County flight school in session

Episode 232

September 30, 2018

Motorcycles flying at County flight training site

Caribou’s Caleb Gordon in flight at MDMX . Gordon has been riding 18 years and practiced at MDMX since it was built in 2007. Gordon’s bike is a Honda 450. He is a wind power technician. HTF Motorsports photo

When the Monster truck show was announced for September 8 at Spud Speedway, I discovered that track owner, Troy Haney had been in conversation with someone who had built a motocross track in his backyard. I had to plead ignorance since I did not know that any motocross track existed in the County. The last place I knew about was at Lakeview restaurant in St. Agatha. I recalled that venue had been shut down for some time.

As showtime approached, Haney mentioned that a man named Mark McKissick would be at the race track to build a jump which would allow folks he trained to jump 85 feet or more. When it was time to construct the jump, I met Mark for the first time.

I asked several probing questions to make sure he was legitimate; that he knew what he was talking about when it came to motocross jump and course construction. It was then that I learned he had built his own private track which included some of the features we wanted at Spud Speedway.

McKissick shaped and groomed the jump, tabletop, and moguls used for the Monster Truck show. He tested the jump first with his four-wheeler to make sure his guys could utilize the specially built, single-event jump.

He rode his 250 cc ATV up the approach ramp and did a not so pretty landing. He then called on his most experienced rider, Ethan LeBlanc of Hamlin, to perform the jump.

LeBlanc made the jump look easy and over the course of the next couple days executed multiple take offs and landings.

While working at the track in preparation for the Monster Truck show, I had a chance to talk with McKissick about his track. He invited me to his end of the year event on September 29. I accepted the invitation.

I will admit I am not much of a motorcycle riding fan. My kart racing crew chief, Dick McNeal, was seriously hurt on a Triumph in the early 1970’s and that turned me off from owning or racing anything with less than four wheels.

End of Season Bash 2018

I was unsure of what to expect when I pulled into the staging area at McKissick’s track. Would there be one bike or fifty? Would the riders be “wacko wild men” with death wishes? Would the track be a crude rendition of a real track?

I got there early and met with McKissick who gave me the guided tour. I was pleasantly surprised to see a well constructed track that is about one mile in length. It featured several tabletop type jumps as well as a downhill jump (the photo of Gordon in flight is on that jump) which allows his best riders to attain jumps of over 100 feet.

One of the several berms ay MDMX taken at speed by Ethan LeBlanc,Hamlin. His bike is a 2015 Yamaha YZ 250. HTF Motorsports photo

Several well-shaped berms caught my eyes since they were harder to construct than flat turns. That showed me that he put much thought into construction and safety. And hid did all this work himself with a small Kubota tractor with a bucket. That is perseverance.

McKissick mentioned safety multiple times. He wants those using his facility to have fun and be challenged but not hurt. His rules for use of the private-by-invitation-only can be found at his Facebook site MDMX Training Grounds 

McKissick offers training to those wishing to learn motocross technique or learn how to “fly” on their motorcycle. He does not allow inexperienced riders to do the advanced level “tricks” without seeing them in action.

Upon arrival earlier in the day, I talked to Joe Pelletier, Fort Kent. You may remember I have reported about Joe’s exploits on racing sleds at a variety of venues. I had forgotten that he was an astute motocross racer as well.

Joe Pelletier, Fort Kent, on left talking with fellow motocross enthusiast, Caleb Gordon at MDMX venue. Pelletier rides a 2013 Yamaha YZ250. He has been riding since 1999. HTF Motorsports photo

“I did some practice laps today,” said the logging business owner. “I needed to get off the couch. I haven’t ridden for over a year. Wanted to dust off the cobwebs.”

Not only did he “dust off the cobwebs”, Pelletier set fastest time of the day. Each motocross rider was offered the chance to make two attempts at fastest time.

A single lap would be made from a standing start and would conclude at the finish line tabletop. Pelletier turned a lap time of 1:15.38, more than a second quicker than his closest competitor.

Joe Pelletier, Fort Kent, wins the $100 fastest time award at MDMX. His time was 1:15.38. MDMX photo

Joe Pelletier on the downhill jump during his record run. He reminded me that time in the air without your rear wheel in contact with the ground may lead to slower times. HTF Motorsports photo

Track owner, McKissick was one of the few riders who utilize a four-wheeler. He mentioned that the four-wheeler is very unforgiving, especially in the hands of someone with little experience. Jumping can be done, however, and he did emphasis that he could teach someone with an ATV how to correctly handle that experience. It does require much more practice than a motorcycle.

