UNITY — Unity Raceway owner George Fernald remains under constant bedrest following a recent illness. As a result, the track will not be holding its race program originally scheduled for this Sunday, Sept. 10.

Fernald, of Benton, spent nine days in the hospital last month battling internal shingles in his spinal column, as well as meningitis and encephalitis.

“It’s pretty discouraging,” Fernald said from his home on Tuesday.

The track does plan to continue ahead with its final regular-season program on Sept. 24. It will also hold the annual Long John Weekend on Oct. 21-22, the final asphalt race at the state’s oldest track before it returns to dirt beginning in 2018.

Construction on that project is expected to begin immediately following the conclusion of the Long John.

“There’s no way he could do it,” Fernald’s wife, Sherry Fernald, said of plans to hold races this weekend. “As much as he loves the place, we don’t want to risk a relapse.”

Fernald was first hospitalized on Aug. 15. He returned home after a week and a half at Maine General Medical Center in Augusta, where he received intravenous treatments for six days.

Fernald remains extremely sensitive to light and noise, and physical stress is to be avoided, Sherry Fernald said. He is confined to bedrest for roughly 20 hours each day.

“We have to be really careful, because he could have a relapse,” Sherry Fernald said, noting that doctors told her that her husband’s life was at risk had he not been admitted to the hospital when he was.

Fernald was audibly weak when he spoke via phone this week. He admitted to not being in the best of spirits, saying that the illness caught him by complete surprise.

“You just never know when something like this can happen,” he said. “It can happen to anyone.”

Fernald bought Unity Raceway from previous owner Ralph Nason in July of 2016. The track has been holding events roughly once a month this season with a street stock class, 6-cylinder and 4-cylinder divisions, and two enduro classes.

The condition of the racing surface caused Fernald to decide not to run a Late Model division in 2017, though the track announced last month that it would hold a 117-lap Late Model race on Oct. 22 as part of the season-ending Long John Weekend.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC