Vintage car Christmas tree adventure

Episode 341

December 13, 2020

The adventure

During a busy day of selling farm fresh Christmas trees, I will periodically check my Facebook page to see if any Christmas tree customers are heading my way. That is when I noticed that local racers Jesse Michaud and Stacy Robey were headed toward the farm yet were unable to finish the 47 mile round trip.

The couple pulled off a surprise that took me back to my stock car racing days at Spud Speedway in the mid 1970’s. They cut vinyl stencils and followed that with hand painted numbers and race sponsor graphics closely resembling that on my 1963 Ford Fairlane Sportsman race car.

My winningest stock car in the top class at Spud Speedway in 1977. The car was originally built for Jim Ower by Maine Motorsports Hall of Famer Bob Alexander in his garage located in Mars Hill, Maine. From the point forward my race cars were always #10. This car was sponsored in part by The Country Store in Limestone. I ended up with 10 heat race wins and 4 feature race wins. I often wonder where this race car ended up. (HTF Motorsports collection photo)

Jesse Michaud’s 1964 Ford Galaxy, acquired in Freeport for future project. Based upon the previous photo, Michaud and fiancee Stacy Robey built stencils and hand painted the number as well as sponsor lettering to surprise me.They used an antiquing process to make the fresh lettering look vintage. (Stacy Robey photo)

Unfortunately, the trip had to be cut short due to car problems such as exhaust falling off, fuel filter plugging and engine valve cover leaks. He had only run the car a couple hours since acquiring the vintage classic earlier this year. The couple were unable to find a 1964 Ford heater core at the local parts store thus making the trip bundled up in heavy clothing.

I thought the trip made by Stacy and Jesse in 2019 to Hale Tree Farms in a converted-to-highway-use 1933 Plymouth was a true vintage shopping experience. The couple made that trip bundled up against the cold since that car had no heater.

Jesse Michaud straps his Christmas tree to the roof the same way it would have been done in the 1930s. Note the whitewall bias ply tires. Not a hint of a snow tire tread pattern. With mostly bare roads Michaud commented that he had a relatively easy 47 mile round trip. The 19 degree temperatures were a factor as well since the car did not have a heater. A glass cleaner bottle and paper towels served as a window cleaner if needed. Driver and passenger were bundled up for the ride. (Stacy Robey photo)

Jesse and Stacy provided this short video clip of their shortened 2020 trip to Hale Tree Farms. Entitled “1964 Ford Custom; First drive in 13 years” : (I enjoyed the donuts at the end)

The delivery

I could not let a noble attempt at visiting Hale Tree Farms go unrewarded. After a busy day, my helper, Reid Margeson and I, loaded up a farm fresh Christmas tree to be utilized as a prop. The least I could do is deliver to the garage where the Ford Galaxy is stored.

Upon arrival, the couple were very accommodating; listening to my old race stories brought back to somewhat accurate remembrance by their project. Stacy, who is an excellent race photographer stepped up to shoot some photos for this episode for which I am appreciative.

In order to resemble the 2019 tree-on-the-roof shot, the Christmas tree was hoisted aboard for a photo with yours truly and Jesse Michaud. (Stacy Robey photo)

What would a vintage photo session be without the classic door pose from the 60’s and 70’s? Thanks to Jesse and Stacy for making this possible. (Stacy Robey photo)

Another Swanson UpNorth Motorsports will be following in 2021

Soon after meeting Kody Swanson, I met his younger brother Tanner at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. The brothers had formed TK Racing and had a display at the huge FFA/Agriculture career show at the Convention Center.

These were the goody bags which Tanner and Kody were passing out to FFA members and guests at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Not sure of the exact year, however, I believe it was near 2010. (HTF Motorsports photo)

A photo of the “Hero card” that was included in the “Racing for Education Challenge” packet. FFA members would try their skills on a racing simulator. (HTF Motorsports photo)

On the back of their “Hero card” were a few of their racing accomplishments as well as FFA awards.Both were very active in their hometown chapter, Kingsburg FFA in California. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Tanner Swanson pictured on the April 2007 American Racing Ministries newsletter. Swanson won the All-American Driver Challenge (AADC) held at Hickory Motor Speedway when he was 16 years of age. (Unable to determine the photographer)

This is the latest press release courtesy Restart  Communications by Linda Mansfield:

