Maine’s Griffeth turf on full display at Daytona as Speedweeks gets underway

Episode 299

January 19, 2020

Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona next weekend

County native, Jason Griffeth’s grounds crew front stretch ready for Speedweeks 2020 at Daytona. This is the area featured in an earlier episode when planting was taking place in November 2019. On race day logos will be painted in the block where the number 500 is located. I will get updated photos on Griffeth’s handiwork. I wish I could be on that frontstretch personally in 2020 to feel and smell the freshness of manicured turf. (Daytona International Speedway photo)

Sportscar racing fans will be flowing into the Daytona International Speedway this week for the running of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona which starts at 1:35 pm on Saturday January 25 and ending 24 hours later on Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately several circumstances at home combined to make it clear that I need to be home rather than in Florida. I will be monitoring the happenings on radio and television. I also have a couple folks who will be at the races to give some insight into the behind the scenes stories.

Thursday afternoon has for the last four years been reserved for hamburgers for my brother Bill, Jason Griffeth and me at the Daytona Brickyard only a mile or so down the road from DIS. My wife and I will be having grilled hamburgers at home that day to help remember the delicious burgers and fellowship.

2019 at Daytona Brickyard famous for best hamburgers in town. My brother Bill on left with Jason Griffeth, center, and yours truly on right. (HTF Motorsports photo)

CORE Autosports Porsche USA Racing

CORE Autosports owned by Jon Bennett has slimmed down this year when owner/driver Bennett called it quits as a driver in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class at the end of the 2019 season. Bennett had been competing in the series for 10 years.

His departure as a driver did not mean the end of CORE Autosports. They continue on with their Porsche USA factory connection with the new 911 RSR GTE mid-engine race car. All the prep work and personnel who put the car on the track throughout the season are part of the CORE Autosports team based in Rock Hill, South Carolina across the river from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Though their at-the-track uniforms say Porsche, these folks wear CORE Autosports apparel when back at the shop. This is a photo of the team at the “Roar Before the 24” January 4 & 5, 2020. (CORE Autosports photo)

Bennett has local connections in the County, his father and mother live in central Aroostook area. Bennett frequently makes an appearance to go snowmobiling or visiting his parents. I will be keeping my eye on the GTLM class for a good result for the Porsche team. Their car is brand-new this season. It now features a mid-engine configuration along with several other changes from the previous 911 R.

CORE Autosports team members unloading the Porsche 911 RSR at the “Roar Before the 24”. The maiden voyage of the RSR was considered a success by all concerned. (CORE Autosports photo)

Many will be watching the new C8.R Corvette campaigned by Pratt & Miller. It too for the first time features a mid-engine set up. It seems fast at the “Roar Before the 24”. One must think, however, that a new car may have gremlins that pop up early in the development process.

The Ford GT contract with Chip Ganassi ran out in 2019. No privateer team picked up on the availability of Ford race cars in 2020 thus the absence of the Blue Oval.

Ford GT first and second at 2018 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. (Ford Performance photo)

My picks for each of the four classes are as follows:

Daytona Prototype international (DPi) – Acura Team Penske car #7 driven by Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves, and Alexander Rossi

Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2)– DragonSpeed USA #81 driven by Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman, Colin Braun, and Harrison Newey (yup, the son of Formula One designer Adrian Newey)

GT Le Mans (GTLM) – Porsche GT Team # 912 driven by Lauren Vanthoor, Earl Bamber, amd Mathieu Jaminet

GT Daytona (GTD) – AIM Vasser-Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3 #12 driven by Frankie Montecalvo, Shane van Gisbergen, Aaron Telitz, and Townsend Bell. (Fastest time at the “Roar”)

For complete radio and television coverage details go to

Chili Bowl goes to Larson on his 13 attempt

Kyle Larson standing in his midget dirt track race car after winning his first Chili Bowl in 13 attempts. (Toyota Racing photo)

The 34th edition of the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma inside the Tulsa Exposition Building on a 1/4 mile clay track attracted over 350 entries. Standing atop the final rung of the ladder Saturday evening was Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, California in his new team car with Paul Silva as crew chief.

The new team has won 9 of the last 11 races he has entered with his new team. Last year Larson came up short when Norman, Oklahoma native Christopher Bell won his third Golden Driller (the name of the winner’s trophy honoring Oklahoma’s oil industry).

Larson passed Christopher Bell with a slide job on lap 39 and held him off despite two restarts before the end of the  55 lap feature. Lap 40 saw the Flip Count at the Chili Bowl soar to new heights when Aaron Reutzel flipped gathering Thomas Meseraull who became the 77th victim that week.

With 10 laps left, pole sitter Tanner Thorson ground to a halt on the track. Larson put some distance between himself and second place Bell. Larson won by.801 seconds despite touching the wall with two laps remaining.

Third place went to teenage sensation Cannon McIntosh, with Logan Sevey fourth and Rico Abreu rounding out the top five. Rookie of the Year went to Penngrove, California Michael “Buddy” Kofoid. Christopher Bell had loads of praise for Kofoid mentioning that he is like a younger Christopher Bell. (Bell is only 25 while Kofoid is 17)

Tame the Track Snowmobile Tour Racing in Rangely next

After a week of from the ten race schedule, racers in the Tame the Track Snowmobile Tour will be back in action next Saturday in Rangely, Maine. The tour made an appearance in Houlton January 10 & 11 for a two day event benefiting the Simon Cyr Scholarship Fund.

According to Promoter/Race Director Jere Humphrey, “The green flag will be waving once again on Saturday: January 25th for the fifteen regular racing divisions, as Tame the Track Snowmobile Tour is part of one of the largest winter festivals in Maine — Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club Snodeo. Our race affiliate RMR XC will also be hosting a cross country five mile course for the trail riders.”

“Registration will be on Saturday from 6:30 through 9:30 am, with racing starting at 11 am. The race venue will be at the Steven A. Bean Municipal Airport, with $2,500.00 worth of cash prizes and trophies.”

“Regular performance points will be awarded to our VVCS active members battling for one of the NAPA Auto Parts prestigious Points Championship titles, at the conclusion of our ten race schedule.”

“The SnowStuds, PowerMadd & Star City Rentals 340 Stock division, which has been one of our largest racing divisions over the past couple seasons, will be offered an extended lap feature event of thirty four laps, so bring some extra petro for your tank!”

Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) takes a year off to regroup

The NMKA winter meeting was held Saturday with a small group of kart racers. When discussion on numbers for the 2020 season came up on the agenda, it was decided to not race in 2020 at Spud Speedway due to low kart team count.

The NMKA will take the year to attempt to get more local families and individuals interested in kart racing in northern Maine and western New Brunswick. In January 2021 at the next winter meeting the fate of the NMKA and kart racing will be looked at once again, hopefully with greater numbers than the last season 2019.

For information on kart news, the NMKA Facebook page will be maintained and UpNorth Motorsports will be posted on that site with each new episode. Contact for more information.

Video of the week

For fun in the snow take a peek at this short video:

Let’s 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