Thoughts about Maine stock car track closing

Episode 377

October 3, 2021

Beech Ridge Superfan

Just before the lights were shut off for the final time, Charlie Sanborn III at start/finish line at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. (Julie Harrison photo)

Julie Harrison, North Waterboro, posted the following on Facebook which seemed like a typical response to what could be the last stock car race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, September 27, 2021. “Last night was about just watching and taking it all in. Jeff (Walker) taking his final laps around the famed 1/3 mile known as Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, to watching countless other friends take their final laps as well. Being under the lights makes it even more memorable.”
“It didn’t matter that at 12am, we were still standing there watching the hustle and bustle of everyone loading up one last time. The memories and stories will live on forever and last night we all added to our stories and memories.”
“Today was tough for me. Gram and Grampa Harrison and our uncles called The Ridge home for decades and generation-after-generation of Harrison family members have done the same. To know the Harrison family and the bond we all have is one that is deep rooted and racing draws us all together near and far.”
“We no longer have our grandparents. Beech Ridge gave us closeness to them sitting right between Turn 5 and the refreshment stand watching our family members chase their racing dreams with the Johnson Family right across from us. I remember that because Gram Harrison never held back her feelings!”
Some of her favorite memories include:
  • Sleeping on those bleachers as a kid.
  • The endless racing parties and celebrations in the parking lots.
  • The red and blue firesuits Gram made us.
  • The wins, the losses, the wrecks, the championships…the memories and friendships.
  • Beech Ridge is where I had my last conversation and gave my final hug to Jason Fowler.
  • PASS weekend is where I met my soon to be husband. A random night there led me to my best friends Becki Webster.
  • The list can go on but so many memories that changed me, saved me, made me who I am today.

“I never was the school sports type growing up and racing was my thing. From being the babysitter to my younger cousins Jairet and Chanler, to then helping Kenny Harrison for many years. Barry ‘Buzzy’ Cain was well known at the Ridge but what many do not know is he was pretty much one of our family members. My uncles took him under their wings many years ago and Buzzy fit right on in with the Harrisons.”

“Sunday I will be sure we pay tribute to Gram and Grampa at their spot…we all know they will be watching from above as two of their grandsons Kenny and Robbie Harrison take their final laps around The Ridge.”
“To get to be there one final time on Sunday with family and friends will be the best, yet hardest day. Beech Ridge is home. It’s where you knew you had a sense of belonging and a purpose. I am excited for Sunday but not ready to say good bye.”
Harrison recently made these remarks, “We went into it ready to celebrate and had our moments of mourning, what we knew we were about lose, and then to celebrate Wyatt’s win which meant so much to Dan Walker, my soon-to-be husband, Jeff Walker, and the Alexander family. Watching my family members take their final laps at the place we grew up at and called home.”
“Then myself, Jeff, Ethan, Lindsey Walker, and Charlie Sanborn being some of the last people to be on the track as the lights turned off was an emotional one.”
View of the end from 40+ years at Beech Ridge
Dan Walker has spent most of his adult life at the Scarborough race track. His post in Facebook did a great job summarizing his feelings about the race track.
“This will be a condensed post so as to try and not bore you,” said Dan Walker.
“It was 1971 when my grandfather took me to Beech Ridge for the very first time. As they say the rest was history as I was hooked. In 1980 I was offered a chance to join the safety team and I took it.”
“That was the start of a 41-year run that saw myself doing about every job at the track over the years. I spent years doing the publicity and the weekly program write ups after Bonnie Coffin retired. She was a great teacher.”
“When Don Butterfield passed away, I was asked if I would double up and work the three turn wall for a few weeks until they could find someone to take over. It took them 12 years to find someone to take over.”
“For the past three years I did the pit steward job, it was challenging to say the least but I had the most supportive assistant in Sue Walker my love. She did so much to make it all run smooth and I can never thank her enough.”

