Record crowd at Spud Speedway in Caribou

Episode 220

July 8, 2018

Firecracker 200 in the books and it was good

July is loaded with motorsports events in the County or nearby New Brunswick. Car cruises abound and warm weather is cooperating to allow people to enjoy what the short season in northern Maine allows us gearheads to participate in.

For me, the Aroostook Savings and Loan Firecracker 200 culminated months of preparations. The staff and volunteers at Spud Speedway wanted each and every fan to have a positive experience. Whether it was clean restrooms, well prepared food, and manicured facilities.

Front stretch crowd at Firecracker 200. Spud Speedway photo

Main stretch and turn one crowd at Spud Speedway Firecracker 200. Crowds this size had not been seen at the track since it opened in 1964. Spud Speedway photo.

Track owner Troy Haney was pleased with the crowd turnout for the Firecracker 200. He and I were talking about crowd size about 5 pm. We both commented that we hoped more people would make it to the track. From that point on it was like a floodgate had been opened as race fans poured into the Caribou facility.

” I would say this was a phenomenal event that went off as well as anyone could have expected”, said Haney. “I don’t have an official number but I would guess there were 2500 our so in attendance.”

And the races…

My guess is that most of the people came to see the Pro All Stars Series (PASS)  drivers in action. They did not disappoint. Despite local favorite Austin Theriault unable to finish the feature due to a clutch and electrical malfunction, race fans were treated to door-to-door action throughout the 200 lap race.

On a stroll through the pits, WAR Crew Chief and Hall of Fame member Bob Alexander told me, “Look we got the pole”. HTF Motorsports photo

Local connected Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) never found the handling to run with the front pack yet was able to hang on for a seventh place finish. Alexander is one of the four finalists in the Valvoline Fast Track to Fame contest which ended the night of the Firecracker 200. They hope to hear results this week. Their next race is at Seekonk Speedway, Seekonk, Massachusetts for the Pro-Stock Nationals.

Presque Isle’s Kirk Thibeau being interviewed by Mainely Motorsports TV and Chasing the Checkered’s Amy Harrop prior to the Firecracker 200. HTF Motorsports photo

One of the reasons that PASS made the trip to the Caribou track was the confidence that Spud Speedway multi-time points champion and PASS racer, Kirk Thibeau expressed to management of the touring series being successful with this race. Despite having to revert to his old reliable Ford when some parts for the new super late-model he is building did not fit, Thibeau placed 11th.

Despite a broken clutch and mysterious electrical problem, Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault met with fans, worked with the PASS announcer, and mingled with his fans until the last interview and autograph was signed at 11:30 pm. Black Dot Photography by Jim Leighton

Checkered flag for Firecracker 200 race winner Derek Griffith. Black Dot Photography by Jim Leighton

Firecracker 200 winner Derek Griffith, Hudson, New Hampshire, center, D J Shaw, Center Conway, New Hampshire on left finished second, and Cassius Clark, Farmington, Maine placed third. Black Dot Photography by Jim Leighton

Race winner Derek Griffith commented, “The track was a cool place! Tough, goofy little track. It was real racey. Good door to door racing! I was just hoping those last 15 laps the motor would hold. I was lucky it did. I knew DJ (Shaw)  was close I just didn’t want him to have a chance at a bump and run.”

Griffeth who sits second in points behind D J Shaw, finished with water streaming out his overflow pipe. He said his crew chief told him to hold it to the floor no matter what.

Fairhaven, Massachusetts’ Kyle DeSouza rolled after hitting the turn one tire wall during practice and was finished for the night. Black Dot Photography by Jim Leighton

Ikey Dorr Street Stock Qualifier race winner, Bryan Robbins, Montville. Jeff Alley, Machias was second, and Jordan Pearson, Thorndike was third.The only Aroostook County racer, JR Howlett finished 5th in the race. Black Dot Photography by Jim Leighton

Enduro racer Brett Butler, Limestone, rolled his # 27 car on the front stretch. The car caught on fire after Butler had escaped. Track safety crew leader Rick Lamothe extinguishes the flame. Black Dot Photography by Jim Leighton

Enduro race winner Josh Knoll, Wells, with second place Derek Pearson, Bradford, on left and third place Wayne Fox Junior, Caribou, on right. 23 cars started the 50 lap race. Black Dot Photography by Jim Leighton

Miss Caribou 2017 Sheridan Blackstone, daughter of Dan and Sheri Blackstone, Caribou, sang both the Canadian and American National Anthems. In my opinion she knocked them out of the park. Black Dot Photography by Jim Leighton

Feed the County’s Director Dixie Shaw on left discussing the Firecracker 200 event with Austin Theriault’s mother Terry on right. Shaw was very pleased to be able to give the command, “Drivers, start your engines!”. Over $10,000 was raised for Feed the County as a result of the event. HTF Motorsports photo

Kaitlin, from Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, was greeting race fans as they entered the parking lot as part of the “You’ve Been Ticketed” promotion. Everyone wearing a seat belt was given a voucher for a free seat belt safety t-shirt upon entering the grandstand area. With her on right is Jim Levasseur, Fort Kent who was wearing his seatbelt. HTF Motorsports photo

