Hydroplane racing pioneer Glenn Campbell Part I

Episode 308

March 22, 2020

Hydroplane racing in the County was big deal

Motorsports events in Aroostook County have been typically centered around stock car races at Spud Speedway in Caribou, Maine. In fact, the Spud Speedway logo states “Spud Speedway…Northern Maine’s Center of Speed Since 1964”

One exception to that is hydroplane racing on bodies of water in the County. Some events drew between 5-10,000 spectators. One of the pioneers in small boat racing in the County is Glenn Campbell, Fort Fairfield, Maine. I recently had opportunity to sit down with the 82-year-old retired potato farmer at his home.

Glenn Campbell, Fort Fairfield with some of the more that 175 trophies he won during his racing career spanning from late 1950’s to 1972. Notice there was a sprinkling of snowmobile race trophies in this collection. Campbell said he gave away most of the trophies to local boat race organizers to use in their races by simply replacing the brass placards. (HTF Motorsports photo)

When I met Glenn, I had preconceived notions of what someone who raced these relatively small race boats at very fast speeds would look like. Glenn looks more like the retired farmer than daredevil speedster.

Glenn was born in 1938, the son of Roy and Anna Campbell of Fort Fairfield. He farmed potatoes and grain with his father and now lives on the home farm where his grandfather lived.

Fascination with things mechanical developed out of necessity, growing up on the farm. Campbell became a “farmer mechanic” in order to keep the machinery of agriculture running. In addition to the farm, he garnered more skills as a Future Farmers of America (FFA) member at Fort Fairfield High School under the tutelage of “Coach” Ken Clark.

The most influential person in his life while growing up was his cousin Wendell Christensen who lived just up the road. “My cousin taught me how to weld while I was in 7th or 8th grade,” said Campbell. “Big influence on my life! He just passed away probably 7 or 8 years ago.”

“Wendell had a canoe. He used to let us young fellers take it down to the pond, Monson Pond, less than a mile from the farm. I guess that was where I got the love for water.”

“We had an Evinrude 5 horsepower (hp) and then a Mercury 7 ½ which I still have out in the shop. Wendell gave me some stuff when he was old. He knew I liked that old Mercury motor.”

“I used to work on stuff for him. He would bring stuff over and say, ‘Why don’t you keep it here? I don’t need it.’ That is how I ended up with a few motors.”

Glenn Campbell in his second boat that he used to race his friends from Fort Fairfield on Monson Pond in unorganized, impromptu races. The boat was initially powered by an Evinrude 5 horsepower then Mercury 7 1/2 horsepower outboard engine which he still owns. (Glenn Campbell Collection)

Those first boats

“Along about my junior or senior year in high school, some of the older guys had skiffs, flat bottom boats,” said Campbell with a smile as he reminisced about those times. “They moved on to bigger boats. We would pick up their older boats; anything we could put a motor on we would fool around with.”

“My first skiff had a flat bottom with a steering wheel and fin on it so you could turn it. I used to think later while racing competitively, ‘I’m not having as much fun as when I started,’ said Campbell laughing. “Going into a corner with 11 boats right on your tail thinking, ‘Boy don’t flip or you’re gonna get run over!”

After graduating from Fort Fairfield High School in 1955, Campbell got his first real car. Up until that time he drove what he described as jalopies. His mother, Anna, was so happy that he graduated, that she bought him a 1955 DeSoto. Campbell suspected that her reason for doing this was she was afraid he was going to get killed driving one of those beat up cars he owned at the time. She figured he would be safer in a new car.

Turns out that 1955 DeSoto was one of the few things that Campbell did not modify, instead he kept it fairly stock.

The military

As a surveyor in the United States army from 1957-1959, Campbell spent most of his time in Germany. They provided the level platforms for firing the 155 howitzers. (Glenn Campbell collection)

Uncle Sam called Campbell in 1957. After basic training as a surveyor in the US Army, he was shipped out to Germany. His ride to Germany was aboard one of the giant troop ships from World War II  that took its time making waves to Europe. (the USS Upshur on the way to Europe and the USS Butner on the ride home)

He was one of the few soldiers on board who was not ill during either voyage going to Europe or returning a year and a half later. He attributed that to his sea legs developed on Monson Pond in his hometown.

