County Men Do Battle on the RaceTrack and Preparing for Battle in Kansas!

Episode 53

May 3, 2015

Speedway 95 2015 Season Opener. Street Stock winner Travis Beale of Hampden in center, Second place Keith Ogden of Hermon on left and Presque Isle's Jeff Willette on right, placed third. Photo courtesy 5th Turn Racing in maine

Speedway 95 2015 Season Opener. Street Stock winner Travis Beale of Hampden in center, Second place Keith Ogden of Hermon on left and Presque Isle’s Jeff Willette on right, placed third. Photo courtesy 5th Turn Racing “in maine”

County Racers Makes the Trek to Speedway 95 Season Opener

Presque Isle’s Jeff Willette, Jon Dixon and Castle Hill’s JR Howlett went south with their street stock cars and crews to take part in Speedway 95’s 2015 season opener Saturday in front of an estimated 900 fans. Of the three veteran Spud Speedway racers Willette, took third place in what was reported to be a competitive Street Stock class according to a Bangor Daily News report by Larry Mahoney.

Willette had this to say about the Opening Day races at Speedway 95, “Fast cars, and good racing in the class. We all had fun getting back in our cars. We’re all looking forward to it again. We’re hoping to hit Unity’s season opener too.”

“I personally enjoy a few races at other tracks and supporting their shows. Just as many of them have come do for our track. I believe the other guys share that same thought.”

Willette is the owner of Willette Auto located in Presque Isle. His Dad, Gary, used to work on my 1983 Volkswagen GTI which was one of the pace cars at the Caribou track before I bought the car many years ago. I considered Gary a top-notch VW expert. I believe Jeff has inherited that same reputation as a good mechanic and as he proved an excellent stock car driver.

Spud Speedway Fast Four racer, John Craig of Masardis, also made the trip to Speedway 95 opener. Craig finished fifth in the Sports 4 class in a race won by Andrew Crosby of Hermon.

Austin Theriault with the Brad Keselowski Racing #29 Ford that he will be racing at Kansas Speedway next weekend. Photo by Nigel Kinrade Photography and Austin Theriault Racing

Austin Theriault with the Brad Keselowski Racing #29 Ford that he will be racing at Kansas Speedway next weekend. Photo by Nigel Kinrade Photography and Austin Theriault Racing

Kansas City Here He Comes!

After what seems like a long time since his Camping World NASCAR Truck Series debut at Daytona in February, Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault returns to action this Friday evening at Kansas Speedway. Driving the BKR #29 sponsored by Cooper Standard and Careers for Veterans.

A short time ago Theriault was able to get some practice laps at  Kansas Speedway located a dozen miles west Kansas City near the Kansas City Airport. This 1.5 mile track is fast and will feature high speeds and door-to-door racing typical in the Truck Series.

Practice on Thursday will be broadcast live 4:30 to 6:00 pm. Qualifying will be Friday at 4:45 pm on FoxSports 1 live. The Toyota Tundra 250 will begin later that same evening at 8:30 pm again of FoxSports 1. The race will be 167 laps in length.

Go Austin!

My Friend Kody Swanson Takes TWO!

Defending 2014 USAC Silver Crown Series Champion Kody Swanson got the 2015 USAC season off to a good start winning the opening race at Toledo Speedway, Toledo, Ohio. Photo courtesy Jordan Swanson

Defending 2014 USAC Silver Crown Series Champion Kody Swanson got the 2015 USAC season off to a good start winning the opening race at Toledo Speedway, Toledo, Ohio. Photo courtesy Jordan Swanson

Defending 2014 United States Auto Club (USAC) Silver Crown Champion Kody Swanson got his season off on a good start with a win at the paved .5 mile Toledo Speedway on Friday May 2nd. The track is located near the Michigan/Ohio border.

The sprint car driver, originally from Kingsburg, California now living in Zionsville, Indiana, led every lap of the Hemelgarn Racing Super Fitness, “Rollie Beale Classic” USAC Silver Crown race. His brother Tanner was running beside him during the race until Tanner went for the lead on the front straight and hit the right rear of a lapped car resulting in a terrifying flip into the catch fence.

