Careers in Motorsports at Presque Isle High School

Episode 128

October 23, 2016

Fort Fairfield's Kirk Thibeau, the only PASS Super Late Model owner/driver north of Bangor, provided his #28 Ford Fusion for "Careers in Motorsports" talk at Presque Isle High School. HTF Motorsports photo

Fort Fairfield’s 20 year racing veteran Kirk Thibeau, the only PASS Super Late Model owner/driver north of Bangor, provided his #28 Ford Fusion for display during the “Careers in Motorsports” talk at Presque Isle High School. HTF Motorsports photo

“Careers in Motorsports” Part of Presque Isle High School Career Day

For the second year in a row I was invited to present ideas about how a high school student might pursue a career in motorsports. On display for the presentation was the #28 Ford Fusion of Kirk Thibeau of Fort Fairfield and a Senior Champ racing kart from Spud Speedway.

Over 50 young people expressed an interest in seeing what might be available to them in the motorsports arena. I think many were surprised by the magnitude of career choices available. Most of the careers were not based in the Aroostook County area thus involving a move to pursue their dream.

I gathered information from many of the folks who have roots in the County and have been featured in UpNorth Motorsports. Included were Motorsports Hall of Fame’s Bobby Alexander, Honda R & D’s Philip LaPointe, Roush Enterprises Travis Elliot, Kevin Harvick’s rear tire carrier Mike Morneau, Steve Doody formerly with Joe Gibbs Racing, Steve Russell of Pyrotect Safety, and Austin Theriault.

One of my goals was to make students aware of racing that is going on right at their doorstep. Many folks complain that there is nothing happening in motorsports in the Northern Maine and Western New Brunswick area.

Included in the slides of area events were Loring Timing Associations’s 3 land speed races, Northern Maine Karting Association’s Friday Night Kart Series at Spud Speedway, Cumberland Motor Club Autocross at Loring, snowmobile drag races, truck and tractor pulls, Quebec Supercross Series races in Edmunston and Grand Falls, and stock car racing at Speedway 660 in New Brunswick.

All of the people who gave advice to the young people mentioned the need to get involved in some capacity at the local level. That may be a go-fer on a stock car crew, or snowmobile team or a helper on a kart team. It could include involvement with a truck or tractor pulling team.

Autocross offers a chance to learn car control at a relatively low-cost. The event organized by the Cumberland Motor Club in early August has been called one of the best if not the best course in New England. The folks that run the course were very helpful as well.

The Philip LaPointe story has been well documented in UpNorth Motorsports. His story is one of perseverance and willingness to go the extra mile to attain the goals he set for himself as he moved up the ladder at Honda USA.

Several students after the talk mentioned their interest in or involvement with some of the local race teams.  I told them that I would never pooh-pooh their dreams. I did mention, however, that in order to become successful in a motorsports career they would need to get off their couch, off their cell phones, and begin to form the network that could get them to where they wanted to be.

Austin Theriault in his written remarks stressed the need to create and maintain those networks and to learn all you can about marketing and sales. Such skills are needed especially if the goal is to be a paid-professional driver.

Several who sent remarks mentioned the need to learn how to weld as well as fabricate metal especially if one was pursuing a career on the mechanical or engineering side of motorsports. A clean driving record was needed for several jobs.

The HTF Motorsports pickup did not get a lot of mileage chasing after local motorsports events since rain cancelled the snowmobile drags and downstate races. The snowmobile races at Presque Isle Fairgrounds have been re-scheduled for November 5th with a slightly earlier start time to be announced. HTF Motorsports photo

The HTF Motorsports pickup did not get a lot of mileage chasing after local motorsports events since rain cancelled the snowmobile drags and downstate kart races. The snowmobile races at Presque Isle Fairgrounds have been re-scheduled for November 5th with a slightly earlier start time to be announced. HTF Motorsports photo

Cyr and Swanson Winners the Week Before and Now….

Crouseville's Gene Cyr won his first race of the season October 9 and has already disassembled his car preparing it for 2017. Cyrious Motorsports photo

Crouseville’s Gene Cyr won his first race of the season October 9 and has already disassembled his car preparing it for 2017. Cyrious Motorsports photo

After winning his first drag race of the season on October 9 at Oxford Plains Dragway, Gene Cyr went south the following weekend to race at Epping , New Hampshire and Winterport Dragway.

He ran on of his fastest times of the season at Epping’s 1/4 mile track with a 9.25 ET and 145 mph. The next day he broke his transmission at Winterport thus ending the 2016 season.

The engine has been sent to his engine builder PMR Performance in Berlin, Connecticut. They will rebuild the engine for the 2017 season. I am unsure of where the transmission went for repairs.

Kody Swanson's infant son trevor helping out in the pits at Millstream Speedway in Findlay, Ohio. Kody Swanson photo

Kody Swanson’s infant son Trevor helping out in the pits at Millstream Speedway in Findlay, Ohio. Kody Swanson photo

Just the week before, Kody Swanson was the winner of the Tony Elliot Classic at Anderson Speedway, Anderson, Indiana as reported earlier in Episode 126 of UpNorth Motorsports.

The final race of Swanson’s in 2016 was not quite so kind to the Kingsburg, California native now living in Zionsville, Indiana with his wife Jordan and son Trevor pictured above.

