Romance, Racing, and Fast Times at Loring

Episode 118

August 7, 2016

Seventh Annual Cumberland Motor Club Autocross held over the weekend at Loring commerce center. Over 120 entrants each of the two days. HTF Motorsports photo

7th Annual Cumberland Motor Club Autocross held over the weekend at Loring Commerce Center. Approximately 120 entrants participated each of the two days. HTF Motorsports photo

Cumberland Motor Club Hosts Largest Autocross in Northeast

The Cumberland Motor Club hosted their 7th Annual Autocross at the former Loring Air Force Base this past weekend. The venue is the largest of its type in the Northeast with plenty of room for the .club to set up two separate courses, one for Saturday and one for Sunday. The courses are the fastest on the club’s schedule allowing racers to experience speeds well above the turnpike speed limits under controlled circumstances.

Nearly 120 entrants ran each of the two days making the event one of Northern Maine’s largest motorsports events. The participants were able to get a dozen high-speed runs over the course of the two-day event.

One of my most difficult jobs is limiting myself to only a few stories about this diverse group of sports car fanatics. It seems as though every car and every person has an interesting story. Here are only a few.

Zoe Rice prepares for her run at Cumberland Motor Club Autocross at Loring. She co-drives the Corvette with her boyfriend Mark Phelps. HTF Motorsports photo

Zoe Rice prepares for her run at Cumberland Motor Club Autocross at Loring. She co-drives the Corvette with her boyfriend Mark Phelps. HTF Motorsports photo

Romance, Racing, and Compassion for Senior Citizens

Zoe Rice of Topsham, the daughter of Cumberland Motor Club’s Novice Instructor John Rice, has been attending autocross events since she was 10 years old. It started after her Dad was searching the internet looking for car things to do and accidentally found the Cumberland Motor Club website.

Her Dad began racing his 2006 Mustang and invited her to come along John said, “I invited her along one weekend. She readily jumped in the car and came with me and had a good time.”

Her first experience at Loring was in 2013. “I wanted a fun father-daughter weekend,” she said.

“After I got my license I would go with my Dad and race, ” she replied with a smile. “Before that I would ride along with him until I did get my license”

When she first got in the driver’s seat of her Dad’s Volkswagen Jetta she noted, “It is really different to drive a car on an autocross course than it is on the street. It’s more aggressive.”

Her dad noted that she is soft-spoken and it seemed slightly odd to see his mild-mannered little girl drive as aggressively as she does.

Grinning Zoe said, “I really like to drive fast”.

Romance at Loring.

At the 2013 August event at Loring a group of campers at the track put together a  cookout and music around the campfire one evening.. It was there that she met her soon to be boyfriend, Mark.

Zoe recounted the experience saying, “My boyfriend Mark and I met at the August 2013 Loring Autocross. We had a little  jam session with a bunch of people and a cookout. That’s how we met.”

Zoe Rice's distinct pink helmet helps identify her as the driver of her boyfriend mark's Corvette at the end of a run on Sunday at Loring. HTF Motorsports photo

Zoe Rice’s distinct pink helmet helps identify her as the driver of her boyfriend Mark’s Corvette at speed at the end of a run on Sunday at Loring. HTF Motorsports photo

” We like to do adrenaline pumping things like meeting here. Our first date was a 10 hour hike. We like that kind of stuff.”

Her love of people especially the elderly shows when she explained how she got started in her present day job as Activities Director at Coastal Manor in Yarmouth. When she was about ten years old she became a junior volunteer at the facility where her Dad worked.

After a few years exploring other options she settled into her job at the Coastal Manor after getting her certification in the Activity Director program. She specializes in dementia and Alzheimer cases. “A lot of my job is making sure seniors I am working with have fun and I help them maintain as much independence as possible”.

John Rice's Pontiac Solstice awaiting another run at Cumberland Motor Club's Loring Event. HTF Motorsports photo

John Rice’s Pontiac Solstice awaiting another run at Cumberland Motor Club’s Loring Event. Porsche driver Susan Kelley converses with Rice about the course. HTF Motorsports photo

Zoe’s Dad mentioned with a twinkle in his eye that,”She went in the driver’s seat in 2011 full-time and co-drove the Jetta with me. It is nice now to have her wear out Mark’s tires and not my tires”.

“I am really proud of her”, said Rice. “She’s got that helping spirit. She has the passion for making a difference in people’s lives.”

John has a love for seniors as well which may have guided Zoe in her current career pathway. Rice is the Director of Operations at Schooner Estates Senior Living Community in Auburn.

Her boyfriend, Mark Phelps, brings a full toolbox of skills to the driving end of the duet. In 2014 he was named Cumberland Motor Club’s “Rookie of the Year”, Overall Club Point’s Champion, Autocross Points Champion and the PAX Champion. He garnered all the club’s perpetual awards that season.

John Rice remarked with a smile that, ” I can remember when his (Mark) goal was to beat a Jetta with a Corvette.”

Matt Beaulieu of Presque Isle with his Subaru Imprezza RS was one of a handful of County residents to race at the Loring event. HTF Motorsports photo

Matt Beaulieu of Presque Isle with his Subaru Impreza RS was one of a handful of County residents to race at the Loring event. HTF Motorsports photo

Beaulieu Represents the County Well at Autocross

Presque Isle’s Matt Beaulieu brought two of his Subaru street cars to the weekend autocross at Loring. He ran well and did not break any major components on either car.

