It was April 30, 2006.
John Crawford was shooting film for his weekly Mainely Motorsports television show at Unity Raceway when a racecar involved in an accident flew through the air and landed on top of him.
He spent 22 days in a coma at Bangor’s Eastern Maine Medical Center with multiple injuries, primarily to his head and face.
He eventually recovered although he said he still has some aches and pains. But he pointed out this week that he has finally regained all the weight he lost as the result of the accident.
“I’m 175, 176 pounds,” he said.
And he is as busy as ever.
Crawford is working with Troy Haney at Caribou’s Spud Speedway on weekends. He shares announcing chores with Marcel Bosse and offers track owner Haney advice about running a racetrack.
The energetic Crawford leased Unity Raceway for three years and spent a couple of years helping Doug White manage Wiscasset Raceway.
“As an announcer, he gets people excited,” said Haney. “He does a great job at that. He also offers up decent guidelines for running a racetrack. He knows racing from a driver’s perspective as well as from the owner’s perspective. He also spreads the word among drivers down state about our track. And he has worked on getting sponsors for us during the winter months.
“He has been good for us,” added Haney.
It is a long drive to Caribou from Thomaston, where the 42-year-old Crawford rents a home with his newlywed bride, Gloria.
“But racing is in my heart. I love it,” said Crawford, a former racer. “And they have a lot of real nice people up there.”
He feels Haney has done an excellent job renovating the facility, including the addition of an “unbelievable speaker system.
“He has put a lot of money into it,” said Crawford. “It looks really good.”
Crawford has also heard from some drivers who told him they “love the track.
“It’s smooth, banked and has two grooves. The grip is incredible,” said Crawford.
He is still involved shooting segments for Mainely Motorports, a show that he created. And he helps line up sponsors.
One driver he is keeping his eye on is 16-year-old Austin Theriault from Fort Kent, who is racing in the American-Canadian Tour and Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model North tour.
“He is going to be the next class act from the state,” said Crawford. “He’s talented, he listens. He’s not a smart-ass. He wants to be the best he can. He’s family-oriented so he won’t let things get to his head.”
However, when it comes to the state of racing in the state, Crawford said “it isn’t good.”
He feels the track owners/managers need to work more closely together rather than compete against each other for cars and drivers, especially with the economy the way it is.
He admits he would like to run a track again although he admits “I can’t afford to own one.”
Traction compound working
The traction compound applied to Hermon’s Speedway 95 to try to create more grip on the inside groove and more side-by-side racing is working, according to the drivers.
Co-owners Del Merritt and Alice Baker decided to try the compound, which costs $60-$80 per weekly application, rather than invest thousands of dollars to repave the entire track.
The outside groove had been considerably faster which made side-by-side racing rare.
“It’s helping out. We’re able to have more side-by-side racing,” said Dedham’s Keith Ogden.
“It has helped a lot,” said Ellsworth’s Bradley Norris. “The inside groove is really good now. If you’re a little bit stronger than the person ahead of you, you can pass on the inside.”
“It’s working a lot better, especially if the car already handles [well] on the inside. This makes it that much better. I hope they keep doing it,” said Holden’s Steve Moulton.
“They’re doing a real good job,” said Hermon’s Dale Swoboda. “The bottom has been real good. I love the bottom here.”
Frankfort’s Kevin Seekins wasn’t as impressed.
“It’s a little bit better but not much,” said Seekins.
Bellefleur dinner set Saturday
There will be a benefit baked bean supper for the family of the late Gary Bellefleur on Saturday from 4-7 p.m. at the Stetson Union Church in Stetson.
There won’t be a fee as it will be a donations-only dinner.
Bellefleur was a popular racecar driver and Unity Raceway announcer who died from injuries sustained while he was working on his racecar in April.
He was 49.