Wednesday, April 23, 2014
BY BILL STEWART Staff Writer
WISCASSET -- Richard Jordan shuffled out of the public address announcer's booth, his wind-whipped hair standing up straight.
Jamie Heath, of Waterford, wins the Thunder Four feature race on the first day of the 2013 racing season on Saturday April 6, 2013 at Wiscasset Speedway.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
Behind him, 10 paint cans and 36 boxes of oak laminate flooring lay on a worn floor.
"We're not quite done yet," Jordan said, "but we're getting there. We wanted this place to be perfect, but it's going to take us awhile. There's a lot we want to do and a lot we want to fix, but we also wanted to open this place."
Nearly three years after the track went dark, Wiscasset Speedway opened on a blustery Saturday with a new name, new owners and new divisions.
"You only go up from here," said Jeff Burgess, a Fairfield native and 2011 Late Model points champ at Unity Raceway. "When a track closes down, it's not like a new one just opens to take it's place. Not here, anyway. There are only six tracks in Maine. We can't afford to lose any."
Richard and Vanessa Jordan, a Kingfield couple, purchased the track and 35-acre property on West Alna Road for $130,000 at auction last July.
Richard Jordan, who owns Jordan Lumber, is a former Wiscasset driver.
"We never had any intentions of owning a race track," he said. "Never. But we decided to do it, and it's been pretty awesome. We've had all kinds of hurdles trying to get ready for (Saturday). We know we're not quite ready."
The Jordans installed new sound and scoring systems and are upgrading the concession stands. They also hauled in 500 yards of crushed stone that was dumped and rolled in the main parking area.
Next on the list?
"We want to put in new monitor screens so people can see and we want to blow out the infield so maybe we can get some truck pulling or monster trucks in there," Richard Jordan said. "We also want to fix the front wall. That's been falling on to the track for 30 years. The track also needs to be patched."
The drivers who came out Saturday agreed.
"It's a little rough in some areas but it hasn't been raced on much over the years," said Mike Dulany, 48, of Richmond, who rides in the Thunder 4s division. "I've been racing down here 11, 12 years so it's nice to have it open again. It's still pretty early and a lot of people aren't ready yet."
Added James Heath, 36, of Waterford, who won the Thunder 4 15-lap feature: It is rough, particularly in the corners, but the car still sticks. You can't complain with that."
Leandra Martin, 19, of Richmond, made her racing debut Saturday at a track she plans to call home this summer.
The former Richmond softball standout -- she pitched the Bobcats to three consecutive Western D championships -- drove a Thunder 4 car owned by her grandfather Gary Nash.
She finished third in the feature.
"It runs in the family," said Martin, who attends Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. "My grandfather said he had an extra car and over the winter we got it all ready. At first I was nervous but once I got out there it was a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to the season."
The races Saturday attracted drivers from across Maine and even from beyond. No one traveled further to Wiscasset than Charles Baldwin, 26, of Lowell, Mass.
Baldwin, who drove a super stock car, races for points at Star Speedway in Epping, N.H.
"We heard about this place and the fact it was opening, so we decided to come up," he said. "We were looking for a place to practice because the car is ready. We had a good time. The place looks pretty good. It's a little rough in the corners and it was too cold to even walk around, but it was fun. Hopefully, they do well here."
Bill Stewart -- 621-5640