Steve Trimper’s Sundays are busy these days.

The fourth-year University of Maine baseball coach is leading his Black Bears into an America East doubleheader in their quest to collect the league’s regular season championship and earn the right to host the conference tournament.

An America East Tournament title would earn the Bears a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

But after the baseball season concludes, Trimper’s Sundays (or Saturday nights) are devoted to NASCAR.

“And I’m not of those guys who watches the first 30 laps and the last 20 laps. I watch the whole race,” said Trimper who comes from a long line of racing fans in his family.

He grew up in Newton, N.J., which is a 40-minute drive from Blakeslee, Pa., home of Pocono Raceway.

“I remember my first race. It was 1978 and it was an Indy car race. My grandfather [Steve] took me to the track. He was a diehard Indy car fan,” recalled Trimper who watched the likes of Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Gordon Johncock and Johnny Rutherford.

In fact, a few years later, the hood of Rutherford’s car blew off in an accident and Trimper wound up “dragging the nose cone across the track campground” as a souvenir.

However, the Indy cars eventually left Pocono and were replaced by the NASCAR Cup series and it didn’t take long for Trimper to transfer allegiances.

He noted that although the NASCAR cars were slower than the Indy cars, the Cup races involved closer finishes and more action.

There was very little security then, he said, so the fans could interact with the drivers and that made an impact on an impressionable youngster.

He would collect hats from all the drivers and then, one day, he received a wheel from the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. which transformed him into an instant fan of The Intimidator.

“I was a 9-year-old kid rolling a tire across the track,” chuckled Trimper who, understandably, is now a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan.

Trimper’s father, Richie, and brother, Neil, are also avid race fans and he has an uncle, Glen, who races open-wheel cars. They used to go to local tracks to watch racing, also.

Trimper has increased the NASCAR fan base by two.

After fall baseball concluded last October, he wanted to “do something special” for his assistants, Jared Holowaty and Aaron Izaryk.

So he took them to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Pep Boys Auto 500 on Oct. 26.

Neither had any previous interest in NASCAR and, in fact, Holowaty said, “I had always been a strong opponent of NASCAR.”

They rented an RV and spent the week at the track, taking in all the events as well as the races. They also rented the NASCAR radio scanners to listen in on the conversations between the drivers, spotters and crew chiefs. Trimper’s brother, Neil, had a Sprint Fan View which integrates audio with live video and race stats.

The whole experience was “pretty cool” according to Izaryk.

“The race itself was so short compared to what you did during the week. It was a huge party. There was a wide range of people and everybody was having fun. They had their [favorite driver’s] jackets or hats on. Everybody cheered for their own guy,” added Izaryk. “Even with all the beverages being consumed, there was no crime. Everybody was happy.”

“It was fascinating. We had a really good time,” said Holowaty, who has become a Tony Stewart fan.

Trimper, Holowaty and Izaryk each chose a different driver to follow. Izaryk had chosen Clint Bowyer but now aligns with Martin Truex Jr.

They enjoyed listening to the conversations between the drivers, spotters and crew chiefs and were particularly entertained by a Juan Pablo Montoya tirade after he got spun by another driver.

“You’d hear the driver and crew chief talk about changing right-side tires and then you’d watch it happen. It was pretty cool,” said Trimper who has also been to Loudon (N.H.), Watkins Glen (N.Y.) and Dover (Del.) in addition to Atlanta and Pocono.

Trimper and his assistants are looking to attend another race this season if their schedules allow.

lmahoney@bangordailynews.net

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