April 7, 2013

Work needed, but Wiscasset draws praise

The drivers at the opening of Wiscasset Speedway are pleased that new owners care for the track.

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WISCASSET - Richard Jordan shuffled out of the public- address announcer booth, wind-whipped hair standing straight.

Behind him, 10 paint cans and 36 boxes of oak laminate flooring lay on a worn floor.

"We're not quite done," Jordan said, "but we're getting there. We wanted this place to be perfect, but it's going to take us awhile. There's a lot we want to do and a lot we want to fix, but we wanted to open this place."

Nearly three years after the track went dark, Wiscasset Speedway opened on a blustery Saturday with a new name, new owners and new divisions.

"You only go up from here," said Jeff Burgess, a Fairfield native and 2011 Late Model points champ at Unity Raceway. "When a track closes down, it's not like a new one just opens to take its place. Not here, anyway. There are only six tracks in Maine. We can't afford to lose any."

Richard and Vanessa Jordan, a Kingfield couple, purchased the track and 35-acre property for $130,000 at an auction last July.

Richard Jordan, who owns Jordan Lumber, is a former Wiscasset driver.

"We never had any intentions of owning a racetrack," he said. "Never. But we decided to do it and it's been awesome. We've had all kinds of hurdles trying to get ready for (Saturday). We know we're not quite ready."

The Jordans installed new sound and scoring systems, and are upgrading concession stands. They also hauled in 500 yards of crushed stone that was dumped and rolled in the main parking area.

"We want to fix the front wall," said Richard Jordan. "That's been falling onto the track for 30 years. The track also needs to be patched."

The drivers agreed.

"It's a little rough in some areas but it hasn't been raced on much over the years," said Mike Dulany, 48, of Richmond, who rides in the Thunder 4s division. "I've been racing here 11, 12 years so it's nice to have it open again. It's still pretty early and a lot of people aren't ready yet."

Added James Heath, 36, of Waterford, who won the Thunder 4 15-lap feature: "It is rough, particularly in the corners, but the car still sticks. You can't complain with that."

Leandra Martin, 19, of Richmond, made her racing debut at a track she plans to call home this summer.

The former Richmond High softball standout -- she pitched the Bobcats to three consecutive Western Class D championships -- drove a Thunder 4 car owned by her grandfather, Gary Nash.

She was third in the feature.

"It runs in the family," said Martin, who attends Kennebec Valley Community College. "My grandfather said he had an extra car, and over the winter we got it all ready. At first I was nervous but once I got out there it was a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to the season."

No one traveled further to Wiscasset than Charles Baldwin, 26, of Lowell, Mass.

"We heard about this place and the fact it was opening, so we decided to come," he said. "We were looking for a place to practice because the car is ready. We had a good time. The place looks good. It's a little rough in the corners and it was too cold to walk around, but it was fun."

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