Stockholm native and Maine Motorsports Hall of Famer member, Tom Peters, hauling his vintage snowmobile display at the July 4th parade in Stockholm. He was also at the Firecracker 200 the night before and had this to say,”I thought it was very well-organized and the facility appeared to be in great shape.. Could certainly tell that a lot of effort was put in to make it a first class event. Spent a lot of time there in the mid 60’s and into the mid 70’s watching the Bobby Alexander, Dick Wheeler, Chink Maynard, Erny Levesque to name only a few.. Brought back some wonderful memories of not only watching these Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame legends but also of racing snowmobiles on that track.. Great Job Done by All.. Wish Austin could have raced, but as the old saying goes, That’s Racing.” HTF Motorsports photo

Check out this aerial view of Spud Speedway during the Firecracker 200 courtesy of Derek Patten

What is next for Spud Speedway?

Track owner, Troy Haney mentioned some possibilities for future events at the track. He put out feelers on the Spud Speedway Facebook site about holding the Long John race, previously hosted by Unity Raceway, at Spud Speedway in the approximate same time this fall. Typically that is an October race.

Haney is looking for input from racers and fans about their interest in such a race. I am not sure what classes would race in that type of event. Contact Haney for more information and your ideas on the Spud Speedway Facebook page.

He also has said in the past that he would like to see four special once-a-month motorsports type events at the Caribou track since experience has shown him that weekly racing is not viable at this time.

Currently Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) runs their ten race schedule on every other Saturday utilizing the special built kart track.

I would hope that motorsports fans and racers might take advantage of this window of opportunity and momentum to come together with ideas, races and events in the future at the Caribou track.

Loring Timing Association’s Maine Event will be July the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine. HTF Motorsports photo

Speed is coming to the County

The only drug more powerful than the illicit ones is the “need for speed” addiction which will be assuaged  at the former Strategic Air Command (SAC) Air Force base in Limestone July 10-15.

The 1.5 mile runway is known throughout the land speed world as the place to go fast in northern Maine. With its wide runways and smooth surface the track holds within its clasp the possibility for new records in both motorcycle and automobile classes.

After setting the fastest time at the LTA Harvest Event, an elated Jason White prepares to exit his Corvette in the pit area. HTF Motorsports photo

I am not privy to the list of entrants, however, I suspect New Hampshire’s Jason White will have his Corvette at the track to attempt to move his current record speed of 258.630 miles per hour to at least 260 mph.

Pam Beinke in the driver’s seat of Aeroforce 1971 funny car as husband Gary helps bring her to the line. HTF Motorsports photo

Will Pam and Gary Beinke be bringing their Aeroforce funny car back for another shot at the 300 mph mark despite having suffered severe damage to their car in the Harvest 2017 event. The body blew off at over 200 mph.

Fastest motorcycle at the Harvest Event belongs to Scott Davis of Ontario, Canada. The former New Brunswick man went 263.190 mph. Photo courtesy Stacy Robey

Will three-time Bill Warner Award winner for fastest motorcycle, Scott Davis, return for another attempt at holding his title? The LTA event always attracts a host of different motorcycles, cars, and upon occasion outlandish race vehicles.

One of the most outrageous was the Harley Davidson powered luge. I am uncertain of the driver’s name or speed. I remember he controlled direction by dragging his feet.

Lithium-ion batteries power Robert Laravie’s replica of the 1903 Baker Torpedo Kid. HTF Motorsports photo

The beautiful Land Speed Streamliner driven by Burton Brown of Wisconsin making the last run of the 2015 “Spring Thaw” land speed race Sunday afternoon at Loring. Brown could not make a full pass due to a broken transmission. Photo by HTF Motorsports

These unique land speed racers will be worth the price of admission. I do not know what LTA will be charging at the gate for the Maine Event. Racing begins Wednesday July 11. Tech inspection will begin July 10 and be available all six days of the race.

For more information check out the Loring Timing Association Facebook page and/or their website.

NMKA Double Header next Saturday at noon

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

Due to conflicts in racing schedules the Northern Maine Karting Association moved their July 28 race to July 14. The race will now be a double-header with hopes that promise of several races will attract kart racers from other tracks to Spud Speedway.

Pit gates open at 9:30 am with racing at noon. As always the grandstands are free for viewing while pit entrance is $10.

#AroostookImports make trek to Oxford Plains Dragway for Wicked Pissah Stage 3

#Aroostookimports Car Club made the trip to Oxford Plains Dragway this weekend. According to trip organizer Matt Beaulieu five cars went and four came home with awards. Left to right Tom Donohue, Aaron Trombley, Patrick Plaud, Matt Beaulieu, and Brandon Plaud. Photo courtesy Carol Plaud

New England Forest Rally coming to Sunday River Resort in Bethel July 20 & 21, 2018

More about the New England Forest Rally in next week’s episode. Bangor’s John Cassidy is making his 19th appearance at the national event. This time his son John Cassidy V will be making his competition debut as the navigator/co-driver. Read more about the event in next week’s episode. Meanwhile make plans to attend this race.

Click here for the event’s website

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