Speed records tumble at former Air Force base

Episode # 221

July 15, 2018

Speed Comes to the County

Aroostook County has been the place for motorsports fans these last couple weeks. Though somewhat remote, the County has hosted two of the largest speed festivals in the northeast. Just two weeks ago, Spud Speedway hosted one of its largest crowds in their 54 year history, the Aroostook Savings and Loan Firecracker 200.

The last five days Loring Timing Association has hosted some of the fastest land speed racers on the planet. The Maine Event was held at the former Strategic Air Command (SAC) Loring Air Force base in Limestone, Maine. Though the number of spectators may not have matched the Spud Speedway numbers (it appears the organizers are not emphasizing the spectator side of their event), the 85 entries made multiple runs at records in a variety of classes.

New Hampshire’s White in Fastest Corvette C6 on the planet

When I talked to Jason White after his final run at the  2017 Harvest Event, he said he would be back in 2018 with a goal of 260 mph. His speed at the 2017 Harvest event was 258.630 mph.

Since departing Loring last fall, White has been to A2 Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, North Carolina for aerodynamics testing. All stock wiring has been removed and custom military grade wire replaces it. Power steering has been replaced with K-Fab manual steering. Manual brakes now activate without the power boosting effect of power brakes. All ABS has been removed.

Stroud Safety, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma redid his parachutes to pull the car down after a fast run. White also fabricated a funny car style roll cage for more protection at high speeds.

White posted a 235.2 speed at the mile on his record run. With nitrous shots he added another 24 miles per hour to the mile and one-half finish line.

Jason White, Northwood, New Hampshire, on right, displays his 259.50 mph speed slip as the fastest at the Maine Event of the LTA. With White is crew member Uncle Mike Pucko, Gardner, Massachusetts. HTF Motorsports photo

Funny Car at Maine Event

The Pam Beineke Aeroforce funny car being attended to after a shakedown run down the track. Gary Beineke and crew member Lori O’Neill from Sharon, Massachusetts, drain the oil which is a necessity after each run. HTF Motorsports photo

Oil from Beineke’s Aeroforce funny car engine. I was told by Gary Beineke that this is what alcohol does to the oil. HTF Motorsports photo

After losing the Aeroforce Funny car body in 2017, the Sharon, Massachusetts-based husband and wife race team brought their improved racer back to Loring for another attempt at their goal of 300 mph.

Though not successful in getting to 300 mph, they gained more experience to help work toward that goal. They left holding the fastest speed in the mile with a run of 251 plus mph.

A jubilant Pam Beineke after a run at LTA Maine Event. After a complete rebuild from a 2017 crash, the team made five passes culminating with a 251 plus pass. Their goal is to have the fastest standing mile. Current record 293.2. They will be back for LTA Harvest Event. Stacy Robey photo

Rydin Decal Racing Team Meets their 200 MPH goals

When I was walking around the paddock at the Loring Timing Association’s Maine Event last Thursday, I noticed three cars parked together; two red Firebirds (numbers 238 and 738)  and a gold streamliner. When I got close to one of the Firebirds, I noticed Hot Rod Magazine Top Speed Challenge Real Street winner’s decals for 2016 and 2018.

That got my memory wheels turning. I remembered that Hot Rod Magazine featured some of the cars that enter the Top Speed Challenge contest.

When I got home that evening, I looked through my back issues of Hot Rod Magazine until I found what I wanted. There it was! December 2015 pages 46-52 article entitled “Speed Freaks; A Motley Crew of Standing-Mile Racers” by Brandon Gillogly.

On page 50 was the Rydin Decal Firebird known as Lucy, named after another famous redhead. The team went 237 mph at the Ohio Mile in Bloomington, Ohio with the same car they brought to Maine.

Greg Drake, Pagosa Springs, Colorado on left and Eric Gellman, Ocala, Florida checking Lucy to see what ails her after fire blew back through the carburetor and covered the windshield with a fireball. The car was driven by Jay Bell that run. HTF Motorsports photo

If you look closely you will notice the ground electrode on the spark plug on the right is missing and some aluminum flecks cover the porcelain. This was from the #2 cylinder indicating internal engine problems existed and that car was done for the trip. HTF Motorsports photo

Rydin Decal #738 (Ethel) showing damage on the left rear after a tire exploded at 220 mph. After pulling the chute, driver Greg Drake slowed the car down safely without incident. The blowout remains a mystery since this was only run two on that tire. Damage to the wheel well prevented further competition for this car. HTF Motorsports photo

Only Rydin Decal team member to come home with a non-hurt car

Owner/Driver Jeff Gentry with his bride of four months, Pam. The Gentrys live in Johnson County, Tennessee. HTF Motorsports photo

Making the long trip from Tennessee with a racecar in tow requires determination, persistence, grit, and yes money. Jeff Gentry is a member of the loose knit family of racers associated with Rydin Decals, a company owned by motorsports enthusiast Mark Weiler, Streamwood, Illinois.

