Maine’s close-knit auto racing community continued to mourn the loss of a fierce competitor Monday following the death of veteran driver Harold “Bub” Bilodeau at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway Saturday night.

Bilodeau died of a heart attack while sitting in his race car in pit row minutes after finishing sixth in the track’s Pro Series 40-lap feature.

“We raced really, really hard, he and I did, for the last 20 laps,” said Bill Whorf, a veteran driver from West Bath. “I was shocked.”

“He’s going to be missed greatly,” said Dan McKeague, a 33-year-old Pro Series driver from Gorham. “He’s been a pioneer in racing for 30 years. I got a picture of him winning a race the year before I was born. I got an old Victory Lane brochure and he was on the cover.”

For many drivers at Beech Ridge, Bilodeau was the standard by which they measured their own progress.

“When people talk about raising the bar, Bub was the bar for us,” said Beech Ridge owner Andy Cusack.

Bilodeau, who lived in Standish, won the track’s Pro Series championships in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

“He was usually the guy we had to go out to beat,” McKeague said. “We could judge ourselves by how well we did against him. A couple of years ago, we raced against each other for the championship, and he was as tough as nails.”

A fierce competitor while out on the track, Bilodeau, 53, helped others when he was off it.

“When I first started racing, he came up and kind of gave me a few pointers,” said Jeremie Whorf, a 25-year-old driver from West Bath. “He was very helpful to everyone.”

“A couple of years ago we wrecked our car in practice, and I didn’t have the parts to fix it,” said Billy Rodgers, a veteran driver from Old Orchard Beach. “He said, ‘I got all the parts you need, right here.’ We fixed the car. Then we went out and whupped him.”

“He helped me a lot,” said Bill Whorf, the West Bath driver. “He just took my car right over to his shop and help me set it up. He was just a great guy. We’re really going to miss him.”

“We had our ins and outs, like everybody does when you’re racing against someone,” Rodgers said. “But he was a good guy. He was a good family man. He was pretty straight forward-guy.”

During his lengthy racing career, Bilodeau competed at race tracks throughout northern New England and eastern Canada.

“Bub was an ambassador for us,” Cusack said. “He was a resource for us. I was always turning to Bub on technical issues. If I had a question concerning a tech issue during the week, Bub was the guy I called.”

Bilodeau, who worked for Adams & Fogg Oil Equipment Co. in Falmouth, was one of the few drivers in the Pro Series division who built his own car.

“A lot of guys go out and pay someone to build their car, but he built his own cars,” McKeague said. “Maybe, that’s why he did so well.”

It seems nobody knew how to set up a car to run at Beech Ridge better than Bilodeau. But he was always willing to share his knowledge.

“He gave you all the information you needed to run well there,” Jeremie Whorf said. “It’s really going to be devastating not having Bub there to race against every week.”

“It’s a shame that it happened,” Whorf added. “But at the same time he was doing what he loved to do. He lived to race. He lived to race at Beech Ridge.”

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]