Nolen Racing is keeping it all in the family — the Swanson family, that is.
Team owner Greg Nolen announced today (December 1, 2020) that Tanner Swanson will drive a Nolen Racing asphalt sprint car in selected events in 2021, including the 73rd Annual Pay Less Little 500 at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway on Saturday, May 29.
Swanson, of Kingsburg, Calif., is stepping into the seat recently vacated by his older brother Kody. The latter posted two of his three Little 500 triumphs in a Nolen Racing sprint car in 2018 and 2019.
Tanner Swanson, 29, has raced a limited schedule in recent years but he always seems to end up as one of his brother’s primary rivals when they compete in the same event.
Tanner Swanson competed in the Little 500 in 2016 with Armstrong Racing and in 2018 with Bowman Racing, but retired from both of those events relatively early due to mechanical difficulties. He looks forward to changing that in 2021 when he makes his third start in that race as Shane Hollingsworth’s teammate on the Nolen Racing team. Hollingsworth, of Lafayette, Ind., recorded his best finish ever in the Little 500 this year when he placed second. In 2019 Hollingsworth and Kody Swanson led an unprecedented 499 of the race’s 500 laps.
Tanner Swanson won the Glen Niebel Classic USAC national sprint car race at Anderson Speedway in 2008.
The arrangement for 2021 also includes Tanner Swanson participating in selected sprint car events on the oval at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind., for Nolen Racing.
In 2021 the 0.686-mile paved oval at Lucas Oil Raceway will host the Thursday Night Thunder Homecoming on Thursday, June 17, and the inaugural Hoosier Classic Aug. 13-14. The former will feature sprints and midgets. The latter, run on the same weekend as the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Cup Series race on the road course at the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will feature sprint cars on Friday, Aug. 13, and midgets and the USAC Silver Crown series on Saturday, Aug. 14. The Hoosier Classic also touts the Fatheadz Eyewear $100K Challenge, which offers $132,000 to a driver who wins all three races.
On Aug. 21 Tanner Swanson won the Dave Steele Carb Night Classic USAC Silver Crown race at Lucas Oil Raceway in the Bowman Racing No. 02 after Kody Swanson won the pole and led 40 laps of the 100-lap race, only to have to pit due to a problem with his brakes. Kody Swanson returned to finish tenth, and he also led every lap of the 40-lap asphalt sprint car feature during the Night Before the 500 show at Lucas Oil Raceway the same weekend for Nolen Racing. Ironically Tanner Swanson finished fifth in that race for Doran Racing, which is the team his brother will drive asphalt sprint cars for in 2021.
Despite his limited schedule Tanner Swanson is the winningest USAC Silver Crown driver in Lucas Oil Raceway history with six victories. He has eight Silver Crown victories in all.
He won the Night Before the 500 USAC national midget race at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2010, and the Carb Night Classic USAC Silver Crown race there in 2014 and 2015. He also won the Rich Vogler Classic/J.D. Byrider 100 USAC Silver Crown races there in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Tanner Swanson won the USAC Western States sprint car championship in both 2008 and 2009.
Kody Swanson is the winningest driver in USAC Silver Crown history with five championships and 30 victories. He won the USAC Silver Crown drivers’ championship for Nolen Racing in 2019, and he finished second in those standings this year with one victory in the five races run. His victory at Salem (Ind.) Speedway on Aug. 15 was his fifth straight in that event, breaking a record held by Pancho Carter.
Tanner Swanson drove in one race previously for Nolen Racing: the 2017 Phoenix Copper Cup USAC Silver Crown race at Phoenix Raceway. He qualified sixth for that race, but had mechanical difficulties early and finished 15th.
“I was honored to have Tanner call to inquire about the ride, and I’m excited for our team for the upcoming season,” Greg Nolen said. “Tanner has driven for us in the past and always does a great job. He’s an excellent driver, and I expect him to be a strong competitor in all the events he races in next year for us.”
“I am excited to rejoin Nolen Racing in 2021,” Tanner Swanson said. “Kody has proven that they are a force to be reckoned with whenever they have shown up at the track over the last two years. I am excited to join the team, and plan to continue that level of success next season.”
The team is sponsored in part by KECO Coatings, Goodridge and K & N Filters.
Its founder, the late Gene Nolen, is a member of the Little 500 Hall of Fame.
Nolen Racing’s plans for the 2021 USAC Silver Crown season are yet to be determined. The Whiteland, Ind.-based team has finished in the top five in the USAC Silver Crown entrant point standings for the last six years in a row.
For more information on the team see and follow it on Facebook and Twitter. Potential marketing partners can get in touch with the team by contacting Restart Communications at

You can be sure that UpNorth Motorsports will be following Tanner throughout the 2021 racing season.

I hope to have some photos of off road adventure in Aroostook County by a local four wheel drive club in the next episode. Until then…

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