Sledders Slip and Slide at Caribou Grass Drags

Episode 78

October 25, 2015

Despite muddy conditions hundreds show up for action like this race between Presque Isle's Reed Clark in the near lane and Matt Beers of Oakland in the far lane. Clark won this race by.017 seconds. HTF Motorsports photo

Despite muddy conditions hundreds show up for action such as this race between Presque Isle’s Reed Clark in the near lane and Matt Beers of Oakland in the far lane. Clark won this race by.017 seconds. HTF Motorsports photo

The Race Goes on Despite Wet Conditions

One thing I can say about Sunday’s Caribou Snowmobile Clubs Grass Drags is that snowmobile racers and fans are a hardy bunch. Morning rains which continued as showers throughout most of the day may have kept some racers and fans from attending the race, however, race officials were pleased with the spectator numbers as well as racers.

A view of the pit area at the Caribou Snowmobile Club Grass Drags. HTF Motorsports photo

A view of the pit area at the Caribou Snowmobile Club Grass Drags. HTF Motorsports photo

Tech Inspector, Jimmy Jones of Caribou, said, ” Everything went great. These are true racers that showed up for this today. They did not let the conditions bother them. True racers will race whatever.”

“They are all running on the same track. They all have the same starting line to come off of. same for everybody.”

“The speeds are a little bit slower than what they would normally be but the guys aren’t complaining about it. We’re up for another grass drag next year. We will have to see after our meeting. I don’t see any problem with it, we have all year to work on it.”

Race team crew members used a variety of tools and techniques to prepare starting line spots including rakes. HTF Motorsports photo

Race team crew members used a variety of tools and techniques to prepare starting line spots including rakes. HTF Motorsports photo

Matt Reynolds of Presque Isle finds a unique use of a rubber paddled broom to prepare the start area for his sled. HTF Motorsports photo

Matt Reynolds of Presque Isle finds a unique use of a rubber paddled broom to prepare the start area for his Arctic Cat Crossfire 800 sled. HTF Motorsports photo

One team utilized straw from bales lining the starting area to ensure that the skis did not stick to the mud at the start. Several teams used rubber spacers under their skis to accomplish the same thing. HTF Motorsports photo

One team utilized straw from bales lining the starting area to ensure that the skis did not stick to the mud at the start. Several teams used rubber spacers under their skis to accomplish the same thing. HTF Motorsports photo

One of the closest races of the day was the one I featured in the lead photo in this episode. I talked to Matt Beers of Oakland about the race which he just lost by only .017 seconds as well as track conditions.

“The track is real muddy so when we take off we’re getting a little track spin and once we’re fetching up we’re getting a little ratcheting,” said Beers. “Nothing that a little track tensioner adjustment won’t fix.”

“We will see. We’ve got a couple more rounds to go. We will see how we do in the finals. Overall I’m doing pretty good; pulling good lights.”

“The weather kinda got you down in the dumps a little bit, being cold and dreary but I guess you just got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Phil Willey,Precision Lawn Service of Caribou had his skid steer on hand to periodically smooth the starting surface. HTF Motorsports photo

Phil Willey,Precision Lawn Services Inc. of Caribou had his skid steer on hand to periodically smooth the starting surface. HTF Motorsports photo

Jim Stanley of Medway was on hand to lend his support for the grass drags. His Arctic Cat has gone 141 mph at other tracks. After making a pass earlier in the day they put the sled in the trailer for the duration.

Stanley said this about the race, “I think it’s a great thing. I think it is the only venue in central/northern Maine. I think there probably would have been twice as many spectators or three times more if the weather was better.”

“I know a lot of racers, a lot of the professional racers that are traveling around different states are supporting it. They’ll keep supporting it. It’s a good track for everybody.”

Of course I like food so I stopped to see how a couple food vendors fared. Daniel Dionne of Grand Isle along with his wife Rita and daughter Jill had the “Maine-ly Meat and Potatoes” booth.

“Business was good even though the rain came all day,” said Dionne. “French fries were our best seller.”

Dionne said he gets his potatoes from James Cote of Grand Isle.

Next to the Dionne’s was the “Sweet Emotions Mini Donuts and More” food trailer run by the Pangburn family of Easton.

“Our biggest seller was coffee and hot cocoa,” said Mia Pangburn.

The Caribou Snowmobile Clubs next race is January 2016. Keep checking there Facebook page as well as here as that date approaches.

