St. John Valley Native Erny Levesque Selected for Hall of Fame

Episode 130

November 6, 2016

Erne "the Flying Frenchman" Levesque with his 1956 Chevy at the Jade East Madawaska facility. Levesque raced at Spud Speedway in Caribou from 1964 to 1975. Photo courtesy Erne Levesque

Erny “the Flying Frenchman” Levesque with his 1955 Chevy at the Jade East Madawaska facility. Levesque raced at Spud Speedway in Caribou from 1964 to 1975. Photo courtesy Erny Levesque

Erny Becomes the Fourth Spud Speedway Driver Selected for Hall of Fame

Erny “The Flying Frenchman” Levesque, St. David, will be part of the Class of 2017 along with five other prominent racing legends to the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame in April 2017. Inducted with Levesque will be Bill Bailey, Butch Craig, Tom Curley, Mike Maietta, and Dave Wilcox.

I visited Erny at his St. John Valley home on Friday. The eighty-eight year old welcomed me in with a huge smile. It was different being in his home without his wife of 63 years being present. Edwina died in her sleep at their home on October 8, 2016.

Erny shared, “On the morning of the seventh, I was working on my tractor in the garage. I came in and checked on her and she was laying on her bed dressed for the day. ‘You’re not feeling good are you’, he asked.

“That night I checked on her a couple of times. At 7 am the next morning, I asked, ‘How are you doing Mom'”?

When there was no reply, Erny shook her gently and she felt cold. She had passed away in her sleep which is the way she told Erny she would like to die.

It has been a challenging year indeed for the normally upbeat Levesque. His health has been failing and he truly believed that he was going to precede his wife in death.

Levesque described an incident that occurred on June 17. ” It was Sunday, a great day,” he said. “I told my wife I’m going to take my tractor up the hill for a ride. (Directly across highway on a steep hill is a camp which was his objective that day)

“I met a pickup, which happened to be the guy who owned the camp. We talked about 1/2 hour. I decided to go home rather than continue up the hill.”

” Turning around, I lost control of the machine. I stayed with it until the last second when I fell off. Just before the crash I noticed a pile of branches off the side of the road. I was really moving as I headed for it. There must have been a rock or stump in there.”

“The camp owner called 911. I don’t remember much after that.”

Levesque was airlifted out of Fort Kent to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. He was there 5 days before being transferred to Cary Medical Center in Caribou. He then went to the Fort Kent Hospital and back to Caribou. From there he was admitted to Borderview Nursing Home and Rehab in Van Buren for a month.

Levesque had suffered a head injury and injury to his right arm. He wanted to go home but as he said, “I wanted to come home but because I love her (wife Edwinna) and my son Chester so much I stayed there.”

“When I left Borderview I had a big bouquet of flowers delivered to the nursing home,” said a grateful Levesque.”They were so good to me.”

His wife visited him frequently at the nursing home, a forty-five minute drive from their St. David home. She took on the task of caring for her recovering husband when he came home with resolve right up to the day before her untimely death.

The house can be a lonely place when you are alone with just memories and thoughts of the past. It was very timely when Joe Chamberlain of Woodland, a member of the Hall of Fame Selection committee, visited Levesque at his home to tell him the good news before the official press release.

With Erny Levesque in his St. David home. HTF Motorsports photo

With Erny Levesque in his St. David home. HTF Motorsports photo

News of his selection to the Hall of Fame has buoyed his spirits and given him new incentive to live and be part of the April 2017 ceremony..

When asked who he would like to jump into a race car and race at Spud Speedway today he immediately replied, “Chink Maynard. He was a good driver, a good guy, and good friend. I could race side-by-side all day with him.”

Spud Speedway Competitors Remarks About Erny Levesque

Fellow Hall of Fame member and racer at Spud Speedway, Mark Jones had this to say about “The Flying Frenchman”.

Motorsports Hall of Fame Member Mark Jones on left delivering remarks at Spud Speedway's 50th Anniversary Celebration July 2015. Track owner Troy Haney on right. HTF Motorsports photo

Motorsports Hall of Fame Member Mark Jones on left delivering remarks at Spud Speedway’s 50th Anniversary Celebration July 2015. Track owner Troy Haney on right. HTF Motorsports photo

“I am thrilled that Erny has been inducted into the Maine Motor Sports Hall of Fame. Some of my earliest memories at Spud Speedway were watching Erny Levesque “The Flying Frenchman” duel it out with his competitors driving “The Jade East Special”’.

