Kris Watson had a prolific year in 2009.
The 1999 Hermon High School graduate won 16 races in the Super Street class and claimed the points championships at Hermon’s Speedway 95 and Unity Raceway. He was second in points at Spud Speedway in Caribou.
He was chosen as a finalist for the state’s Driver of the Year along with Turner’s Mike Rowe, who won the points title in the Pro Stock class at Scarborough’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and Canton’s Travis Adams, who claimed his fourth consecutive points championship in the Late Model class at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Rowe won the Driver of the Year Award, which is chosen by the Vintage Race Car Association’s Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, but Watson was flattered to be a finalist.
“That was really cool,” said the 29-year-old Watson, who is a mechanic at Port Harbor Marine in Holden. “Mike Rowe is a legend and Travis Adams is right up there with him. To be from the northern part of the state and to be recognized with those guys is a pretty big honor.”
Watson, who won seven races at Unity Raceway, six at Speedway 95 and three at Spud Speedway, is going in a different direction this season.
He is racing in the Pro All- Stars Series’ Sportsman class in the 1979 Chevy Camaro that he built with some friends “five or six years ago” and drove to those 16 wins last season. He is also running in the Wicked Good Vintage Cars series. He is driving a 1934 Chevy Coupe in that series.
Watson and his engine builder, Tim Reynolds, put the car together.
“It has a former PASS Outlaws chassis and Tim and I hung a ’34 Chevy body on it,” explained Watson.
He said his goal this season is to visit Victory Lane in a PASS Sportsman car.
“I’ve never won a PASS race. That’s my goal,” said Watson. “I love racing with all of those guys. They’re all awesome drivers.”
Watson had a respectable debut last weekend at Beech Ridge as he finished eighth after starting last (25th).
“I’ve never had good luck down there. I was happy to come out with an eighth-place finish. We had some mechanical issues going into the race and we fought them all day,” said Watson, who will be possibly competing in seven more PASS races.
He finished fifth in his first Wicked Good Vintage Cars Outlaws division at Speedway 95.
Watson said in addition to giving him the opportunity to race, running in the Wicked Good Vintage Cars tour has provides him with a valuable history lesson about the cars and racing in the early days of the sport.
“[Reynolds] owns seven or eight of them so I would hang out with a group of [the racers] and I found out it’s all about the history [of racing] and stuff,” said Watson who likened it to racing “back in the day.”
“It’s fun. They’re old modified cars. We run side-by-side as hard as we can. We’re out there to put on a good show,” said Watson.
He will run as many Vintage races as he can.
In addition to the PASS Sportsman class and the Vintage races, Watson will also run longer Super Street races at Speedway 95, Unity Raceway and Spud Speedway.
“I’ll do some 50 or 75-lap races,” said Watson.
Most Super Street races are 25-lappers.
Traction compound encouraging
Speedway 95 co-owner Del Merritt is optimistic that a traction compound they applied last Sunday morning before that day’s racing may supply a second racing groove along the inside of the track.
The outside groove has been faster for several years and that has significantly limited the amount of side-by-side racing.
“I thought it created a little more even racing,” said Merritt. “There was more side-by-side racing.”
The sticky compound provides more grip on the inside groove.
Henry Maynard applied the compound with a pump and Merritt said they have ordered a $300 sprayer to attach to the tractor or truck to help with the dispersal of the compound.
“We may put it down more often until the inside groove comes in,” said Merritt.
Each application of the compound costs between $60-$80.
Maynard will apply it again on Sunday morning before the Sunday afternoon racing, which gets under at 2 p.m.
Merritt also announced they will allow the Sport-Four drivers to run with DOT radial tires instead of requiring them to run with just the racing tires.
The racing tires cost $80 apiece.
He said a new radial tire would cost more than a new racing tire but drivers can find used radial tires that would be cheaper than new racing tires.
He said giving them the option and potentially reducing their expense could boost car counts.
“We’ve got to find ways to get more cars out,” said Merritt.