August 5, 2018
Former SAC bomber base hosting Northeast’s largest autocross
One of the few advantages to closing the former Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber base at Loring in Limestone, Maine is that it has opened up the runways to two first class motorsports organizations. The Loring Timing Association (LTA) in early July held the Maine Event, four days of land speed racing at it’s finest. They will host their Harvest event the last weekend in August 29 thru September 2, 2018.
Next weekend Maine’s oldest sports car club, Cumberland Motor Club (CMC) is holding the club’s largest autocross of the season at New England’s largest venue, Loring. The two-day event, August 11 & 12, promises to have one of the sports longest courses. Members have often called Loring the ” Autocross Mecca” of the northeast.
Long time member and officer in the Cumberland Motor Club, Carl Perry of Gardiner, described the event. “August 10-12, 2018 marks the 9th year that members of the Cumberland Motor Club have made the journey north to the former Loring AFB in Limestone to participate in a 3-day autocross event.”
“Autocross is a precision driving event that tests the driver’s skills and abilities as well as the capabilities of the vehicle they are driving. Each driver navigates a course outlined with traffic cones (and is similar in nature to a Formula One style circuit) and tries to set the fastest course time they can using their own vehicle, or in some cases, a friend’s vehicle.”
“Timing lights are set up at the start and finish to ensure accuracy. For each traffic cone that is knocked out-of-place or tipped over there is a 2 second penalty assessed to their overall raw time. In many instances the difference between a 1st and 2nd place finish can be as little as a few thousands of a second, thus a 2 second penalty is really a major penalty.”
“Each day the course is changed which presents a unique challenge to the driver. Drivers get an opportunity to walk the course prior to the event to try to learn as much as they can about each turn and section of the course before getting behind the wheel.”
Carl Perry, a club member and competitor since 2008 says, “The real test is remembering the course layout especially at Loring because the course is 1.4 miles long while simultaneously trying to drive through the elements as fast as possible and NOT hit any cones! It’s a culmination of memory, driving skills, precision and knowing the capabilities of your car…it’s a lot of fun and uniquely challenging.”
Perry continued, “Thus far over 85 registrants have signed up for each day with more expected to fill the roster prior to the event.”
“Car makes range from Mustang GTs to a Camaro ZL1 to a slew of Miatas, Hondas, Subarus and a couple Porsches thrown in as well as a wide variety of other vehicles from stock setups to modified.”
“Friday August 10th will offer a free test and tune mock circuit course to allow members the opportunity to practice and get use to the road surface, different elements and faster speeds that are often the hallmarks of the Loring event. Saturday and Sunday are actual competition days.”
“Club members will venture from all over the state of Maine and some are coming from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and even Quebec and New Brunswick to participate and look forward to this annual event which immerses individuals into the autocross experience for the whole weekend.”
“For those interested in participating you can go to www.cumberlandmotorclub.com and check out the bevy of information on the web page on what autocross is, how to prepare your car and you for an event, what to expect when you arrive and of course the cost of registering for the event if you want to compete with your car.”
“And if for some reason you can’t get access to the internet to view the requirements just show up at the north end of the airfield prior to 7 am each day to register. The club also offers a special instruction session to all newcomers to the sport of autocross.”
“The Knights of Columbus out of Presque Isle will be available to offer food and drink during the event and as always, spectators get in free to watch and those who are licensed drivers can go for ride-alongs with club members at the member’s discretion.”
To quote Chris Moberg, the club’s organizer for events, ‘Watching is okay, but if you want to really experience the course and the ‘violence’ that takes place inside the car from the g-forces of turns, braking, and acceleration, then you really should go for a ride!”
Perry added, “The club members would additionally like to say a special ‘thank you’ to Carl Flora, the director of the facility at Loring for letting us use this great venue and also ‘thanks’ to all of the business owners and citizens of ‘the County’ for their kindness and generosity!”
