County Racetrack Making a Comeback in 2015

Episode 54

May 10, 2015

The 2015 Spud Speedway management team unveils plans for season at a public meeting last Saturday. L to R Steve Thibodeau flagman, Tim Thibodeau, race director, John Albert racer/promoter, and Erica McPherson public relations. Photo by HTF Motorsports Tom Hale

The 2015 Spud Speedway management team unveils plans for season at a public meeting last Saturday. L to R Steve Thibodeau flagman, Tim Thibodeau, race director, John Albert racer/promoter, and Erica McPherson public relations. Photo by HTF Motorsports Tom Hale

Spud Speedway New Management Unveils Plans for 2015 Season

Thirty five interested racers and fans attended an informational meeting at the Caribou Recreation and Wellness Center. Promoter John Albert convened the meeting to drum up interest in stock car racing at the Caribou racetrack.

Albert began the meeting speaking in plain language that in order for stock car racing to survive in the County racers are going to have to recognize that it is a joint effort between himself and his Spud Speedway team, racers, crew members, and race fans.

The cross border squabbling and name calling would need to disappear and would not be tolerated. Racers need to go to the track with the attitude that they are doing this for fun and the challenge.

Albert said, “We are going to work together with everybody to get everything moving smoothly.”

“Fans can look forward to everything! We’ve got go-karts, the new Enduro division which is very cheap. If you have got an old car that is headed for the junkyard and want to have a little fun come on out. When you are done you still can get the junkyard price.”

“We have got the Street Stock which should be a good division. They are a good bunch of racers who race clean and provide good entertainment.”

“We have got Pro-Stock. We have got to work on it to get more cars but I think it can work.”

 

Ben Rowe with car owner Hal O'Neal after winning the Best of the Best Race at Speedway 660 in 2012. Photo courtesy Speedway 660

Ben Rowe on left with car owner Hal O’Neal after winning the Best of the Best Race at Speedway 660 in 2012. Photo courtesy Speedway 660

Will Spud Speedway see the Return of Hal O’Neal Pro-Stock in 2015?

Aroostook, New Brunswick’s Mike Murphy was in attendance to represent the Hal O’Neal Race team. “Hal is my uncle and he raced there (Spud Speedway). I think he started in 1974. ”

“This is quite an undertaking for John. Got to admire him for doing this because there would not have been no track this year as I understand it.”

The Hal O’Neal Racing  Pro-Stock race team has not run recently at the Caribou track. Instead they run at Geary Woods, New Brunswick’s Speedway 660 on a limited schedule.

“We’ve got a Pro-Stock car that sits” said Murphy. “We run it maybe two or three times per year. It is just sits there and when John said he was going to open the track back up we figured we would see what happens.”

“That is the reason for attending today to see the rules package, what we are going to run for tires, and go from there.”

The rules package was similar to Speedway 660 and was simple according to Murphy. He said, “Other than Geary having an impound for tires and an impound for MSD boxes. As I mentioned in the meeting, it takes a lot of the extra work out when they impound that stuff.”

“As racers we think we’ve got to do everything. With tires impounded you’re not working on trying to soak them. With the MSD boxes you hear all the stories of traction control. If the track keeps them you know I could have your box this week and you could have mine. They are interchangeable.”

The Aroostook, New Brunswick team is twenty minutes from Spud Speedway versus three hours from Speedway 660. They would need to find a driver for local events since Ben Rowe is not available most weeks they would race at the Caribou track.

Murphy did mention that with Ben Rowe at the controls they finished the 250 lap Pro-Stock race in 2013 in second and were beat by a fender by Travis Benjamin in 2014.

Street stock competitor, Jeff Willette of Presque Isle, just back from his third place finish at Speedway 95’s season opener, was at the meeting and had this to say about the 2015 season, “I really hope that John can make it work. I hope that all the area teams and driver’s can pull together to see to it that the place can stay open.”

