July 21, 2011

AUTO RACING NOTEBOOK: Clark looks forward to return to Oxford

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Unity Raceway is struggling financially and track operator George Fernald Jr. said Tuesday he may step down if the situation doesn't improve.

"We're not making any money, that's for sure," said Fernald, who is in his fourth year leasing the track from owner Ralph Nason. "I love the place, and I don't want to see it close, but on the other hand I don't think I can continue to do this after this year if things don't change. I don't know how long I can keep it and not make anything for my effort."

Nason said he is aware of the financial difficulties Fernald faces.

"Before we say that's it and it's done we need to take a good look at the situation," he said. "However, if the situation isn't conducive to being profitable, I certainly wouldn't keep it open. I really like George a lot; he's a good friend. He deserves to have one really good year."

Fernald said it costs about $12,000 a weekend to run the track.

"There's the insurance, the lease, paying the drivers, lights, propane," Fernald said. "It's a lot. It's tough.

"The last couple of weeks I've had to take money out of my home business to cover everything. My love for the place can only run so deep in my pocket. We're just not getting the crowds we should be getting. Unfortunately, if people don't start showing we're going to lose another race track."

Wiscasset Raceway has remained dark this summer after owner Doug White put the track up for sale. White previously thought he was close to an agreement, but a deal for the track ultimately fell through.

"I'm only here because I love the place," Fernald said, "and I want the guys to have a track to race at. But I don't know how much longer I can keep doing it."

Regular division racing resumes at 6:30 Friday night. There will also be a spectator race in which fans can enter their cars for $10. Only two cars will race at a time. The round-robin format will continue until one car is left. The winner takes the pot.

* * *

Johnny Clark of Farmingdale will race at Oxford Plains Speedway for the first time since 2006 when the Pro All Stars Series North Super Late Model division comes to the track for a Saturday night feature.

Saturday will also mark the return of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch to Oxford. Busch will compete in the PASS North race as well as the annual TD Bank 250 on Sunday. Busch also last raced at Oxford in 2006.

"I'm looking forward to going back," Clark said. "There will be a lot of people there, a lot of cars there. It's going to be cool."

So, too, Clark said, will be the opportunity to race against Busch again.

Clark raced Busch in the 250 at Oxford in 2005 and 2006.

"Any time someone of that caliber wants to race with us, it's cool," Clark said. "I love racing against talent. If you didn't like the challenge, why do it? But you have to step up your game when you race guys like Kyle Busch. It's cool. I've raced him a handful of times. He's beaten me but I've beaten him. It's cool we are all reuniting Saturday."

Clark is gunning for his fourth consecutive PASS North points championship. He was trailing Ben Rowe of Turner for much of the season before Rowe was docked 25 points for failing a post-race inspection recently.

Clark now holds a 34-point lead over Rowe.

"It's not the way we want to jump out to a points lead, but at this point we'll take it," Clark said.

(Continued on page 2)

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