Championship weekend ahead for Maine racer

Episode #190

December 3, 2017

Theriault family to attend 2017 ARCA Racing Series Awards Banquet

Indianapolis will be buzzing this week with the arrival of the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show at the Indiana Convention Center downtown from December 7-9. For Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault it will mark the one-year anniversary of the conversation he had with Ken Schrader at the 2016 PRI Show which lead to him launching an all-out attack on the 2017 ARCA Championship.

That meeting at the PRI Show was followed by discussions with Ken and Ann Schrader which resulted in a full-time ride with Ken Schrader Racing (KSR). This became the first time Theriault was able to put together a serious quest for a points championship in a long time.

Theriualt and his KSR team mates will be honored as the 2017 ARCA Series Champions. This will be the first time that any Maine native has won a major national stock car racing title. Cherryfield’s, Andy Santerre won four consecutive Busch North titles, 2002-2005, which was more of a regional series.

The 65th Annual ARCA Series awards ceremony will be held at the Sagamore Ballroom at the Indiana Convention Center Saturday evening at 6:30 pm. Over 300 are expected to be in attendance at the black-tie affair.

Sneak preview! Just completed the 2017 ARCA Racing Series trophies, one of which is Maine’s Austin Theriault’s. Cold Hard Art photo

The championship trophy will be extra special since it is designed and built by Cold Hard Art owner Tom Patsis. Patsis calls Ellsworth, Maine home. He works out of his shop/studio in Brownsburg, Indiana on Nitro Alley.

Theriault’s team owner, Ken Schrader recently re-signed with Federated Auto Parts for 2018 the 19th consecutive season together. Schrader will be at the PRI Show and of course the ARCA Racing Series banquet.

Schrader had this to say about the event,”I’ve been to a lot of banquets but the ARCA banquet is definitely, probably my favorite banquet. I like seeing everyone dressed up like that…trying to figure out who they are when they walk in.”

“There are always some really touching moments, funny moments…you just get a better appreciation at the ARCA banquet how hard everybody works to be there. It’s not so scripted…there’s more grass-root racers there, more for the love of the sport.”

Photos and a full report will be in Episode 191 next Sunday. Do you think Austin will be making any major announcements at the PRI Show this week. Great opportunity with most of racing industry in attendance.

Swanson will be crowned USAC Silver Crown Champion at PRI

Kody Swanson was awarded the USAC 2017 Silver Crown Championship before the season finale at Eldora Speedway. Joining him were family, friends, and crew of the #63 team. Kelly Okland photo

The night before Austin Theriault is feted as the 2017 ARCA Racing Series champion, Kody Swanson will be recognized as the United States Auto Club (USAC) Silver Crown Champion. The USAC Night of Champions  ceremony will be held December 8 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom at 6:30 pm.

Last year’s (2016) USAC Silver Crown trophies. Unfortunately USAC did not commission Cold Hard Art to produce the 2017 version. Cold Hard Art photo

In addition to the Silver Crown Champion, winners in the Sprint and Midget Divisions will be recognized. For Swanson, the Silver Crown champ, this will be his third championship in the last four years. He currently is number two in Silver Crown wins.

Swanson to race at the Chili Bowl Nationals in January

January’s cold winds and snow tend to make one’s mind wander either backward toward the 2017 season or look forward to 2018. Racers from all over the world will shatter that lull as they converge on the Tulsa State Fairgrounds River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma for six days of indoor clay track racing.

Activities at the 1/4 clay circle track begin January 8 with practice and culminate Saturday January 13 with the feature races. January 9th begins the elimination races leading up to the finale. As of press time there are 148 entries. Organizers are expecting over 200 entries before cutoff.

Kody Swanson was announced as one of Dunlap Performance’s Chili Bowl drivers. Casey Shuman will be teaming up with Swanson who will be in the #32 D while Shuman will carry the number 32. Dunlap Performance painting.

Since it is Christmas season, I have a list

It seems like everywhere I turn there is a list of wants and desires for Christmas gifts. I thought it would be cool to come up with a list of my own. I will call this list, HTF Motorsports recommended reading.

I will not list every source where you might find these books, nor will I get into great details. Simply recognize that some of these books have been in my library for several years, while some have made my bookshelves recently. Some may be out of print and unavailable.

