Aroostook Savings and Loan PASS Firecracker 200 helps Feed the County

Episode 219

July 1, 2018

Firecracker 200 is finally here

When it was announced several months ago that the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) would be racing at Spud Speedway July 3rd, it seemed so far away. Despite the seemingly long time to race day, that announcement started the wheels in motion.

When owner Troy Haney landed Aroostook Savings and Loan as a sponsor for the fireworks show, the project soon became an opportunity to raise money for the 24 food pantries supported through Catholic Charities. Local TV station WAGM got involved to help promote this Feed the County event.

When Haney suggested at one of the planning meetings that each lap of the race be sponsored by individuals or companies, everyone in that room gulped. That would involve raising $10,000 in an area where money is scarce.

Haney’s idea soon was embraced by all involved and sponsors for each lap joined in the effort to raise money for a worthy cause. Many laps were chosen because the number represented some special driver, date, or event which that person associated with the number.

One example is former County resident Ronnie Cummings now living in Georgia. He grew up going to races at the track. After the announcement that PASS would be at his favorite hometown track he booked his vacation in Maine around that event, He purchased:

  • Lap 2 for Uncle Dale Johnson
  • Lap 10 in honor of Tom Hale “The Racing Farmer”
  • Lap 33 for Hall of Fame member Chink Maynard
  • Lap  96 for Hall of Fame member Bobby Alexander
  • Lap 99 for the Snoopy car of Dick Wheeler

Several area businesses got involved by purchasing several laps to help support the worthy cause. Something about Feed the County seems to resonate well with County folks. Maybe it is Catholic Charities leader in the County, Dixie Shaw whose charismatic ways urge folks to support the cause.

Regardless, three race groups, PASS, Street Stocks, and Enduros will take to the track Tuesday evening at 7 pm to not only compete for prize money, but help to put food on the table of many in need. Three racers will step into victory circle that evening, however, the real winners are all who help make this a successful  time to help those less fortunate. Congratulations to those winners as well.

My Picks!?

After looking at the list of PASS racers coming to the Firecracker 200, I am at a loss who is the favorite. Of course my sentimental favorites would have to be County residents Kirk Thibeau or Austin Theriault. Wyatt Alexander with deep roots in the County would be on my list as well.

I will not pick one individual for the 200 lap race. Johnny Clark has to be a favorite as the winner of the only PASS race at Spud Speedway in 2010. Five really good Canadian drivers will be vying for the top spot. Anyone of them would be crowd favorites.

I have not been successful getting names for the Ikey Dorr Street Stock qualifier. I would venture a guess that the regulars at Speedway 95 would be favorites in that race.

Anthony Moore, Hermon, Street Stock #14 which he races at Speedway 95. Photo courtesy Anthony Moore

I did hear, however, from Anthony Moore, who races at Speedway 95. He said, “Hi Tom my name is Anthony Moore I race at Speedway 95 in the Street Stock class I will be running up at  Spud on the 3rd! My car is a Generation 3 Camaro. This is my second year in the car.”

Moore, who works for  Bangor Neon Sign Company, will be making his first appearance at Spud Speedway. Moore told me he got a late start this year and had only raced two weekends. Despite his late start, Moore has one heat race win and a second in a feature.

Moore lives in Hermon with his wife Ansley and two-year old son Dylan. The Moore are expecting their next child. Best wishes to Anthony at the Ikey Dorr Qualifier and thanks for contacting me. I certainly look forward to  others to contacting me as Anthony has done.

Presque Isle’s Wayne “JR” Howlett will be racing his street stock in the Ikey Dorr Street Stock Qualifier at Spud Speedway Tuesday evening. He used the Caribou track to break-in some new rear end gears. I am unsure if Jon Dixon will be at the show. HTF Motorsports photo

When I looked at the entry list of Enduro drivers, my eye immediately went to perennial favorite Bobby Anderson. Anderson has won so many Enduro/Bomber races that he cannot recall the number. He certainly will be the most experienced and must be looked at as a favorite.