Dan Walker #51 Pontiac in 1985. He led the points race for a while before finishing 5th for the season. His track official responsibilities increased and after 5 seasons, Walker ceased his racing career, temporarily. (Dan Walker furnished photo)

Walker came back with his son’s team, competing in the Beetle Bug division as part of Thursday Thunder in 2010. He won the championship in 2011 and had 4 wins before retiring for good in 2015. His son Jeff is on the left. They ran Honda CRX cars.  (Dan Walker supplied photo)

“I’ve raced and won races and a championship, but the best memory of that was being able to race with my son Jeff Walker.”
“I’ve been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award (by Beech Ridge Speedway officials) but the best award I’ve received is the thank you’s.”

Beech Ridge Motor Speedway owner, Andy Cusack presents the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 to Dan Walker during post season ceremony. (Jamie Williams photo)

“Fast forward to recent times and the current situation. Contrary to what some believe, none of us had any idea that bombshell was coming that day. We knew he would be selling the speedway before the 2023 season because he told us he would not be here for the 75th anniversary. But we always thought it would remain a race track so that really hurt when it was announced otherwise.”
“After a day to think about it, I thought it can’t end like that, there has to be a better ending that will ease the hurt. Thank God for Dick Fowler and others, some who wish to remain anonymous, for stepping up and getting those final two events for us.”
“I left feeling at peace on Sunday night (the finale) knowing we had a positive memory to take with us. I want to end by saying thank you to the staff and the race teams. I would like to name you all but I’m afraid I would miss someone. I’ll take friendships with me old and new that can never be taken away.”
“I don’t know what the future holds for Sue and I as far as racing goes, but I’m grateful for the opportunities that have been presented in recent days. It’s going to take some time to get over the sting of all of this and then we will figure out what is next.”
“In closing just know that I’m not going to question the decision made by the current owner because that track given me over 50 years of memories and most are great ones. I’ve been able to work with some of the most passionate promoters over the years. Tom Curley (ACT), Tom Mayberry (PASS), Mike Parks (GSPSS) and many more.”
“Made great friends in the media world Dave Moody, Al Robinson, Bob Paulin, Steve Solloway, Kal Oakes, Phil Whipple and Mike Twist. It’s been a great ride and I’m proud of so much. So, until we meet again thank you all for the memories and friendships.”
I can’t thank Wyatt Alexander and his family for what they did with the race car on Sunday, and then to go out and win in the tribute car is a memory I’ll never be able to repay. Thank you so much. Memories, that’s what it’s all about, they will be with me forever. Love to you all.”
WAR at races
What makes a race team different? I have been to races where some race teams must be tip-toed around being sure not to upset them or do something to make them angry. I have sometimes wondered for what purpose are they at the race?
Not so with Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR). They are a family-based, values believing and practicing group of individuals blended together to win if at all possible the race, however, at the same time shed some insight into why race at all.
That attitude was on full display throughout 2021 with the racecar number change for the Greg Peters Memorial as well as hometown car displays at special events. The Beech Ridge Motor Speedway finale tied this season together for the team. Let us let the photos and video as well as Chasing the Checkered words tell about the team effort.

Until the WAR race car was rolled out of the trailer at BRMS, the special re-numbering and names over the door was a secret. Dan Walker and his son Jeff are special people to not only the folks at the racetrack, but special indeed to the Alexander family. From left to right Sierra Worth, Lindsey Walker, Sue Walker, Dan Walker, Bob Alexander (kneeling), Jeff Walker, Ethan Walker, Wyatt Alexander, Brett Alexander, Julie Harrison (kneeling).(WAR photo)

Ordinary numbers would not do. Upon examination, included in the special numerical tribute were photo highlights of the Jeff and Dan Walker racing career. (Julie Harrison photo)

The WAR brain-trust in Victory Circle, grandfather/crew chief Bob, driver Wyatt, and team owner/Dad Brett. (5th Turn Racing photo)

To top off a great evening, WAR won the Chasing the Checkered fundraiser helmet designed by Greg Emerson. $545 was raised and donated to the Dean Snell Cancer Foundation and $545 to GNG Gifts. (Chasing the Checkered photo)

Sean Barnaby Racing Videos graciously allowed me to share his video of the WAR victory at Beech Ridge finale.
With permission of Chasing the Checkered owner/writer Amy Hinton-Harrop here is her description of the Pro Series race. You may find all the race recaps of this final race at Amy’s site.

This past Sunday, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway hosted what could have been the track’s final “NASCAR Nite” program in history. The lineup included all 3 NASCAR Nite divisions and was headlined by a final $5,000 to win Pro Series race.

