BY TOM HALE
SPECIAL TO THE BDN
LIMESTONE, Maine — Aroostook County again became the focal point of speed in the nation as the Loring Timing Association hosted 105 land speed racers and nearly 4,000 spectators at the former Loring Air Force Base.
Bill Warner of Wimauma, Fla., had fastest time for the event at 273.356 miles per hour despite having problems with his turbocharged Suzuki motorcycle.
Fastest car honors went to Bob Self of Ambler, Pa., with his Ford GT-40 tripping the speed trap lights at 218.113 miles per hour.
Land speed racing is not drag racing. Rather it pits man and machine against the track in individual single-car runs down a closed course. The Loring track offers a 1.5-mile course with another mile to slow down. The types of cars can be compared to those found at the Bonneville Salt Flats, one of the most recognizable land speed venues on the planet.
Organizer Bob Wanner of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., said, “Loring provides the perfect venue for land speed racing. 2009 was our inaugural event. This year we have doubled the number of racers and [we] expected speeds approaching 280 miles per hour. We were not disappointed.”
Wanner’s local contact and fellow organizer, Mark Sotomayor of Easton, was pleased with the event and expects even more competitors next year as word about the suitability of the track spreads throughout the racing community.
Racers came from as far away as California, Florida, Iowa and Canada to race at Loring. In addition to the racing, spectators were able to take in a car show.
Louis Corriveau of Augusta traveled to watch the event with his wife and teenage daughter. His wife Alicia said, “My husband Louis was very excited about land speed racing coming to Loring, so we decided to support him by attending. It is entertaining.”
Hot Rod Magazine editor-In-chief Dave Freiburger said, “East Coast Timing Association race director Keith Turk and I came here to add Loring to our current list of land speed venues where we have gone 200 miles per hour plus. Loring is very impressive.”
Bangor Realtor Dave Sleeper, said after his final race, “I’ve gone faster than I have ever gone on a motorcycle. I’ve ridden over 40 years. We got up to 178 miles per hour today on my Kawasaki. I’ll be back again if I’m still kicking!”
Jake Barto of Winter Harbor brought his Buick Grand National to the race and went 125 miles per hour.
“I think it is a great thing for land speed people,” said Barto. “People from North Carolina, Maine and all over love it”.
For Waterville’s Dana Hallowell, Loring was his chance to become a member of the 200 Mile Per Hour Club. Anyone who drives over 200 mph in land speed racing gets mementos of the occasion to signify their achievement.
The paper mill worker earned his 200 mph club mem bership with a run of 205 mph on Saturday.
Mike Roman of St. Louis, Mo., brought his blown gas J-class lakester to test and tune before competing at Bonneville later this month. Roman, who lost a leg to amputation, helps raise public awareness of the Wounded Warrior project and the work of Boston Scientific in the area of pain management for amputees.
“I told my wife Suzy we were going to have to live here, it is so hot in St. Louis. What a facility! This is so smooth, and safety-wise, they have three runoff areas for us after we finish a run. I guarantee we will be back next year.”
Caribou’s Jason Theriault brought out his show-winning 1995 JRT Custom Nissan pickup powered by a Skyliner racing engine. Despite only making one pass due to a destroyed oil pump and shortage of traction, Theriault said, “Yes I will be back with the same vehicle.”