When Campbell got to Germany, his job was to provide level firing platforms for the 155 howitzer. His team of 7 soldiers also did movement of the artillery piece as well as firing.

While in Germany he, along with three buddies, bought a 1952 Mercedes-Benz car which allowed them to travel through eastern Europe. When one of the four soldiers shipped out, they sold that share to another GI. Many soldiers did not venture far from base. Not Campbell!

He wanted to see as much of that part of the world as possible in the short time he was stationed in Germany. Longer trips included Paris. Little did he know that on one particular trip to Paris his life would change drastically.

“While I was strolling through the city,” remembered Campbell with a smile on his face, “I saw this C-Hydro (class of hydroplane racer) in a sporting goods store. Beautiful boat! My God, I’ve got to have a boat like that when I get out of the Army.

Be sure to look for Part II next week when you will read about some of Campbell’s exploits on the water including finishing on the podium at the 136 mile Albany to New York City Marathon Boat Race. Crowds of 5-10,00 spectators were in attendance at several races where Campbell travelled.

Mega Meltdown in Caribou postponed

It seems like Covid-19 dominates the news and motorsports is not exempt. Tame the Track Snowmobile Tour Race Director/Promoter Jere Humphrey made this announcement below. When asked late this week, Humphrey said  he is not ruling out a late season race event should conditions permit. This is the release from Humphrey:

Dear Valued Race Teams, Families, Friends & Sponsors:

Over the past several days, Tame the Track Tour {TTT} was forced to confront the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beyond all other obligations, the health and well-being of our race teams, families, friends & sponsors are our highest priority. As updated information became available to us, and federal and state guidelines were communicated, we made a conscious decision to set our response plan into motion.

March 20th/21st Championship Saturday, our Organizers have been forced to suspend/postpone this weekend’s race event, which was labelled “Mega Meltdown” to be held in Caribou, Maine @ Northern Brewing Company property.

It is our sincere hope that this gesture will provide our staff, volunteers, racers, crews and supporters with the means to focus on their personal health, and the health of their families and communities.

Our tentative plan is to resume the remaining events planned on the 2020 NAPA Auto Parts season and put forth a positive effort to continue providing quality venues and environments to you, our loyal race teams & families. Organizers will work diligently throughout the interim period.

With that being said, TTT is asking for your cooperation as we navigate these unprecedented times. Our organizers realize this affects several different teams in various ways.

Make Your Move Vintage & Kids Endurance Race results from Bangor

Saturday’s races began at 2 pm and most finished under the lights at Bass Park adding to the excitement of racing. Results from Tame the Track Tour Bangor

Dysart’s Truck Stop, Crabbie’s Racing, KLIM KIDS 120cc STOCK                           1st place Malcolm Witham Jr: Carmel, ME                                                              2nd place Cole Wiggin: Carmel, ME, Arctic Cat                                                         3rd place Trenton Hanscom: Benton, ME, Polaris

Dysart’s Truck Stop, Crabbie’s Racing, KLIM KIDS 120cc STOCK — Sunday
1st place Kayden White: ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Trenton Hanscom: Benton, ME, Polaris

Colby Martin, son of veteran super late-model driver Shawn Martin, Auburn, with the trophy for the Kids 120 cc Improved/LO206 class. Martin dedicated the win to the memory of his football coach Jesse Robitaille who passed away from cancer recently.Martin also races karts at Richmond Karting Speedway (Martin Racing photo)

Recreational Motorsports & Machias Savings Bank KIDS 120cc IMPROVED/LO 206 — Saturday
1st place Colby Martin: Turner, ME, Polaris
2nd place Cole Wiggin: Carmel, ME, Arctic Cat
3rd place Dexter Smith: Lincoln, ME, Arctic Cat

Recreational Motorsports & Machias Savings Bank KIDS 120cc IMPROVED/LO 206 — Sunday
1st place Cole Wiggin: Carmel, ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Dexter Smith: Lincoln, ME,  Arctic Cat

Witham’s Paving, Daigle Oil Company KIDS 120cc MODIFIED
1st place Riley Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Polaris
2nd place Emmett Walker: New Vineyard, ME,  Arctic Cat
3rd place Evan Witham: Levant, ME, Polaris

