County only NASCAR Monster Energy driver to race on home track

Episode 272

July 14, 2019

Austin Theriault to return to his home track August 4

Fort Kent native Austin Theriault announced last evening that he will be returning to his home track Spud Speedway for the second annual Firecracker 200 to benefit Feed the County. (Photo courtesy Austin Theriault Racing)

With the backing of longtime sponsor Daigle Oil Company, Theriault will once again contest the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) race at Spud Speedway Sunday August 4, 2019. The race is an Oxford 250 qualifier race for the winner.

In addition to the 150 lap PASS Super Late Model race, the PASS Modifieds will run a 50 lap feature race. The Mods have had some great races this season with multiple winners.

A 50 lap Enduro race will finish the day of racing at the Caribou track. This race is the main event in 2019 for the County 1/3 mile oval. The Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) is half way through their 10 race series. The NMKA utilizes the kart track built into the infield at the track. They race every other Saturday.

The major events at Spud Speedway in 2019. (NMKA photo)

The Rusty Wallace Driving Experience had to be postponed from the original date June 14th due to inclement weather. That event will be held Thursday September 26. Check out the Rusty Wallace Driving Experience website for more information about the Spud Speedway details. They still have time slots available for racers or would-be-racers to try their skills in a Super Late Model stock car.

Help battle hunger in the County by sponsoring a lap or several laps with proceeds to go to the Feed the County project. More information can be found at http://www,

Land Speed Racing a family event

From Belmont, Ohio, 1300 + miles from Loring, the Roberts family came to race at the 2019 Loring Timing Association (LTA) Maine Event. Left to right Paoli (18 years old with 101 mph run), Shawna the Mom, Devra (20 ran 102.465 mph) , Kevin Roberts the Dad (Record holder 135 mph on Triumph Bonneville) and Starbuck (17 the crewman for both bikes) Missing Griffin (22) and youngest son Golden (14) who stayed home to take care of the animals. The daughters ran the Kawasaki Ninja 250 in the Production class. (HTF Motorsports photo)

If land speed racing, and motorsports in general, are to survive they must rely on a newer generation to follow in the wheel tracks of the veteran racers. The Roberts family from Belmont, Ohio are an example.

Hailing from a small rural town (Belmont, Ohio population less than 400) and living on a non-commercial 25 acre farm does not necessarily have the typical ingredients for raising up a race family.

One thing I have learned over the years is that “typical family background” does not exist in motorsports. I have interviewed the very rich and the very poor:  both ends of the spectrum have unique stories to tell of their journey into racing or other facets of motorsports.

The Roberts family got their inspiration from Kevin the father. And, yes, the kids all refer to him as Kevin in the Quaker tradition.

Kevin is a commercial truck driver who works in the oil fields in eastern Ohio near the West Virginia border. You heard it correctly, oil fields in coal country.

He typically operates a truck hauling salt water from the area where oil is extracted to another location. Tough work in a rugged portion of America.

Roberts races a 1965 Triumph Bonneville bike. He has been to Bonneville and the Ohio Mile at Wilmington, Ohio. For the last three years he has made the trip to Loring to be a part of the LTA Maine Event.

“This is a wonderful place,” said Roberts. “It is 1300 miles from home and I notice the closer I get, the lower my heart rate. The atmosphere is completely unhurried. You can run again, again and again. Come back to the pits, decompress, work on the bike a little, and be running again in 10 minutes.”

“I can get 22 runs in a day,” exclaimed Roberts! “The most I every got at Ohio was five runs and Bonneville three.”

“The layout here is perfect for racing with a separate runway for tuning and a large non-crowded pit area. The tuning area is unique to Loring. No other land speed venue that I have been to has that feature.”


Roberts owns the record for his class at 135 mph. On his first run at the LTA Maine Event, he went 131 with this result. His attention shifted after that to helping his daughters with their racing efforts. (HTF Motorsports photo)

18-year-old Paoli Roberts on her family Kawasaki Ninja in preparation for one of her several runs at the 2019 LTA Maine Event. Roberts went 101 mph. (Gregg Adams photo)

THe two daughters both mentioned that their father, Kevin was their inspiration to attempt land speed racing motorcycles at Loring. The elder, Devra, a student at Ohio University, Athens, majoring in Environmental and Plant Biology, learned to ride motorbikes on a Honda 100cc 1971 Scrambler.

“It sounded like fun”, said Devra. “Kevin always has fun. It is boring unless racing”.

“In the ‘Hot Box’ (the area racers enter just prior to making a run ) I am talking to my family. Someone always fixes my gloves, tightens up my helmet.”

“I warm up the bike prior to the run and remind myself ‘do not stall'”! When I launch I look at my tach briefly and launch.”

“I run slightly left of center, shift until I have no more gears, make myself smaller as Ii go down the track in a straight line.”

“The grin comes out when I slow down”, she remarked displaying a sample of the grin.

When I asked Paoli a senior in high school what her friends thought of her land speed racing, she replied, ” I asked my friends what they thought about the idea and they thought ‘It is a cool idea. Please don’t die.'”

Paoli is a mellophone player in the marching band and a camp counselor. Her first time on the race bike was only a short while ago when she rode around a local parking lot. She mentioned she was a little nervous at the starting line not wanting to stall the bike. She ran the bike slightly slower than her sister notching a 101 mph run.

Younger brother Starbuck, a junior in high school likes to help with all the bikes, getting them ready to race and helping to make adjustments between races. His father said, “Starbuck is good in the pits, very helpful. He has a way of being in the right place at the right time”.

The family plans to return to Loring to race again.

