Austin Theriault racing in NASCAR top division in July

Episode 270

June 30, 2019

Is Theriault’s 52 a good sign with NASCAR Monster Energy Cup debut

Fort Kent, Maine’s Austin Theriault will be making his NASCAR Monster Energy Cup debut July 21, 2019 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the Rick Ware Racing #52 for the Foxwood resort Casino 301. Helping Theriault with this effort is primary sponsor Bangor Savings Bank and associate sponsors Cross Insurance, Daigle Oil Company, and EJ Prescott . Theriault has raced at NHMS in the NASCAR Xfinity, Gander Outdoors Truck Series, and K & N Series. He was the ARCA 2017 Series Champion. (Rick Ware Racing photo)

Since I met Austin Theriault and did my first interview with him at Spud Speedway after he won the Spud 150 in 2009. He had just began to branch out into the American Canadian Tour (ACT). His goal was and continues to be to race in the top series in NASCAR.

Austin Theriault vaulted onto the race scene with his victory in the Spud 150 in 2009 at Spud Speedway one week after purchasing his first V6 late-model stock car. This 15-year-old kid was the real deal. Theriault went on to win another Spud 150 tying him with Frenchville native, Shawn Martin. (HTF Motorsports photo)

“I’ve been working extremely hard to get the opportunity to race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,” commented Austin Theriault. “I remember sitting in the NHMS grandstands and watching my favorite driver, Mark Martin, win the last race of his Cup career in 2009. It never crossed my mind, that I would have the opportunity to make my Cup debut at a track that means so much to my family and I. The support we’ve received from New England is humbling, and I’m excited to say I’ll be debuting with the support of New England based companies.”

Tickets and race information can be found at

Big Rig Puller

John Forbes of Caribou debuts his 9370 International Big Rig at Centreville, New Brunswick pulling track. Forbes placed first in the Big Rig class. (Jessica Doucette photo)

All the time while he was growing up, John Forbes, 27 of Caribou, loved to go to the truck and tractor pulls at the Northern Maine Fair. He dreamed of someday being able to participate in the sport.

With 20 pulls in an assortment of trucks, Forbes decided a year and a half ago to purchase the International 9370 and turn it into a Big Rig puller. Forbes is a truck driver for Star Enterprises in Caribou a job he has held since he obtained his CDL.

“I drive one of these every day and just wanted to pull one; now I have two. Forbes built a Trans Star 2 cab over which was to be driven by his friend Adam Williams. That did not materialize with the wash out of the truck pulls in Presque Isle.

He was named Caribou Technology Outstanding Student in the Commercial Driving License (CDL) class. His image is posted on the wall at the school to inspire others in their quest for a career.

I asked Forbes about his Big Rig truck while we waited out a down pour at the Northern Maine Fair venue (the pull was cancelled after a few more moments of driven rain), “It is a 9370 International with a six-inch chopped cab that is also dropped 3 inches closer on the frame. The engine is a Cummins engine of ‘good size'” he said with a smile. “We’ll see how good she pulls”.

“My favorite track is the Presque Isle track since it is nearby to my hometown. Every track poses a new challenge every time, depending on whether it is wet, dry, along with all the other conditions. It is always a new challenge no matter where you go.”

Forbes plans to travel to the Bangor Fair Truck Pull July 26 & 27 as well as compete at the Skowhegan Fair later.

Beside the International 9370 driven by John Forbes which he nicknamed “Father’s Frustration” is the crew which spent many hours getting the Big Rig puller ready. Left to right Adam Williams, Limestone, Forbes, Caribou, and Jamie Huston, Caribou. Missing from this photo is Sam Robertson, Caribou. Sponsors of the rig include Silver Star Enterprises, Williams Construction, Major Service, Westin Enterprises, and Hogan Tire. This crew manged to remove the cab, change the clutch, and re-install the cab in 2 1/2 hours just two nights before the PI Pulls. (HTF Motorsports photo)

John Forbes Racing Team ready to go to Centreville, New Brunswick after rain out at Northern Maine Fair Friday evening. Lots of iron on this rig. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Young guys help reduce average age of local tractor club.

