Grass Drags Arrive In Caribou This Weekend

Episode 77

October 19, 2015

Caribou Snowmobile Club hosts their first Grass Drags   next Sunday at the former located at 416 Van Buren Road in Caribou. HTF Motorsports photo

Caribou Snowmobile Club hosts their first Snowmobile Grass Drags next Sunday at the former Van Buren Road Lodge located at 416 Van Buren Road in Caribou. HTF Motorsports photo

Caribou Snowmobile Grass Drags Highlight the Fall Racing Scene in the County

Fall foliage has peaked in the County and with the strong winds of late, leaves are rapidly disappearing from the hardwoods. Next weekend those fall colors will be replaced by the bright colors of Ski Doo, Polaris, Arctic Cat, Yamaha, and others as snowmobile drag racers descend on the Caribou Snowmobile Grass Drag track on the Van Buren Road in Caribou.

After very successful snow drags earlier this year, club members voted to spend the time and money on track improvements which would allow first class grass drags to be held. With the landowner’s permission work on the site moved forward.

Caribou Tech center's Large Equipment Maintenance and Operation class under the direction of 16 year veteran instructor, Tom Huston, at work at the grass drag site. Photo courtesy Tom Huston

Caribou Tech Center’s Large Equipment Maintenance and Operation (LEMO) class under the direction of 16 year veteran instructor, Tom Huston, at work at the grass drag site. Photo courtesy Tom Huston

The students in the LEMO class began by stripping the grass covering the starting line area. After its removal they worked on digging down to a depth which would allow a clay-like material to be added. This clay, once hardened would provide the starting line stability that the Club sought.

LEMO student,Spencer St. Peter, using the excavator to remove existing topsoil in preparation for re,oval by truck. Photo courtesy Tom Huston

LEMO student, Andrew Lessard, using the excavator to remove existing topsoil in preparation for re,oval by truck. Photo courtesy Tom Huston

According to instructor Huston, “Students removed and hauled 180 yards of materials from the 60′  X 80′ by 10″ deep launch pad area. Savings to the club were ‘priceless'”.

“We had students involved with a community service project where learning had wheels and tracks turning so the gearheads could go fast”, said Huston.

LEMO student Spencer St. Peter loads a truck with some of the material the class needed to remove from the launch pad area.  Photo courtesy Tom Huston

LEMO student Spencer St. Peter loads a truck with some of the material the class needed to remove from the launch pad area. Photo courtesy Tom Huston

Race director Kurt Dumond said, “Tom Huston’s LEMO crew at Caribou Tech Center was exceptional. They donated their time and equipment and were able to pull all the grass and loam out so we could put in clay. It gave the students seat time in their equipment which was beneficial for them. It was a win-win situation for both.”

A view of the starting line at the Caribou Grass Drag track after installation of clay. Photo courtesy Caribou Grass Drag crew

A view of the starting line at the Caribou Grass Drag track after installation of clay. Photo courtesy Caribou Grass Drag Crew

Caribou Grass Drag crew putting the finishing touches on the protective wall at the start line in preparation for next weekend's grass drags. HTF Motorsports photo

Caribou Grass Drag crew putting the finishing touches on the protective wall at the start line in preparation for next weekend’s grass drags. HTF Motorsports photo

Members of the local snowmobile club will do the final pre-race details next Saturday to accommodate the hundreds who will be attending the grass drags. Starting lights, fencing, signage, and  vendor areas will be completed.

Some Details About the Grass Drags

I talked to Race Director Kurt Dumond about the  Snowmobile Grass Drags. He mentioned that thee were not the first grass drags in the Caribou area. He thought this same site was the host of snowmobile drag races in 1999. He thought the drags may have been put on by the Caribou Lions Club with race director Larry Doody.

“I’ve gotten a lot of interest from out west, Canada through the Maritimes,” said Dumond. “I got a lot of inquiries from guys that run the circuit”.

“What I mean by the circuit is there are quite a number of tracks around Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, and New Hampshire. These guys run a five event schedule which are the big grass races of the season.”

“Last weekend we went to Epping, New Hampshire. They had 290 sled entries at their grass drags. There were over 30,000 spectators Saturday and Sunday.”

Aerial view of the NorthEast Grass Drag Series venue from past year. Photo from NorthEast Grass Drag series Facebook page

Aerial view of the NorthEast Grass Drag Series venue from past year. Photo from NorthEast Grass Drag series Facebook page

“We actually were fortunate to have one of our members, Tom Ayer, in the booth. We had just purchased a new set of Porta Tree starting line lights. Tom was able to spend the whole weekend seeing everything from setting up to teardown with them. He was actually able to use their lights and learn from them which was a big help for us.”

