December 30, 2018
Highlights of 2018
I must confess, I am not a fan of top ten lists or highlights lists. I might scan them or not read them at all. If I have something in common with someone’s list I might read it for content.
Thus my dilemma. I want you to be able to flashback over 2018 and maybe rub shoulders with me as I take a trip down memory lane. I would love to have you share your highlights with me keeping in mind that I scan. Email or comments on the post on Facebook seem to be the best. My email firstname.lastname@example.org
My posts are not from top to bottom or vice versa. They are what I wrote down as they came back to me while viewing photos from this year’s episodes.
Firecracker 200 at Spud Speedway
Maybe it was the fact that preparation for this event consumed so much of my time up to and including the day of the July 3rd race. The amount of work that went into getting the track ready for this event was at times overwhelming. Yet through perseverance and grit (and a boatload of Troy Haney’s money) the event proved to be a classic.
I believe when people look back on Spud Speedway history, the Firecracker 200 will be one remembered. The fact that no races of that nature had been run for several years plus the involvement of Aroostook Savings and Loan, Feed the County, WAGM TV, Pro All Star Series (PASS), and the return of local racers Kirk Thibeau, Wyatt Alexander Racing, and Austin Theriault combined to add to the excitement felt that warm summer evening.
Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona for the third time
Three years ago, I decided to cover some sort of racing in Daytona. One of my former students, Jason Griffeth moved from the assistant groundskeeper at Fenway Park after 14.5 years to take the Director of Grounds job at Daytona International Speedway in 2016. His move plus the fact that my brother lives nearby seemed to make sense to cover the Rolex 24 Hours race in January.
I did not want to cover the Daytona 500 with its huge crowds. So I decided to cover the IMSA racing for my first time. I liked it very much with the somewhat smaller crowds, access to drivers and crew pretty well-managed, and race friendly fans.
I hope to return this year for my fourth go-around. I have a local story about a team in the top class, Daytona Prototypes International (DPi) that I hope to release before the race and cover while I am at the track.
Ripchair built for Mike
A family ski trip to Deer Valley Ski Resort 11 years ago forever changed Presque Isle native Mike Chasse. Here is what happened in his words as told to NewsCenter Maine’s Rob Nesbitt in April, “”Skiing off into the woods and I went to get back on the main trail and there was a real abrupt, like a real steep angle and my skis hit the side of the trail and stopped and my head just plunged into the ground,” said Chasse.
Chasse spent months in the hospital and in physical therapy to adjust to being a quadriplegic. Until one year ago he thought he would be relegated to spectator status when it came to getting to some of his favorite places he enjoyed as a younger man.
In early 2017, a group of friends on Facebook called “Keep Mike Rolling” led by sisters Brianna Blanchard-Rogerson and Billi Blanchard-Griffeth began fundraising to make up a $10,000 shortfall Chasse was facing. He needed to replace his aging worn out wheelchair which would require him to spend the funds beyond which he had saved to purchase the new chair.
The fundraiser was a huge success. On March 2, 2017, the day after the 10th anniversary of his accident, the group surprised Chasse with over $28,000 to use anyway he wanted. That is where Howe and Howe Technology came into the picture.
This high performance specialty off-road vehicle manufacturer in Waterboro began their 45th Ripchair made just for Mike Chasse January 2018. I detailed the Ripchair story in Episodes 208 April 15, 2018, 206 April 1, 2018, and 202 on March 4, 2018.
In early April 2018, Chasse, caregiver Heidi, and brother-in-law Andrew Bouchard ventured to Waterboro where he laid eyes on his new machine. Chasse said he saw a place he would like to go off-road and for the first time in over a decade was able to make that possible with his new Ripchair.
Tom Peters Inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame
Tom Peters of Presque Isle became the first snowmobile racer inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame in a ceremony held at the Augusta Civic Center April 14, 2018 as detailed in Episode 208.
Peters was one of Maine’s winningest racers in the late 60’s and into early 70’s. He currently restores sleds from the era including some that are similar to the race sleds that he drove.
Harvey, New Brunswick teenager wins Maritimes most prestigious race.