Thirty drivers showed up to compete in the 100-lap main event, which is nearly triple the turnout of a typical Saturday night race in the division.

The competition kicked off with three 12 lap heat races. Former BRMS track champion, Curt Gerry, pulled ahead with the early lead in the first qualifying heat.

Rusty Poland, in a borrowed #90 machine from Derek Kneeland, was also on the move early. He was all over Barry Poulin’s back bumper on lap 5, hungry for a spot on the podium. Poland pulled to his door the following lap, quickly taking over the position.

Curt Gerry continued to hold off his competitors in the closing laps, scoring the heat victory. Joey Doiron and Rusty Poland rounded out the top 3.

Nick Reno and Ryan Littlefield tangled on the initial lap of the second qualifying heat, resulting in an early race caution.

Joe Pastore pulled ahead with the advantage on the restart. Matt Dow, trying his hand in Nick Cusack’s Super Late Model, nearly lost control on the backstretch on lap 1. Dow managed to hold onto it, but ultimately fell to the back of the pack.

Travis Buzzell made his way to Jamie Wright’s outside door on lap 5, challenging for the runner-up spot. Buzzell took over the position two laps later as Glen Luce followed in succession.

Glen Luce came to life in the closing laps, igniting a battle for the runner-up spot with Travis Buzzell on lap 8. Luce took over the following lap and began tracking down his son-in-law, Joe Pastore, for the top spot.

Pastore was able to fend off Luce to the finish, picking up the heat victory. Travis Buzzell rounded out the top 3.

The initial start of the third and final qualifying heat was called off by race control. Once the field got rolling, Evan Beaulieu took off with the lead while Brandon Barker filed in behind him.

Wyatt Alexander was maneuvering through the field early, advancing to third over Josh Childs on lap 2.

Brandon Barker was all over Evan Beaulieu’s back bumper at the mid-point of the race, hungry for the top spot. Wyatt Alexander pulled up to them on lap 10, joining the battle with just two laps to go.

Barker pulled ahead with sole possession of the lead on lap 10, leaving Wyatt Alexander and Evan Beaulieu battling it out for the runner-up spot. The competition was so heated in the closing laps that Brandon Barker came to a spin at the finish line.

Following the wild finish, Beaulieu was deemed the heat race winner as Wyatt Alexander and Brandon Barker rounded out the top 3.

The final event was special, as all Pro Series competitors were able to participate in out of car introductions on the front stretch prior to the start of the race.

Curt Gerry hopped out to the early lead in the 100 lap feature. Drivers were three wide for the runner-up spot early, with Joe Pastore ultimately holding onto the spot.

After facing some heavy tire rub in the opening laps of the race, Evan Beaulieu dropped to fifth on lap 5. His friend and competitor, Wyatt Alexander, was on the move early, overtaking Joey Doiron for the runner-up spot on lap 8.

Max Rowe took a spin on lap 11 in turn 2, resulting in an early race caution.

Drivers were 3-wide for the top spot on the restart, with Joey Doiron taking over as Curt Gerry descended back to third behind Wyatt Alexander. Gerry wasn’t giving up without a fight, pulling to Alexander’s door on lap 15 and reigniting the battle for the position. After battling it out for over a dozen laps, Alexander pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 29.

Jamie Wright went around on lap 30 in turn 1, leading to another caution. Following the drop of the green flag, Dave Oliver and others went for spins in turn 3. This led to another quick yellow.

Joey Doiron pulled ahead with the advantage on the restart, leaving Wyatt Alexander and Curt Gerry battling it out for the runner-up spot. Alexander was able to fend him off once again and quickly began tracking down Joey Doiron for the top spot.

The leaders began to approach heavy lap traffic on lap 48, but trouble was brewing right in front of the leaders as Josh Childs took a spin on lap 49. This resulted in a mid-race caution.

Joey Doiron held the advantage on the restart, but Jeremy Davis took a spin in turn 2, leading to another caution.

Doiron held his line on the restart as Curt Gerry made his way back under Wyatt Alexander, challenging for the runner-up spot. Meanwhile, Brandon Barker and Corey Bubar spearheaded a head-to-head battle for fourth behind them.

