What I would say to Dad on Father’s Day

Episode 217

June 17, 2018

What I would say to Dad on Father’s Day 2018

My father’s headstone in a cemetery located on Grimes Road in Caribou. That little dashed line between birth and death has fascinated me for years. It represents the life of Thomas R. Hale. HTF Motorsports photo


Thirty five acres of tablestock potatoes and seventy-five acres of oats and hay was all that my father, Tom Hale, grew to support our family of six kids on a rocky hilly farm on Grimes Mill Road in Caribou. When someone says poor, I can relate to that statement.

I remember some interesting meals, which at the time appeared to be normal. I still like Spam, Vienna sausage, fiddleheads, beans and hotdogs. My mother and father somehow made this work until their divorce in the early 1970’s.

The stress and strain of having to work, work, and work some more strained their relationship until it finally broke. I was in college at the time and suspect part of my lousy grades were due to the break-up of our family on that Grimes Mill farm. Not using that as an excuse, simply stating that it added to the multitude of distractions that called for my attention.

I did not want this blog to be about the Hale family. I do want it to be about my Dad on this Father’s Day 2018. Some of the things I experienced on that little farm have influenced me to this day.

Many questions pop into my head when I think back on some of the absolute crazy antics I did when young and living under his roof. I would like to share a few stories.

I remember listening, yes listening, to the Indy 500 on a transistor radio. I knew very little about the race. It seemed so big and as far away as the moon at times. I read voraciously anything I could about this race. Typically I got my information from Popular Mechanics or an occasional article in the Bangor Daily News. A special treat would be a chance to look at the car magazines for sale at Ritchie’s Pharmacy on Water Street.

My Dad had a remanufactured Ford Flathead short block from one of his farm trucks in a crate ready to be returned for core charges. I dreamed that this engine was in an Indy Car that I would build to compete in the 500. I could not let it rust, so I found some aluminum paint and proceeded to swab great amounts throughout the engine to prevent it from rusting.

Why he did not make me scrub off that paint I will never know. Maybe when I reluctantly admitted I had done it, he simply let it go. The engine was after all going back to the manufacturing company.

We had a 1950 or 51 Ford pickup that Dad bought to use on the farm, similar to how one might use a UTV today. The flathead powered, three-on-the tree pickup became my personal race car.

We had a field on the back of the farm that had a few wet-holes and not so fertile soil. That field was seldom used for potatoes. It became my dirt track oval.

With a farm gas pump at the home farm loaded with $.22 gas for refills, I would sneak out back to  my “race track” and put as many laps as I dared before my Dad might notice the pickup was missing or that I was not doing what I was supposed to.

I would pretend that I was Richard Petty or Mario Andretti holding off a pack of snarling race cars. I attempted to hit my marks or braking points until near the last of the life of the pickup, practice with no brakes.

I know my Dad had to have seen this packed down trail in the open field as well as the disappearance of gallons of gasoline. I can only remember him once saying that Grampy thought I might be hurting that field.

My final story happened at our home on Grimes Mill Road. Our back yard was flat for about 75 yards and then there was a small hill. To me that looked like the banked track at Daytona that I had read about and saw pictures of those 33 degree turns.

Our family car at that time was a 1963 Chrysler Newport four door with a standard transmission. My Dad had made the transition from Ford to Chrysler by then.

Our family car was similar to this Chrysler Newport. The engine was a 361 with a three speed transmission. KumberaMotors.com photo

I would drive this car through our front driveway, take a left on the lawn, approach the “high-banked” Daytona-like turn in the backyard and hammer down through the turn, and brake hard on exit to go relatively slowly in front of the house.

I cannot understand how I got away with this to this day. Compounding my bad deed was the losing of the clutch in our family car which my Dad attributed to my hundreds of laps in the car.

When we bought our next Newport, it had a push button shifter automatic. That car had to be fairly tough since I recall pushing the #2 button as I came off the banked turn to slow for my pass-by the front of the house.