Another veteran Enduro driver Dell Brissette’s Chevy Aveo Enduro # 77 with a police car theme. One of several local racers vying for the $500 first prize. Second place is $300, third $200, fourth $150, and fifth $100. Brissette Racing photo

These guys helped make it possible

When Spud Speedway owner Troy Haney announced less than a month ago that he wanted all 505 bleacher planks replaced in addition to the other projects at the track, I was somewhat pessimistic that all that work could be accomplished in such a short time.

I think Spud Speedway has bought up every  2 X 10 X 12 spruce plank north of Bangor to make this happen. In addition over 1,400 feet of fence was replaced with chain link fence and secured to poles. No more sagging wire.

Haney Building Specialties Carpentry and Grounds crew worked hard to get the Caribou track ready for the Firecracker 200 on Tuesday. From left to right Jeremy Chasse, Charlie Michaud, Chandler Cole, Jeff Chestnut, Brandon Masse, Galen Poitras, and Tyler Raymond. Not available for the photo were Kevin Masse, Chandler Cole Jr., Logan Malm, and Carson Cole. HTF Motorsports photo

How hard did it rain at Spud Speedway last Friday.? You are looking at turn two where the manhole drain is located. No threat of rain for Tuesday’s race. HTF Motorsports photo

Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) welcomes new race family

NMKA is in a building year similar to what many high school and college teams go through. Several former racers have moved on to other adventures or venues. Members were excited when the Adam and Lynn Russell and son Kyle moved into Aroostook County from the Bangor area.

The Russell’s son Kyle was racing at Speedway Karting in Hermon. The move to the County did not interrupt the youngster’s chance to continue racing in the Kids Kart class. Though it was his first time at the Caribou kart track, Russell was able to fit right in with fellow racer Kayden Haines. They struck up an immediate friendship.

Kyle Russell, Easton in kart #18 and Kayden Haines, Caribou in the red kart get pre-race instructions from NMKA flagman Marcel Bosse. Lynn Russell photo

Post race in Kids Karts in NAPA Victory Lane on left Kayden Haines, Race Director Pierre Huntress center, and Kyle Russell right. Lynn Russell photo

The next races for NMKA will be July 14 a double-header Presented by Kieffer Insurance and Lavender Puff. Gates open at 9:30 am with racing at noon. Contact NMKA on Facebook if interested in racing karts.

Monster Trucks At Presque Isle Fairgrounds

I was unable to attend the Monster Truck show at the Presque Isle Fairgrounds Saturday evening. My junior reporter Don Rideout gave me some information about the show. In addition, I was able to talk with a few people who attended.

From all accounts it appears the crowd was fairly large and enthusiastic. My sources say the Monster Trucks put on a good show and they were entertained by the Tough Trucks competition.

The winner of the Monster Truck portion of the show was Higher Education driven by Preston Perez. Don Rideout photo

Winner of the Tough Trucks race was Van Buren’s Mike Coventry. Placing second was Dylan Drost, Crouseville, and Trevor Pendexter, Washburn third. Don Rideout photo

An elated Mike Coventry with his crew after winning the Tough Trucks competition at the Monster Truck show at the Presque Isle Fairgrounds. Don Rideout photo

Kody Swanson wins four in a row in USAC Silver Crown and ties for most series victories

USAC Silver Crown driver Kody Swanson in action at Madison International Speedway, Oregon, Wisconsin. This was USAC Silver crowns first foray to the track. Rich Forman

I have been following the career of my friend Kody Swanson for years. Little did I know that he would have the success he has experienced in USAC Silver Crown Series. With his first victory in 2010, Swanson has since won a total of 23 times tying him with Jack Hewitt as the winningest Silver Crown drivers in USAC history. Hewitt’s record has stood for 18 years.

Swanson had this to say about the race and his career, “I’ve been trying really hard to not get distracted by the fact that we’ve been chasing down the USAC Silver Crown win record set by the greatest of all time in the series, Jack Hewitt, and to now be tied at 23 is a milestone I never thought was possible to reach.

