April 12, 2015
“Spring Thaw” Land Speed Event April 24-26, 2015
As you can see in the above photo the runways at the former Loring Air Force Base were still snow-covered when I took this photo last Thursday. Race officials with the LTA assure me that the long-range weather conditions should assure near ideal weather for setting speed records.
A predicted entry list of 50 racers will make for some interesting stories as racers take their cars and motorcycles out of shops from Maine and as far away as Wisconsin. The ideas and innovations devised to wring out a little more speed over the course of a long winter will be tried out on the 2.5 mile runway.
Motorcycle Technical Director Jesse Michaud of Caribou said, “We have had five different riders run over 250 miles per hour (mph) her at Loring on motorcycles. This year to see two people even close to that speed over the summer is quite something.”
The two riders are Ralphie Navarro from New Jersey who is tweaking his Suzuki Hayabusa looking to break the 250 mark. New Brunswick native Scott Davis now living in Ontario may have his Kawasaki ZX12 ready for the spring event as he also begins his quest to reach the 250 mph mark.
Michaud in addition to his responsibility as Motorcycle Technical Director will be racing two motorcycles at the spring race. He describes his entries this way, “I am bringing two bikes. The first one I am bringing is Joe Daly’s original bike #9216. It’s a one-off custom. It is a true “A-class” bike. It has a Buell XP12 motor that has a lot done to it.”
“It’s about 130 horsepower now. This will be the first event for the bike since 2010. Joe ran a 144 in 2010 with a 1000cc motor. The motor I am running is a 1350 cc.”
The goal ultimately at the end of the summer I’d like to see 175 mph out of it. At this event (spring) if the bike comes home running that will probably be success enough. This is a big-time shakedown. The bike has not been on the dyno, it has not been ridden at all. This first time it has been rode will be on the runway.”
The motorcycle has been in storage since 2010 until last fall when Michaud took possession of the bike and began the process of prepping it for the 2015 season.
Michaud describes his other racer, ” I’m also running a 1988 Sportster. It’s basically a street bike. It does have some “goodies” in it. It will run as a modified pushrod gas 1350. The bike will probably do 115 mph.”
Racing is not always about high-speed and spending lots of money
Marcia Buck Barker of Orland proves that land speed racing does not always have to be about the 200 miles per hour mark in sleek machines. She races her 1957 ex-stock car Chevy with an inline six. Here is what she had to say about the spring event and her philosophy about land speed racing,
“I am really excited about getting another chance to race so close to home,” said Barker.. I have a 57 Chevy, ex stock car, rebuild to be a land speed racer. I also race other people’s cars.”
“It takes a lot of money to go fast. I am fascinated with the old inline engines and the challenge is to see how fast I can make an inline go in this car.In the 57, I race vintage inline engines. First a Chevy 235 and now I have a GMC 302. I’m very excited about driving it down the track.”
“I live in Orland Maine. I didn’t think I could afford to race my own car but I was given the 57. It has a long history of circle track racing but I have only raced Landspeed, at Maxton, NC, Bonneville and Loring.
The Memory of Sam Samson Lives on through the Maine Barons Racing car club
Another expected entry at the spring event at Loring is the #1034 maintained by the Maine Barons Car Club led primarily by brothers Jim Hansom of Livermore and Jordan Hanson of Turner. Here is the story in their words:
Sam attended Bonneville’s Speedweek one year and caught salt fever. He wanted to build a Pierson Brother’s style coupe and run 200 mph. He put his 34 five window coupe “She-Bad” up for sale to fund the project. His hot rod family didn’t want to see him part with it, so they gathered at Dad’s garage to offer Sam their help.
In January 2003, Sam died after a car accident. The world lost a great man, my brother’s and I lost a hero. He was the Original and there will never be another one like him. He always had a smile on his face and a Budweiser in his hand. He’s building hot rods in heaven right now.
In his will, he asked our dad to carry on with Maine Baron’s Racing. In true Maine Baron’s fashion, everyone got together and the car went to Bonneville that summer. It kept going until it did 202 mph. The Maine Baron’s achieved Sam’s dream.
Over the last few years, we have come to call Loring Timing Association home. We raced there, we broke there, we made new friends there. Every time we fire up the coupe and make a pass, it’s in Sam’s honor. We consider ourselves custodians of history and caretakers of an icon. It is the Sam Samson coupe and it’s an honor to have known him.
Jason was able to squeeze in some racing action from nearby Thompson Speedway as they hosted their 75th season of racing at what was once a dairy farm in the quaint village of Thompson, Connecticut.
After the famous hurricane dubbed “the Long Island Express ” flattened most of the farm in 1938, owner John Hoenig opened what would later become the “Indianapolis of the East” with the first asphalt paved oval and first purpose-built road course in the USA.
Griffeth was part of a packed house which saw Milford, Connecticut’s Doug Coby dominate the Whelen Modified field in pursuit of his title defense. Three Maine drivers made the trip for the Granite State Pro Stock Series 40 lap feature which was won by Dillon Moltz of Waterford, Connecticut.
Thanks to my assistant Jason for the report. I hope to hear from him about future races he may attend in the Boston area.
Honda Wins! Honda Wins! Honda Wins!
I was conversing with Honda Performance Development’s Phil LaPointe of Van Buren about all the hard work he and the team at HPD and Wirth Engineering have been putting in to the development and modification of the short track aero packages for the IndyCar Series.
It appears to have started to pay off as James Hinchcliffe won the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at the NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana Sunday. Honda power was in three of the top five finishers.
WOW so much is happening now that spring is here!
Lets go racing!
Soli Deo Gloria