County Man Inducted into Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame

Episode 49

April 5, 2015

Caribou's Mark Jones on left is presented the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame Award by fellow County native and Motorsports Hall of Fame Selection Committee member Joe Chamberlain of Woodland. Jones becomes the third Spud Speedway driver to be selected for the Hall of Fame.

Caribou’s Mark Jones on left is presented the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame Award by fellow County native and Motorsports Hall of Fame Selection Committee member Joe Chamberlain of Woodland. Jones becomes the third Spud Speedway driver to be selected for the Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy Bobby Alexander

 

Sometimes the events in life mess with your plans. I had planned to be at the Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday. Those plans had to altered on Friday morning when I had to be admitted into Cary Medical Center with symptoms of confusion and disorientation. People that know me realize I am dazed and confused many times  or at least act that way. Friday was the real thing and competent people at physical therapy recognized that and promptly got me to Cary’s ER.

After a battery of tests we still await definitive results as of this publish date. I am in God’s hands so I know everything will be okay.

Enough about me. I contacted last year HOF inductee Bobby Alexander to see if he would take photos and be my eyes and ears at the event. He enthusiastically responded with an offer to help any way he could. I also contacted Joe Chamberlain who offered up valuable insight about the ceremony.

“It was a great evening and Mark was excited and honored to be inducted,” said Chamberlain. “It was great that I could do the induction speech before a group of 400 dinner guests and present Mark with this award. He also had a great thank you speech showing his appreciation of the Hall of Fame.”

2014 Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby Alexander on right congratulates fellow Spud Speedway racer Mark Jones on Jones' induction into the Hall of Fame.

2014 Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby Alexander on right congratulates fellow Spud Speedway racer Mark Jones on Jones’ induction into the Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of Kristi Alexander

With his induction into the Hall of Fame Jones became the third Spud Speedway racer to be so honored following Rodney “Chink” Maynard and Bobby Alexander who were in the Class of 2014.  Jones currently is the Caribou High School principal.

Limestone's Bobby Anderson on left is congratulated by Maine Vintage Race car Association 2nd Vice president Jon McMullen as Spud Speedway's 2014 Driver of the Year.

Limestone’s Bobby Anderson on left is congratulated by Maine Vintage Race car Association 2nd Vice president Jon McMullen as Spud Speedway’s 2014 Driver of the Year. Photo courtesy of Bobby Alexander

Anderson Honored As One of Six Finalist’s For Maine Driver of the Year Award

Bobby Anderson has raced many different race  cars and trucks over the course of his driving career. His is known as a tough and fair competitor who will get the most out of whatever he is racing whether it is an Enduro car, Tough Truck, or Street Stock. Drivers know that if they beat Bobby Anderson they have beaten the best.

Anderson was Spud Speedway’s nominee for the Driver of the Year Award not only for his accomplishments as the 2014 Street Stock Track Champion but for all that he has done in his career. Despite not being selected as the Maine Driver of the Year, Anderson’s accomplishments speak for themselves.

Oxford Plains Speedway 2014 Pro Late Model Track Champion T.J. Brackett of Buckfield named Maine Driver of the Year. Photo by HTF Motorsports

Oxford Plains Speedway 2014 Pro Late Model Track Champion T.J. Brackett of Buckfield named Maine Driver of the Year. Photo by HTF Motorsports

Dr. Dick Berggren (L) was inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Beech Ridge Speedway's Andy Cusack presented Berggren's award. Photo courtesy Bobby Alexander.

Dr. Dick Berggren (L) was inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Beech Ridge Speedway’s Andy Cusack presented Berggren’s award. Photo courtesy Bobby Alexander.

One of My Heroes of Motorsports Inducted into Hall of Fame

In the 1970s the magazine to read was Stock Car racing magazine if you wanted the latest in technical and stock car news. The editor of the magazine was Dr.Dick Berggren a Massachusetts man who could relate to not only us New England race fans but across the country as well.

While on my honeymoon in August of 1976, my wife and I went to a dirt track race at Beech Ridge Speedway where I actually got to see Berggren race a modified.

My wife should have known then that she was in for a non normal marriage when your husband wants to attend a dirt track race on our honeymoon. Side note, we took a Florida honeymoon in February 1977 and I dragged her to another dirt track race in Tampa, a visit to Frankland Racing Equipment, and of course a visit to Smokey Yunick’s “Best Damn Garage in Town” in Daytona. Pray for her please.

Bergrren who got his doctorate degree in psychology, became a professor at a Boston college. He tells Car and Driver’s Steven Cole Smith in an October 2012 article, “I had one rig-a ramp truck where you pulled the race car up onto the back. One Monday morning, I realized somebody had borrowed my street car and I had to get to class, so I drove the ramp truck, which still had the mud-covered sprint car on the back.”

