Signs of Spring in Motorsports

Episode 102

April 17, 2016

My son-in-law Marc Cole, with his pride and joy 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. The car was just removed from winter storage. HTF Motorsports photo

My son-in-law Marc Cole, with his pride and joy 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. The car was just removed from winter storage. HTF Motorsports photo

You Know It’s Spring When…

Coming from Northern Maine where I have still lots of snow in my backyard, I was greeted by true spring-like conditions in southern Maine. One of the rites of spring is removing your classic car from winter storage. I was on hand when my son-in-law Marc Cole brought his ’79 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am home.

Of course we had to go on a shakedown cruise to look, listen, and smell for any unusual out-of-place gremlins. The drive was successful and his car had no new discrepancies that would require immediate attention.

Marc has owned the 1979 Trans Am for a little over two years and has plans to continue the restoration process gradually over the next couple years. Radiator re-coring, engine sealing, as well as suspension bushing replacement seem to be next before tackling paint and interior projects.

I suspect that all over Maine many others were experiencing the same sensations when a hot rod is fired up for the first time since their long winter’s nap. Plans are being formulated for improvements to be made this year as well as selecting car show dates that cannot be missed. I hope to include a couple of classic car stories over the next several months. And by the way…thanks for the ride Marc. I am sure those black marks in the road will fade with time.

Time to Tune Up The Kart Racing Skills

Rarely do I miss an opportunity to race karts at Maine Indoor Karting in Scarborough when I am in the area. This weekend was no exception. I had a chance to try out my new Pyrotect ProAir® helmet, neck brace, two layer gloves, and driving shoes while racing in three separate events. I was impressed with their quality and fit. I should let you know that Pyrotect Safety Equipment has given me some sponsorship help this year.

It was good to get in the seat for the first time this season with three races on the docket. I was helped by a regular MIK racer who goes by the name “slowBlaze” to learn the new configuration. With his help I finished second in two races and third in the third race.

My goal was to get into the 22 second lap time range. On the last lap of the last race I turned a 23.029. Not quite where I wanted, yet not bad for the first outing carrying a little more weight than I want. That time was good enough for 11th fastest of the day and 16th fastest for the past week.

I had the privilege to race these four plus "slowBlaze" who was not in the photo since he was racing in the next race. From left to right Jessica and Nicholas Morrill from Raymond, New Hampshire, your truly, and Bill and Victoria Currier of Dover, New Hampshire. Photo by Garrett Hudanish

I had the privilege to race these four plus “slowBlaze” who was not in the photo since he was racing in the next race. From left to right Jessica and Nicholas Morrill from Raymond, New Hampshire, yours truly, and Bill and Victoria Currier of Dover, New Hampshire. Photo by Garrett Hudanish

Maine Vintage Race Car Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Held

Over 400 were in attendance at the Annual Maine Vintage Race Car Association Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center last Saturday evening.. Congratulations to the Class of 2016 Bub Bilodeau, Peter Prescott, Bob Randall, George Silva, Pete Silva, Norris Willette and Kenny Wright.

The Driver of the Year for 2015 was also chosen from among the 7 candidates, Jeff Willette, John Kalel, Jr. Josh Bailey, Reid Lanpher, Mike Rowe, Dylan Street and Josh Childs. The winner was Reed Lanpher the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway NASCAR Pro Series Champion.

Jeff Willette of Presque Isle the winningest stock car driver at Spud Speedway in Caribou in 2015 was selected to represent the track in the 2015 Driver of the Year category. Lorraine Chamberlain photo

Jeff Willette of Presque Isle, the winningest stock car driver at Spud Speedway in Caribou in 2015, was selected to represent the track in the 2015 Driver of the Year category. Lorraine Chamberlain photo

WAR Makes Season Debut at Oxford Plains Speedway

One of the young men I will be following once again in 2016 is Wyatt Alexander of Ellsworth. The driver for Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR)  has close ties with northern Maine. His crew chief, grandfather, and Hall of Fame member Bobby Alexander has his roots in Mars Hill.

Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) crew preparing for Pro All Star Race at Oxford Plains Speedway. The  youngster finished 13th in a field of thirty starters. WAR photo

Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) crew preparing for Speedway Homes 150 Pro All Star Series (PASS) race at Oxford Plains Speedway. The youngster finished 13th in a field of thirty starters. WAR photo

Crew Chief Bobby Alexander said, “Wyatt got comfortable in his new ride very quickly. We finished 7th in out heat with some very fast cars. ( Only top 6 advanced)”

” Started on the pole in second consi and finished 3rd. We were happy to make the race. There were a few new car bugs but we all worked together to increase our speed from 16.001 on Saturday to running 15.6’s today. Many thanks to Dan Colby, Evan Beaulieu, Chet Hanscom, Alan Grass and Randy White for all of their help today.”

Gene Cyr Makes Season Debut at New England Dragway

Gene Cyr at New England Dragway for the  Photo by Wheelzuppics

Gene Cyr at New England Dragway for the CMDRC race. Photo by Wheelzuppics

Another person I will be following this year is a drag racer from Crouseville who I featured in an earlier episode, Gene Cyr. Cyr ran into some misfortunes in 2015 with a hard crash at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. He has spent the winter re-working his Mustang and has big plans for the season.

Cyr had this to say about the event this weekend at New England Dragway put on by the Central Massachusetts Drag Racer’s Club (CMDRC). He had a problem with his engine losing a couple pushrods and a lifter in his first run. Despite this, “Well not the points day we had in mind but I had the most fun I’ve ever had at the track.”

“Meet alot of great people and saw some really neat cars.I ran a 10.05 at 135 on 7 cylinders which we found was a broken lifter and 2 pushrods.”

“Had a awesome Saturday with the Fusco family enjoying the laughs and thanking them for all the hard work they put into rewiring the entire car and Jenn with Kim’s help to claybar and shine that car better than it ever has before.”

“I can not begin to explain their wonderful family as they always help out many fellow racers and kids.Thanks to all my sponsors and crew for a awesome weekend and see ya guys at the track very soon !!!!”

Austin Finishes 15th At Bristol

Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault fought an ill handling car all day as he finished 3 laps down in the Pitlite 125 Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway in the K & N East Series. The race was won by Chad Finchum in a Toyota.

Austin Theriault in the #1 Toyota battles    at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Pitlite 125 Saturday afternoon. Austin Theriault Racing photo

Austin Theriault in the #1 Toyota battles #09 Christian Celaya at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Pitlite 125 Saturday afternoon. Austin Theriault Racing photo

Theriault is will be racing in his first road course event, one of three this season, on April 30. The race will take place on the 2.25 mile Virginia International Raceway. Theriault plans to get tips from team owner Shigeaki Hattori who has extensive road racing experience in Indy Car and Endurance Racing.

One of My Racing Heroes Celebrates 85th Birthday

Since I was a teenager I have been a fan of Dan Gurney. His exploits on the track and with All American racers (AAR) has intrigued me. Just last week he celebrated his 85th birthday at his shop in Santa Ana, California, a place on my bucket list to visit.

Dan Gurney in center with son Justin on the left and Alex on the right. Photo by Pete Lyons used with permission.

Dan Gurney in center with son Justin on the left and Alex on the right. Photo by Pete Lyons used with permission.

Dan Gurney with his wife Evi, addresses the crowd of 100 plus well wishers at his 85th birthday celebration at All American Racers shop. Photo by Pete Lyons used by permission.

Dan Gurney with his wife Evi, addresses the crowd of 100 plus well wishers at his 85th birthday celebration at All American Racers shop. Photo by Pete Lyons used by permission.

Gurney was surprised when his son Justin rolled out the 1967 #48 Eagle raced by Dan in the Riverside race where he overcame a 23 second deficit to win. The yellow #21 is the Vollstedt driven in that race by the legendary Jimmy Clark. Marshall Pruett photo on RACER.com

Gurney was surprised when his son Justin rolled out the 1967 #48 Eagle raced by Dan in the Riverside race where he overcame a 23 second deficit to win. The yellow #21 is the Vollstedt driven in that race by the legendary Jimmy Clark. Marshall Pruett photo from RACER.com

Northern Maine Karting Association Meeting

Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) members at a recent show at the Aroostook Centre Mall in Presque Isle. Last Chance Motorports photo

Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) members at a recent show at the Aroostook Centre Mall in Presque Isle. Last Chance Motorports photo

The newly formed Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) will be having a meeting Thursday April 21st at 7 pm at Haney Building Specialties 236 Van Buren Road, in Caribou to release the 2016 rules package and answer questions about kart racing at Spud Speedway in 2016. The meeting is open to those interested.

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.