Justin Larsen took a spin in turn 2 shortly after the restart, which brought the leaders back together once again.

Joey Doiron and Wyatt Alexander broke free on the restart, leaving Brandon Barker and Curt Gerry battling it out for position behind them. Gerry won the battle and dove to Alexander’s inside door, challenging for the runner-up spot yet again.

The leaders began approaching lap traffic again on lap 72. The competition slowed down once more on lap 76 as Dalton Gagnon spun in turn 4, making hard contact with the wall.

Joey Doiron maintained his advantage on the restart, pulling away from Wyatt Alexander. Corey Bubar also began to come to life in the closing laps of the race, overtaking third from Curt Gerry on lap 83.

Wyatt Alexander reeled in Joey Doiron by lap 84, making his way to Doiron’s outside door to challenge for the top spot. The battle surprisingly didn’t last long as Alexander took off with the advantage the following lap.

Ivan Kaffel took a spin on lap 85 in turn 2, resulting in a late race caution. After strong showings all day from both drivers, Evan Beaulieu and Glen Luce both took spins on the restart. This led to another quick caution.

Wyatt Alexander pulled ahead with the advantage on the restart and never looked back, capturing the feature victory. The win was special for Wyatt and the WAR team for many reasons.

First of all, Wyatt Alexander ran a special #51 paint scheme on Sunday, honoring the Walker family, namely Dan Walker and Jeff Walker. Dan has worked at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway for nearly his entire life. He has selflessly devoted his time to the track in a handful of different positions and most recently as the pit steward. He also raced at the track for years, with #51 being the number of his first racecar. Jeff followed in his father’s footsteps, racing (and winning) in the Beetle Bugs division on Thursday nights. Jeff’s son and Dan’s grandson, Ethan, has recently dipped his feet into the racing pool by competing weekly at Bartlett Bridge Raceway in a race-kart.

Gail Peters was also in attendance on Sunday, cheering on Wyatt and his team. Gail is the loving wife of the late Greg Peters, who was a mentor and a friend to many, including Wyatt Alexander. John Peters, Greg’s son, is also Wyatt’s best friend. It was bittersweet watching Gail and Wyatt share a hug on the front stretch of the track following his momentous victory.

Joey Doiron, Corey Bubar, Curt Gerry and Brandon Barker rounded out the top five.

Following the conclusion of the night’s events, “Happy Half Hour” lasted a bit longer than usual, giving both fans and drivers the opportunity to soak everything in.

Some fans (like myself) took this time to walk the track and share hugs and memories with members of the racing family. Others took this time to take home small pieces of the track, like loose rubber and cracked pieces of the track surface. Some fans sat by themselves in the stands, practicing self-reflection and reminiscing about their favorite memories at the track.

Some drivers elected to burn out upon leaving the track, leaving their mark in a big and bold way.

Everyone soaked in the moment in their own way. Although it was sad for all of us at the end of the day, it was undoubtedly a beautiful experience.

And more WAR

The day after the biggest win of his career while on his way to class at UMaine Orono, Wyatt got his first deer not with a 30.06 but a Subaru! (Wyatt Alexander photo)

As Pete Cannell described it, “Fenderized Venison”. Wyatt with his 5-point buck. (Wyatt Alexander photo)

Later the same week, Wyatt Alexander Racing and Kulwicki Driver Development provided the trophies for the Friday night races at Bartlett Bridge Raceway. Jacob Maines fought his way from back in the pack to win and get his winner’s trophy from Wyatt Alexander. Later that weekend Alexander qualified first at Lee USA Speedway and finished 2nd in the 100- lap feature race. Quite a week! (Chrissy Moore photo)

6-Time USAC Champion

In the closest points race in USAC Silver Crown Racing, Kody Swanson came into the Rollie Beale Classic at 1/2-mile paved Toledo Speedway with a one-point lead over rookie Logan Seavey. Swanson took Fatheadz Eyeware pole position. (USAC Racing photo)

With his 4th win in 2021, his 5th win at Toledo Speedway in his career, and his 34th USAC Silver Crown Series victory, Kody Swanson won his 6th unprecedented Driver’s Championship. No other driver has ever won six national championships in USAC. (USAC 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