When he had parked his rig in the teacher’s lot, “There was this blaring angry voice over the PA system: ‘Dr, Berggren, report to the President’s office immediately!’ She was beyond disappointed that a professor would park such a piece of junk in that lot, and I was told to move it right away.”

“This was Boston. Every dime I had, I put into that car. I didn’t even have a house. And no way was I going to park it somewhere on the street.”

I am not sure how that situation was resolved but Berggren eventually gave up his teaching job to become one of the most famous reporter’s in history working for several TV sports networks covering racing.

He got his announcing career started when he showed up at a track in Maine and the announcer didn’t show up. They said, “You are a college professor. You know how to talk. You know the cars and the people. Go be the announcer.”

At the time he was track photographer so he would run down take pictures, interview the winners, run back up to the booth, and announce the lineup for the next race.

At the age of 70 in 2012, he retired from the network side of racing and continues to write for “Dick Berggren’s Speedway Illustrated” and work on his other big project the North East Motor Sports Museum which he and several others hope to build at New Hampshire Motor Speedway possibly this year.

Berggren resides in Ipswich, Massachusetts with his wife Kathy. This is his sixth Hall of Fame into which he has been inducted.

Austin Theriault Prepares for next steps

I was curious what Austin was up to since Daytona and his next race with the #29 Cooper Electric Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) Ford truck. His next race is at Kansas Speedway on May 8th on Fox Sports 1 at 8:30 pm.

Theriault, now living in North Carolina, makes it a point to be at the BKR shop ever Tuesday to check in with the team and offer encouragement  that build a  bond which is one of those intangibles that makes a successful race team. This helps the team members know that he has respect for what they are doing and they in turn respect Austin for what he is doing.

He also looks for trends in the markets and researches contacts in business. He works with those from past partnerships as well as developing pathways to new relationships. In my conversation with the Fort Kent native he seems to enjoy the business side of the racing venture he is involved in.

“I’m all out focused on working month’s and month’s ahead”, said Theriault. ” It is amazing what an industry motorsports has become in this area. The types of businesses that have sprung up in a relatively small area that are only around for their work within motorsports is eye-opening.”

Theriault will be involved in testing at Kansas in few weeks as the rookie driver gets some laps under his belt at the mile and a half speedway. His team-mate Tyler Reddick will be there to run a few laps to shakedown the BKR Ford before Theriault gets in the seat. They will probably do some short track development work as well.

Theriault is enjoying spending free time with friends bowling where he was on a team. He continues to bowl even though the formal league season has ended.

Mountain biking is big in the area and the man from the mountains of Fort Kent enjoys the challenges offered by the sport. “I like to go mountain biking with friends to stay fit. I like dodging rocks and trees and getting my cardio rate elevated.”

“I am not one who enjoys running. I look up to those who run great distances, they must be physically and mentally tough. Staying in shape is necessary because I am racing against those drivers who are fit. Fitness of body coordinates with fitness of mind.”

Theriault is passionate about the financial side of racing and looks forward to working with folks whose plans mesh together with his. He appreciates those who have partnered with him in the past as well in the future.

He is interested in knowing the basics of setting up the race cars so that he may converse with his crew chief and engineers but has no overwhelming desire to know the deeply technical side of the set up. He would prefer to leave that up to those who are hired to perform those tasks and in whom he places his confidence. His priority is to be the driver.

Attending races and test sessions when he in not the driver of the #29, such as Martinsville race won by Joey Logano is important to Theriault. “I am there as a watcher and listener. I want to see and hear, in the case of Martinsville, how Joey interacted with the spotter, crew chief, and engineers before, during and after the race. This will be helpful to me when I come back in the fall race as the driver.”

I once read (and kept) a Champion Spark Plug commercial from the early 1970’s about Mark Donohue who drove for Roger Penske. The gist of the one page ad was that Donohue liked coming in to the shop early in the morning before the crew arrived where he would sweep the floors to clear his head before the events of the day.

I was pleased to see that Theriault also likes to sweep the floors of the BKR shop not only to make the area clean for the mechanics but is peaceful and relieves stress. I can remember many times before class and after school when I would sweep the floors of my ag shop to prepare for the full day of teaching.

I look forward to watching all of the young men and women from Maine as the move their careers forward in the motorsports area. I wish all of them nothing but the best.

And finally I solicit help from the readers with this request by Joe Chamberlain for information such as newspaper articles and photos about the St. John Valley’s “Flying Frenchman” Ernie Levesque who raced at Spud Speedway in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He is developing a portfolio on Levesque for possible nomination to the Hall of Fame. This is not a suggestion that the “Flying Frenchman” will be nominated or that he will be voted in; rather it is a research project Chamberlain is embarking on. Contact him at 207. 492.3301.

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.