Many times an organization wonder how they will be able to continue on after the older members move on for whatever reason. The Northern Maine Antique Tractors Association (NMATC) does have its share of grey haired folks participating in their tractor pulls.

I caught up with a couple of the youth who were participants at the club’s Limestone pull held at the Community Park last Saturday. Reece Pelletier and Brandon Pelletier, both Frenchville residents are classmates at Wisdom High School. Both listed tractor pulling as their favorite sport. Ouellette and Pelletier got into the sport last year.

Reece Pelletier, 15, pulling his 1949 Farmall H in the 5000 pound class at the NMATC Limestone event. Though he did not win, he said he enjoys tractor pulling a great deal. He works part-time for area farmers, James Pelletier and Dave Ouellette. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Frenchville’s Brandon Ouellette 15, puts his Oliver 770 to the test in the 6000 pound class at NMATC Limestone Tractor Pull. The sophomore at Wisdom High School does much of the routine maintenance on the tractor as well as help his Father Derek with his over the road trucking company. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Tractor pulling is a family affair as the Ouellette family can attest. Front left Trisha and Derek Ouellette with their son Brandon in the tractor seat of their Oliver 770 pulling tractor. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Ladies enjoy thrill of competition in the NMATC pulls

Carol Bell on her Ford N Model competing in the 3000 pound class at Limestone. Bell is on the NMATC Board of Directors. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Janet Wright from New Brunswick gets my vote for most unique driving style. While pulling you can hear her enthusiasm as she, in a loud voice,urges her Farmall B further up the track. In the 3000 pound class her tractor pulled 274 feet vs the winner Meredith Folsom’s 288 feet. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Rods, Relics, and Rides

Because of my schedule for the weekend, I got a sneak preview of the Rods Relics, and Rides show at the Northern Maine Fair in the Forum. The owners of these cars featured were around when I had my tour. Organizers say it is the largest car show under one roof in New England. Thank you to show organizer Rick Guerrette for the guided tour.

Rods, Rides & Relics 2019 at Presque Isle Forum as part of the Northern Maine Fair. (HTF Motorsports photo)


1941 Chevy pickup owned by Todd & Kassandra Grass, Mars Hill. The truck is powered by a six cylinder engine. (HTF Motorsports)

Dick and Judy Gillen, Blaine, entered their 1984 Hurst/Olds with a V8. The engine compartment featured loads of gleaming chrome. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Caribou’s Joe Chamberlain with his bright red 1929 Model A Ford with a Flathead V8. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Rods, Rides, and relics Show organizer, Rick Guerrette, Presque Isle, with his Rat Rod. The panel truck was loaded with multiple “accessories” that gave his truck character. Ask Rick about the story of the Jerome’s Market panel truck. (HTF Motorsports photo)

The Roostook County Car Club was on hand to display and demonstrate a myriad of their vehicles at the Rod, Rides, and relic Show. On left Marcel Bosse, Caribou, and Mike Coventry, Van Buren, on right. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Dan Raymond, Caribou displays his mini bike with side car added by Jesse Michaud. Raymond and his son Tyler will be departing for Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio for the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days July 5-7. This will be Raymond’s third visit to the show and his son’s first visit. They will be using the minibike and a motorcycle to make their way around the show. Look for a full report in a later episode of UpNorth Motorsports. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Swanson extends his lead in USAC Silver Crown Series

The winningest driver in the United States Auto Club (USAC) Silver Crown Series, Kody Swanson, Kingsburg, California now living in Indianapolis, Indiana added his 27 win at the Bytec “Dairyland 100” at Madison International Speedway, Oregon, Wisconsin Friday evening. Swanson led laps 1-12 then went by leader Kyle Hamilton on lap 76 when Hamilton got caught up in three car traffic jam.

