Snowmobile racing coming to the County in March 2021

Episode 351

February 21, 2021

First and possibly the only snowmobile race in 2021 coming to the County

Matt McEwen, McEwen Construction, from Linneus, doing some of the preliminary work needed to host what could be the only cross-country snowmobile race in Aroostook County in 2021. The so-called “Heartbeats and Handlebars” Vintage, Trail, and Kids endurance races will be held at Houlton Community Park. (Tame the Track Tour photo)

The snowmobile racing track is being groomed in Houlton for the only scheduled snowmobile races in Aroostook County in the winter of 2021. Racers are preparing their sleds which for the most part have sat idle since late winter 2020 when COVID-19 wiped out the end of Tame the Track Tour Snowmobile Racing schedule.


Teen race at “Handlebars and Heartbeats” in previous snowmobile races at Houlton. (Elizabeth Agnew Hartford photo)

Tame the Track Promoter/Race Director Jere Humphrey, Houlton, Maine made the announcement, “After deliberating since November with the State Governor’s office in Augusta, Tame the Track Snowmobile Tour has finally been given the ‘green light’ to offer a late season Vintage, Trail & Kids Endurance Race brought to you in part by Ossipee Auto Parts and Casella Waste Systems.”

“The NAPA Auto Parts race will be held on March 13th, starting at 10 am to be held at Houlton Community Park in Houlton, Maine. There will be eighteen various racing divisions offered with trophies and cash awards presented by RA Paradis & Sons of Newport, Maine.”

Humphrey stressed that, “Face coverings will be required and social distancing will be necessary.”

Hartford Racing family headed back to the County to race

The Hartford Family snowmobile racing family from Wolfeboro, New Hampshire has run a couple events this winter at the Unity Ice Oval race in southern Maine and Harley Jacks vintage snowmobile race in Ossipee, New Hampshire.

Elizabeth Agnew Hartford spoke for the family mentioning that if they can get sleds ready in time, they will be at the races and are looking forward to competing.

 Hailey Hartford in action at Harley Jack vintage snowmobile race in New Hampshire Sunday February 21, 2021. (Elizabeth Agnew Hartford photo)

She said, “Hailey (her daughter) has stepped up her game and is hoping not to just compete but battle for a podium finish in both Junior and Women’s classes.”

“Riley (the younger son) plans on defending his Junior title. He has been practicing snow and ice.”

Justin Hartford in action on the ice at Unity Ice Oval. (Elizabeth Agnew Hartford photo)

“Justin (the elder son) our team leader plans to compete in 6 divisions. A lot to get ready in a short time”.

County native prepared to contest for wins at Houlton

Joe Pelletier, Fort Kent is always a threat to win no matter which class he is entered. The versatile racer competes in motocross as well as snowmobile racing.

Joe Pelletier, Fort Kent, aboard a Arctic Cat ZR 440 in action at Bass Park in Bangor 2020. He leads Justin Hartford on his Ski Doo MXZ 440. Pelletier finished first and Hartford fourth. (Tame the Track Tour photo)

The self-employed logger mentioned, ” I am planning on racing in Houlton. I am looking forward to getting back out there and competing and seeing all the other racers.”

“I’m glad restrictions have finally relaxed enough for races to happen in Maine, every other state in the northeast was allowing events, and I no longer have the desire to travel that far. I will be riding IFS Outlaw and possibly the trail 600 class.”

“This off season,” said Pelletier, “I started downhill skiing with my family, which I haven’t done in close to 20 years since I was in high school.”

“I also purchased a groomer to build my own sno-cross track which I haven’t been able to complete just yet as I’m waiting for parts.”

Something you may not know about Michael McDowell

Friday August 3, 2000, the day before the seventh running of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I was chatting with Ricky Craven and Midwest Transit Racing team owner Hal Hicks in their garage inside Gasoline Alley.

After the interview I was standing near the front of the garage and noticed a gentleman engaging in a brief conversation with Ricky Craven. I introduced myself and my mission, which was to cover the race for Bangor Daily News Sports since Maine’s own Ricky Craven was in the event.

The writer I met is Brad Winters, a freelance motorsports writer from nearby Columbus, Indiana. He wrote about Craven a few times while Ricky was in the top echelon of NASCAR. We remained in contact over the years.