Some of the participants
Charlie Baxley, owner of Baxley’s Speed Shop described some of the modifications done to Dooley’s Scion. ” He (Patrick) is a regular club member and good friend. He spun a bearing and broke a couple of rods over the winter.”
“We put a built motor in capable of 750 crank hp with forged internals. Also upsized his old supercharger from a Rotrex c30 to a c38 and we made a few valve train modifications to allow some more rpm.”
“I am currently breaking the motor in and working on the tune. We will be on the dyno next week for tuning before Loring.”
I asked Patrick, a technical business analyst for On Semiconductor, about his car and the Loring experience. He replied, “Yeah, The old engine gave up after ice racing last year. Totally worth the experience and I will do it again this winter.”
“My plans for Loring, are to go fast, have a great time with close friends, and improve my driving. This will be my fourth year attending Loring. Always a memorable experience.”
County man is veteran autocross driver
The majority of the 85 entrants each of the two days at the Loring autocross will be from “away”. One of the most experienced County drivers is Matt Beaulieu from Presque Isle. The “Star City” driver has been a participant nearly every year since the inaugural event nine years ago, sometimes as a ride-along and some years with a race car.
Beaulieu described his 2018 entrant saying, “It is a ’99 Subaru RS with a full ’04 WRX engine and ecu swap. It is protuned on 18.5psi of boost and makes 240 wheel horsepower/270 foot-pounds of torque. It is on fully adjustable coil over suspension and has 4 pot big brakes from a ’06 WRX TR. It runs race slicks at the track. I am in a fairly high class due to the engine and power.”
If you would like to see some of the cars that will be participating in the Mega-Autocross, many will be cruising to Burger Boy in Caribou around 6 pm Friday August 10th to talk with those interested in autocross and cars. See the Cumberland Motor Club website for complete details about the Loring event.
Austin is back in super late-model race again
Though he has not been driving a super late-model race car since the Firecracker 200 July 3rd at Spud Speedway, Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault entered “T-Rex” in the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Response Energy Tour Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway, Hickory, North Carolina.
Theriault ran in the top five in the car which was on its four race since being built, however, power steering problems with 20 laps to go relegated him to a 18th place finish. The race was won by Brandon Setzer, son of former NASCAR Camping World truck series star Dennis Setzer.
You cannot win them all
I cannot remember when Caribou’s Damian Theriault did not win a feature race in which he participated in Maine. After a two-week hiatus from racing, the County’s team JRT raced at Richmond Karting Speedway.
Much has happened in the interim with the passing away of Damian’s great-grandmother Aline “MereMae” Bosse on July 31, 2018.
Despite his best effort to win the race in memory of his “MereMae” Theriault led most of the race until with 5 laps to go he was passed by eventual race winner Colin Dube. After a couple lead swaps, Dube won by a two kart lengths.
Kody Swanson back in the winner’s circle
The six-week break between the USAC Silver Crown race six on June 29th at Madison International Speedway, Oregon, Wisconsin and race seven at Salem Speedway, Salem, Indiana, August 11, may seem like a good chance to get rusty. Not so with Kody Swanson and most of his fellow competitors.
Swanson’s fourth win of the season came at Madison Speedway in June. With this win he tied Jack Hewitt with the most wins in the USAC Silver Crown history, 23 victories.
With the type of competition Swanson has now, he needed to keep his skills sharp. In the interim he raced at a couple local tracks with sprint cars and with the Team 3R sprint car during the six race Indiana Sprint Car Week race championship.
Though not a winner in any of those races, Swanson got back into Victory Lane at the UAW Thursday Night Sprint race Presented by Sarah Fisher’s Speedway Indoor Karting August 2 at Anderson Speedway, Anderson, Indiana. The track seems to be one of Swanson’s best tracks having won 2 of the last three Little 500 races held in May each year the night before the Indy 500.
Look for a report on a road course which may be one of the most scenic and challenging race tracks in America. Until then…
Let’s go racing,
Soli Deo Gloria