Christmas time 2020 is here

Episode 342

December 20, 2020

Looking from the outside

Was it a sky like this which shepherds saw as the sun set and darkness nestled into that desert place, where a nearby birth forever changed the planet? Much further away magi used that star to maneuver their way to Bethlehem to see the young child that the prophets of old foretold. (Courtesy Pete Freeman Capture 21 photography)

This Christmas season has been one like never before with restrictions and rules as well as sickness. With these circumstances, the multiplicity of feelings and emotions  have caused me to experience deeply the true meaning of the birth of the Savior of the World.

Many times I have thought of those less fortunate than I. We truly are blessed beyond measure. I asked for the Lord to open my eyes to see those who are hurting around me so I may be a worthy ambassador of Christ.

Once that question was asked, I seemed to get answers which both amazed me and yes, shocked me out of my little shell. The societal problems, which looked overwhelming when viewed as a whole, became something I could do something about when it came down to individual needs.

I will not be specific since these needs probably should remain confidential. I do not want any recognition since I am literally a beggar simply telling others where the bread is. I do hope, however, that you too will pause and look around to see needs that too often blend into the background of noise and clutter of everyday living.

News in the world of motorsports goes on as the Christmas season moves in to temporarily push aside what at best is entertainment. Some of those stories are in this episode.

Trek with Northern Maine Excursions Off-Road Club

I was assisting a guest at Hale Tree Farms when I noticed that his Jeep had decals indicating that he was into off-roading. After a few questions, I had a story for this week’s episode.

The person I met was Jeraime Baker. He moved his family to New Sweden from Hawaii which immediately caught my attention. He moved to take a job with the utilities district in a local town.

After looking at his Jeep, nicknamed “The Bus”, I came to the realization that off road adventures were one of his passions. The moderate lift kit and large tires were a hint that off-road is where he likes to be.

Baker told me that just the day before the Club had gone from New Sweden cross country through some of the County’s toughest terrain to Portage Lake. The journey was 48 miles on snow covered woods roads and trails.

Entering the woods trail at the Blackstone Siding junction with Westmanland Road, only 2.5 mile from HTF Motorsports World Headquarters. Baker’s Jeep, “The Bus” is at the front of the line of eight four wheel drive vehicles, six Jeeps, Dodge Ram and a Toyota Tacoma TRD. (Northern Maine Excursions Off-Road Club; NMEORC photo)

Baker described the excursion this way. The trucks with nicknames are listed at the end of his post. “On December 12th, 2020 the Northern Maine Excursions Off-Road Club held a weekend event where we decided to see if we could connect from New Sweden to Portage Lake via dirt roads.”

“The Trip ended up being a 48 mile one way journey. We had 8 vehicles in our convoy. We entered into Blackstone via Blackstone Siding Road (in Westmanland), headed north along Beaver Brook Road, made a left towards Square Lake with a picnic stop at some abandoned cabins along the shoreline.”

The journey got interesting when the group encountered thin ice over running water. Winches were important to allow forward progress. (NMEORC photo)

“Continued westward on Pennington Road, with the goal of climbing Pennington Mountain. This is were the adventure started to get interesting. “Ronda” had to be recovered out of ditch by “Tow Truck” after sliding off the road. Then “THE BUS” got stuck in the collection of water in the road that had frozen with 3” of ICE and a water depth of 1-2 feet.”

“The BUS” was unsuccessful getting through the ditch after breaking through thin ice. (Jeraime Baker photo)

“Ronda” wanted to show up “THE BUS” and failed in the same ice hole. “Rhona” helped recover both jeeps via winch. After that everyone made it through the ice hole via the right and continued our journey where we encountered an immediate ascension from 583 feet to 1386 feet.”

“‘Sherpa’ had slid off the road after attempting the first of 3 hills and had to be recovered via winch. The “SHORT BUS” did amazing up the ascension and has been tested and pushed to its limits on numerous adventures without ever letting her driver down.”

“With time running out and light gone, we choose to abort the additional 400 feet of elevation climb needed to go up Pennington Mountain. We followed Pennington Road down hill towards Route 11.”

The stats from the journey provided by Jeraime Baker are:
48 Miles one-way
Pace: 10:43 min/mi
Average Speed: 5.6-8.4 MPH
Max Speed of 45MPH
Depth of Snow: 12”
Thickness of Ice: 3”
Max elevation: 1386 FT

The journey included a lunch break at Square Lake where the group posed for a photo. (NMEORC photo)

Vehicles That Attended the journey:
2008 Jeep Commander Sport: THE BUS
2006 Jeep Commander Limited: Dolly
2007 Jeep Commander: RONDA
2012 Jeep Wrangler JKU: SHERPA
2012 Jeep Wrangler JK: Rhona
2018 Jeep Renegade Latitude: SHORT BUS
Dodge Ram Hemi: TOW TRUCK
Toyota Tacoma TRD: Unnamed

Bike and trailer story

A local teenager rides his bike year round since that is his only means of transportation. I picked him and his bicycle, which he was pushing not riding, about 10 days ago on Route 161, the main road to Fort Kent.