HTF Motorsports Goes to School

Presque isle High School Career Day where my presentation took place. Because I was not sure of photo release requirements I do not have a photo with students in it. HTF Motorsports photo.

Presque Isle High School Career Day where my presentation took place. Because I was not sure of photo release requirements I do not have a photo with students in it. HTF Motorsports photo.

When Mike Tardiff, Presque Isle High School guidance counselor called me last Wednesday he said their presenter for “Careers in Motorsports” was not going to appear at their school-wide Careers Day would I be interested in putting something together. I hesitated for a moment (or two) and said sure.

I called a few racers in the area. Most of them had their racers in storage or were unavailable. I had yet to put my race kart away for the winter and knew with a few hours time I could get it running and shined up. I also knew it was another prime time to show off my sponsors, Maine Indoor Karting, Aroostook Limousines, Smith Farms Stag Brand, and Hale Tree Farms one more time this year.

I had the chance to present to sixty high school juniors and seniors who had expressed interest in hearing about a career in motorsports. They were divided in to four groups which allowed me to interact with them closely.

I also photocopied five of my last winter blogs in which I dwelt on that very subject. I also gave away passes to lucky winners to race karts at one of my sponsors, Maine Indoor Karting in Scarborough. I had a great time with the students and wish them the best as they advance in their careers.

Austin’s BKR Camping World Replacement Finishes 17th

Austin Theriault has not yet been released to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series yet so team owner Brad Keselowski put his brother Brian in the #29 Ford F150 for the Talledega “Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca Cola” race.

Keselowski took the lead with less than 15 laps to go but was passed by Brandon Jones when rookie Christopher Bell tandem drafted Jones to the front. Tandem drafting is not legal in the Camping World Series.

In the end it did not matter since Keselowski ran out of fuel during a caution with two laps to go in his CWTS debut. The race was won by Timothy Peters who also won it in 2014.

With a fifth place finish Austin Theriault’s team mate Tyler Reddick moved into second place behind Eric Jones. No word yet on if and when Austin will be back behind the wheel of the #29 Cooper Standard BKR Ford. Keep praying for a full and complete healing for the Fort Kent native.

Junior Out of the Chase But Shows a Lot of Class

Dale Earnhardt Junior could not make the next round of the Sprint Cup Chase unless he won the race at Talladega. Many picked the perennial most popular driver to do exactly that at a track where he has shined in the past.

Despite several miscues which were not always his fault Junior worked his way into second place for the final and only green-white-checkered. A hotly debated yellow during the GWC has the social media up in arms about Kevin Harvick, NASCAR, and  just about anyone else who may have potentially had anything to do with Junior being knocked out the Chase.

I want to share Junior’s comments courtesy Chevrolet Racing.

“I couldn’t believe he (Joey Logano) gave me the bottom.  I was like ‘man this is a gift.’  I was going to win the race for sure, but that caution came out.  I’m fine with the new rule.  Everybody is going to debate that we were thinking before the race that they made a good change on the green-white-checkered to go to one and I still feel that way.  Per the rules we run second.  I can live with that.  The No. 22 (Joey Logano) did a great job.  He had a hell of a round winning all three races.  If he wins the championship he can look back on this round here as the one that set him up.

“I’m proud of what we did today.  We did everything we needed to do, just fell about the width of the splitter.  You know how I hate that splitter, so, another reason (laughs).”

“Another 100 yards I would have been in the lead, but NASCAR makes the calls.  They are the governing body and I have 100 percent faith in the choices that they make.  I’m not going to be too upset about it.  I did everything I could.  I’m proud of myself.  I’m proud of my team.  My guys did a good job on pit road.  We had a little issue, but if this group sticks together we are going to do great things next year.  I believe in all of them.  I’m proud of what we did.  We can sit here and pout about this day, but we didn’t do good enough in the first two races of this round.  If we had done better in those first two races of this round we would not be worried about losing by a splitter.  We didn’t do a good job in those first two races.  We’ve got to try to win another race before the year is out, have some fun.  Martinsville is coming up.  I’m excited about that.  We’ve got a great team.  This is my first year with Greg and we are just going to get better.  He is just going to get better.  We’ve got a lot to look forward to.  It’s disappointing, but I’m proud of the car.  We really worked hard and we did a hell of a job today.”

Classy remarks indeed!

Look for a story on my friend Kody Swanson in Episode 79 next week. I am looking forward to helping you get to know a top notch racer and family. Until then…

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.