Willette has raced at Unity Raceway, Speedway 95 and his home track Spud Speedway. With similar rules in Street Stock at the three track he said, “The Street Stock cars from central Maine north seem to have a similar rules package. A lot of those guys before have come up here (Spud Speedway) to support our program. It is always nice to see someone from away.”

“My primary concern is to get the track back on its feet and develop a decent roster of participants. I’ve grown up around Spud. It is my favorite place to race.”

Some highlights in the 2015 schedule that promoter Albert wished to point out were:

1) Opening Day June 14

2) July 3 seventy-five lap Northern Lights race, and 50 lap Street Stock race. There will be fireworks sponsored by Hogan tire.

3) July 26 will feature an 100 lap Street Stock feature.

4) August 15 has a 150 lap Super Late Model/Pro-Stock race.

He has scheduled a return of the “Wicked Good Vintage Tour” and hopes to see the return of the Atlantic Modified Series.

Albert has been away from race promotion for 21 years when he last ran Spud Speedway in 1994. He will turn 75 in July this summer. He has been racing since 1961 or ’62 when he ran the Adam’s dirt track in Limestone.

After Albert raced a couple of years on the dirt, Spud Speedway ran an invitational where the dirt track racers could run at the newly built asphalt track. Albert went to Spud Speedway and fell in love with the paved track.

“It is a passion of mine” said the Limestone native. “I love it.”

Star WAR

Ellsworth’s Wyatt Alexander got his first taste of PASS 2015 at Star Speedway in New Hampshire with mixed results. Here is the assessment according to crew chief, grandfather, and Aroostook County’s own Bobby Alexander:

“Very hectic weekend at Star. Wyatt and I left on Friday for a test session. First time that Wyatt had been to a race track with out his father along.Brett, Jenn, Kristi and Quinn all came down on Friday morning.”

“We made several changes to the car on Friday, each one showing improvements. Overall car was very stable and driveable. Our fastest times were around 13.6 seconds, fastest cars were in the 13.4’s.”

“We were very happy to be this close in times as there were 31 of the best cars and drivers and the country there. We were unable to make it in based on performance as they were originally only going to start 24 cars, top 4 from the heats and one consi.”

“We finished 6th in our heat and 7th in the consi. In the end it was decided to start all 31 cars. This made for a large field of cars to race on a 1/4 mile track.”

“Our strategy was for Wyatt to run at the rear for most of the race, gaining experience and “seat time”. Unfortunately he was involved in two incidents early in the race and we were only able to run 18 laps of the 150 scheduled due to damage which knocked the rear bumper off the car making it unraceable.”

“The accidents would turn out to be a theme for the entire race as several top cars were also taken out due to damages. Overall it was a successful weekend, we learned a lot about the car and our weaknesses. I think this will result in stronger performances at Wiscasset and future races with PASS.”

Austin Theriault Finishes 14th at Kansas

If you haven’t heard by now Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault finished 14th in the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. I just turned on the television to watch qualifying when I saw the #19 Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) Ford driven by Tyler Reddick spin during the second round of qualifying. Another truck could not avoid him and pile drove that almost stationary truck.

Much to my dismay once the smoke had dissipated I learned that it was Austin in the other BKR truck. Both primary trucks were eliminated from the race necessitating going to the back up trucks.

It was a race in the garage to put the finishing touches on the trucks. I know they were “race-ready”, however, they are never going to have the exact set up that one may have had in the primary.

Once the race began it appeared that the Tyler Reddick truck was close to where the driver of the #19 wanted it. It seemed like Austin had a good set up but not what was needed to bring him to the front.

A spin coming off turn four with a subsequent slide into pit lane put the Maine man a couple of laps down for the remainder of the race. He was never able to get the “Lucky Dog” free pass and maintained a mid-teen pace.

The finish was wild with Eric Jones, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez all running out of gas allowing the crafty veteran Matt Crafton to squeeze every molecule of Sunoco Race fuel to win.

The finish saw BKR’s Reddick finish 13th one lap down and Theriault 14th two laps down.

Austin returns to action on June 5th in the Winston World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.

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.