Swanson was on hand to race in the trick or Treat 30 at Millstream Speedway in the Non-winged Sprint Car race with a $5000 to win prize. He was driving for the #21K RMT Racing team.

Swanson had this to say about the Trick or Treat 30 as well as the 2016 season,

“Last night was the Trick or Treat 30 at Millstream Speedway, an unsanctioned event that drew a solid car count for a $5000 to win show in the middle of October. Although the night ran a little late, I’m happy for the racetrack and the Hammer’s, they have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into that place and I’m glad they were rewarded with good car counts and fans in the stands.”

“I want to wish congratulations to Shane Cottle[the race winner], Paul, JR and the 57 team on their victory. They earned it and ran the best race for a full 30 laps.”

“I am so thankful for all of the wonderful people God has brought into my life; my family who has always supported me, and for the new faces who have really made racing fun these past few years. Across the board, I have been so fortunate to drive for some great owners, work with some outstanding people and race teams, and it truly has been a blast to enjoy the moments that we’ve shared together.”

Kody Swanson on left and unidentified RMT Racing crew member prepare the #21K for the feature race at Millstream Speedway. TK Motorsports photo

Kody Swanson on left and unidentified RMT Racing crew member prepare the #21K for the feature race at Millstream Speedway. TK Motorsports photo

“Last night was my season finale (at least as far as my current schedule shows), and we really did have some fun with Kent, Jon, Lou Ann, Jordan, Trevor, late arrivals Bob & Clark, and our RMT #21K. We drew the highest card in the bunch for the heat race, started in the back row, threw the kitchen sink at the thing to free it up, and finished 2nd to make the redraw.”

“I pulled the 1 card (out of 12, so that was really a stroke of good luck), and went back to the drawing board for the feature. Again, we felt like we’d have to get creative with the setup to win, so back the other way we went, and I ended up a little nervous about our final game plan.”

“Apparently, Kent could tell. He says to me before we strapped in, ‘Don’t worry. They’re going to be better than us early. Cottle (starting 5th) is going to go by you, Little Haud (starting 6th) probably will too. Don’t worry. If you can figure out how to hang in there, it’s going to come to us. Lap 20 we’ll be back to ’em and the final 10 it’ll be ours to go get. Don’t worry. We’re doing the right things to be there at the end.'”

“At the drop of the green, Michael Fischesser beat us to turn 1 and started pulling away. Within a few laps, Shane Cottle had gone by us on the bottom, and started tracking down the leader. I continued to move around to find where to make our car the best early, and pretty soon they weren’t pulling away.”

“By the time Cottle passed for the lead, I had closed our gap a little, and snuck into 2nd before the first caution flew. On the restart, I felt like we had started to get better, hung with the 57 for a lap and maybe things were coming to us.”

“The first red flag was a long one, teams were allowed to come out to make air pressure adjustments. I knew Cottle would be good and the guys behind us would be coming. On the restart we committed to the top, and the 21k had just continued to get better. We caught the lip just right, and down the backstretch on the 2nd lap took the lead only to have the red come out again, and we’d have to give the spot back.”

“As we sat on the track during that red they told us the running order, and that we were only on lap 12, 18 to go. Then I remembered what Kent had said, I caught myself grinning just a little, thinking ‘he was right, we’re back to ’em and now it’s our chance to go get it.'”

“When we refired, I didn’t know how we’d end up but I felt like we had a chance. Into turn one on the restart. We picked up a big vibration under the hood, and our night was done. It still had plenty of oil pressure when I got it shut down, but there was no doubt our race was over.”

“As we made the drive home, it was a series of mixed emotions (like racing will so often give you). Sad for Kent that his engine could be hurt, frustrated/irritated/sad that we didn’t get the chance to see where we’d have ended up and finish a good race, and then kind of silver lining excited for the fun that we did get to have. We went into a big show, at the heaviest Millstream track since I’ve ever been there (with our Steel 360), with a group of people who I’m thankful to call friends – and I feel like we had a legitimate chance to race for the win in it.”

“I’m thankful for all of the people and sponsors that chip in on the 21K. For Kent and the opportunities he’s given me, and for everyone’s hard work that goes into this team to even give us a chance. By the end of our drive back, and most of all, I am grateful to have made it home safely with my wife and son from another night at the races, and for another day today. God is good.”

Racing is that way. One day you are on the mountaintop and the next the valley. Life mirrors racing in that regard. The key is to know who you are racing for and why you are doing it. Perseverance and persistent learned in racing will help one on their life’s journey.

The Latest Video in the Brad Keselowski Truck Drivers Bid for Most Popular Driver

Part 2 of the BKR teams bid for most popular driver has been released and is found here:https://www.facebook.com/BradKeselowskiRacing/videos/1851053558461470/

Unsolicited Praise

 

I do not get any free Mechanix Wear apparel or sponsorship money. I am going to give their All Purpose Tactical gloves high marks. I have worn them a year putting them through all the rough and tumble a groundskeeper/ tree farmer can dish out. The first rip in the glove just occurred last week. HTF Motorsports photo

I do not get any free Mechanix Wear apparel or sponsorship money. I am going to give their All Purpose Tactical gloves high marks. I have worn them a year putting them through all the rough and tumble a groundskeeper/ tree farmer can dish out. The first rip in the glove just occurred last week. HTF Motorsports photo

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.