Mike Rowe (24) of Turner stays ahead of Johnny Clark (54) of Hallowell during a 2005 auto race at Unity Raceway. Credit: Michael C. York

George Fernald Jr. said driving by Unity Raceway upsets him.

Fernald, who used to race at Unity and leased the track for several years, was in the process of buying the track from Ralph and Nancy Nason when complications from shingles forced him to abandon his plans to own it in May.

He already had the track dug up because he was going to convert to a dirt track.

“It still hurts when I drive by it. It breaks my heart,” Fernald, 54, said. “I dream about it every night. For some reason God made me sick, and I’m still dealing with (my illness).

“It wasn’t meant to be, I guess,” Fernald, who lost more than $30,000 when he leased it for five years from 2008-2012, said.

Now, Nason has put the track up for sale. He and Fernald believe it may never be a one-third-mile asphalt oval again. It is questionable whether any kind of racing will be in its future.

“I don’t honestly believe that you can support a racetrack and make it pay for itself,” Fernald said.

“You can’t pay the bills,” Nason said. “The light bills are so high, the insurance (cost) is so bad, and you have to pay 30 people who each work five hours (on race night).”

Gas prices have also gone up and car counts and attendance are down, he noted.

“It all adds up. It isn’t worth it,” Nason said. “And there’s so much other stuff that people are looking to spend their entertainment dollar on. That (Bangor Waterfront Concerts series) is killing Speedway 95 (in Hermon).”

Nason does think Fernald’s decision to dig up the track will help him sell it because it has more potential uses now. He has a hard time believing someone will want to spend upwards of $175,000 to re-pave it.

It could still become a dirt track or Nason said it could be converted into a motocross track, a tractor-pull venue, a big truck race oval or a place where a variety of all-terrain vehicle activities could be held. He also mentioned the possibility of having concerts or a county fair at the facility.

Nason, who has owned the track since 1980, said interest in auto racing has waned across the board, beginning with the highest level (NASCAR Monster Energy Series) where cameras often pan empty grandstands.

The Unity facility will need some work and Nason said the first thing he would do is install a new drainage system.

“Everyone (dumped) on me for digging up the track and grinding it up. But in the last race we held on it, chunks of track were coming up underneath the cars. They were actually hitting the bottoms of the race cars. The drainage caved in under the track,” Fernald, who was told by doctors that the stress of owning the track was too much for him to handle while battling his illness, said.

So the track is for sale, and Nason is entertaining any and all offers.

He has had discussions with potential buyers.

He would not divulge his asking price but said it was reasonable.

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