Gentry drove his streamliner 205.210 mph to earn his way to a record and membership in the LTA 200 MPH CLub. The run was not a walk in the park, however.

After rocketing past the 1 1/2 mile markers, Gentry pulled his chute and jumped on his brakes. The parachute never deployed.

During rookie orientation, LTA safety officials bring new-to-Loring racers to the end of the runway to show them what to expect if attempts to stop are unsuccessful. Gentry finally got his streamliner stopped with the front wheels off the pavement at the end of the runway.

The streamliner was built in Rockingham, North Carolina by Tom Sarda, co-founder of the East Coast Timing Association. The project began in 1999 and was finished 12 years later. Gentry said the car only made 4-6 passes when he purchased it in November 2014.

After purchasing the land speed racer, Gentry began upgrading the safety systems. A 383 small block Chevy was installed along with a 2 speed Tex Racing, now G-Force racing transmission.

He brought the car to the 2015 race at the Ohio Mile. The streamliner went through tech yet was never raced. The Fall of 2015, Gentry made his rookie runs and set two records and broke a piston.

The Tennessee farm boy came back late in 2016 to Ohio with 352 small block Chevy and set 4 more records and crept closer to that 200 mile per hour goal with a run of 191 mph.

Since that time he added new front structure to add to the safety and integrity of the front of his streamliner. This also allowed him to add a tow point where he can hook onto and tow his race car while at the race track.

A 515 cubic inch big block Chevy was installed prior to coming to Maine along with an air shifted 5 speed clutchless Jericho transmission. A White Safety Products parachute was added as well.

The crowded driver compartment in Gentry’s streamliner not only restricts movement, it also limits visibility. HTF Motorsports photo

Gentry grew up on an 11 acre farm in Johnson County, a place know for its historical significance in the Civil War. The non commercial farm was a good place to learn to drive for the young man. His first driving practice was done with a 1946 Dodge pickup with no brakes.

When in high school the historical home caught fire on Christmas Eve and burnt flat. Gentry thought it was a wood fire in the old chimney that found its way to the interior of the upstairs portion of the home.

With two older brothers, Dean and Joe, the family lived in an apartment until they could get their home rebuilt.

His father, Bill, favored 1940 Fords as do many hot rodders, however, he never was a racer. His mom, Margaret Pauline was more of a speedster, often exceeding the posted speed limits, which seemed to impress the youngest of her children, so much so that Gentry named his streamliner Pauline after his mom.

In high school he owned a 1962 Chevy II with a 262 V8 which he later replaced with a 350 small block. He also raced karts on the dirt remembering that he had a fast Margay kart.

Gentry owns a sign and decal shop primarily servicing the helicopter industry which is big in his area. He said his goal at Loring was to make the 200 MPH Club, which he did. His car was the only un-scathed car in the team. He hopes to be back again.

The Rydin Decal Team came to Loring with the goal of getting all four drivers into the 200 MPH Club which they did. Left to right, Jay Bell, Salem, Virginia, Mark Weiler, Streamwood, Illinois, Greg Drake, Pagosa Springs, Colorado and Jeff Gentry, Johnson City, Tennessee. HTF Motorsports photo

Team leader, Mark Weiler said, “We consider this a very successful trip to the Maine Event; all four drivers got into the Loring 200 MPH Club and we learned a lot. We will make some changes before our return.”

” I have raced with about every sanctioning body, the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), East Coast Timing Association (ECTA), and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). None of them compare to these folks in Maine. The Loring Timing Association (LTA) have been wonderful ambassadors for the State of Maine.”

The Flying 7 fifty-seven Chevy lives on

Marcia Barker with her 1957 Chevy straight six vintage race car has become a hallmark of the land speed races at Loring. From the first adventures north, she has been a positive influence on many while extolling the great opportunities presented by the LTA to go fast with what you have.

Lately she has taken up vintage racing with her Model A Speedster carrying the Flying Seven markings. Her friend, Frank Walka with his 1915 Ford Model T racer have been attending events all around the northeast this spring.

While driving the 57 Chevy at Loring, Frank over revved the straight six, throwing connecting rods through the oil pan and oiling down the runway.