“Those were the days when racing wasn’t high-tech; most cars were pretty much stripped out street cars with a few pipes for a roll cage, big iron bumpers, and occasionally a 2×12 plank running down the side. The seats and seat-belts were whatever could be scrounged and adapted.”

“In those early years it common to have 25 or more cars show up and it was an unusual race day if one or two cars didn’t rollover. Ernie took all of these challenges in stride and achieved great success.”

‘“The Flying Frenchman” is a true icon of early racing at Spud Speedway. For many, if not all of the years, he raced the same car that wore the battle scars of many previous races.”

“He was a good sport, a true gentleman and always had a huge fan base. I always enjoyed racing against him. My congratulations to Ernie Levesque, a pioneer of racing in Aroostook County.”

According to Joe Chamberlain it was said, “‘The Flying Frenchman’ had so many fans in the St. John Valley that Madawaska school buses were used to bring some of those fans to Spud Speedway. Can you imagine doing that today?”

Bobby Alexander on right is recognized as Spud Speedway's initial Inductee into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame. HTF Motorsports photo

Bobby Alexander on right is recognized as Spud Speedway’s initial Inductee into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame. HTF Motorsports photo

Bobby Alexander, also a Hall of Fame member who raced against Levesque in the early 1970s, had this to say about his experience.

“I am excited to hear of the induction of Erny Levesque into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame. I think that Erny is a racer who is a prime example of the hard work and mechanical ingenuity it took to be successful while competing in the 70’s.”
“I recall that Erny was a strong competitor with well prepared equipment and that he was always a candidate for the win. I congratulate Erny and commend the selection committee for an excellent choice for the class of 2017.”
John Albert on left, a long time racer and race promoter at Spud Speedway, addresses the crowd at Spud Speedway's 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2014. HTF Motorsports photo

John Albert on left, a long time racer and race promoter at Spud Speedway, addresses the crowd at Spud Speedway’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2014. HTF Motorsports photo

John Albert, Limestone, who raced against Levesque in the 60’s and 70’s and promoted races at Spud Speedway in the 1990’s and 2015 remarked that, “He was probably one of the best I ever raced . You always look forward to seeing him show on race day.”

“Didn’t give an inch and didn’t take it either. I remember one night when a young man who thought he was tough and started on Erny , he wasn’t long finishing it.”
“He was there to put on a show and did a good job at it. Truly professional. The people from the Valley would come just to watch him. His car always looked good.”
“I still saw him from time to time.  He always had a story to tell. One of the best as driver and person.”
Current track owner, Troy Haney, though he was not the owner when Levesque raced at the Caribou track remarked, “We are glad to hear another influential racer from Maine’s most northern speedway, Spud Speedway, is being honored for his accomplishments in his racing career.”

“Erny “the Flying Frenchmen” Levesque was a known racer to watch and as a racer he had many passionate fans that cheered for him. We are lucky to have a group like the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame to honor those racers that left their mark at local tracks. Congratulations to Erny on your nomination to the Hall of Fame and we hope he enjoys getting one more well deserved award from his racing career.”

Congratulations to Erny for his selection to the Hall of Fame. Who would have thought that the young man, who at the age of 15, took apart his father’s 1929 Desoto engine and made it drivable so he could go to the movies in Madawaska would be a future member of Maine’s most prestigious organization.
Look for further announcements about the induction ceremony to be held in April 2017 at the Augusta Civic Center in future episodes of UpNorth Motorsports. You can read the complete racing story of Erny in Episode #92 February 8, 2016.  If you wish to send Erny congratulatory messages or notes to encourage his every day battle with loneliness you may do so by sending them to:
                     Erny “The Flying Frenchman” Levesque
                     1060 Main Street
                     St. David, ME 04473
Central Maine Snowmobile Race Association (CMSRA) at Northern Maine Fairgrounds
CMSRA made their initial foray into Aroostook County Saturday at the 400 foot track at the Northern Maine Fairgrounds. The track utilized the truck and tractor pulling track as shown in prior UpNorth Motorsports.
Over 50 entrants registered for the event. Complete results are posted on the CMSRA Facebook page.  Local racers that I know are from the County.
Kurt Dumond spent several minutes patiently explaining to me about the science of clutches. He showed me several parts that are utilized to vary speeds and rates of engagement.
Ethan Rossignol explained what goes on in his mind as he prepares to go to the line and what he looks for as he stages at the light. Items such as weight transfer, start line rpms, and power band utilization were discussed.
Since had to leave before the races ended I asked Fort Kent’s Joe Pelletier how he did and what he thought of the races. He said, “I got 2nd in 800 IS (Improved Stock). I ran a 2007 Ski Doo MXZX 440 in both 500 classes and a 2015 Ski Doo Summit in the 800 class.”
“For the first event it went well. Track conditions were a little muddy to start because of the weather the last couple of days but dried up well as the night went on. Hopefully it went well enough for the organizers that they will continue with it next year.”
Mark Ellis Junior, Alton posted the fastest time in the 800 IS class. He ran 96 mph on the 400 foot track.
Photos From the Event
I decided to post a few photos from the race at the Fairgrounds. Since I am new to the sport and competitors I may not have County racers photographed.
Ryan Everett, Caribou, prepares his 700 cc Arctic Cat ThunderCat for driver Ethan Rossignol , Woodland in the near lane up against Joe Pelletier, Fort Kent aboard his SkiDoo. in the far lane. Robin Ann Holmquist photo

Ryan Everett, Caribou, prepares his 700 cc Arctic Cat ThunderCat for driver Ethan Rossignol , Woodland in the near lane up against Joe Pelletier, Fort Kent aboard his SkiDoo. in the far lane. Robin Ann Holmquist photo

Ethan Rossignol and girl friend Jenny Crawford gives the thumbs up after a successful race evening. Rossignol took one first place and four runner up spots. Robin Ann Holmquist photo

Ethan Rossignol and girl friend Jenny Crawford gives the thumbs up after a successful race evening. Rossignol took one first place and four runner-up spots. Robin Ann Holmquist photo

Stockholm's Nick Morrill on left checks the elimination brackets prior to the races at CMSRA event at Northern Maine Fairgrounds. HTF Motorsports photo

Stockholm’s Nick Morrill on left checks the elimination brackets prior to the races at CMSRA event at Northern Maine Fairgrounds. HTF Motorsports photo

Northern Maine Karting Association racer Gage Theriault in his first snowmobile drag race aboard a 120 Stock sled. Assisted by crew chief Galen Morror. HTF Motorsports photo

Northern Maine Karting Association racer Gage Theriault in his first snowmobile drag race aboard a 120 Stock sled. Assisted by crew chief Galen Morror. HTF Motorsports photo

My award for the best embroidered team jacket goes to Ouellette Racing Team. HTF Motorsports photo

My award for the best embroidered team jacket goes to Ouellette Racing Team. HTF Motorsports photo

 

This was what it was all about at the CMSRA Presque Isle races: side by side green bulb racing. HTF Motorsports photo

This was what it was all about at the CMSRA Presque Isle races: side-by-side green-bulb racing. HTF Motorsports photo

Austin’s Thoughts About Last Two Races

The #02 Young's Building Supply/Randco Silverado driven by Austin Theriault at Martinsville Camping World race where he finished 20th. AT Racing photo

The #02 Young’s Building Supply/Randco Silverado driven by Austin Theriault at Martinsville Camping World race where he finished 20th. AT Racing photo

Austin’s comments about Martinsville, “Thanks to everyone at Tyler Young Motorsports for the effort. It being my first time at Martinsville, I learned a lot to apply next time.”

“It was tough working our way to the front from where we started. We had to play a little too much defense against the leaders. Once we got track position, I feel like we could have raced for a top 10. Unfortunately we got stuck on the outside the last run. All in all, the team will stay positive moving into the final stretch of the year.”

Rick Ware Racing #25 as raced by Austin Theriault at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge 200 at Texas Motor Speedway. AT Racing photo

Rick Ware Racing #25 as raced by Austin Theriault at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge 200 at Texas Motor Speedway. AT Racing photo

Comments from Austin about the Texas race, “Glad to be with a dedicated team again this weekend. Fought getting the car over the bumps all weekend and it was too loose as we tried to compensate”

Theriault finished 25th in the Xfinity race won by Johnny Sauter. Theriault will be in the Rick Ware car for next weekend’s Xfinity race at Phoenix.

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.