CARIBOU, Maine — With moist eyes, Spud Speedway owner Greg Veinote recently handed ownership of the racetrack to Troy Haney of Caribou.
“Bittersweet would probably be an appropriate term,” said the Newburgh native. “When we first started this place, the last thing I wanted to do was sell it within three years.”
Medical issues during the last eight months have forced Veinote to relinquish control.
“It’s a possibility of MS (Multiple Sclerosis). I can’t continue to run the track and support it.”
“I wasn’t going to sell the track to just anybody,” he explained. “I really think and hope he brings Spud Speedway to the next level.”
Haney, the owner of Haney Building Specialties in Caribou said, “I am nervous and excited at the same time; nervous because we’ve got a lot of things to do to get the track where I want it to see it go.
“I am excited with all the possibilities this track holds. With Aroostook County being a little bit secluded from the rest of the state, we could use a real good entertainment resource. The site to have that entertainment can be Spud Speedway.”
The track sat abandoned for about a decade before Greg and Becky Veinote purchased the facility in 2007.
“I have a lot of memories, lots of pictures. We’ll be coming up,” Becky Veinote said.
Despite his medical problems, Veinote is still a racer through and through.
“If they get this figured out and I can get on medication, I’ll be back in a race car,” Veinote replied with optimism. “We need to thank all the volunteers, our family who drove up every weekend, and to the 20-30 people in the area who helped us put on a show.”
When asked about the dedication the Veinotes exhibited to Spud Speedway, Haney said, “They deserve a ton of credit. Trees and underbrush were growing up around the track; broken seats, concessions stands were fallen in, all sorts of things. You could go on and on. They’ve got it back in shape so it’s a usable racing surface in a neat clean environment.”
Haney’s future plans include improvements that will pave the way for truck pulls, snowsled racing, concerts and more stock car racing.”
Fast Four driver Keith Thibeau II of Fort Fairfield, when asked about new ownership, said, “I think it will be a lot better since there is more money to work with. We’re going to go back to night racing. It will make it better for the racers if there is rain on Saturday night, we’ll be able to race on Sunday.”
Jon Dixon from Presque Isle said “I think Greg did a great job getting it running … I think Troy has some great ideas and he is going to be an asset.”
Jeff Willette, driver of the No. 19 in the Late Model Sportsman class, said the drivers are indebted to the Veinotes.
“It’s unfortunate and sad for Greg to have his health force him out of what he truly loves. He’s a diehard racer, top-to-bottom, inside out. I am super thankful that he came to Aroostook County to re-open the racetrack.”
Caribou city manager Steven Buck said Haney’s business savvy in the area bodes well for the racetrack’s future.
“I look for exceptional management,” Buck said. “Because of my experience with Mr. Haney and observing all of his business practices, he is an excellent business person. He is highly invested in the local economy.”
“Spud Speedway in the past has had a solid reputation for bringing in crowds into the community, which is a benefit for restaurants and other businesses in the area.”
Haney said immediate changes will be noticed by fans. They include cleaner restrooms, leveling the infield and more lighting.
“The track will get new stripes and a painted-on victory circle,” Haney said.
A 100-lap Bomber race will highlight the Caribou native’s first Sunday as a racetrack owner. A Saturday night 150-lap Late Model Sportsman race on Aug. 29 will be held in conjunction with the City of Caribou’s 150th Celebration. The Northeast Mini Pro Stock Tour will highlight the Sept. 12 races.
“I plan to host a Vintage Snowsled Race Series in January, build a truck-pulling track, attempt to book the American Canadian Tour (ACT) in 2010 and host a major concert, just to name a few of my immediate plans for this track” said Haney. “I plan to do it right.”