Richie Murray, USAC Media recounts the last two laps of the race after a caution came out on lap 97, “Swanson had no trouble on the final two lap sprint, opening up a 1.678 gap at the finish to score his 27th career series win, which is in a stratosphere all his own just one year following his Madison victory that tied him for the all-time win record.  Hamilton hung on for second despite getting clipped in turn three by Byrne in a battle for the runner-up spot.  Hamilton maintained the grip and hung on for second over Byrne, Bobby Santos and Eric Gordon.”

“It was a change of scenery for Swanson and the Nolen Racing team following their last pavement outing at Lucas Oil Raceway in May where they led for 53 laps before an engine let go on them while leading.  Swanson credits the turnaround to the countless hours and sacrifices he and his team made to make sure everything was in order to give them a shot at winning, which they’ve been doing so much of in 2019 with three wins in six races already after the famed, yellow Nolen Racing No. 20 hadn’t been victorious in the decade prior to this year.”

“We’ve been putting in a lot of hours,” Swanson explained.  Not only my family and I, but a lot of guys that are part of this race team.  Dale Latty and Rick Laughlin met my wife and I at the shop at 7am Wednesday so we could go to Salem (Ind.) Speedway to shake it down and make sure we had all the bugs worked out, but we weren’t sure.  We came home, started at 7am and worked until 11 at night, and never gave up.”

This is the display of the kind of determination exhibited by Kody Swanson. After a practice session, Swanson pulled into the infield and with his helmet still on checked the rear tire stagger. The #20 car was not perfect yet was the class of the field at the end of the race when it mattered. (Rich Forman photo)

“Yesterday, we did all our homework to make sure I was ready to deal whatever handling challenges were thrown at us,” Swanson continued.  “It was a completely different racetrack to me than we had a year ago.  We made changes all the way through driver introductions on the front stretch.  I wasn’t sure if we had done it right, or if I had made the right calls, but the longer it went, we stayed in the hunt.  You never know what’s going to happen in the end.  Luckily for us, persistence kept us in it and gave us a chance.”

Win #27 for the all-time USAC Silver Crown Champion Kody Swanson celebrating in Victory Circle at Madison Speedway, Wisconsin. The win gave Swanson a 50 point lead over second place Justin Grant who had his engine blow early in the race. Going into the race, Grant trailed by only 6 points. (Rich Forman photo)

Family is huge for the Swansons. Celebrating in the Winner’s Circle at Madison Speedway with wife and spotter Jordan who is holding Trevor. Kody is holding youngest son Adam. The Swanson family compete next at Salem Speedway, Salem Indiana, August 10, 2019. (Rich Forman photo)

Rained out NMKA kart race rescheduled

After rain washed out the scheduled race two on Saturday, that race was moved to July 13 when a doubleheader will take place. Note that the Firecracker 200 on August 4 is rapidly approaching. (NMKA/HTF Motorsports photo)

Mazda finally wins in IMSA

The #55 Mazda before the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona January 2019. The Mazda team had high hopes after the #77 car broke the long-standing lap record and sat on the pole. The #55 along with its sister car #77 had troubles at the 6.5 hour mark. The #77 caught fire and had to retire. #55 had a fuel issue that eventually led to its retirement in the early morning Sunday. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Finally breaking into Victory Circle after 5 years of heartbreaking losses, hundreds of test miles, and many hours of meticulous preparation, the Mazda RT24-P Daytona Prototype International wins its first race at Watkins Glen Six-Hour Endurance race. Drivers were Harry Tincknell, Jonathan Bomarito, and Oliver Pla. (Mazda Motorsports photo)

Pay attention to the GRASS!

Make sure you pay attention to the turf grass on the front stretch at Daytona International Speedway. I will be having some insight into how that grass with the help of an Aroostook County man, made the transition from January to July. Happy Fourth of July!

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