Austin Theriault met with fans at Doc's Place in Fort Kent on Saturday. From left: Preston Malmborg, Madilyn Malmborg, Ethan Malmborg and Austin Theriault. Credit: Jessica Potila | Fiddlehead Focus

FORT KENT, Maine — Fans of all ages lined up for autographs, photographs, handshakes and hugs when NASCAR racer and hometown hero Austin Theriault met with them at DOC’s Place in Fort Kent on Saturday.

Theriault, 25, is a Fort Kent native and professional race car driver who most recently competed in two NASCAR Monster Energy Cup races.

Theriault said he was happy to be back in Fort Kent where he has many friends and family members, and a community whose supportive influences will follow him wherever his career and life takes him.

“This community definitely taught me a lot of skills and life lessons,” Theriault said Saturday. “This town taught me respect and hard work.”

Among those who stopped by DOC’s to meet with the famous race car driver were Beth Malmborg of New Canada and their three children, 11-year-old Ethan Malmborg, 8-year-old Preston Malmborg and Madilyn Malmborg, who is almost 3 years old.

“We drove by to get our four-wheeler and they saw the car and lost their minds so we had to come down on four-wheeler to meet with Austin,” Beth Malmborg said. “They do follow him on TV.”

The charismatic athlete made an impression on little Madilyn Malmborg who appeared starstruck by the racer as he signed his autograph on a picture she handed to him.

“I love Austin,” she said.

Preston Malmborg took a seat in Austin’s No. 57 race car parked outside DOC’s.

“I like race cars,” he said

Beth Malmborg’s parents, Ivan and Camilla Theriault, also joined the family at the event.

Ivan Theriault is a racing fan who has been following Austin Theriault’s career from the beginning.

“He’s a very nice young man, brought up well,” Ivan Theriault said. “He’s very intelligent, very knowledgeable about racing and nice to fans.”

Daigle Oil safety and fleet manager Scott Haley said that when Daigle Oil Co., a longtime sponsor of Austin Theriault, learned he would be in town they reached out to him to participate in Saturday’s meet and greet.

Theriault was more than happy to take the opportunity to meet with his local fans at DOC’s Place.

“I enjoy working with the companies who have worked with me since I started racing such as Daigle Oil,” Theriault said.

Haley said that Theriault, who is followed by well more than 30,000 fans on his Facebook page, deserves the recognition he receives and especially wanted to allow local folks an opportunity to meet with the racer.

“He’s just got incredible perseverance,” Haley said. “He represents our little town very well, that’s for sure.”

Theriault’s parents are Steve and Terry Theriault of Fort Kent.

This story was originally published in the Fiddlehead Focus.