To crew chief Trevor Sanborn, helping 14-year-old Tommy Stilphen win a Pro Stock race was as satisfying as winning a race himself.
Last Friday, Stilphen became the youngest driver ever to win a Pro Stock race at a Maine track when he held off defending track champion Shawn Martin in the final lap of the 40-lap feature in the top racing division at Oxford Plains Speedway.
“I enjoy helping him race as much as I do racing myself,” said Sanborn, who is driving Sally Bolduc’s Super Late Model on the Pass North tour.
On Friday nights, Sanborn will remain in the pits at Oxford Plains, making sure Stilphen’s car is mechanically sound enough to stay out on the track.
“We’re just going to get him to run a full slate at Oxford to see where he ends up in points and see what else he accomplishes,” Sanborn said.
Sanborn, who is from East Parsonsfield, was pleasantly surprised by Stilphen’s victory.
“I didn’t expect him to win the third time out,” he said.
On April 28, Stilphen finished 11th among 14 cars in his first Pro Stock race at Oxford Plains, and he finished seventh among 14 cars May 5.
“I do think he’s pretty goodbut I don’t want to tell him that,” Sanborn said.
“I don’t want him to think differently or walk around with a swelled head.”
Stilphen, who lives in Arundel with his grandparents and is in the eighth grade at Saco Middle School, said a lot of credit for his early success belongs to Sanborn and his older brother, Cory, who serves as his spotter.
“They’ve really helped me in getting my line down and knowing who to stay away from,” he said. “They’ve taught me how to drive and they’ve set up the car for me.”
This is the first season Stilphen has relied on a spotter to guide him around the track.
“I need him to tell me when I go into a corner when I’m clear,” Stilphen said. “He’s been doing it a lot of years for Trevor, so I know he knows what he’s doing.”
Until a month ago, Stilphen had never driven a full-sized car in a race. He has worked his way up through go-karts, four-cylinder opened-wheeled mini-mods and full-sized eight-cylinder opened-wheeled mods.
“Last year we really didn’t get in much racing,” he said. “We tried the PASS mods a couple of times and four-cylinder mods at Star (Speedway in New Hampshire).”
Stilphen, who turns 15 in December, seems to be taking his sudden success in Pro Stocks in stride.
“I know I can race with people at this level,” he said. “Now I know I am capable of it and the car is. It just gives me more confidence to know I can do it again.”
At the same time, Stilphen knows it’s pretty cool.
“Everybody at my school knows about it,” he said. “They think it’s pretty sweet that I can race against all these people.”
THE GREEN FLAG drops for the 65th consectutive season Saturday at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough.
If more than 21 cars are entered in the Pro Series, the track’s top racing division, the feature will be extended from 40 to 50 laps.
Also scheduled are a 35-lap feature in Sports Series, a 30-lap feature in Wildcats and a 25-lap feature in Roadrunners.
Racing in the 10-week Thursday Thunder series, which includes eight entry-level divisions, will start June 13.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m Saturday. Qualifying heats will start at 6:30 p.m.
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: