Source of speed in Windham

Episode 185

October 29, 2017

 Speed Shops in Maine

When you talk about speed shops in Maine, the number is limited. During the 1960’s there were a number of small speed shops typically located in someone’s garage. On trips to the Big E for FFA events, I would notice New England Speed just before the Interstate 90 entrance from Route 290 that went through Worcester. I never made it to that shop. I think they went out of business sometime in the 1990’s.

A Google search with some follow-up on my part and Bob Alexander yielded seven businesses which are reputed to be hot rod speed shops. I would welcome any input from readers about speed shops in Maine.

These are the names of shops I found:

Thayer’s Automotive, Hermon               Western Maine Speed Shop, Otisfield

Double S Speed Shop, Portland             Wayne Elston’s Speed Shop, Carmel

East Coast Performance, Lamoine         Portland Speed, Portland

Baxley’s Speed Shop, Windham

Baxley’s  Speed Shop

At Baxley’s Speed Shop in Windham with owner Charlie Baxley on left and my son-in-law Marc Cole. HTF Motorsports photo

Maybe some day I will get to the other six speed shops.  I contacted Charlie early in October and asked if I could visit him and he said he would be pleased to host us for a tour and Q & A session.

My son-in-law, Marc Cole seems to be my accomplice when I desire to find automotive adventure while we stay with him in Westbrook. He jumped at the opportunity to visit Baxley’s, which was less than 15 minutes from his home.

Marc and I looked around the front lot at Baxley’s before going inside to meet Charlie and his employee Dylan Dupee. Our Q & A took place in the customer entrance of the shop which was well-lit and clean.

I have been in some speed shops where the customer greeting area could be scary for fear of stuff falling or dirt cascading down from magazine collections from decades back.

I met Charlie at several of the Cumberland Motor Club Autocross events at Loring and the Bill Dodge autocross in Westbrook. I knew some information from those conversations not only with him but with some of his customers.

One of the first questions I had to ask Charlie was why a speed shop in Maine? Charlie smiled and replied, “Why not?”

The pathway to a speed shop in Maine from his hometown in Columbus, Georgia featured several twists and turns. When he was young, he would hang out at Columbus Dragway, a 1/8 mile drag strip where his father, Rudy Baxley, raced Pro-Mods. It was at the drag strip that he got his first taste of speed; its sounds, smells, and excitement.

Baxley about his first car, “At 15 I bought my first car, a ’78 4 door Nova for $550. It got slammed and painted. I was ‘the guy with a car’ and it was treated as such.”

“I had to learn to fix it very early on as we had unknowingly used 2 stroke mix in the gas tank and the carb needed a rebuild, so I tackled it.”

The Nova gave way to a few Mustangs and a couple of years in tech school in Georgia. After graduating, Baxley went to work for Power Engineers, Inc in 2000 as a drafter.

When he was relocated to Idaho he had a Datsun (Nissan) sports car. “I practically gave away a mint 240 SX because I didn’t know how to drive it in the snow,” said Baxley. “Got a Jeep, then with the need for power and performance lingering…bought my first turbo car, a 2005 Mitsubishi Evo.”

Baxley’s first turbo car a 2005 Mitsubishi Evo MR. The  mountains of Idaho provide the background. Baxley’s Speed Shop photo

Baxley’s first autocross, with the SCCA Snake River Region. Baxley’s Speed Shop photo

With the  Evo providing a platform for Baxley to learn the art and craft of auto mechanics, his first upgrade was new rotors and Hawk brake pads. In addition to autocross he also did some drag racing.

The Evo also was his first experience in tuning. He said,”It was very aggressively tuned when I got it.  I fixed some shady stuff and paid for a more conservative Etune.”

“During that process, I learned what to look for and didn’t like what I saw. So I bought some books and did a ton of research on the internet…then flashed my own car and began the journey of ECU tuning.”

Baxley relocated to Maine in 2008. The Evo came back with him and in this photo doubled as a “snowplow”. Not!  Baxley Speed Shop photo

Baxley’s Evo beginning the transition to the “Fridge”. Baxley Speed Shop photo

The “Fridge” after paint. The Evo was sold in 2015 and a Mazda entered the picture. Baxley Speed Shop photo

“I relocated to Maine with the same engineering firm in 2008, then designing High Voltage Substations”, said Baxley. “I was doing a lot of electrical, structural and civil design and cad work.”

Baxley’s next car purchase was this Mazda 3 ” Mini-Fridge” in December 2014. He equipped it with Rota 15 X 7.5 wheels and 205/50R15 Dunlop Z11 Star tires for autocross. Suspension and engine mods were performed as well. The car sat for a time and will see service as a daily driver from his Lisbon home. Baxley Speed Shop photo

“I had started to help other folks online and in person with their tuning and began to branch out and take on some side work. In 2015, I officially started Baxley’s Speed Shop as a side gig.”

“Suzy the Subaru” Outback came into the Baxley family with a couple strikes against her. The next photo will show strike one. Baxley Speed Shop photo

No one wants to find this in the oil when it is drained a piece of the engine bearing meant there was bad things happened to this engine. I thoroughly enjoyed Baxley’s blog detailing the rebuilding of “Suzy”. You will have to read it on his website to find out the rest of the story. Baxley Speed Shop photo

after trying this 2004 Infiniti G35 at the CMC Loring autocross in 2015 Baxley purchased it for his primary autocross vehicle. Photo courtesy Dooms Day Device Photography 

Bye-bye full-time job hello ownership

“In June 2016, I left the engineering world and went full-time. After a year it was obvious I had the need for commercial space to move forward, so I got the space in Windham and here we are! Currently tuning Subaru, Mitsubishi, Nissan/Infiniti, Mazda, Ford, Chevy, Dodge and some stand-alone ECUs. We service and repair pretty much any make or model. Lots of stuff planned and couldn’t be happier about it all.”