After losing the season’s point championship by a tie-breaker to Dave O’Blenis who had more feature wins and getting the front end of his Pro Stock roughed up in the process, the RYAN Motorsports team came roaring back to win their biggest pay roll at the 18th Annual McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 at Speedway 660 in Geary Woods, New Brunswick. (Episode 228 September 2, 2018)
This team was moving back down to Late Model Sportsman for 2018 when they had a change of heart in mid-winter 2018. The RYAN Motorsports team decided to compete for a second season in Speedway 660’s top division after winning Rookie of the year in 2017. The finances were a big concern for the small team from Harvey, New Brunswick.
Episode 229 on September 9, 2019 details some of the highs and lows the team experienced at the end of the season.
Kody Swanson wins five races in a row and his fourth USAC Silver Crown title
Followers of UpNorth Motorsports realize that I cover the career of one of my friends, Kody Swanson from Kingsburg, California now living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is currently the 2018 USAC Silver Crown Champion, a title he has won in 2014, 2015, and 2017.
Swanson went on a tear this spring and summer winning an unprecedented 5 USAC Silver Crown races in a row:
- May 4 Toledo Speedway, Toledo, Ohio (.5 mile paved)
- May 24 Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, Indiana (I mile dirt)
- May 25 Lucas Oil Raceway, Indianapolis, Indiana (.686 mile paved)
- June 29 Madison International Speedway, Oregon, Wisconsin (.5 mile paved)
- August 11 Salem Speedway, Salem, Indiana (.555 mile paved)
Providing a bookend May 24 and 25 USAC races was a win for Gene Nolen Racing (his first Little 500 win as an owner) on Saturday May 26th at Anderson Speedway, Anderson, Indiana in the 70th Little 500. Anderson Speedway is a high banked 1/4 mile oval with 33 starters.
Speaking of National Winners!
Ellsworth native Wyatt Alexander, after a nationwide poll, was named Valvoline’s Fast Track to Fame winner earlier this year. First place carried with it about $43,000 in cash and merchandise that gave the Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) team more flexibility in scheduling as well as marketing.
Alexander made his announcement on social media this way, “Well here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. WAR is proud to announce we have WON the Valvoline Fast Track to Fame! We are all still speechless but the only thing I can say is THANK YOU to everyone who has made this possible, each and every vote means the world to all of us. The community and support behind us has truly been amazing. This is huge for our team and my career.”
“This program was an opportunity to show our continued support for motorsports and those who live the ‘Never Idle’ mantra that Valvoline is rooted in,” said Travis Montgomery, head of sports marketing and entertainment for Valvoline. “We were looking for someone with grit, passion and drive, and there is no doubt we found those qualities and more in Wyatt”
Alexander found out he was a national winner July 17 shortly after racing at the family “home track”, Spud Speedway for the Firecracker 200 July 3rd where he finished seventh. He exemplifies the “on the move” example serving as a race official this weekend at the World Karting Association (WKA) Kartweek Nationals at Daytona International Speedway.
I get a ride at the “Club”
While in New Hampshire in early August for the Soulfest 2018 at Gunstock Mountain, I took a little side trip to visit the Club Motorsports new road course in Tamworth, New Hampshire. I met with track supervisor Jason Brackett from Minot, Maine.
Fastest Non-Bonneville Corvette on the planet
I have had the privilege of following the land speed efforts of Northwood, New Hampshire’s Jason White in his C6 Corvette. I remember him starting out with licensing runs in 2014 at 175 mph with stock running gear. Much has changed since then, however, one thing has not changed that is his enthusiasm for the sport and willingness to talk with people at the track. Looking forward to see what he has got cooking in 2019.
Autocross rounds out the Loring racing scene
Northern Maine plays host to the fastest motorcycles and cars on the planet at the former Loring Air Force base hosted by Loring Timing Association. The abandoned base also plays host to the Cumberland Motor Club autocross for the past nine years in early August.
Their track is one of the largest venues in the eastern United States. They typically draw nearly one hundred contestants for each of their two-day event. Cars range from street cars to purebred race track only cars plus racing karts.
See you in 2019? Thanks to all who were part of my 2018 adventure.
Let’s go racing in 2019,
Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:16)