Being 6-foot-8½ can serve you very nicely on a basketball court, especially if you’re athletic.
But fitting into a four-cylinder race car can be a challenge.
Bucksport native Keith Ogden had a stellar basketball career at Bucksport High School and Husson University, and now he’s comfortably fitting into his Ford Mustang and winning races.
He has won four features in the Sport-Four class at Hermon’s Speedway 95 and is trailing Exeter’s Gary Richards in the points race by just three points.
Ogden said being 6-8½ hasn’t been a problem on the race track.
“It’s comfortable. We’ve adjusted it. The seat is as far back as it can go,” said Ogden.
However, he did admit that “it takes me a little more time getting in and out of the race car” than it would a normal-sized driver.
There’s also a silver lining.
“No one else can drive it. Nobody else can reach the pedals,” he chuckled.
Ogden had a memorable basketball career.
He led the Golden Bucks to state Class B championships in 1978 and ’79 and was named to the Bangor Daily News’ All-Maine team each year, third team in 1978 and second team in 1979. He went on to Husson University where his performance earned him selection into the Husson Hall of Fame.
He said there are similarities between the two sports.
“It’s an adrenaline rush just like playing basketball,” said Ogden. “And you have the [same] competitiveness. Everyone out there wants to be competitive.”
He also said you have to rely on your instincts.
“You’re always moving and thinking about what is going on in front of you and behind you,” said the 49-year-old Ogden.
The best part of racing, according is Ogden, is the fact it’s a family affair.
Ogden is the oldest of seven boys and brothers David and Ken race in the Little Enduro class at Speedway 95.
David lives in Old Town and Ken resides in Seal Cove.
Another brother, Darryl, does the setups for the cars.
Brothers Gilbert and Shawn “don’t mind getting their hands dirty [and helping work on the cars], either,” according to big brother Keith, who noted that they attend the races.
There is also another brother, Todd.
Keith Ogden’s daughter, Alyssa, “takes notes” to help her dad and uncles assess their cars and their opponents.
His longtime girlfriend, Melinda Ward, is also supportive and helpful, he said.
“Having the family involved is, absolutely, the best part of it. Everyone gets along. We all help each other out,” said Keith Ogden, who has all of the race cars at his Dedham home where they work on them.
“It’s a good time,” agreed David Ogden. “We all get together once or twice a week.”
David said he enjoys racing against his brother, Ken, every week.
“I love it. My job is to beat [Ken] every week, and he thinks the same way. It’s fun that way,” said David Ogden.
Keith Ogden began racing in 1979 after he and his brother, Gilbert, built a race car under the supervision of their step-father, Phil Haley.
They took turns driving the car.
Their stepfather had raced at Speedway 95 and they followed in his footsteps.
In the mid 1980s, Keith Ogden moved to Calais and quit the sport. His brothers continued to race.
Keith Ogden moved to Dedham and jumped back into a race car five years ago.
He is off to his best start.
“We changed engine builders and we’re getting better engines,” said Keith Ogden, who credited Rob Wells and Brad Norris with improving his engines.
“They’ve been a great help. Rob is the engine builder and Rob and Brad have shared information with us,” said Keith.
“We’re having a great time. This year has been a lot of fun,” said Keith. “We feel like we’re making progress. I understand the car more. It’s a learning curve.”
Keith and David also said brother Darryl, who lives in Bangor, does an excellent job setting the cars up.
Saturday night was memorable for the family.
Keith won the Sport-Four feature while David and Ken were second and fourth, respectively, in the 50-lap Little Enduro feature.
David and Ken Ogden will return to the track for Wacky Wednesday Little Enduro action on Wednesday at 7.
Keith Ogden will try to move past Richards into first place in the Sport-Four class on Saturday at 7.
Speedway 95 to honor Hawks
Members of the Hermon High School softball team, who claimed their first state championship since 1977 by virtue of a 6-1 win over Fryeburg Academy in the Class B final, will be honored during the Wacky Wednesday race card which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Speedway 95.
Coach Stephanie Biberstein’s Hawks went 18-2.