2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell in Gatorade Victory Lane ceremony. This was McDowell’s first victory in 358 starts. (Ford Performance photo)

After Michael McDowell won the Daytona 500, I contacted Brad since I knew he had written a special story about the McDowell family that many may not know. I sought and received permission to print his story about the most recent Daytona 500 winner.

First Brad commented about the win at Daytona saying, “So happy for Michael McDowell getting his first NASCAR victory. He has always encouraged the other drivers and now he gets his reward, joining his close friend Trevor Bayne as a Daytona 500 champion. Follows is a story I wrote on Michael and his family a couple of years ago.”
NASCAR’S Michael McDowell: What Matters Most
At five days old, Lucas, his new name, was abandoned on a street in China. This unwanted child, whose family did not want to be ‘shamed’ was left to die. The infant, born with cleft hands and feet and missing many of his fingers and toes, was placed in a government run orphanage with little hope for the future.
Back in the USA, Michael McDowell and his wife, Jami, had spent six years working on adoption processes in countries where children had the greatest needs. Doors seemed to close as soon as their hopes would rise.
“We were in the Ethiopian adoption program, which had the greatest need at that time,” Michael said, ” and then the government shut that down. Then we did all the paperwork and were approved in Honduras and the government ended that program. But we knew that was all God’s timing and we knew that God had picked our child.”
Then the call came three years ago about the possibility of adoption in China. Michael and Jami, and their children, Trace, Emma and Rylie, would soon welcome a new brother. A perfect little boy in the eyes of God and the McDowell family. “Someday, when Lucas is old enough, we will explain to him that God picked him, before he was ever conceived, to be in our family,” said Michael. “I think it is pretty neat that the story for him is a story of redemption.”

Lucas McDowell getting ready for school. (McDowell family photo)

Michael explains that Lucas is thriving. “His disabilities are not limiting at all,” Michael said. “He started kindergarten this year.”
“Lucas has undergone several surgeries and has therapy sessions and is adapting to his new country and language well. The greatest healing has come from the love of the family and from the grace of God”.
Michael feels that he is right where God wants him to be. Drivers with families have the challenge of making a connection with their physical family and their race team family. Race teams require time to get to know each other so they can work together through the ups and downs of a season. It takes commitment.
“I love racing,” Michael explains. “I am really passionate about it. I feel like I am in my sweet spot and I feel like God has me where he wants me. I feel like every year is a gift so I don’t take it for granted.”
“I am not at a place where I dread coming to the racetrack. I love coming to the track. I love meeting people. I love competition.”
“It’s getting harder. Three of the four kids are in school now. We have a good process. I try to stay tuned in to their activities.”
Before COVID McDowell stated, “My family attends about half the races (where the motorhome is their second home). We make it work. My wife is a ‘superwoman’ and does so much that allows me to be here and to stay connected with the children through that process.”
Michael used his platform to share his Christian faith whenever time allows. Michael and Jami host Bible studies at their home and Michael is active in Motor Racing Outreach, the ministry team that travels with NASCAR.
{You may recall that after McDowell spun Bubba Wallace on lap 17 in the All-Star Qualifier at Bristol Motor Speedway, July 15, 2020. In disgust, Wallace carried the front bumper from his Richard Petty Motorsports #43 Chevy to the Front Row Motorsports hauler where he promptly dumped it.
McDowell and Front Row Motorsports decided to auction off the bumper and donate the proceeds to Motor Racing Outreach. McDowell’s sponsor, had the winning bid of $20, 034 which was donated to MRO. then donated $20,043 to Victory Junction and Richard Petty Motorsports. Victory Junction for kids has been supported by the Petty family since its inception.}
It is ironic, or maybe not, that Michael has been sponsored by Love. Love’s Travel Stops has been a sponsor this year and Christian radio station, K-Love, has been a long-time sponsor. It seems like love follows this family wherever they go.
Courtesy Brad Winter except the segment in brackets which I added.
McDowell overcame a first lap flat tire after starting on the outside pole at the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 @ Daytona on the road course with an eighth-place finish. He is tied for fourth with Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott. The win by Bell is only the third time in NASCAR history that the season started with two first-time winners. The record stretched back to 1949 and 1950.
Video of the Week
JRT Customs posted this dyno pull using an engine destined for racing at Speedway Karting in Hermon. The subject is purple plate WKA Animal engine. His small engine dyno is probably the only of its type available for kart engines in our region. Enjoy!
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