WAR wins at pro series debut

Episode 328

August 16, 2020


Thursday evening, Maine Public Television re-aired Speedway Maine, the documentary about stock car racing in Maine. In that film, Wyatt Alexander and family figured prominently as they told part of their racing story. One portion showed Wyatt getting the checkered flag.

I contacted Wyatt via Messenger and said,”I saw you win a race tonight.”

He was puzzled until I mentioned that it was on Speedway Maine. I asked him to park the #96 super late model in Victory Lane soon please.

Little did I know that win would come less than 72 hours later when the Ellsworth native won the Granite State Pro Series 150 lap debut at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough Saturday. The 26 car field featured  Ben Rowe, points leader Ray Christian III, Joey Doiron, Garrett Hall, Joey Polewarczyk, and many other veteran drivers.

Wyatt Alexander’s win in the debut of Granite State Pro Series at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway was a very popular win. The WAR team emphasize that they are a family team as seen in this photo. From left to right, Vicki Carr, Alan Grass, Greg Emerson, Dan Walker, Sue Walker, Lela Worry, Brett Alexander, Bob Alexander, Wyatt, Lindsey Walker, Julie Harrison, Jeff Walker, Cortland, Amanda, (not sure of their last names), and Chet Hanscom. Cortland a classmate of Wyatt at UMO and his girlfriend Amanda came to watch Wyatt for the first time ever. They picked a good race to watch. (John A. Miller Photography)

Through Wyatt’s eyes

It has been a few season’s since Wyatt Alexander has won a race for the WAR team. After the race when asked about his thoughts, a relieved Alexander replied, “Hard to explain other than it feels very good and like a big weight lifted. Had lots of ups and downs but to go out there and win a big race against that field in that fashion is incredible.”

“Had the car dialed. I made some calls on adjustments last week that got it close and hardly touched it this week. We were on rails. Me, Dad, and Gramp worked hard Thursday night to get the car turned around for the weekend and it paid off.”

“Looking towards Oxford next weekend for a PASS race / shakedown / test and then the Oxford 250 the weekend after.”

The Hall of Fame Crew Chief’s perspective

Sometimes hard work carries with it a racing reward. After losing a driveshaft, bellhousing, and transmission last week at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and suffering a DNF (Did Not Finish) the WAR team fought back and put in the time to garner their first win of the 2020 season. Pure joy and happiness is reflected in the face of Grandfather/Crew Chief Bob Alexander who later  remarked the win was as good or better than those he won during his Hall of Fame career. (John A. Miller Photography)

“It was a pretty big night for us for sure. The car was fast in practice on last week’s rubber. We knew we had a pretty good car.”

“We started our heat position 2. and Wyatt moved quickly to the lead, winning our heat.”
“With a re-draw of the top 9, we ended up starting the feature in 4th place.”
“It didn’t take but a few laps and Wyatt moved to 2nd following Corey Bubar in 1st and followed by Gary Smith in third. The three of them proceeded to pull away from the rest of the field to a comfortable half track lead.”
“A couple of cautions would bunch up the field but Corey and Wyatt would again pull away and maintain a healthy lead on any challengers. I think that Wyatt could have probably pushed it and passes Corey at any time but he was playing it smart, taking a conservative line in the middle groove, saving his tires for the end.”
With about 30 laps to go, Corey and Wyatt came up to a group of cars which allowed Wyatt to make it to the outside of Corey where they would race that way until 10 laps to go. That was when Wyatt decided to check out on him and he maintained a six car length lead to the finish.”
“We had been using Greg Emerson as our spotter but he was committed to another driver for this race. Brett stepped up to the plate to spot for Wyatt , not his favorite thing to do, and did a great job of it.”
“With about 30 laps to go, Greg came on to our radio frequency to tell us that his driver had pulled out of the race and that he was available to finish out the race, spotting for Wyatt if we wanted him to.”
“Brett happily handed the reins over to Get to finish out the race.”

Team owner and Father Brett Alexander congratulates his son/driver  Wyatt Alexander for the win in the 150 lap Granite State Pro Series race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. The WAR team has roots that run deep in the fertile soil in Aroostook County. (John A. Miller Photography)

Amy Hinton-Harrop in her column “Chasing the Checkered” described the win like this way, “Wyatt Alexander maintained his edge over Corey Bubar in the closing laps and captured the feature victory. Victory was sweet for the Wyatt Alexander Racing team, who have been working relentlessly to make improvements to the #96 machine since Wyatt’s return to a full-time racing schedule at Beech Ridge after returning from a stint down in North Carolina. The beginning of the 2020 season has been full of highs and lows for the #96 team, but Saturday night’s $3,000-to-win victory was definitely an all-time high for the team.”

Swanson sets new records in USAC

Kody Swanson continues to rewrite the United States Auto Club (USAC) record book when he won the Joe James-Pat O’Connor Memorial Silver Crown 74 lap race Saturday evening at Salem Speedway, Salem, Indiana.

Winner’s Circle at the USAC Silver Crown Joe James- Pat O’Connor Memorial at Salem Speedway, Indiana. Pat O’Connor’s son Jeff is to the Swanson’s right. This was the first pavement race for Nolen Racing since car owner Gene Nolen died. The team is dedicating this season to his memory. Gene’s son Greg is in the back row second from left in purple shirt. (Jordan Swanson photo)

Linda Mansfield’s race report sums up the record setting race for Swanson and Nolen Racing. “Nolen Racing’s Kody Swanson set more USAC Silver Crown records Saturday by winning his fifth consecutive Kentuckiana Ford Dealers Joe James-Pat O’Connor Memorial at Salem Speedway.

