UNITY — The first show of the year at Unity Raceway will open at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 5, under the new ownership of George and Sherry Fernald, who plan to make a few changes to the more than 150-year-old racetrack that they bought from Ralph Nason in 2016.

George Fernald

But while Fernald hopes to revive the raceway as a center of community for the town of Unity, some people say it is noisy and no longer matches the vision of what Unity is today.

One of those critics is Ken Copp, a local furniture maker who owns Locust Grove Woodworks and is formerly Amish but still lives an Amish-like lifestyle.

“It’s the antithesis to the vision and the majority of the town,” Copp said of the raceway.

But Mary Leaming, chairwoman of the Economic Development Committee, said she thinks the unique blend of interests and diverse generations in town is part of what makes Unity great.

“Some of the things that have put Unity on the map are organizations like (the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) and Unity College, and at the same time what used to put Unity on the map was the raceway,” Leaming said. “I think there’s something very neat about having a community that has a diverse drawing of attractions.”

Unity woodworker Ken Copp says he believes the community is defined historically by agriculture and farming and not by enterprises like car racing at Unity Raceway.

The opening race on March 5 will feature a “new class” for racing in Maine, George Fernald said: Any two-wheel drive, American-made, four-door car is eligible to race.

“What we wanted was a cheap class to race,” he said. “There’s all kinds of these cars, and they’re cheap to get.”

To fix up a car like an Impala or a Buick for a race would cost around $1,000 if you did it yourself, he said. Each car will have to have a number and a theme so kids can pick their favorites.

This first race will also be on 5 to 6 inches of snow, he said, which he hopes to make an annual event.

“It’s just something different, something to break up the winter,” he said.

Fernald, 53, of Benton, started racing back in 1981, he said.

“I raced over 30 years myself there,” he said. “I just love the place.”

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