LIMESTONE — The road sign entering Limestone may need to be changed next summer to read “the Home of the Fastest Cars” when Land Speed Racing comes to Aroostook County. Bob Jepson of Milton, Mass., and Bob Wanner of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., are in the process of organizing Land Speed Racers from the East Coast and Canada to bring their race cars to the former Loring Air Force Base in August 2009 in search of speed.
Land Speed Racing is best known for the type of vehicles that race at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The 6-mile track hosts several events each with hundreds of racers in expensive cars and motorcycles seeking top-speed honors in a variety of classes.
Mark Satomayor of Easton became interested in the prospect of Land Speed Racing when he heard about the efforts to bring this type of racing to the County. Satomayor, the owner of Impact Auto, which supplies many of the items to the rebuild facilities at Maine Military Authority at Loring, said, “There are only a couple venues in the United States that have this type of facility. Maxton [Laurinburg, N.C.] is one of them. Their runway is not as big and not as long as Loring.”
Satomayor and Lendell Buckingham of Ashland made a couple of passes with their high performance motorcycles down the runway at moderate speeds to determine the suitability of the track for two-wheeled racers.
“I know I could have 20 high performance racers here within a couple hours,” said Buckingham. “I expect a big portion of the field next year will be motorcycles.”
On hand for the demonstration was Paul Barnes, public safety director for the Loring Development Authority. Barnes’ job is to make sure that all events are run safely and regulations are followed.
“I was impressed today with what I saw. I think the public would be interested [for an event in 2009] and that it would draw a crowd,” Barnes said.
Race organizer Banner said the idea originated in October.
“Bob Jepson and I got together and had a discussion about how nice it would be to have an event in the Northeast. I went to the Web site, www.abandonedairfields.com, and found out about a couple airfields in New York at Rochester and Plattsburgh and this one in Maine called Loring,” Banner said. “So I checked them all out and I discovered this place up here in the middle of nowhere that seemed like the ideal place. I made a bunch of phone calls and things gradually worked out that we have permission at this point to use the place.”
“We have insurance in place when we do come up to use it the first week of August 2009. We plan to preregister at discount prices before we arrive to get some idea of the number of racers that will be headed to Loring,” he added.
Racers and potential racers who want information about the race and rules as well as specs to prepare a car or motorcycle can reference www.landracing.com with links to the East Coast Timing Association. Local racers will be able to make runs on the mile-long track once they meet the strict safety standards that govern Land Speed Race events.
Satomayor summed up the attitude of Land Speed Racers.
“In this type of hot rod association, motorcycles [riders] are very approachable because they want to share with you what they have done. The car guys are quick to tell what they did to their car and this is how they built it. It is very interesting, people are very friendly,” he said. “Everyone has something in common. Bob has his 600 horsepower Honda Civic and I have a motorcycle, but we have a common interest. I think people will have a great time coming out to this thing.”