New Brunswick racer back in Victory Circle

Episode 325

July 26, 2020

Ryan Messer wins in 2020 

The immaculately prepared #1 Pro Stock of Ryan Messer, Harvey, New Brunswick, is captured entering pit lane at Speedway 660 following a session on the 1/3 mile track. (Mike Francis photo)

COVID-19 messed up schedules on both sides of the US/Canadian border. The late start to the season in New Brunswick can be attributed to those pandemic regulations that racers, fans, and racetracks need to contend with in order to race no matter which side of the border you are located.

RYAN Motorsports based in Harvey, New Brunswick, with driver Ryan Messer finally broke into Victory Lane Saturday evening at Speedway 660 , Geary Woods, New Brunswick.  Messer had gotten off to a mixed start, for him.

The 2020 season began with a DNS at Petty International Raceway July 4th due to battery issues, a 6th place finish at Speedway 660 on July 12th, and a DNF at Petty on July 18th.  “We’ve had good speed all summer, just lacking some luck”, commented crew chief Robb Messer.

“We had a great day yesterday at Speedway 660″, said Messer. ” We unloaded fast and with only small changes through the day, felt we had a good car.”

“Ryan did a great job in his heat race starting 3rd and bringing home the win. This put Ryan on the pole for the feature and he lead wire to wire over Cory Hall and Brent Roy.”

Thanks to George, Jaxon and Kamdyn for their efforts all day, it was a hot one!! And Thanks to all of our supporters, we couldn’t do it without you.”

The RYAN Motorsports team shares a moment together with driver Ryan Messer. The team is L to R: George Jamieson (Fredericton, NB), Jaxon Cleghorn (McAdam, NB), Robb Messer and Ryan (Harvey, NB) and Kamdyn Cawdle (Oromoncto, NB). Top five finishers were Messer, Cory Hall, Brent Roy, Kevin Moore, and Ian Rasmussen. (RYAN Motorsports photo)

Ryan Motorsports will be back in action at Speedway 660 August 8th for 150 lap Pro Stock race.

Former Spud Speedway racer in action at Speedway 660

A young teenage man from New Denmark, New Brunswick was sliding his four cylinder racer toward the tire barrier coming off turn four at Spud Speedway one of those dew filled summer evenings. The driver Ian Rasmussen had slightly misjudged his speed into turn 3 when his momentum carried him off track on turn four exit and into the tire barrier.

I frequently think of that spin while I perform my duties as groundskeeper at Spud Speedway. That grassy strip certainly did not provide much stopping power for any race car especially when moist.

I remember the crowd had a Yikes!” moment while he was speeding toward them. They were never in danger nor was Rasmussen in his racecar. The Rasmussen Racing team fixed the damage and returned for racing at the next event.

The young man was a quick learner and won his share of races at the Caribou, Maine track before the track shut down to weekly racing in 2016. He then took over driving duties for the family-owned Pro Stock Dodge which his father, Glenn, drove for many years on both sides of the border. Their track of choice became Speedway 660 in Geary Woods, New Brunswick  despite the 2 1/2 hour 148 mile (247 kilometer) distance.

“I’m attending the University of New Brunswick studying a bachelor of science in Mechanical Engineering as well as getting a minor in math”, mentioned Ian in a recent conversation. “I am going into my third year.”

Rasmussen plans to finish his Mechanical Engineering degree and see where it takes him.

Number 61 Pro Stock Dodge driven by Ian Rasmussen, New Denmark, New Brunswick in action at Speedway 660. The first race of the 2020 season saw him finish 8th. In race action last Saturday evening he moved up to fifth position. Is a win far away?(Mike Francis photo)

Kody Swanson in another car with fenders in North Carolina

“Kody Swanson talking about his short track stock car debut, “Still working to try new things this year. Made the trip down to Hickory Motor Speedway and raced a late model last night with Chad Bryant Racing. I still have a lot to learn and get my fenders education, but we’re making a little progress. We qualified 3rd & finished 4th in the first feature, started 6th & finished 7th in the second one. Thankful for Chad, for the opportunity, and everyone’s hard work!”  Swanson will be back in the #20 Nolen Racing USAC Silver Crown car August 9 at the dirt Selinsgrove Speedway for the Bill Holland Classic. (Jordan Swanson photo)

Maurice Petty passes away at 81

My bicycle in the late 1960’s carried the Petty blue colors of my favorite driver, Richard Petty. I studied the members of that team, driver Richard, father Lee, crew chief Dale Inman, and engine builder Maurice Petty. They were all heroes who I looked up to for years.

I remember thinking how fortunate Petty Enterprises was to have a family operation packed with talent that delivered 200 NASCAR Cup victories. I  zeroed in on Maurice many times since he was the engine builder and I just knew that I would be an engine builder someday. More about that story in a future episode.

Petty and “Grumpy” Bill Jenkins seemed like magic men who would take ordinary iron and aluminum and convert it into race winning fury. I hoped some day to meet those guys. That part of my dream did not happen.

I did get to meet Maurice’s brother,Richard, at a Cheerios, General Miles, contract renewal media event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway while covering the Brickyard 400. One of my favorite motorsports memories will always be having several minutes to talk with “The King” at that function.

Maurice Petty built the engines for Richard for each of the seven championship seasons, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, and 1979. It is estimated that his engines won over 250 races when the engines built for competitors was factored in.

Maurice was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014 joining three other Petty family members Richard (Class of 2010), Lee (Class of 2011), and brother-in-law Dale Inman (Class of 2012). He was the first engine builder inducted into the Hall of Fame. Maurice frequently drove the truck with the car to the races and was a tire changer during the race.

His background is presented in this NASCAR clip introducing him as a member of the 2014 Class. For some reason the video starts at 1 minute 13 seconds so you may want to start it at the beginning. ( I never claimed to be a tech person)

Cumberland Motor Club (CMC) Mega Autocross coming to Loring August 7-9, 2020

 Annual Cumberland Motor Club Autocross to be held over the weekend at Loring Commerce Center. The Autocross typically draws nearly 100 entrants each of the two days. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Finally, some sort of motorsports event will be coming to Aroostook County in 2020. The promise of snowmobile races in Caribou was dashed when the Tame the Track Snowmobile Racing Tour had to COVID-cancel the remainder of their season just before the scheduled March 21st races in Caribou.

The Cumberland Motor Club has held the autocross at the former Loring Air Force base for over a decade with good competitor numbers practically every year. This is what their website post had to say about the Loring event:

“Come join the Cumberland Motor Club at one of the largest autocross venues in the northeast!  The former Loring AFB offers a location unique to CMC with longer courses and more excitement!  CMC has held events at Loring for over 10 years, and this event is not to be missed.”

“Individual autocross events are held Saturday and Sunday (be sure to register for both!).  Loring is a long trek for most club members, and as a bonus for making the journey, a free “Test ‘n Tune” is offered on Friday.  This is essentially a whole day of fun runs, and allows for practice on the runway surface and adjustment to the wider, more open elements typical in the courses here.”

“Lodging is available at local businesses, and camping on site is also available. Presque Isle Knights of Columbus will be on hand with their food truck”

Aroostook County motorsports enthusiast Jenny Crawford, Mars Hill,rides with Cumberland Motor Club autocross course designer “Scruffy” in his Porsche at a previous event. Unfortunately ride alongs will more than likely not be allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

At publication time no club official was able to say for sure if the event is a non-spectator meet. It was stated that more than likely the popular ride along feature would not be allowed. I hope to have a definitive answer for next week’s episode.

For more information visit the club’s Facebook page:

Registration for the Mega Autocross can be found here:

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