This list is not going to contain every book that I have read, nor will it contain every book that I want to read. All books listed have been read by me , some multiple times thus their dog-eared look.

The list in no particular order:

Carroll Smith produced a series of books which, though out of date now, still contain many useful ideas and concepts. “Prepare to Win” was first in a series of five books. HTF Motorsports photo

Another book in the Carroll Smith line is “Nuts, Bolts, Fasteners and Plumbing Handbook”. As you can see I have many notes stuffed into the pages of this well read book. Fasteners can be one of the fail points in a race car if misunderstood. HTF Motorsports photo

This 1975 first edition “The Unfair Advantage” by Mark Donohue and Paul Van Valkenburgh helped cement Donohue as one of my favorite drivers. HTF Motorsports photo

In 2009 Michael Argetsinger wrote about Mark Donohue’s life which included personal details which Donohue left out of “Unfair Advantage” on purpose. “Mark Donohue; Technical Excellence at Speed” gives an inside look at what shaped Donohue and why he did things which shaped his racing career. Must read this together with “Unfair Advantage”. HTF Motorsports photo

Michael Argetsinger’s 2010 book “Mark Donohue; His Life in Photos” was a follow-up to his 2009 book about Donohue. It contains some rare photos from Donohue’s childhood until the final race which took his life in 1975. HTF Motorsports photo

One of my favorite DIY books is “Practical Fabrication and Assembly Techniques; Automotive * Motorcycle * Racing” by Wayne Scraba. He include many clear photos and explanation of often overlooked details that not only make your race car more reliable but may also be utilized on any vehicle you may have. HTF Motorsports photo

“Tony Stewart True Speed; My Racing Life” by Tony Stewart and Bones Bourcier published in 2003 contains many details about Stewart’s early career exploits. The book was given to my by my friend Mick Saunders who was part of Stewart’s midget team when he was called the “Rushville Rocket”. Stewart lived with the Martz family in Rushville at that stage of his career. My edition was autographed by the Martz family and Mick Saunders. HTF Motorsports photo

Sam Posey from Sharon, Connecticut published his autobiography in 1975, “The Mudge Pond Express”. Posey, now 72, was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease 22 years ago. His writing style reflects his ability to craft sentences in such a manner as to hold the reader’s attention. New England folks may relate to the early years of Posey’s career. HTF Motorsports photo

William “Bill” Milliken got his start in Old Town, Maine in 1911 where he lived until the early 30’s. His autobiography “Equations of Motion; Adventures, Risk, and Innovation” though 695 pages long contains some interesting historical insight . I was particularly interested in his childhood growing up in Old Town. I have visited some of the places he described and can imagine him involved in some of the adventures he describes in the book. In my opinion he should be in the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame. HTF Motorsports photo

When I first met Bob Riley at Riley & Scott in Speedway, Indiana I was intrigued by his story. When Bob teamed up with Jonathan Ingram in 2015 to write “The Art of Race Car Design” I had to have the book. My desk at the Daytona International Speedway Media Room in January was next to Mr. Ingram’s. He made sure I got an autographed edition. HTF Motorsports photo

My list of books as I have stated is by no means complete nor comprehensive. Imagine if I owned none of the books, my wish list would include all of them. If you have a motorsports book that you could not put down email me at

Epic engine failure at Marlatt Engine & Dyno

You may remember in an earlier episode, I had a chance to visit Marlatt Engine & Dyno in Rushville, Indiana. While there with my friend Gene Robbins, the dyno was under repair by owner Paul Marlatt. Since that time a couple of engine component failures have made the rounds on social media including a turbo failure which sent the turbo impeller through the roof of the dyno room.

Though impressive, nothing compares to this destructive engine blow-up. Marlatt’s son Levi stated that the engine suffered severe metal fatigue at the bell-housing area probably caused by a tough season of pulling competition.

Take note that the crank continued to spin after the block had departed. Shrapnel filled the air with parts ricocheting off the walls.

The remains of a Cummings triple turbo after the bell-housing area cracked from fatigue. Marlatt Engines & Dyno photo

Austin and family at Salem Speedway

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