Down East Enterprises out of stock car interest

Posted Feb. 05, 2009, at 8:14 p.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — With officials citing a desire to focus on “core brands,” Down East Enterprises Inc. announced Wednesday that it has sold its interest in a sister media company that specializes in stock car racing.

“Stock car racing was just a different type of animal,” Bob Fernald, president and CEO of the Rockport-based multimedia company, said Thursday. “It was oil and vinegar in some ways. It just did not mesh.”

The sale of Performance Media LLC to Formula Five LLC includes Speedway Illustrated magazine, its associated Web site and the annual Speedway EXPO consumer show, according to a press release. Formula Five is part of the Anthem Media Group of Kansas City, Mo., and the sale went through for an undisclosed sum of money, Fernald said. The editorial offices of Performance Media are based in Salisbury, Mass., and officials from Down East don’t expect that the sale will have any local impact.

While stock car racing seems to have little in common with the Maine-oriented company, Fernald said the alliance of Down East and Performance Media came about because Dick Berggren, a former race car driver and well-known motor sports announcer, summers in the town of Cranberry Isles.

“He was looking for someone to help him start a stock car racing magazine. He walked through the door, and he convinced us. It really was the passion that he showed,” Fernald said.

Down East Enterprises has been allied with Performance Media since January 2000. Initially, Down East had a larger involvement in the company but has scaled down its duties to accounting and page production, Fernald said. Berggren still is the executive editor of Speedway Illustrated.

“It’s the number one brand of stock-car racing magazines,” Fernald said. “It’s very successful on many fronts.”

Most of its competition has gone out of business, he added.

However, the time was right to sell Performance Media, Fernald said.

“The auto racing-related publishing and consumer show was a very minor part of our overall business activity,” he said in a statement. “Yet it represented some extraordinary challenges that, in our assessment, simply didn’t fit our long-term interests … the kind of business and brands that have endured for 55 years here in Maine.”

acurtis@bangordailynews.net

990-8133

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