Witham’s Paving, Daigle Oil Company KIDS 120cc MODIFIED
1st place Riley Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Polaris
2nd place Evan Witham: Levant, Maine, Polaris

Corinth Village Creamery & Willette’s Automotive KIDS 200 STOCK — Saturday
1st place Cole Wiggin: Carmel, ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Rayce Ross: Carmel, ME, Arctic Cat
3rd Place Malcolm Witham Jr: Carmel, ME, Arctic Cat

Corinth Village Creamery & Willette’s Automotive KIDS 200 STOCK — Sunday
1st place Cole Wiggin: Carmel, ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Joe Smith: Lincoln, ME, Arctic Cat

Casella Waste Systems/ Pine Tree Waste WOMEN’S INVITATIONAL — Saturday
1st place Haley Brownell: Center Ossipee, NH, Yamaha
2nd place Haley Frohlich: Auburn, ME, Polaris
3rd place Hailey Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha

Casella Waste Systems/ Pine Tree Waste WOMEN’S INVITATIONAL — Sunday
1st place Haley Frohlich: Auburn, ME, Polaris
2nd place Haley Brownell: Center Ossipee, NH, Yamaha
3rd place Alley Ripley: Center Ossipee, NH, Yamaha

Junior Invitational class racers charge into the turn at Bass Park, Bangor as part of the TNT Road Company/Last Chance Motorsports sponsored race. (Elizabeth Agnew Hartford photo)

TNT Road Company & Last Chance Motorsports JUNIORS INVITATIONAL — Saturday
1st place Trevor Eldridge: Center Ossipee, NH Yamaha
2nd place Austin Witham: Levant, ME, Yamaha
3rd place Riley Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha

Taking his Victory Flag lap in the Junior Division, Owen Buck of Newport aboard the Lost Revenue Racing Yamaha sled. This was Buck’s second checkered flag in seven races in his inaugural season. (Lost Revenue Racing, Mackie Gould photo)

TNT Road Company & Last Chance Motorsports JUNIORS INVITATIONAL — Sunday
1st place Owen Buck: Newport, ME, Yamaha
2nd place Riley Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha
3rd place Hailey Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha

Workstore and Houlton Powersports & RV TEENS INVITATIONAL — Saturday
1st place Landon Collins: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha
2nd place Asa Grace: West Ossipee, NH, Yamaha
3rd place Kris Wheeler: Center Ossipee, NH, Yamaha

Teen Invitational Class racers getting ready for their race at Tame the Track race earlier this season in Houlton. Landon Collins, third from left with his Yamaha Enticer won the Teens Class both days at the Bangor ‘Make Your Move Vintage & Kids Endurance Races’ (Elizabeth Agnew Hartford photo)

Workstore and Houlton Powersports & RV TEENS INVITATIONAL — Sunday
1st place Landon Collins: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha
2nd place Christian Hanscom: Benton, ME, Yamaha
3rd place Asa Grace: West Ossipee, NH, Yamaha

Blanchard’s Towing & VIP Tires SINGLE CYLINDER MOD
1st place Mike Morris: Turner, ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Sno Jet
3rd place Asa Grace: West Ossipee, NH, Yamaha

Blanchard’s Towing & VIP Tires SINGLE CYLINDER MOD
1st place Mike Morris: Turner, ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Sno Jet
3rd place Caleb Morris: Turner, ME, Arctic Cat

Harry’s Motorsports & Equipment & UniFirst SINGLE CYLINDER STOCK –Saturday
1st place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Sno Jet
2nd place Joe Pelletier: Fort Kent, ME, Sno Jet
3rd place Daytona Gould: Dexter, ME, Sno Jet
** All top 3 snowmobiles are owned by Tim Ferreira & Ron Nason of Unity, Maine.

Harry’s Motorsports & Equipment & UniFirst SINGLE CYLINDER STOCK –Sunday
1st place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Sno Jet
2nd place Joe Pelletier: Fort Kent, ME, Sno Jet
3rd place Caleb Morris: Turner, ME, Sno Jet
** All top 3 snowmobiles are owned by Tim Ferreira & Ron Nason of Unity, Maine.