One of the advantages of having a storefront is the added space and exposure. One day Dylan Dupee was driving by the Windham shop and decided to stop to see if the owner of the speed shop might need some help. Baxley and Dupee talked and the Brighton native was hired as Baxley’s one and only employee.

Baxley on left and Dupee ham it up in the drift car being built for “Drift the Streets” in Lewiston in 2018. HTF Motorsports photo

Dupee comes to Baxley Speed Shop with a stint in the Marine Corps, school at Wyo-Tech, mechanic work in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and work on commercial trucks.

Hiring Dupee has added to the variety of projects and interests  in the shop’s future. He hopes to see more drifting at local tracks as well as the “Drifting in the Streets” pro event in downtown Lewiston early in 2018.

Other projects they would like to take on include drag racing cars and spectator drag cars at oval tracks. Their next “Cars and Coffee” Open House is November 12 at 8 am.

Baxley Speed Shop works out of a 2000 square foot shop with a lift and lots of parking with security. The shop is located at 646 Roosevelt Road in Windham next to Windham Power Sports.

The Baxley family includes wife Ashley (married in 2011) from Simpsonville, South Carolina and son Eddy (5 years old).

What are people saying about Baxley’s Speed Shop

Viking Performance owner, Chris Molberg, who I featured earlier this year said, “Charlie Baxley is a an accomplished tuner on multiple automotive platforms. He applies his engineering background in his approach to tuning.”

Porsche 914 on a pull at Moberg dyno in Standish, Maine. Viking Performance Tuning photo

I’ve had many high performance cars and recently finished my third Subaru build, ” said Nate Hodgdon from Cornish. “Over the years I’ve dealt with many tuners and tuned ecu’s. They all seemed pretty similar, they put your car on a dyno spend a few hours tuning it and then send you on your way.”

“Charlie Baxley was the first one I’ve ever encountered that really involved me in the process and explained what he was doing to my car and why. I’ve learned a ton over the last year and a half working with him and he’s become a good friend.”

“He really loves what he does and dropped everything to pursue his dreams. We finally have someone willing and able to bring your turbo drive-train to the next level in the greater Portland area, take advantage of it!”

Nate Hodgdon Subaru with a “Baxtune” on the dyno at Viking Performance Tuning . Photo courtesy Nate Hodgdon

“Charlie Baxley and his shop performed a clutch replacement on my first generation WRX,”  said South Portland’s Philip Winslow. “I was pleased with the whole personable process. Communication was an A+. I would continue to hire them for future work, hands down.”

Philip Winslow’s first generation Subaru WRX was a clutch replacement candidate repaired by Baxley’s. Photo courtesy Philip Winslow

Baxley sponsored autocross driver Ben Spatafora, Portland,  had this to say about the SpeedShop, ” I’ve worked with Baxley’s SpeedShop since its infancy, when it was no more than a bay in his garage. In this time, I’ve been nothing but pleased with the work he has done on multiple cars for me.”

“He has tuned my Subaru STi to pick up some power and cleaned up the mapping from a previous tune from another reputable tuner. He has also diagnosed and repaired multiple issues with cars for me, ranging from a faulty fuel pump, to low compression in an engine. He runs a shop that puts out quality work, and stands behind it as well.”

Ben Spatafora’s Subaru at Loring autocross in August 2017. HTF Motorsports photo

Brunswick resident Ryan Wurfel had this to say about Baxley’s Speed Shop, “I only purchased parts and fluids so far but a very positive experience. Local shop that is race inspired and works to bring together all walks of automotive enthusiasts. Personable and knowledgeable approach right in our backyard.”

 Austin Theriault update

Austin Theriault and Ken Schrader Racing team were outfitted with tuxedos for the ARCA Championship Banquet at the Sagamore Ballroom at the Indiana Convention Center downtown Indianpolis December 9. AT Racing photo

I would love to be at the PRI Show in December. If anyone is going let me know. If you want an on-location reporter and want to pay my way feel free to contact me. (smile).

I am closing with my post about my four  1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTIs that are for sale so I can cover the cost of clutch repairs on my John Deere 950 tractor. As of publishing time just before 1 am it has 7,211 views!

“My John Deere 950 lost its clutch and had to go to the John Deere hospital in Presque Isle. Since it will cost a bundle, I have made the decision to sell my four 1983 VW Rabbit GTI cars for $1995. The red GTI has had almost every moving part replaced or rebuilt. The three black GTI are in rough condition but have spare parts and possibilities. Snow is coming and my tractor bill is also coming due so make your desire to own these classics known. Sad to see them go, however, I hope they go to someone who will appreciate these cars which began the high performance movement in small cars.”

Three of my four 1983 VW Rabbit GTIs that are for sale. HTF Motorsports photo

My John Deere 950 on the trailer to the John Deere hospital, Theriault Equipment in Presque Isle. Hale Tree Farms photo

Closing with some engine music courtesy Dan Gurney-Westlake V8

Let’s go racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

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