He described the cars this way,”The blue car is obviously originally a 1999 Impreza RS 2.5. It came with a 165 hp 2.5 liter single overhead cam, naturally aspirated engine. It has overgone a complete engine and ecu swap in favor of the 260hp 2.0 dual overhead cam turbo engine from a 2002 WRX.

“I has an ecu and complete wiring harness for a 4-door 2004 WRX that was modified to fit in the coupe, and run every original accessory in the RS chassis, along with a few WRX goodies that came with the harness and ecu…like cruise control, glovebox lamp, and other small things.”

“It now has seats from a 2002 WRX, and the blue carpets from a 04 Subaru WRX STi. All the work aside from painting the car World Rally Blue was done by me personally, including making the wiring harness fit and work”.

” The chassis now has about 240k miles, engine is at about 120k and I’d guesstimate with the modifications and tuning work done on it, it’s pushing closer to around 300 horse. The car retained its original 5 speed transmission.”

On Sunday Beaulieu brought out his other car a Subaru WRX. Beaulieu described  the WRX  “Red car is a 2002 WRX. 2.0 Liter turbo, 5sp, awd. Car has 206,000 original miles. All original.”

When asked to tell about the autocross and what it means to him as a County resident Beaulieu replied, “Cumberland Motor Club’s venue at Loring is an extraordinary event. It’s a must-do thing in my opinion for anyone who enjoys cars at all. It’s simply the most fun you can have with your street car, while keeping it legal.”

“I was fairly occupied in the afternoon giving a few people rides.I had a handicapped gentleman who had been for 3 years and had never been in any of the racer’s cars because he didn’t want to inconvenience them. I volunteered to take him for a ride, as well as a couple of younger kids and an autistic gentleman. I was just there for fun Sunday. I wasn’t too concerned about lap times. More about getting friends involved in it.”

Jake Daniele, in the white helmet, and Mark Daniele his dad in the black helmet both from Pownal made up a part of the kart contingent at the Cumberland Motor Club Autocross. HTF Motorsports photo

Jake Daniele, in the white helmet, and Mark Daniele his dad in the black helmet both from Pownal made up a part of the kart contingent at the Cumberland Motor Club Autocross. HTF Motorsports photo

It’s Not Just Cars at the Autocross

While sports cars made up the bulk of entrants at the Cumberland Motor Club Autocross they were by no means the only racers at the event. There were 11 different drivers in karts which ranged from 125 cc shifter karts to a single speed kart powered by a Briggs and Stratton World Formula engine similar to what is raced by the Northern maine Karting Association at Spud Speedway.

Jake Daniele, after a year’s absence from the Loring race, showed that he has not lost any speed when he set the fastest time on Sunday with a time of 68.429 seconds. The next fastest car a Toyota MR-2 driven by Sam Toucci of Massachusetts toured the course in 76.100 seconds.

L to r Jake Daniele, Fernando Stelser, and unidentified kart driver discuss the tactics and techniques needed to master the Loring Autocross HTF Motorsports photo

L to r Jake Daniele, Fernando Stelser, and unidentified kart driver discuss the tactics and techniques needed to master the Loring Autocross HTF Motorsports photo

Kevin Merryman of Springvale get's my "Cool Invention" award. He designed and built this extended height Go_Pro camera mount for Brian Austin of Limerick's Mazda Miata. The camera is mounted to the trunk deck with 4 oversized suction cups. HTF Motorsports photo

Kevin Merryman of Springvale get’s my “Cool Invention” award. He designed and built this extended height Go_Pro camera mount for Brian Austin of Limerick’s Mazda Miata. The camera is mounted to the trunk deck with 4 oversized suction cups. HTF Motorsports photo

My "You Did It! " Award goes to Kathy Ouellette of Woodland. After coaxing her for awhile she took a ride with Bill Aubin of Northboro, Massachusetts in his TRZ. She said it was a blast and congratulated Bill on a good run. HTF Motorsports photo

My “You Did It! ” Award goes to Kathy Ouellette of Woodland. After coaxing her for a while she took a ride with Bill Aubin of Northboro, Massachusetts in his TRZ. She said it was a blast and congratulated Bill on a good run. HTF Motorsports photo

The club activities are listed on their Facebook page and website. I hope to feature a few other members in future episodes.

Coming Up

The Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) begins their final 4 race segment this Friday August 12 at 6:30 pm. Remember grandstand admission is free and the pits are only $10.

The H.P. Hood Oxford 250 is August 28th. I hope that Austin Theriault will be there. I plan to follow the exploits of Wyatt Alexander, Shawn Martin and the Aspire Higher Race team as they seek success at the largest stock car event in Maine.

The beginning of September 2-4th  features the Land Speed Races at Loring. The Fall Event features fast times and usually brings some unusual vehicles to the County seeking records.

Cannot leave you without showing the latest happenings at the HTF Motorsports facility. It has been real busy this summer and my home lawn shows it, however, I am still keeping the race shop mowed. Gotta keep those priorities straight.

Mowing around the shop at HTF Motorsports. HTF Motorsports photo

Mowing around the shop at HTF Motorsports. HTF Motorsports photo

Reporting from Vermont next week.

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.