“We were able to announce our race over their public address system which was a huge free advertising for us,” continued Dumond. ” There is a lot of interest with people who know the amount of work we have put into this track.”

“I have already spoken to Russell’s Motel, they are sold out. Caribou Inn & Convention center are getting booked up as is Crown Park Inn and other hotels in the area. You are going to see food vendors here and a huge amount of people coming into Caribou that day. This is a big boost to the economy, it’s a big plus.”

Rob Kieffer has agreed to put together a swap meet to be held on the grounds Sunday with a $10 donation going to the Caribou Snowmobile Club. Person’s interested in selling their boat, ATV, or other items will have an area set aside just for that.

An on-site vintage snowmobile display will take place. Anyone displaying their vintage snowsled will get free admission, however, if they are selling something they are asked to donate $10 to the Club.

According to Dumond the donations go toward the Caribou Snowmobile Club’s “Groomer Fund” for purchase of a new groomer in the future. Last winter’s snowmobile drag race netted the club $3000.

Organizers of the drag races hope to get more people interested in snowmobiling as well as club membership. After the winter event the club gained 20 new members.

According to Dumond,”It brings a lot of younger people who get involved. I like to see mini sleds especially. Last year Larry Doody’s son donated quite a bit of money for the mini class which he said his father would have loved to have recognized. We gave the kids each $20 gift card from WalMart and a trophy. It did not matter if you won or lost, everybody got something”

“I had a lot of parents who were happy we did something like that. That’s the future of our sport. If we can encourage the kids to get out and do something like that, it is huge.”

Dumond is looking for upward to 10 mini sled to participate in the race.

West Branch Choppers sponsored turbocharged Arctic Cat snowmobile owned by Jim Stanley of Medway expected to be at Caribou Grass Drags. Photo courtesy West Branch Choppers Facebook page

West Branch Choppers sponsored turbocharged Arctic Cat snowmobile owned by Jim Stanley of Medway expected to be at Caribou Grass Drags. Photo courtesy West Branch Choppers Facebook page

Dumond also expects Jim Stanley from Medway to be bringing his 2014 turbocharged Arctic Cat. Stanley has gone over 140 miles per hour in 500 foot grass drags in the past. Stanley will also be assisting the Club with tech inspection and event logistics.

Posters on display throughout the northeast. More information available on the Caribou Snowmobile Club Grass Drag Facebook page.

Posters on display throughout the northeast. More information available on the Caribou Snowmobile Club Grass Drag Facebook page.

Austin Theriault Will Miss Talladega NASCAR Truck Series Race

Austin theriault with his pre-race game face at Las Vegas Motor speedway. Photo courtesy Austin Theriault Racing Facebook page.

Austin theriault with his pre-race game face at Las Vegas Motor speedway. Photo courtesy Austin Theriault Racing Facebook page.

After his hard hit at Las Vegas Motor Speedway a couple weeks ago, Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault is progressing as well as could be expected for such a serious crash. Theriault according to reports is undergoing physical therapy, proper rest, healthy diet, and everything he can do to shorten his recuperation period and increase his chances of getting back into the #29 Cooper Standard Brad Keselowski Ford this season.

Normal recovery according to persons who treat this type of injury say it may take 6 to 8 weeks. Working in Theriault’s favor is his youthful fitness, his determination, prayers of supporters,  and toughness  acquired as a wrestler in high school.

For the Talladega race Brad Keselowski through his blog had this to say, “Austin Theriault, a great young talent and the regular driver of the No. 29, was injured two weeks ago at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was an unfortunate incident that saw Austin get hit by his teammate, Tyler Reddick, in the right rear quarter panel as he came off a corner. Austin crashed into the track wall head-on in a spot where there wasn’t a SAFER barrier. The impact was dramatic, and he took a hell of hit. The front of the truck collapsed, driving the steering wheel into Austin’s face and breaking his helmet, and he also took a shot to the lower back. A helicopter had to airlift Austin to a hospital for examination.”

“We’re all extremely happy that he wasn’t hurt much worse, and I’m looking forward to seeing Austin back behind the wheel in a few weeks once he’s recovered. He’s a super professional driver and an all-around nice kid.

When I was looking for a replacement driver for Austin, I knew that most of the current Cup drivers wouldn’t be interested in taking the wheel at Talladega. For one thing, Talladega is a dangerous track, and while it’s always a fun race, there’s not a lot to be gained in the way of knowledge from driving there. That narrowed the pool down to drivers from XFINITY, Truck and ARCA, and when I considered the drivers that interested me, none of them was really more qualified than Brian was. In addition, I have a great partner with Cooper Standard, who has given me free reign to pick the drivers I feel are qualified and not get stuck with someone I don’t want.

That’s a great privilege to have.”

Our prayers are continuing for a rapid and thorough healing for Austin Theriault.

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.