No driver had ever won five Joe James-Pat O’Connor Memorials, let alone five in a row. It broke Pancho Carter’s four consecutive victories in this race between 1974-1977.

It was Swanson’s 30th USAC Silver Crown career victory, extending that record.

Swanson also won his 30th career Fatheadz Eyewear pole here, another record. It was also his fifth consecutive pole at the 61st annual event on the paved 0.555-mile oval in Southern Indiana. He set the 1-lap record here at 15.923 seconds in 2017, but he got the pole on Saturday with a 16.107.

Bobby Santos III qualified second and didn’t make Swanson’s race easy. Santos got the lead on the first lap and led the first 49 laps of the 75-lap race with Swanson just a tenth of a second behind him, looking for any opportunity to get by.

At the two-thirds mark it finally occurred when Santos was hung up just an instant while the pair were poised to lap Joe Liguori. Swanson saw his chance and took it, passing Santos on the outside as the three cars raced through Turn 1.

Santos kept close at first and tried his best to regain the lead, but Swanson was able to extend his advantage to over a second by lap 58 and to 2 seconds by lap 64.

Two laps later the ninth-place driver, Kyle Hamilton, stopped on the frontstretch to bring out a caution flag and give Santos another shot on the restart on lap 70, but Swanson was up to the task.

His work wasn’t over, however, because Liguori spun to a stop on the inside of Turn 2 with 73 laps down to set up a green-white-checkered scenario and give Santos one more shot at Swanson.

Swanson was having none of it, however, and he took the checkered flag with a 1.013-second margin of victory over Santos with his yellow Nolen Racing No. 20. This time the team chose its Beast chassis, which is powered by a Tranter Chevy engine and sponsored by KECO Coatings, Goodridge and K & N Filters.

To underscore how close Swanson’s and Santos’s cars were, they tied for the fastest race lap with a 16.819 on the very same circuit, lap 21.

The top 10 were Swanson, Santos, Aaron Pierce, Justin Grant, Derek Bischak, Austin Nemire, Kyle O’Gara, Kyle Robbins, Mike Haggenbottom and Liguori.

The Whiteland, Indiana-based team brought two asphalt Silver Crown cars to Salem and worked on the set-up on both during practice.

Nolen Racing #20 Beast Chassis in action at Salem Speedway USAC Silver Crown race. With the win, Swanson takes over the points lead 114 to Kyle Robbins 113. (Rich Forman photo)

Although the car he won with on Saturday isn’t his favorite Nolen Racing mount, Swanson credited the team with working hard to make it up to the task. “Everyone on this team fought hard,” he told a Flo Racing reporter. “We battled through it and worked harder. I did not want the start to go as it did. But later, when we went three wide for the lead in Turn 1 at Salem, that’s about as good as it gets and I hope the fans liked it. This is the first pavement Silver Crown race since we lost [team founder] Gene [Nolen], so it is important to all of us. Every win is important; you just don’t know when you’ll get another opportunity, and you have to cherish each one.”

This week is extremely busy for Swanson and the Nolen Racing team. Friday finds them at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana for the USAC Silver Crown Dave Steele Carb Night Classic on the .686 mile paved track.

Saturday Swanson will be in the team Sprint Car for the Night Before the 500 Race held once again at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg.

The Indy 500 is Sunday, however, the USAC Silver Crown Series will be in action only a few miles away at the one mile dirt track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Hoosier 100 was resurrected this year when the Covid 19 shutdown prevented the one mile track from being converted into a horse racing track only. It is going to be a busy Sunday afternoon at UpNorth Motorsports headquarters.

Cold Hard Art preps trophy topper for Knoxville Nationals winner

Cold Hard Art (CHA) Tom Patsis formerly from Ellsworth, Maine, displays the outlaw winged sprint car trophy topper he built for the $50,000 to win Knoxville Nationals. (Cold Hard Art photo)

Kyle Larson wins the 2020 Knoxville Nationals 410 Sprint race and $50,000. Seen here is the trophy with the sprint car topper made by Tom Michael Patsis, Cold Hard Art. (Knoxville Nationals press release)

Sneak preview

A story in the making is the complete rebuild of a vintage Scat Cat hydroplane race boat by Caribou resident Fran Cyr. Cyr has rebuilt the racer and tested it a few times on Monson Pond in Fort Fairfield. He continues to work on the motor side of the project. A full report is coming soon. You will not want to miss this story.

Here is one of the recent test runs with a Johnson 8 hp fishing outboard powering the Scat Cat.


Indy 500 Next Sunday and Marco Andretti is on the pole

Andretti Autosports Marco Andretti on left is congratulated by team-mate Alexander Rossi after Andretti captured the pole for next Sunday’s Indy 500. Marco averaged 231.068 mph in Sunday’s “Fast Nine” final qualifying shootout. This is the first time an Andretti has sat on Indy 500 pole since 1987 when Marco’s grandfather Mario won the first pole position by an Andretti. (Honda Racing photo)

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