Some of “windows” opened up on the Flying Seven six cylinder engine. It’s not supposed to look like that! HTF Motorsports photo

Jesse Michaud, Caribou receives the logbook and keys to Marcia Barker’s Flying Seven vintage race car. Barker donated the racer to Michaud to keep it racing at LTA events. Stacy Robey photo

“Over the past year I’ve had it in my mind to build a GMC truck to put the engine in”, said Marcia Barker. “The 57 was given to me and I wanted to pass it on to a deserving individual. Jesse was a perfect fit. The car will live on at Loring. I know it is happy there.”

“Within a day, I was offered trucks, engines and another landspeed car. Is this a great group or what! I have been humbled by the experience and I’m sure that I will be racing another vehicle at Loring soon”

I am unsure of all the reasons that Marcia Barker made her mind up to give the Flying Seven vintage racer to Jesse Michaud, I do believe she will not just go away from the landspeed race scene. As for the car,  Michaud said he has a 283 Chevy which is period correct for that car and I suspect it will be racing at a future LTA event.

So many stories arise from the LTA events, however, time and space limit me to those I can tell. My advice is to make the fall Harvest Event a part of your schedule and simply start talking to a racer. They all have unique stories. I hope to be able to continue doing that myself.

New England Forest Rally July 20 and 21

Rally racing fans in New England will once again be able to see the finest drivers and crews in North America compete in Maine and New Hampshire this week. Subaru Rally USA will be at the race as will many privateers.

As of July 13, 2018 there are 54 cars entered in the national/regional event. Big names include Ken Block with his Hoonigan 1991 European Vintage Ford escort, Travis Pastrana and David Higgins with their Vermont Sports Cars Team USA Subarus.

Bangor’s John Cassidy at the 2017 New England Forest Rally in Bethel, Maine. Pete Kuncis onalimbracing.com photo

John Cassidy, Last Ditch Racing based out of Bangor said, “Last Ditch Racing, a Maine based performance rally racing team, is making preparation for their attendance at the 2018 New England Forest Rally. 2018 sees the team making their 19th consecutive trip to their home event.”

“The team will be piloting the venerable 2003 Subaru WRX STi at the event. Our goal is to pay attention to the overall preparation of the car. We’ve been slow and methodical in the assessment and preparation process this season. Rallying is an extreme sport, but it takes patience and some wisdom about when to take chances and when to dial it back a bit.”

“Long time Co-Driver Dave Getchell has made a decision to press pause on his rally career-for the moment. Dave and I have a relationship that is difficult to explain to anyone not in the sport. It’s something only other long-term Driver/Co-Drivers can really appreciate.”

“The things that we’ve experienced together are unique and very special. Rallying has allowed us to travel and meet fantastic people along the way. We’ve been together so long that we can’t even keep our stories straight after all these years!”

“Getchell will be on event, assisting John V as he assimilates into the Co-Driver’s seat in an Open Class Rally car.”

“The dynamics of racing with my son present new challenges and concerns for me as a Dad and a driver, but our plan is to have a great time and try to be quick.”

For more information about the rally go to the New England Forest rally website. http://www.newenglandforestrally.com/

Northern Maine Karting Association experiences growth

A doubleheader race card combined with an off week at Speedway Karting in Hermon allowed four Junior Cage Kart competitors to make the trip to Spud Speedway for the NAPA Auto Parts kart races. Results are as follows:

Feature race one presented by Kieffer United Insurance Agency

Aroostook Trusses Junior Cage Karts top five. Left to right 4th Madison Gillis, 5th Hazon Pellon, 3rd Mason Gillis, winner Bryan Searles, and 2nd place Kyle Morton. NMKA Race director Pierre Huntress is in back. Feature race two Searles finished second with Morton first. NMKA photo

Aroostook Trusses Junior Cage Karts

1st Bryan Searles, Presque Isle

2nd Kyle Morton, Eddington

3rd Mason Gillis, Detroit

4th Madison Gillis, Detroit

5th Hazon Pellon, Levant

Aroostook Savings and Loan Senior Champ Karts

NMKA Race director Pierre Huntress on left with double feature winner Damian Theriault and Tom Hale who finished second in both races. NMKA photo

1st Damian Theriault, Caribou

2nd Tom Hale Westmanland

Feature race two Presented by the Lavender Puff

Junior Karts

1st Kyle Morton

2nd Bryan Searles

3rd Mason Gillis

4th Madison Gillis

5th Hazon Pellon

Senior Cage Karts

1st Damian Theriault

2nd Tom Hale

The next race is August 11 Presented by Machias Savings Bank. Pits will open at 9:30 am and racing gets underway at noon. Pit admission is $10 while grandstand viewing is free.

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