Update on 50cc record

In Episode 228 September 2, 2018 I featured the “Battle of 50 cc Bikes” between Suffield, Connecticut’s Brendan Malone with his 1972 Suzuki TS 50 and Ithaca, New York’s Doug Binder aboard his 1977 Puch Maxi 50cc single speed. Brendan won that round of the 50 cc battle.

Brendan Malone, Suffield, Connecticut on left with his nephew Jonah Barrett, Grafton, Massachusetts. The bike is the same that Malone rode in previous record attempts. (Brendan Malone photo)

This year Malone’s nephew, Jonah Barrett rode the Suzuki to a new record for 50 cc motorcycles, 70.015 mph in the mile, thus breaking the 70 mph barrier at Loring. Barrett is a relatively new comer to racing having gotten his driver’s license a short time ago.

Barrett actually learned how to ride a bike on his uncle’s Suzuki about 10 years ago, long before Malone converted it to a land speed racer. He has some racing background. His father Jeremy Barrett, is the fueler on the Black Swan Racing #540 Porsche racing in GT3.

Jonah is a 2019 graduate of Grafton High School in Grafton, Massachusetts and is working at the local Target until he makes up his mind what career path to follow. One thing for sure, he enjoys land speed racing.

63-year-old race car breaks the 150 mph mark

Modern vs 1950’s look in race cars, Bob Keselowski’s Dodge which has run over 250 miles per hour on one 4 barrel carburetor and Jesse Michaud’s #37 1956 Chevy he restored. Michaud went over 153.254 mph in the mile and a half with the vintage racer. Both cars were circle track racers. I enjoyed Tim Kelly’s remark, “Turning money into noise one paycheck at a time”. (Stacy Robey photo)

Shane Stubbs set the record at 265 mph on this motorcycle with out fairings. He also garnered fastest speed at the 2019 Maine Event. (Gregg Adams photo)

JR Howlett racing at Speedway 95

When Spud Speedway was racing on a weekly basis, Presque Isle’s JR Howlett was one of the top contenders in the Street Stock class. He always finished near the top in races and points.

When racing ended at the Caribou track, Howlett continued to race once in awhile at Speedway 95 in Hermon. His green #54 was badly damaged last two years ago. When Howlett decided to continue racing down south he began building his own street stock car from scratch.

JR Howlett’s 1987 Camaro Street Stock. Howlett did not buy a kit to fabricate his race car, it was completely scratch built except the nose which he purchased. Remarkable job. (JR Howlett Racing photo)

The finished car. Howlett tested a couple of times prior to going to Speedway 95 this past weekend. (JR Howlett Racing photo)

The report of his first race of the 2019 season at Speedway 95:

“I started last in the heat race and spun out in the first lap. The track seems a little narrower than I remember since I haven’t been on the track in two years.”

“Started the feature last. Right front tire went down about half-way through the race I went three laps down and finished 12th in last place. 22 cars started the race.”

“I missed two practices due to buying tires and transponder updates. But I finished the race which was the goal and the car is in one piece. I am a half of a second slow compared to the rest of the field but we will work on to make it faster.”

“I would like to thank the people who work for Casellas that helped me with my tires and to Casellas Waste Management who sponsored the race.”

I look forward to seeing how the County stock car racer does this season. Keep checking UpNorth Motorsports for updates.

Off to NASCAR race at New Hampshire

I hope to see many of you folks at the Monster Energy race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway next Sunday when Austin Theriault makes his Monster Energy debut. He is the only County stock car driver to race in NASCAR’s top division. He will be a team-mate to New Hampshire’s Andy Seuss who will be driving the other Rick Ware Racing #51. Theriault will carry the #52 which he had when he won the ARCA Championship in 2017 for Ken Schrader Racing.

Because of the 3 pm start, the publishing of Episode 273 of UpNorth Motorsports will have to wait. I will be covering the race for the print edition of the Bangor Daily News with a tight deadline. Please say hello if I do not happen to notice you at the track.

New England Forest Rally July 19 & 20 at Sunday River

Bangor’s John Cassidy will be making his 20th consecutive appearance at the New England Forest Rally this Friday and Saturday. Cassidy’s son John Cassidy V will be in the right seat helping with navigational advice. This photo from the 2017 Climb to the Clouds at Mount Washington. Information about the NEFR can be found  here (HTF Motorsports photo)

NMKA race results:

Summer sports and jobs continue to take their toll on racer in the NMKA 2019 Summer Kart Racing Series. Despite low numbers the races featured some exciting action. Results of races

Aroostook Trusses Junior Cage Kart 1st Feature Presented by Burger Boy
Gage Theriault, Limestone

Aroostook Savings and Loan Senior Cage Kart podium finishers being congratulated by flagman Marcel Bossie on left. Stephanie Ball, Presque Isle, Jason Theriault, Caribou, and Kyle Wells, Caribou. Ball was making her kart racing debut substituting for Tom Hale who was nursing an injured elbow. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Aroostook Federal Savings and Loan Senior Cage Karts 1st Feature Presented by Burger Boy
1st Stephanie Ball, Presque Isle
2nd Kyle Wells, Caribou
3rd Jason Theriault. Caribou

Aroostook Trusses Junior Cage Kart 2nd Feature Presented by Machias Savings Bank
Gage Theriault, Limestone

Aroostook Federal Savings and Loan Senior Cage Kart  2nd Feature Presented by Machias Savings Bank
1st Jason Theriault, Caribou
2nd Kyle Wells, Caribou
3rd Stephanie Ball, Presque Isle

The next race will be July 27th, a doubleheader Presented by County Qwik Print.

Let’s Go Racing!

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria (Joshua 1:9)


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