Kody Swanson in the white car battles with his brother Tanner in the black car in the USAC Silver Crown season opener at Toledo Speedway. Photo courtesy T&S Photos

Kody Swanson in the white car battles with his brother Tanner in the black car in the USAC Silver Crown season opener at Toledo Speedway prior to Tanners crash. Photo courtesy R&S Racing Photos

Tanner was okay but was sore the next day. You may view the crash here:https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=904918506197255&set=vb.119261394762974&type=2&theater

Kody told me, “Everyone works so hard on this race team, and work so well together. I’m so thankful to drive for such a great [DePalma] family, and happy to get a win here close to home for them (from Lima, Ohio).”

“When I came to this team, I told them that we could be successful on the pavement, and just hadn’t broke into the win column yet. We had such a good car tonight, I’m happy to have finished it off and helped this team get their first pavement win.”

Kody Swanson second from left celebrates his second feature win in two days with his crew at Waynesfield Raceway Park. Left to right Jon Burke Tipp City, Ohio, Swanson, Joshua Carpenter, Sydney, Ohio, and Kris Davis, Marshallville, Ohio.

Kody Swanson second from left celebrates his second feature win in two days with his non-winged sprint car crew at Waynesfield Raceway Park. Left to right Jon Burke Tipp City, Ohio, Swanson, Joshua Carpenter, Sydney, Ohio, and Kris Davis, Marshallville, Ohio. Photo courtesy Joshua Carpenter

After the USAC win on Friday, Swanson headed south to Waynesfield Raceway Park located in  Waynesfield, Ohio where he met up with another crew who put together the non-winged sprint car he raced on the 1/3 mile high banked dirt oval.

“I am so happy to finally get a win for [car owner] Kent and this team. They took a chance on me a few years ago, to help me learn how to race on dirt, and it feels good to finally put one in Victory Lane for these guys.”

“They’ve been such a big part of helping me grow as a driver, and I’m thankful to finally reward them with a win of their own.”

Crew member Joshua Carpenter summed up the week this way, “Even when days are rough and you just wanna say I quit, things come together and fall into place Kody drove an amazing race and parked it in the winners circle. I’ve put a lot of hours in the shop this week and it paid off tonight. Feels amazing to be part of an amazing team.”

I want to congratulate Kody for the wins and his wife Jordan for their  anniversary last Thursday. She is a huge reason for Kody’s success.

Honda and Chevrolet Unveil their IndyCar Speedway Aero Packages

Honda Performance Development announces their Indy Car aero package for speedway races. Photo courtesy Honda Racing

Honda Performance Development announces their Indy Car aero package for speedway races. Photo courtesy Honda Racing

And Chevrolet…

Chevrolet's IndyCar speedway aero package was unveiled  before testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Photo courtesy Chevrolet Racing

Chevrolet’s IndyCar speedway aero package was unveiled before testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Photo courtesy Chevrolet Racing

I have enjoyed following the adventures in IndyCar aero packages developed for use this year. I have previously mentioned that Van Buren native Philip LaPointe now working for Honda Performance Development in California had a hand in developing these packages. Not bad for a County Man!

Results of Day One practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway had Juan Pablo Montoya’s Penske Chevrolet fastest at 226.772 mph. Team-mate Helio Castroneves was second at 226.468 mph. Marco Andretti of Andretti Motorsports was the fastest Honda running third at 226.268 mph.

I wish I could spend the month of May at my second home, Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The road course race, the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis is next Saturday on the road course. The Indy 500 will be May 24th.

In addition there are several races at tracks in the Indianapolis area including the “Little 500” at Anderson Speedway. Imagine 500 laps in a sprint car on a 1/3 mile high banked asphalt track at blindingly fast speeds. I am told it is quite the race!

Don’t Forget the Spud Speedway 2015 Rules meeting next Saturday!

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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.