Mark McKissick aboard his Yamaha 250 ATV at the crest of a tricky uphill at his MDMX track. HTF Motorsports photo

Flying photos 

Flying high with his 2015 YZ 250, Wyatt Keegan, a junior at Fort Fairfield High School. These guys make it look easy. HTF Motorsports photo

A view from underneath Ethan LeBlanc as he twists he bike in mid-air. Hamlin on his Yamaha YZ 250 four-stroke. LeBlanc is one of the most experienced “flyers” in the County. He began when he was age three. HTF Motorsports photo

Gary Johnson, Chapman, with his 2014 Kawasaki KX 450 on one of the tabletop jumps. Johnson a wind turbine repairman competed at the Back 40 MX track in Norridgewock in 2017. He finished third in his class. HTF Motorsports photo

Mark McKissick on the “big jump” with his Yamaha four-wheeler. Do not try this at home, seek training on flying from McKissick at MDMX. HTF Motorsports photo

Family Fun

The Levesque family from Madawaska, l to r daughter Chloe a Junior at Madawaska High school, Scott (the Dad), and son 10-year-old Drew. They were accompanied by their wife/mom Kim. They did not know about the track until an internet search. They typically ride trails and found the track to a great change of pace. HTF Motorsports photo

Husband and wife duo, Joe and Tenessa Zetterman, Fort Fairfield. The couple spent some time riding without the kids. Once the kids, Kyriah (9), Trey (6) and Emmanalyn (3) are older they hope to bring them to the track to ride their motorcycles. Tenessa is the granddaughter of long-time stock car racer at Spud Speedway, the late Dave MacDougal. Her dad, Therran was the one of two County racers to enter the PASS Firecracker 200 at Spud Speedway this summer. HTF Motorsports photo

Tom Donahue adjusting his Yamaha sno-bike. The bike was unique, at least to me. It was designed to have a ski in front with a track in back. Donahue said he wanted to get seat time on his machine before winter and the conversion back to use on snow. HTF Motorsports photo

Hidden Heroes Hideaway

A dream of Mark McKissick is to build a cabin (Hidden Heroes Hideaway) at this spot with its incredible view of the Aroostook River, to serve as a get-away for caretakers of disabled veterans. HTF Motorsports photo

McKissick is the full-time caregiver for his disabled Marine older brother Jeff. He understands well the time, responsibility, and sacrifice required to be a caregiver. Despite the tough side of that, McKissick would have it no other way.

While living in Southbridge, Massachusetts, he realized that he needed to move somewhere that he had some room and fewer negative influences on his brother. He spent a great deal of his youth in the County and decided to move back.

In 2007 he began construction of part one of his dream, the construction of a motocross track. That would be an integral part of his plan for caregiver relief.

He wants to fly selected caregivers to the County, pick them up at the airport, and bring them to the Hidden Heroes Hideaway where they would find the cupboards stocked with their favorite food items.

He would offer ATV trips, canoeing or kayaking on the river, leaf peeping tours, and/or time for reflection at a well-appointed cabin. If needed he would refer the caregiver to counseling to help them recognize they are not alone in their situation.

Plans for the project are on hold until money is secured for the project and time allows construction to begin.

For more background on McKissick, I read his book, Madness, A True Story which revealed what a tough childhood the now forty-four year old had. I read the 200 page book in one evening. It was hard to read in several instances where he described in detail some of the horrific things he went through at the hands of an abusive father.

Update on ARX2 races from Circuit of the Americas (COTA)

Some of you may remember the lady mechanic, Heather Herschkowitz and her fiance Garrett Holler owners of Holler Customs in Ferrisburgh, Vermont. Their first client was DirtFish, American Rally Cross (ARX2) based in Snoqualmis, Washington.

DirtFish had competed with four  ARX2 rallycross cars in the race in Trois Rivieres, Quebec. Holler Customs did the reprep on those four cars in their Vermont garage prior to that race. The folks at DirtFish were impressed by the level of care, they left points leader Conner Martell #21 car and seventh place Scott Anderson’s #77 in Vermont for reprep for the Texas race.

After the Saturday race in the mud at COTA, Hersckowitz and fellow mechanics were left with some muddy race cars. With a good pressure washing, the Texas mud yielded way. Holler Customs repreped Martell car made it to the finals and won the inaugural ARX2 title. Heather Herschkowitz photo


Update on the 24 Hour “Grocery Getter” Endurance race

The Inaugural “Grocery Getter” 24 Hour Endurance race at Baer Field Motorsports Park in Fort Wayne, Indiana was not that successful for the team. They lasted one hour when power steering and ignition issues put them out of the race. The car was a 1996 Caprice Classic. In Patsis word, “It was nothing to write home about.” Cold Hard Art photo

Lets go racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

Matthew 5:16




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