“Spring Thaw” Race , Samson Memorial Race Car, Ice Breaker, and Honda Wins.

Episode 50

April 12, 2015

Bare hot top spotted at Loring Runway approach this week. The Spring Thaw event, hosted by the Loring Timing Association, kicks off land speed racing in the East here at the former Air Force Base April 24-26.

Bare hot top spotted at a Loring runway approach this week. “The Spring Thaw” , a name I have given the event, hosted by the Loring Timing Association (LTA), kicks off land speed racing in the East here at the former Air Force Base April 24-26. Photo by HTF Motorsports

“Spring Thaw” Land Speed Event April 24-26, 2015

As you can see in the above photo the runways at the former Loring Air Force Base were still snow-covered when I took this photo last Thursday. Race officials with the LTA assure me that the long-range weather conditions should assure near ideal weather for setting speed records.

A predicted entry list of 50 racers will make for some interesting stories as racers take their cars and motorcycles out of shops from Maine and as far away as Wisconsin. The ideas and innovations devised to wring out a little more speed over the course of a long winter will  be tried out on the 2.5 mile runway.

Motorcycle Technical Director Jesse Michaud of Caribou said, “We have had five different riders run over 250 miles per hour (mph) her at Loring on motorcycles. This year to see two people even close to that speed over the summer is quite something.”

The two riders are Ralphie Navarro from New Jersey who is tweaking his Suzuki Hayabusa looking to break the 250 mark. New Brunswick native Scott Davis now living in Ontario may have his Kawasaki ZX12 ready for the spring event as he also begins his quest to reach the  250 mph mark.

Caribou's Jesse Michaud puts the finishing touches on his Buell powered motorcycle in preparation for the LTA Spring Thaw event April 24-26. Photo by HTF Motorsports

Caribou’s Jesse Michaud puts the finishing touches on his Buell powered motorcycle in preparation for the LTA Spring event April 24-26. Photo by HTF Motorsports

Michaud in addition to his responsibility as Motorcycle Technical Director will be racing two motorcycles at the spring race. He describes his entries this way, “I am bringing two bikes. The first one I am bringing is Joe Daly’s original bike #9216. It’s a one-off custom. It is a true “A-class” bike. It has a Buell XP12 motor that has a lot done to it.”

“It’s about 130 horsepower now. This will be the first event for the bike since 2010. Joe ran a 144 in 2010 with a 1000cc motor. The motor I am running is a 1350 cc.”

The goal ultimately at the end of the summer I’d like to see 175 mph out of it. At this event (spring) if the bike comes home running that will probably be success enough. This is a big-time shakedown. The bike has not been on the dyno, it has not been ridden at all. This first time it has been rode will be on the runway.”

The motorcycle has been in storage since 2010 until last fall when Michaud took possession of the bike and began the process of prepping it for the 2015 season.

Michaud describes his other racer, ” I’m also running a 1988 Sportster. It’s basically a street bike. It does have some “goodies” in it. It will run as a modified pushrod gas 1350. The bike will probably do 115 mph.”

 

Marcia

Marcia Buck Barker of Orland at the starting line at Loring in 2014 in her 1957 Chevy with an inline six engine. Photo by HTF Motorsports

Racing is not always about high-speed and spending lots of money

Marcia Buck Barker of Orland proves that land speed racing does not always have to be about the 200 miles per hour mark in sleek machines. She races her 1957 ex-stock car Chevy with an inline six. Here is what she had to say about the spring event and her philosophy about land speed racing,

“I am really excited about getting another chance to race so close to home,” said Barker.. I have a 57 Chevy, ex stock car, rebuild to be a land speed racer. I also race other people’s cars.”

“It takes a lot of money to go fast. I am fascinated with the old inline engines and the challenge is to see how fast I can make an inline go in this car.In the 57, I race vintage inline engines. First a Chevy 235 and now I have a GMC 302. I’m very excited about driving it down the track.”

“I live in Orland Maine. I didn’t think I could afford to race my own car but I was given the 57. It has a long history of circle track racing but I have only raced Landspeed, at Maxton, NC, Bonneville and Loring.

The Maine Barons Car Club campaigning the ex Sam Seasons 1934 Ford at the Loring Timing Association Land Speed events. Photo by HTF Motorsports

The Maine Barons Racing car club campaigning the ex Sam Samson 1934 Ford at the Loring Timing Association Land Speed events. Photo by HTF Motorsports

The Memory of Sam Samson Lives on through the Maine Barons Racing car club

Another expected entry at the spring event at Loring is the #1034 maintained by the Maine Barons Car Club led primarily by brothers  Jim Hansom of Livermore and Jordan Hanson of Turner. Here is the story in their words:

Richard “Sam” Samson was a founding member of Downeast Streetrods. Sam was The Original Hot Rod Junkie. From his original car “Chop-It” to the iconic “She-Bad”, Sam set the bar for traditional hot rods.
My family met Sam in the summer of 1984 when we attended our first rod run. I was 8 years old, Jared was three weeks old and Jordan wasn’t on the radar yet. Sam embraced our family and we joined the club.
Our childhood summers revolved around street rods and our Downeast family. The patriarch of that family was Sam and he was a hero to us growing up.
Sam attended Bonneville’s Speedweek one year and caught salt fever. He wanted to build a Pierson Brother’s style coupe and run 200 mph. He put his 34 five window coupe “She-Bad” up for sale to fund the project. His hot rod family didn’t want to see him part with it, so they gathered at Dad’s garage to offer Sam their help.
On that day in January 2001, Maine Baron’s Racing was formed from that brotherhood. So many people volunteered their time, labor and money to get “She-Bad Too” up and running. I couldn’t list everyone without forgetting somebody, so I won’t.
With a lot of help from his friends, his dream became a reality. He ran the car at Bonneville, where a blown engine kept him from hitting the 200 mph mark. This became a theme with the car at Bonneville.
In January 2003, Sam died after a car accident. The world lost a great man, my brother’s and I lost a hero. He was the Original and there will never be another one like him. He always had a smile on his face and a Budweiser in his hand. He’s building hot rods in heaven right now.
In his will, he asked our dad to carry on with Maine Baron’s Racing. In true Maine Baron’s fashion, everyone got together and the car went to Bonneville that summer. It kept going until it did 202 mph. The Maine Baron’s achieved Sam’s dream.
Over the last few years, we have come to call Loring Timing Association home. We raced there, we broke there, we made new friends there. Every time we fire up the coupe and make a pass, it’s in Sam’s honor. We consider ourselves custodians of history and caretakers of an icon. It is the Sam Samson coupe and it’s an honor to have known him.

