It has been a challenging season for the state’s four active stock car race tracks.
The COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from having spectators in the grandstands early this season, until attendance was expanded to the current limit of 200.
Hermon’s Speedway 95 will finish its season on Sunday with its annual Paul Bunyan 250 Weekend.
There will be five classes of racing including a 150-lap Late Model feature and the 10th annual Ikey Dorr Memorial Street Stock race, which will be a 100-lap event.
There will also be 25-lap races for the Sport Fours, the Modified Enduros and the Cage Runners.
Racing will begin at 2 p.m. The teams will be able to test and tune their cars at the track on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The payouts on Sunday will be significantly higher than the weekly races as all five races will be longer.
The Late Model 150, which is 110 laps longer than the weekly race, will pay the winner $3,000. The weekly payout to the winner, if there were at least 20 cars, was $750. The payout was less if there were under 20 cars.
The 100-lap Ikey Dorr Memorial Street Stocks race, 70 laps longer than the weekly feature, will pay the victor $2,000. The weekly winner would pocket $250 if there were at least 20 cars.
The race is named after Addison native Warren “Ikey” Dorr III, who died of a heart attack while racing at Speedway 95 in 2009.
Speedway 95 owner Del Merritt said with the contribution of sponsors, they will have a total purse of $25,000.
And the numbers of cars already registered for the Late Models, Street Stocks and Cage Runners is impressive, he said.
He has 30 Street Stocks, 25 Late Models and 20 Cage Runners ready to take the green flag.
“We have had 25 to 27 Street Stocks for each race all year. It has been unreal,” Merritt said.
The Late Models usually had 10 to 12, he said.
The Sport Fours and Modified Enduros only have seven and five pre-registered, he said. They will run 25 laps as will the Cage Runners.
The 200 grandstand seats have already been sold, he said.
Merritt admitted that it has been a trying season since the facility can hold up to 3,000 fans and, in addition, he has not been able to open his concession stands.
“It has been challenging, no doubt about that. But I’m not going to complain. We’re lucky that
we’re racing,” he said.
“By opening, I’ve done better than if it had remained closed. With it closed, I would have lost $25,000 because I still would have had to pay taxes and insurance on it,” he pointed out.
He isn’t sure how he will fare financially until the season concludes this weekend.
Merritt said he feels sorry for his employees, who lost their jobs because they weren’t needed due to the coronavirus restrictions, as well as for the fans, who saw ticket prices escalate to help offset the lost revenue.
The ticket prices for the 200 seats in the grandstand and for the people on the race teams in the pits went up $5 for racing on Saturday and Wednesday nights. Each race team had been allowed to have 10 people in the pits.
And there weren’t any free tickets like they would normally issue to youngsters 12 and under in the grandstands.
“I don’t feel good about that but it was a necessity to keep the track open,” Merritt said. “I did what I had to do to keep the doors open and make it work.”
He has been lucky in that they have had good weather all summer and haven’t lost any races to rain.
Points will not be at stake this weekend as the points champions have already been crowned.
Steuben’s Brenton Parritt captured the Late Model title with 1,158 points, 36 better than John Curtis of Hermon. Each won three races. Milford’s Deane Smart was third with 960 points.
Kenduskeag’s Kris Watson edged Levant’s Shane Tatro by four points to capture the Street Stocks point title. Each won three races. Liberty’s Joe Harriman was third, just 66 points behind Watson. He won one race.
Andrew McTague Jr. of Frankfort took the Sport Fours title with 1,065 points. He didn’t win a race but had 10 top-five finishes in 11 races. Isaac Rollins of Hudson was second with 973 points. He won seven races but only ran nine events. Brownville’s Roy Hathorn was third with 801 points.
Ethan Lyons of Skowhegan (1,155 points), Orono’s Adam Gardner (1,016) and Carmel’s Dustyn Carrow (966) were the top three in the Caged Runners. Lyons and fourth-place finisher Kevin Hartley of Carmel each posted three wins.
Norrigewock’s Zach Audet won eight of the 10 races he entered to win the Modified Enduro points title by just eight points over Keith Drost of Stetson (958). Jeff Overlock of Hermon (858) was third. Drost and Overlock each won once.
There won’t be a Stars of Tomorrow race this weekend for the youngsters but the points champ was Garrit McKee Jr. of Dixmont with six victories in nine races and 972 points. Darius Miranda of Orono was second with 938 points and a win and third was Turner’s Brayden Pearson (895 points).