The reason he was very obvious when he showed me that the junction point between three main tubes of the frame were broken severely. I have no idea how that much damage could be done, however, it did mean this young man was without wheels.

Earlier this year, the bike and trailer combination he depended on to transport a few bottles and cans as well as snacks broke and was out of commission.

Without intruding on family plans, I stopped and asked the father and son if they had any other bikes? They answered, “No”.

When asked if they could use another bike, the answer was, “Yes”.

A timely phone call from a person in the neighborhood helped solidify this project. The person asked if I knew any kids who might need something this Christmas. When I mentioned this situation, the person sprung into action and purchased a new 18-speed, Roadmaster Mountain bike from Wal-Mart.

Remember the young man used his bike for towing a small trailer. On one occasion, I helped load the bike and trailer into the bed of  my truck to give him a ride home after church. I noted that the trailer was very heavy, my guess between 40 and fifty pounds.

It was then that it was decided the new bike needed a lightweight yet strong trailer. I had some components at home that I thought would lend themselves to a durable lightweight trailer. The key components were a pair of wheels from a salvaged wheelchair.

A shelf made of steel from an old-fashioned refrigerator became the main frame. The drawbar would be made from thin wall 1/2-inch diameter chromoly tubing left over from a previous project. The attachment point is a 1/4-inch heim joint to allow vertical and rotational motion.

I enlisted three other men to help with various parts and labor. All wanted to remain anonymous as did the purchaser of the bicycle.

A non-disclosed welder displaying the drawbar and axle that was welded to the frame of a discarded refrigerator shelf. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Adapter fabricated to attach the rear of the bike to trailer drawbar. The final version was only slightly different from version 1. The later edition was suggested by the undisclosed welder. With the welder’s modification the trailer makes much smoother radius corners. (HTF Motorsports photo)

The head of the wheelchair axle bolts was cut off and fitted to thin wall 1 inch angle iron to serve as the new full width axle which was welded to frame at multiple points. (HTF Motorsports photo)

With the help of another local fabricator a 90 degree adapter pin with hairpin clip was made to allow rapid drawbar detachment. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Final look at bike and trailer before presentation to new owner. Mission accomplished with trailer, only 21 pounds, tracks straight, and is attached or removed with the pulling of a single pin. The old recycling bin should allow a decent payload. A rear reflector donated by another person will allow the owner to be more visible. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Patsis goes to the movies

Tom Patsis, Cold Hard Art, Brownsburg, Indiana is a never ending source of good material This week’s edition is what happens when wife Amanda want husband Tom to get dressed in something besides dirty work clothes. The results are in the video courtesy Tom Patsis, Cold Hard Art. Do you recognize the driver suit in the video? If you have time look at the video following this one for a Cold Hard Art Christmas dilemma.

CORE Autosport back in IMSA action 2021!

I will admit that when CORE Autosport contact with Porsche Motorsports USA ended after the 2020 IMSA season finale, I was bummed. That team has a connection with Aroostook County making it interesting to follow them in action. Team owner Jon Bennett took a year off from racing the Nissan DPi entry with limited success.

That car is sold and new opportunity has arisen. In 2021, IMSA will be adding the LMP3 class of cars to the schedule. LMP 3 prototypes are slightly shorter, 15 cm but the same width as a LMP2. The engine is the new 455 hp Nissan 5.5 liter VK56.

Bennett will team up once again with Colin Braun. Both go back several years at CORE racing the LMP2, RallyCross, and DPi together. Not sure if Jeff Braun, the father of Colin, will once again be joining the team as a race engineer.

Colin Braun on left once again teams up with CORE owner/driver Jon Bennett. This year they will race in eight IMSA Series events beginning with the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in late January. (CORE Autosport photo)

In 2021 CORE Autosport will join with CrowdStrike owner George Kurtz. CrowdStrike provides internet and cloud security for Mercedes F1 team as well as others. ( photo courtesy CORE Autosport)

Joining CORE Autosport for Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race will be 23 year-old Matt McMurry. McMurry competed in IMSA GTD class with Michael Shank Racing in 2020. (Photo courtesy CORE Autosport)

Front view of CORE Autosport/CrowdStrike LMP3 Ligier JSP 320 minus the 2021 livery. The look should be similar to the LMP 2 cars from 2018. The Ligier will be powered by Nissan’s 5.5 liter 455 hp VK56 engine. (Ligier photo)

What does Chris Gardner do for fun?

Pendleton, Indiana’s Chris Gardner helping the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum maintenance crew by polishing wheels while the Museum is closed to public. This is Wally Dallenbach driven 1972 Lola/Foyt T272. (Chris Gardner photo)

One of the cars with freshly polished wheels is the 1972 Indy 500 winner driven by Mark Donohue. This is one of my favorite IndyCar at the museum. (Chris Gardner photo)

Let’s take time to ponder what is the real reason for Christmas,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria (Isaiah 9:6)




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