SnowStuds, Star City Rentals & PowerMadd 340 STOCK —
1st place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha
2nd place Mike Morris: Turner, ME, Arctic Cat
3rd place Daytona Gould: Dexter, ME, Yamaha

SnowStuds, Star City Rentals & PowerMadd 340 STOCK —
1st place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha
2nd place Mike Morris: Turner, ME, Arctic Cat
3rd place Daytona Gould: Dexter, ME, Yamaha

Savage Paint & Body and Dead River Company 340/440 MODIFIED — Saturday
1st place Shawn Berry: Center Ossipee, NH, Yamaha
2nd place Dawson Eldridge: West Ossipee, NH, Yamaha
3rd place Caleb Morris: Turner, ME, Yamaha

Savage Paint & Body and Dead River Company 340/440 MODIFIED — Sunday
1st place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha
2nd place Daytona Gould: Dexter, ME, Arctic Cat
3rd place Caleb Morris: Turner, ME, Yamaha

Bangor Motorsports & J McLaughlin Construction 440 STOCK
1st place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha
2nd place Daytona Gould: Dexter, ME, Arctic Cat
3rd place Shawn Berry: Center Ossipee, NH, Yamaha

Bangor Motorsports & J McLaughlin Construction 440 STOCK
1st place Daytona Gould: Dexter, ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Andy Frohlich: Auburn, ME, Arctic Cat
3rd place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha

1st Rate Bait and Pelletier Ford IFS 440 STOCK — Saturday
1st place Joe Pelletier: Fort Kent, ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Daytona Gould: Dexter, ME, Arctic Cat
3rd place Caleb Morris: Turner, ME, Polaris

Joe Pelletier from Aroostook County, who has competed at all 11 races with Tame the Track Snowmobile Tour in 2020, was able to complete a “ clean sweep “ at Bass Park in Bangor. Pelletier had his #321 ZR 440 Arctic Cat purring nicely, winning all qualifying heat races & feature events in the IFS 440 & IFS Outlaw divisions.Pelletier battles fierce arch- rival Justin Hartford on the MXZ 440. Hartford of Wolfeboro, NH who ended up finishing 4th. ( Nick Acorace of Acorace Photography)

1st Rate Bait and Pelletier Ford IFS 440 STOCK — Sunday
1st place Joe Pelletier: Fort Kent, ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Ski Doo
3rd place Caleb Morris: Turner, ME, Polaris

Mission Trailers & Briarwood Motor Inn IFS OUTLAW — Sat.
1st place Joe Pelletier: Fort Kent, ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Daytona Gould: Dexter, ME, Arctic Cat
3rd place Caleb Morris: Turner, ME, Polaris

Mission Trailers & Briarwood Motor Inn IFS OUTLAW — Sun.
1st place Joe Pelletier: Fort Kent, ME, Arctic Cat
2nd place Daytona Gould: Dexter, ME, Arctic Cat
3rd place Caleb Morris: Turner, ME, Polaris

Ferreira Trucking Couples Combination — Saturday
1st place Daytona Gould/Jordan Gudroe: ME, Yamaha
2nd place Riley Hartford/Kris Wheeler: NH, Yamaha
3rd place Austin Witham/Evan Witham: ME, Yamaha

Couples race team consisting of Daytona Gould and Owen Buck placed second Sunday on the #6 machine driven by Mackenzie Gould in the Woman’s Invitational and Teens divisions. (Mackenzie Gould photo)

Varney Insurance Couples Combination — Sunday
1st place Alley Ripley/ Asa Grace: NH, Yamaha
2nd place Owen Buck/Daytona Gould: ME, Yamaha
3rd place Austin Witham/Kris Wheeler: ME/NH, Yamaha

Witham’s Paving & Heating Unlimited Modified division —
1st place Dawson Eldridge: West Ossipee, NH, Yamaha
2nd place Justin Hartford: Wolfeboro, NH, Yamaha
3rd place Jerry Worden: Center Ossipee, NH, Yamaha

Humphrey further remarked, “Congratulations to all the race teams who competed at the Make Your Move Vintage & Kids Endurance Races and the YouTube celebrity Larry the Enticer at the Bass Park in Bangor, Maine. Planning is underway for the year-end Awards & Appreciation Night, scheduled for April 25th at Jeff’s Catering & Event Center in Brewer”

Part II of Glen Campbell Hydroplane Racer next week!

Let’s go racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria (God is still in control!)

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. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine