WISCASSET SPEEDWAY driver Leandra Martin of Richmond.

WISCASSET SPEEDWAY driver Leandra Martin of Richmond.

RICHMOND

Leandra Martin made quite a name for herself on the pitching mound, while toiling for Richmond High School from 2009-12.

Now, the 19-year-old, who attends Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, is hoping to do the same on the race track at Wiscasset Speedway.

Martin, who went 45-5 in her illustrious career (including three State Class D championship appearances and one Gold Ball in 2010) is currently competing in the Thunder 4’s Division at the newly renovated Speedway.

In four races she has placed third, fifth and second twice, the most recent last Saturday.

FORMER RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL pitching standout Leandra Martin.

FORMER RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL pitching standout Leandra Martin.

Her steadying influence has come from grandfather Gary “Bompa” Nash and family members. “I really don’t know much about auto racing, but being around my cousin Nate and my uncle Casey helps … and my cousin Eric Nash races in North Carolina.

“Last year Nate raced and we’d travel to Unity every Saturday. Just helping out, buckling the seats, things like that.

“My grandfather asked me if I wanted to jump in. I tried out Nate’s car last year, a Scirocco. Mine’s a Honda Prelude.”

Growing up she has few memories of stock car racing, other than watching Casey. “But, I love driving fast and there’s all those cars together out on the track. You have to figure out which way you’re going to pass them … you have to pass them just at the right time.”

She seem right at home with the four-cylinder stock cars.

“And, we all work on the cars, well, I do as much as I can.”

Race-day? She’ll don her firesuit, and practice runs most Saturdays commence at 2 p.m. She tries to get in four practices, which are followed by heat races.

“In the heats we just try to finish decent, but we don’t want to risk anything. In the feature, I don’t get scared, but … in softball it’s the same feeling.

“When I’m out there I can talk to myself, like when I’m getting ready to pass a car. Sometimes it takes a few laps to get close to pass them, so I just have to talk to myself: be patient, be patient.”

She is flying by the seat of her firesuit pants.

“We have a radio set, but my grandfather is the spotter, so he can tell me where cars are and what to do. Like last weekend I started up front and I’ve never done that before. I didn’t know when to start going … I didn’t even look at the flagger, my grandfather just told me when to go! He’s on the radio going, ‘go, go, go!’”

Her top speed is around 60 miles an hour and she’s done 18.6 seconds around “Maine Fastest Track,” a 3/8-mile, high-banked, oval track.

She has goals.

“I hope to keep jumping up in classes. This is my first year, so I’m kind of in the lower classes. But, my cousin Nate jumped up to faster cars, the Outlaw Mini’s.

“My mom says she won’t come watch me, but she’s fine, now. My dad loves it and he comes every weekend.”

Ultimate goal? “To win.

“You see, my grandfather’s goal for the whole season was for me to come in the top-three and get a trophy and I did that my first race. So, now the goal is to come in first.”

She has her sights on a bigger car, possibly a Late Model Sportsman, which her grandfather is currently working on for Casey.

It’s been a lot of fun.

“People will ask me how long I’ve been racing and do I like it … I haven’t signed any autographs, yet. I think it’s fun, a good way to spend summer.”

She’s studying to be a physical therapy assistant and will also be taking some summer classes. And she’ll keep on competing.

“From what I’ve seen, it’s been all about improvement,” said Speedway promoter Ken Minott of Leandra. “She’s been noticeably faster and smoother each time on the track.

“She also seems to have a pleasant demeanor out of the car and she always seems anxious to listen and take in the advice she’s getting from her grandfather Gary Nash and her uncle Casey Nash.

“From a promoter’s point of view, It’s always good when we can get a young lady on the track to race with the boys. It makes it easier to convince other girls that they can do it, too.”


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