June 17, 2018
What I would say to Dad on Father’s Day 2018
Thirty five acres of tablestock potatoes and seventy-five acres of oats and hay was all that my father, Tom Hale, grew to support our family of six kids on a rocky hilly farm on Grimes Mill Road in Caribou. When someone says poor, I can relate to that statement.
I remember some interesting meals, which at the time appeared to be normal. I still like Spam, Vienna sausage, fiddleheads, beans and hotdogs. My mother and father somehow made this work until their divorce in the early 1970’s.
The stress and strain of having to work, work, and work some more strained their relationship until it finally broke. I was in college at the time and suspect part of my lousy grades were due to the break-up of our family on that Grimes Mill farm. Not using that as an excuse, simply stating that it added to the multitude of distractions that called for my attention.
I did not want this blog to be about the Hale family. I do want it to be about my Dad on this Father’s Day 2018. Some of the things I experienced on that little farm have influenced me to this day.
Many questions pop into my head when I think back on some of the absolute crazy antics I did when young and living under his roof. I would like to share a few stories.
I remember listening, yes listening, to the Indy 500 on a transistor radio. I knew very little about the race. It seemed so big and as far away as the moon at times. I read voraciously anything I could about this race. Typically I got my information from Popular Mechanics or an occasional article in the Bangor Daily News. A special treat would be a chance to look at the car magazines for sale at Ritchie’s Pharmacy on Water Street.
My Dad had a remanufactured Ford Flathead short block from one of his farm trucks in a crate ready to be returned for core charges. I dreamed that this engine was in an Indy Car that I would build to compete in the 500. I could not let it rust, so I found some aluminum paint and proceeded to swab great amounts throughout the engine to prevent it from rusting.
Why he did not make me scrub off that paint I will never know. Maybe when I reluctantly admitted I had done it, he simply let it go. The engine was after all going back to the manufacturing company.
We had a 1950 or 51 Ford pickup that Dad bought to use on the farm, similar to how one might use a UTV today. The flathead powered, three-on-the tree pickup became my personal race car.
We had a field on the back of the farm that had a few wet-holes and not so fertile soil. That field was seldom used for potatoes. It became my dirt track oval.
With a farm gas pump at the home farm loaded with $.22 gas for refills, I would sneak out back to my “race track” and put as many laps as I dared before my Dad might notice the pickup was missing or that I was not doing what I was supposed to.
I would pretend that I was Richard Petty or Mario Andretti holding off a pack of snarling race cars. I attempted to hit my marks or braking points until near the last of the life of the pickup, practice with no brakes.
I know my Dad had to have seen this packed down trail in the open field as well as the disappearance of gallons of gasoline. I can only remember him once saying that Grampy thought I might be hurting that field.
My final story happened at our home on Grimes Mill Road. Our back yard was flat for about 75 yards and then there was a small hill. To me that looked like the banked track at Daytona that I had read about and saw pictures of those 33 degree turns.
Our family car at that time was a 1963 Chrysler Newport four door with a standard transmission. My Dad had made the transition from Ford to Chrysler by then.
I would drive this car through our front driveway, take a left on the lawn, approach the “high-banked” Daytona-like turn in the backyard and hammer down through the turn, and brake hard on exit to go relatively slowly in front of the house.
I cannot understand how I got away with this to this day. Compounding my bad deed was the losing of the clutch in our family car which my Dad attributed to my hundreds of laps in the car.
When we bought our next Newport, it had a push button shifter automatic. That car had to be fairly tough since I recall pushing the #2 button as I came off the banked turn to slow for my pass-by the front of the house.
Many more stories fill my head this Father’s Day. I ponder what I might have done if my son had done a portion of the knuckle-headed tricks I got away with (or thought I got away with). I wonder if all this time I was developing a love for motorsports that has stuck with me. Thanks Dad for not squashing my dreams, (although at times I suspect you wanted to cause me great bodily harm). I love you.
Firecracker 200 preparations continue at Spud Speedway
Excitement continues to build for the Aroostook Savings and Loan Firecracker 200 in conjunction with Feed the County and WAGM TV. Laps continue to be purchased in memory of loved ones as well as a host of other reasons.
The track is undergoing some major updates in anticipation of the events on Tuesday evening July 3rd. Construction crews continue to be on-site getting the Caribou track ready.
Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) is racing at Spud Speedway
Though stock cars have not raced at the Caribou track since 2015, the NMKA has staged kart races for the past three years. A group of kart racers, who were racing under the Spud Speedway umbrella until no leased the track after 2015, decided to for a non-profit organization to continue racing.
The last three seasons have been run under the auspices of NMKA with three classes of karts in ten race series.
Currently in a re-building mode after several teams either aged out, moved away, or were no longer interested in kart racing. The teams that remain are working diligently to build interest for the sport. Several karts are available for purchase.
RYAN Motorsports with first Pro Stock win in 2018 at Speedway 660
Ryan Messer, Harvey, New Brunswick, began his graduation week activities with his first win of the 2018 season in Pro Stock. The Harvey High School senior will be graduating this week. The son of Robb and Penny Messer, has at least one win in each of the last 8 seasons that he has been racing.
Robb, when asked about his son’s post graduation plans, he replied, ” He has a summer job at A.L. Gullison Disaster Cleanup. He’ll be going to the community college in Woodstock in the fall for a Truck & Transport Service Technician course.”
Closing this episode with a video from Jesse O’Brien at the New England Hillclimb at Mount Okemo, Ludlow, Vermont. This clip is about 15 seconds long. It features Luke Moultroup who I have mentioned in several previous episodes.
Luke is from Richmond, Vermont. He competes with an open class modified Howe chassis repurposed to go left and right. He finished second in the Okemo event.
Let’s go racing,
Soli Deo Gloria