I’ll say that now “we’ve” got 23 wins, because “I’ve” done 0 of them alone. From win #1 at DuQuoin, Illinois with Team 6R, to #23 in Madison, Wisconsin with DePalma Motorsports, it has been a team effort, a family effort, has included so many people who work behind the scenes, and without the grace and mercy of God none of it would’ve been possible. With losing Jason Johnson in a racing tragedy last week, my heart hurts for his wife and son, his family and all of those close to them. I ask that we all continue to pray for them and the racing community, and it reminds me to hold our loved ones close each chance we get and to cherish each and every day. With that, I’m so incredibly grateful for my family, friends and loved ones, let alone the opportunities that I’ve had in racing and all of the people who’ve helped along the way.

Thank you to Greg McKarns and Madison International Speedway for inviting the USAC Racing Silver Crown series to come up to your track, and to the Byrne’s and Bytec for your support to help it all come together. We had a great crowd come out Friday night, and I hope everyone enjoyed our series and the show, I know I enjoyed being there and competing on a new and challenging racetrack.

What a crazy journey it has been to this point. Wins are so hard to come by, that each and every one is so special in its own right.

I’m very thankful to be the driver of the DePalma Motorsports #63, and to be part of this team that has become family. Everyone continues to raise their game every chance they get, putting in more thought, more time and more effort just to try to help us get back to victory lane at whatever race is next on the schedule.

I’m thankful for Bob Hampshire and all that he does for this team, as our leader, engine builder and crew chief, and I’m glad that our team, other teams and race fans continue to recognize all that he does for us in another chapter of his Hall of Fame career. But without taking ANYTHING away from Bob, I want to make a special note of someone who this team and I  are so grateful for, and take the chance to share the spotlight a little here.

Clark has been a true unsung hero for me and this DePalma Motorsports #63 team, probably for the last five years, but it seems like now as much as ever. I don’t know if we gave him the title “Car Chief” that it would be enough. Not only does he carry so much of the workload preparing the car to go the distance, he is involved with almost every phase of the process in getting the entire team ready to do battle for 100 miles.

Going to a new track for the first time, we did a lot of extra homework to prepare for Madison the best we could, and Clark jumped through hoops for us to make sure every idea was followed-through to give us every chance to succeed. Racing can be such a tough sport, you never know what could be the difference in winning and losing, but Clark is always willing to go that extra mile to give us every chance to be our best and you simply can’t ask for anything more than that.

Truth be told, I believe that this is and has been an incredible TEAM, full of unsung heroes. Tony Depalma, Bob, Clark, Matt, Brian, Jesse, my wife Jordan, Ryan Roberts, BK Karraker, Shane, my Parents, Jordan’s Parents, the entire DePalma family, and the list goes on and on. Everyone that plays a part, plays an important part, and gives it their all.

I believe that everyone working so hard and so well together is what makes this so special, and has been the driving force behind the success we’ve been blessed with as a team. Thank you to all of our sponsors, manufacturers, fans and friends that support us. What an incredible ride this has been!”

The #63 DePalma Motorsports team with driver Kody Swanson in Victory Lane at Madison International Speedway. Swanson credits his team with each and every victory. The team’s next race is August 11 the Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial at Salem Speedway, Salem, Indiana. Swanson holds a 105 point lead over second place Justin Grant. Rich Forman

Jason Griffeth has the turf at Daytona looking good

You may recall the photos of the turf at Daytona International Speedway since my visit to the track in January for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Track personnel have been taking  photos of the transition from Daytona turf to motorcycle dirt track and back to turf for the upcoming Coke Zero 400 Saturday evening July 7th. I think you might agree the County native Griffeth has done a masterful job with the Daytona turf.

Start/finish area of the tri-oval at Daytona International Speedway. Refer back at past episodes showing the complete transition from turf-to-dirt-to turf made by Jason Griffeth and crew. This photo was taken prior to logo painting. Photo courtesy Daytona International Speedway

Upcoming in future episodes:

Loring Timing Association hosts land speed racers July 10-15 and Bangor based Last Ditch Racing kicks into high gear getting ready for the New England Forest Rally July 20-21, 2018 at Sunday River. This will be the teams 19th consecutive trip to their home event. Also some photos of the Great American Race as it wound its way through Bangor. Don’t I wish I could be everywhere.

Say hello at the Firecracker 200 at Spud 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