Two and one-half million lights at the Brickyard

Episode 192

December 17, 2017

World’s most famous racetrack hosts “Lights at the Brickyard”

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened it gates for their second annual “Lights at the Brickyard” display from November 17 to December 30. Whitney Doyle Driver who has ties to Aroostook County took the tour this evening along with her husband Brandon and friends Sarah Wunderlich and Karen Bearman.

I wonder if other race track around the country offer light shows this time of year? I noticed that Bristol Motor Speedway has a light display. Send me an email if your local track does something similar.

Whitney Doyle Driver, and husband Brandon and friends at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s second annual “Lights at the Brickyard” two-mile long light show. Whitney Doyle Driver photo

The catch fence on the Indy road course. Recognize those names? No they are not the winners of the first ten Brickyard 400 races. Whitney Doyle Driver photo

With over 2.5 million lights, Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted area families with their second annual “Lights at the Brickyard” display which runs from November 17 to December 30th. One lap of the display course is only $25 per car during the week and $30 per car on weekends. Whitney Doyle Driver photo

K & B Automotive Open House

K & B Automotive in Ellsworth is celebrating 25 years with an open house at 3 to 6 pm December 18. You may recognize them as the owners of Wyatt Alexander Racing race team. K & B Automotive photo

Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) putting in shop time prepping for upcoming races. Photo courtesy WAR

I am privileged to follow the WAR race team throughout the last several years. On one occasion I visited the team headquarters at K & B Automotive in Ellsworth. I worked alongside Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame member Bob Alexander, the founder of K & B Automotive. We spent time on pre-season preparation of the #96 super late-model.

I would like to say that my diligent labor on the race car yielded several victories that season, however, it turned out all I had time to do was attach the hub cap covers after chasing the threads and cleaning out the bolt holes. I did get to pick the crew’s brains for future UpNorth Motorsports episodes.

This is the official press release announcing the open house:

“Today we will be celebrating 25 years in business! Please join us for an open house from 3pm-6pm. There are giveaways, several drawings for prizes, food and music. Come enjoy a break from it all with us! Share our event to go into a drawing for a free oil change!”

Key to Theriault success in 2017

One of the most important reasons for Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault winning the 2017 ARCA Racing Driver’s Championship was his crew chief Donnie Richeson. Richeson has been at Schrader Racing several years and had never had a chance to win a season championship.

One thing I noted in several conversations with Theriault was his immediate bonding with his crew chief. It was as if there was a father-son mentor-mentoree relationship right off the bat.

Several times Richeson mentioned that he felt as though Theriault was a special driver who helped carry the team during the tough parts of the season. I thought it might be interesting for you to hear the words of crew chief Donnie Richeson at the ARCA Championship Banquet when he was honored as Cometic Crew Chief of the Year. Thank you to ARCA Racing for the video.


Restoration of Hot Rods

I am still looking for someone to allow me to help with their restoration of a vintage race car. I am not the greatest mechanic, especially not the fastest, however, I would be willing to possibly feature your project in a future episode of UpNorth Motorsports.

I think it is rather interesting when I view the projects online of folks bringing back to life race cars which may have defined an era in racing. Not sure if anyone in the County is taking on that type of project.

I will be visiting the Northern Maine Antique Tractor Club as they begin the restoration of a Cockshutt tractor for their 2018 raffle. I am looking forward to spending a Saturday with that crew at the Robert Kilcollins shop in Fort Fairfield soon.

Racers take time off for Christmas

I had a conversation about the off-season with Michael Morneau, the rear tire carrier for the #4 Kevin Harvick Ford. Morneau has worked for Stewart Haas several seasons and has been a part of championship teams including Tony Stewart and Harvick. Morneau is a native of Oxford, Maine.

Mike Morneau waiting for the next Kevin Harvick pit stop. Morneau is from Oxford, Maine now living in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Jeffrey Roberts photo

I asked Mike what he was up to in the off-season. He replied, ” I take as much time off from all of it as I can. Just enjoy time spent with my family.

“I do work in the shop but I’m off the whole month of December because I had vacation days saved up.So starting January 2nd I’ll work in the shop until we go to Daytona then it’s game on for year #14.”
I suspect the next couple weeks will be slow time for the race teams across the country as the take a much-needed break to enjoy the Christmas holiday before jumping back into action getting ready for the 2018 race season.
I suspect this quote¬†from Marshall Pruett’s article, SPM Impressed by Wickens’ first 2018 aero kit run in typifies many teams. Team manager, Piers Phillips, talks about their final test run with IndyCar rookie Canadian Robert Wickens¬† at Sebring International Raceway recently,. The test was the last of 2107.

Phillips and the rest of the SPM team will get some much-needed time away from the shop over the Christmas break. Having found the first hints that everyone’s on the right path, the Briton admits that shutting down for the holidays could be difficult.

“We’re gaining momentum, and we’ll have a few wobbles, but it’s up to me and the rest of leaders to build a foundation so we can gather ourselves and keep waking forward,” he added. “We relish the challenge, and I’m not expecting to knock doors out of windows at St. Pete, but this momentum has already started.

“And we’ll take two weeks out of the office for two weeks, but we’ll keep our minds working. It’s been a huge strain and workload all year, and I’m looking forward to shutting down the laptop, going home, putting my feet up, and having a beer. But I suspect I might open it up on Monday and send out a few emails … The work never stops, does it, but everyone here deserves a break and then it will be back at it with 2018 testing.”

No UpNorth Motorsports next Sunday

Unless there is breaking news from Austin Theriault next week, I will not be publishing UpNorth Motorsports next Sunday evening. Episode number 193 will have to wait until December 31. It will be a special edition featuring all my favorite stories from 2017 race season. I believe it will be one episode you will not want to miss.

Thus I will wish all of you the very best Christmas. My prayer is that you will have a chance to share this special time of year with family, friends, and co-workers. Remember the reason for the season, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s take time off from racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

Whitney Doyle Driver, and husband Brandon and friends at Indianapolis Motor Speedway light show. Whitney Doyle Driver photo

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