developing 500 or more horsepower.

“I suspect we will see elapsed times in the low 5 second range, ” said Dumond. ” Speeds up to 120 miles per hour can be expected.” The Caribou Snow Drag race course lays in wait  as the January 25th race date rapidly approaches. The Caribou Snow

Drag race course lays in wait as the January 25th race date rapidly approaches.The course will be 660 feet long with a total length of 1500 feet on a slight upward incline allowing racers plenty of shutdown room.

Dumond mentioned other snowmobile races including:

  1. Sno-Cross at Bangor’s Bass Park January 10 & 11
  2. Portage Lake Radar Run January 18
  3. Medway Ice Drag Races January 31 and February 1
  4. Houlton Snow Drag February 21
  5. Eagle Lake Snow Drags February 28
  6. St. Francis Snow Drags March 7

The Caribou event organizers are still looking for additional sponsors and volunteers. Those interested may contact any of the three organizers or for more information visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/events/814269581967983

Photo courtesy Mainely Motorsports

Photo courtesy Mainely Motorsports

Northeast Motorsports Expo in Augusta next weekend

One of my favorite places to be in January is the Northeast Motorsports Expo held at the Augusta Civic Center. Steve Perry from Mainely Motorsports promotes the show which is well attended, if the weather cooperates.

The Expo provides a place for racers, fans, track owners, and gearheads of all sorts to get together in the coldest part of the year and share their common interests in racing. Many a deal is made at this show whether it is a race date or sale of a kart or even sponsorships.

I was able to attend last year’s event along with Spud Speedway owner Troy Haney. I watched Troy make contact with several series promoters as he knit together key events for Spud Speedway’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

I enjoyed the Pit crew Challenge as part of the Spud Speedway team. The Challenge will be back again this year with top prizes of $750 for the first place team and $300 for second. In addition places 3 through 16 will get awards.

Debby Pastrana, mother of X Games winner and rally driver Travis Pastrana, will be featured at her seminar on Saturday the 10th at 4 pm. Her topic will be “10 ways to Be A More Successful Athlete”.

For more information check out the Northeast Motorsports Expo website and/or their Facebook page.

If anyone from the Caribou area is headed down to the Expo for Saturday the 10th only, I might be interested in traveling with you. I would need you to wheel me around in a wheelchair since I am confined to none weight-bearing status for a couple more weeks. Feel free to email me (thale@reagan.com or call 207.896.5213)

Austin Theriault Siting

Austin Theriault was home for Christmas. He made appearances on WAGM TV Sports with Rene Clukey as well as enjoyed spending time with the family and their  business in Fort Kent.

Austin Theriault was home for Christmas. He made appearances on WAGM TV Sports with Rene Clukey as well as enjoyed spending time with the family and their business in Fort Kent.

Austin Theriault was home for Christmas enjoying some time with the family as he prepares for the 2015 racing season. In his interview with WAGM TV Sports reporter Rene Clukey, the Fort Kent native hinted at some Florida events near the Daytona area. He was unable to release specifics at this time but will do so in the near future as he shores up his plans.

Was he hinting about efforts that will find him at the Daytona Speed-Weeks (NASCAR Trucks or Xfinity Series????) or at nearby New Smyrna Speedway? I am not sure and I do not have any inside information. I look forward with great anticipation to see what Austin has cooked up for this season.

Van Buren’s Philip LaPointe is Busy!

Van Buren native Philip LaPointe at Honda Performance Development (HPD) headquarters  in Southern California. LaPointe is pictured with the Dallara DW12. Photo courtesy Philip LaPointe

Van Buren native Philip LaPointe at Honda Performance Development (HPD) headquarters in Southern California. LaPointe is pictured with the Dallara DW12. Photo courtesy Philip LaPointe

As the January 18th homologation deadline looms, Van Buren’s Philip LaPointe leads a team of dedicated HPD personnel as well as Andretti Motorsports team members in putting the finishing touches on Honda’s aero package for teams using their engines in the 2015 Indy Car season.

The January date is  when Indy Car officials will see the aero packages developed by Chevrolet and Honda for use by their respective teams in 2015. Indy Car will then determine if the packages meet their very strict specifications before releasing them to the teams for testing.

According to Verizon Indy Cars’s Dave Lewandowski, “On Jan. 18, everything is frozen. So we require the CAD files, the weights of the components, the layer books. We don’t have to have a component in our hands by Jan. 18, but we have to have all of the designs in our hands and they will be locked down at that point.

The only thing the manufacturers can do afterward is if they have some sort of reliability issue or they could prove they could save significant money by altering a construction technique to save money they can ask for a concession. The component won’t be allowed to be any lighter and we want it to have similar stiffness.”

Honda and Chevrolet must then provide the road and street course package to each entrant by March 1st. The speedway aero kit must be released by April 1st.

The success of each automakers teams will depend a great deal on the aero packages developed for them since modifications from the homologated versions will be limited at best. I am sure that not only does LaPointe’s team at HPD feel the pressure, I suspect the Chevrolet teams do as well. I am also confident if LaPointe is leading Honda’s group they will be as good as they can possibly be. I may see you at the Northeast Motorsports Expo in Augusta. Say hello, I will be the guy in the wheel chair with the Racer Magazine hat on.

Until then….

Let’s go racing!

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing.