Bosox Groundskeeper Makes the Off-Season Move to Daytona International Speedway

Episode 80

November 8, 2015

County Man in Charge at Daytona

Jason Griffeth in the #10 HTF Motorsports race kart on right finished second to Caribou's Tyler Raymond in the summer of 2014 Senior Champ Kart feature race at Spud Speedway. This was Griffeth's racing debut. HTF Motorsports photo

Jason Griffeth in the #10 HTF Motorsports race kart on right finished second to Caribou’s Tyler Raymond in the summer of 2014 Senior Champ Kart feature race at Spud Speedway. This was Griffeth’s racing debut. HTF Motorsports photo

After 14 1/2 years as a groundskeeper at Fenway Park, Jason Griffeth of Woodland will begin his new job as Grounds Supervisor at Daytona International Speedway. Griffith described his decision as a difficult one because he loved his job as the assistant to Dave Mellor at Fenway Park.

The move from one of the best known baseball parks in the world to one of the most famous speedways was considered a horizontal move by Griffeth. He will be taking over the reins from 21 1/2  year veteran Sam Newpher who recently retired. Newpher’s career interestingly enough began with the Atlanta Braves as their Grounds Superintendent for 14 1/2 years.

According to International Speedway Corporation, the owner of Daytona International, the turf crew consists of 10 members who are responsible for 480 acres of turf.

The most famous turf located at the trip-oval start/finish line is known by the crew as the “football field”. At one time Bethune-Cookman University used the area as their home field.

Daytona International Speedway's tri-oval at night Photo courtesy Troy Haney

Daytona International Speedway’s tri-oval at night in 2014 . The five shooting stars design was developed to honor the Thunderbirds fighter jets who do the flyover on race day. Photo courtesy Troy Haney

The design is not rolled into the turf as is often the case in ball parks, rather it is grown in. Two different types of turfgrass seeds are sown in mid-November to be ready for the Daytona SpeedWeek in February. I suspect this will be one of the first jobs that Griffeth will be in charge of when he arrives at Daytona later this month.

Griffeth,the son of Robert and Lona Griffeth of Cross Lake, is a Caribou High School Class of 2000 graduate and Caribou FFA member, He continued his education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he graduated in 2004 with a BS Degree in Plant and Soil Sciences. He began working at Fenway in the summer of 2001 under then new Director of Grounds Dave Mellor.

Fenway during his tenure has undergone numerous improvements. The field has played host to hundreds of events including National Hockey League and college hockey, concerts, World Series, All Star games, weddings, football, and softball games.

Once Griffeth has settled into his new job I will get an in-depth story in a future episode. Until then I wish the young man the best in his new job.

Austin Theriault continues to make progress in rehab in North Carolina. Photo courtesy Austin Theriault Racing

Austin Theriault continues to make progress in rehab in North Carolina. Photo courtesy Austin Theriault Racing

Will Austin Race at Homestead Miami?

Published reports indicate that Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault may be in the #29 Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) Ford for the NASCAR Camping World’s season finale later this month. After a hard crash into the wall on October 3rd at the Rhino Linings 250 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Theriault is taking the recovery process one day at a time.

The 2016 BKR driver line up for 2016 was announced this week with 24 year-old Daniel Hemric in the #19 truck and Tyler Reddick in the #29 Cooper Standard Ford. Austin Theriault fans were greatly disappointed that he will not be continuing with the team in 2016.

In his Facebook message to fans last week Theriault was very gracious to the Brad Keselowski Racing team. He laid out the reality of racing in the major leagues; it takes a lot of money to race at the top.

Here are Theriault’s words:

“It’s been an up and down month of healing. However, it is even harder sitting on the sidelines, waiting to get back in the Truck. Unfortunately I won’t be competing this weekend at Texas, or Phoenix, however the doctors are upbeat about Homestead.”

“Though the season’s not over, we’ve had a great year. I remain grateful for the opportunity to drive the #29 this year. Working with everyone at BKR has been immensely rewarding, both professionally and personally.”

“I am certain that the injury will not effect my plans for 2016. Unfortunately, due to lack of sponsorship, I don’t have any full time opportunities. Staying positive is one of the lessons I’ve learned in life so far and especially the past few weeks. So I remain encouraged that we will partner with the right sponsors, and the right racing opportunities will open up.”

The crew at physical therapy just before Halloween. Photo courtesy Austin Theriault Racing

The crew at physical therapy just before Halloween. Photo courtesy Austin Theriault Racing

I  have yet to hear any official dollar amounts for sponsorship in the NASCAR Truck Series. I suspect it cost tens of thousands per race to race in the junior series. My guess is a complete season on a top tier team would be in the two and one half million dollar range.

I also realize that there are families who may be able to finance their son or daughter’s rise up through the ranks in major league motorsports racing. Some of those may not possess the talent of others who may not have the dollars to make a major move.

Another reality of life is that when one door closes another more than likely will open. Austin Theriault is a great driver, but equally important he is also a great “company-man”. He represents himself well to young and old alike and has the demeanor that sponsors are looking for when they plunk down cash to partner up in any sports venture.

I suspect the County Man will someday look back on this time as a bump in the road which led him to better things whether it is racing or other ventures. My hope is that he will develop “bull dog” determination to continue his quest in motorsports. My prayer will continue to be that Austin seeks whatever God’s will is for his life. When  God is in it he will be fine.

Kenseth Sits Out Two

Since Matt Kenseth deliberately took out Joey Logano at Martinsville a variety of thoughts have come to mind. I do not understand why he thought the late race retaliation for an incident at Kansas was justified.

Revenge is usually a slippery slope which traps the retaliator in a downward spiral that sometimes spins out of control. Maybe in this sport you are not tough enough if you do not retaliate, I do not know.

I think there were more intelligent ways to make Logano’s day tougher like cutting him no slack on pit road, maintaining your track position and making passing difficult, or an early race tap to the bumper reminding the driver of the #22 that you are there and you have your eye on him.

I wonder if Kenseth’s career highlights will always refer to this incident which I consider a black eye for Kenseth. Do not get me wrong, I am a fan of Kenseth and looked forward to his move to Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). Moves like this make me wonder.

I wish I was a fly on the wall and could have been at JGR when they have their race debriefing back in North Carolina. I wonder if team manager, JD Gibbs, condones such tactics?

Is this how they want their drivers to act? Is this how their sponsors want the drivers to act? Does the publicity generated make the fan notice the sponsor more? is it a positive thing for Dollar General to be associated with this type of behavior?

Do you have those same thoughts or is it only me? Do you think the two race suspension was too harsh? Was it not harsh enough?

I suggested a two race suspension so Kenseth could not influence whether Logano made the final round of four at Homestead. Many of you said the same. Do you think Kenseth was at the race or does suspension mean “Do not show up at the track.”?

Let me know your thoughts at thale@reagan.com.

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.