Many more stories fill my head this Father’s Day. I ponder what I might have done if my son had done a portion of the knuckle-headed tricks I got away with (or thought I got away with). I wonder if all this time I was developing a love for motorsports that has stuck with me. Thanks Dad for not squashing my dreams, (although at times I suspect you wanted to cause me great bodily harm). I love you.

Firecracker 200 preparations continue at Spud Speedway

Excitement continues to build for the Aroostook Savings and Loan Firecracker 200 in conjunction with Feed the County and WAGM TV. Laps continue to be purchased in memory of loved ones as well as a host of other reasons.

The track is undergoing some major updates in anticipation of the events on Tuesday evening July 3rd. Construction crews continue to be on-site getting the Caribou track ready.

Chandler Cole removing old bleacher planks in preparation for painting of the steel standards and five hundred and five new bleacher planks which will be painted and installed. HTF Motorsports photo

The old well house in spectator area is gone. In its place is a new pit-less adapter courtesy of Bourgoine Plumbing. HTF Motorsports photo

Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) practiced at the Caribou track in preparation for the PASS race at speedway 95 on Sunday and the Firecracker 200 July 3rd. Driver, Wyatt Alexander flew home to practice with the car and finished 6th at Speedway 95 on Sunday. They became the first stock cars to turn a wheel at Spud Speedway since the close of the 2015 season. HTF Motorsports photo

The WAR #96 at speed at Spud Speedway. This was a shakedown session on a track that was “green” from lack of stock car racing for several years. HTF Motorsports photo

Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) is racing at Spud Speedway

Though stock cars have not raced at the Caribou track since 2015, the NMKA has staged kart races for the past three years. A group of kart racers, who were racing under the Spud Speedway umbrella until no leased the track after 2015, decided to for a non-profit organization to continue racing.

The last three seasons have been run under the auspices of NMKA with three classes of karts in ten race series.

Currently in a re-building mode after several teams either aged out, moved away, or were no longer interested in kart racing. The teams that remain are working diligently to build interest for the sport. Several karts are available for purchase.

Race Director Pierre Huntress, left, with race winner Kyle Morton, Eddington and second place Bryan Searles, Presque Isle on right. This was the first trip to the Aroostook County track for the Morton family. They were pleased with the track and fellow competitors and vowed to return this season. They were racing at Thundering Valley Raceway until it closed this season. Speedway Karting in Hermon is their home track. HTF Motorsports photo

With the retirement of Marcel Bossie and stepping aside of Janet Bosse and Jason Theriault, the Senior Cage Kart class is rebuilding as well with Damian Theriault inside and Tom Hale outside for the start of their race. Theriault continued his winning ways. He remains undefeated in all of the races held at Spud Speedway under NMKA sanction. BAS Racing photo

My right rear tire after the feature race. Classic symptoms of a tire that experiences wheel hop in the corners. Not the wavy grain appearance. HTF Motorsports photo

RYAN Motorsports with first Pro Stock win in 2018 at Speedway 660

Ryan Messer, Harvey, New Brunswick, began his graduation week activities with his first win of the 2018 season in Pro Stock. The Harvey High School senior will be graduating this week. The son of Robb and Penny Messer, has at least one win in  each of the last 8 seasons that he has been racing.

Robb, when asked about his son’s post graduation plans, he replied, ” He has a summer job at A.L. Gullison Disaster Cleanup. He’ll be going to the community college in Woodstock in the fall for a Truck & Transport Service Technician course.”

Son and father, Ryan and Robb Messer conferring before the races at Speedway 660 in New Brunswick Saturday before their first win of the 2018 season. RYAN Motorsports photo

The conference must have worked since Messer picked up his first Pro Stock feature win of the 2018 season. On the left is Ryan’s mom Penny and Dad Robb on the right.  RYAN Motorsports photo

Closing this episode with a video from Jesse O’Brien at the New England Hillclimb at Mount Okemo, Ludlow, Vermont. This clip is about 15 seconds long. It features Luke Moultroup who I have mentioned in several previous episodes.

Luke is from Richmond, Vermont. He competes with an open class modified Howe chassis  repurposed to go left and right. He finished second in the Okemo event.


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