The Maine Barons Racing team is excited for the 2015 season. It has been a long winter and the addition of a spring event was a great idea. We have done some maintenance and tuning on the car over the winter.Our goal has always been 200+ mph and induction into the “2” club. We can’t wait to see all of our racing family and reach that goal.
In addition to those mentioned I  expect that the fastest man on four wheels in Maine last year at Loring, Carl Theriault will make his appearance. The former Caribou man, now living in Massachusetts, has had his car at the dyno and has done several modifications to his Mustang done by JRT Customs of Caribou. His goal has always been to reach the 240-250 mark.
The mystery is whether JRT Customs Nissan pickup will make its 2015 debut after undergoing several chassis and frame modifications as well as some engine work. Will it be a battle for top speed honors between the two Theriaults;  Jason in his Nissan  and Carl in his Mustang? One will have to wait and see.
You can find more information about the spring event as well all other races at their website loringtiming.com or on their Facebook page Loring Timing Association.
I will miss the first couple days, April 24 & 25th  since I will be spending time at one of my sponsors, Maine Indoor Karting in Scarborough, on Friday and at the Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference in Portland on Saturday. I hope to catch up with the racers at LTA on Sunday afternoon.
Joe Gibbs Racing #19 Stanley Tools Toyota with driver Carl Edwards at the unveiling in Texas of the Children's Miracle Network wrap. Photo courtesy Steve Doody Joe Gibbs Racing Mobile Marketing Manager

Joe Gibbs Racing #19 Stanley Tools Toyota with driver Carl Edwards at the unveiling in Texas of the Children’s Miracle Network wrap. Photo courtesy Steve Doody Joe Gibbs Racing Mobile Marketing Manager

Washburn’s Steve Doody plays a role in the NASCAR races in Fort Worth, Texas
Texas Motor Speedway was the site where Gibbs racing unveiled the Children’s Miracle Network Toyota. The car in the photo was the mobile show-
car transported by Washburn’s Steve Doody. If Carl Edwards had won the race, Stanley was prepared to donate $1,000,000 to the Children’s Miracle Network. Regardless of the race results they donated $100,000. All NASCAR Sprint Cup fans know that Carl had his best finish of the 2015 season, tenth, while Jimmie Johnson won the race.
I cannot imagine the pressure to win a race in the series let alone have my finishing position determine whether such a good cause would get $1,000,000 dollars or $100,000.  A big thank you to Steve Doody for keeping me up-to-date on his adventures with the Gibbs Show Cars.
Fenway Park ready for the home opener Monday. Photo courtesy Jason Griffeth

Fenway Park ready for the home opener Monday. Photo courtesy Jason Griffeth

Fenway Groundskeeper/Racefan keeps me abreast of Icebreaker
Woodland native Jason Griffeth is one of my former students and soul-mate when it comes to racing. I rely on him to keep me abreast of the stock car racing scene in the Massachusetts/Connecticut area always looking for Maine connections.
I called Jason asking him to please send me a picture of green turf and to send me along the smell of freshly mowed turf also. He graciously sent along the Fenway turf picture and  apologized for the lack of technology to send the smell. I can remember vaguely that wonderful odor.
Whelen Modifieds at Thompson Speedway coming to the start for the Icebreaker 150. Photo courtesy Jason Griffeth

NASCAR Whelen Modifieds at Thompson Speedway coming to the start for the Icebreaker 150. Photo courtesy Jason Griffeth

Jason was able to squeeze in some racing action from nearby Thompson Speedway as they hosted their 75th season of racing at what was once a dairy farm in the quaint village of Thompson, Connecticut.

After the famous hurricane dubbed “the Long Island Express ” flattened most of the farm in 1938, owner John Hoenig opened what would later become the “Indianapolis of the East” with the first asphalt paved oval and first purpose-built road course in the USA.

Griffeth was part of a packed house which saw Milford, Connecticut’s Doug Coby dominate the Whelen Modified field in pursuit of his title defense. Three Maine drivers made the trip for the Granite State Pro Stock Series 40 lap feature which was won by Dillon Moltz of Waterford, Connecticut.

Thanks to my assistant Jason for the report. I hope to hear from him about future races he may attend in the Boston area.

James Hinchcliffe in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda wins the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana

James Hinchcliffe in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda wins the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana. Photo courtesy Honda Racing

Honda Wins! Honda Wins! Honda Wins!

I was conversing with Honda Performance Development’s Phil LaPointe of Van Buren about all the hard work he and the team at HPD and Wirth Engineering have been putting in to the development and modification of the short track aero packages for the IndyCar Series.

It appears to have started to pay off as James Hinchcliffe won the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at the NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana Sunday. Honda power was in three of the top five finishers.

WOW so much is happening now that spring is here!

Lets 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.