Tribute races set for Fletcher

From left: Wally Gibbons of Bangor, Frank Oakes of Veazie and Penny Gibbons show off the trophies that will be handed to the winners of the Dysart's Late Models Allen Fletcher Memorial Duel 23's Race August 21 at 7.pm at Speedway 95. Long time friends of the late race car driver, Allen Fletcher who died in 2002, the trio also enlisted the help of the Army unit of Wally and Penny Gibbon's son,  Capt. Wally Gibbons III  in Fort Bragg, NC. The unit helped pay for the trophies that will be presented at the race. Photographed at Speedway 95 in Hermon, Maine August 12, 2010. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
From left: Wally Gibbons of Bangor, Frank Oakes of Veazie and Penny Gibbons show off the trophies that will be handed to the winners of the Dysart's Late Models Allen Fletcher Memorial Duel 23's Race August 21 at 7.pm at Speedway 95. Long time friends of the late race car driver, Allen Fletcher who died in 2002, the trio also enlisted the help of the Army unit of Wally and Penny Gibbon's son, Capt. Wally Gibbons III in Fort Bragg, NC. The unit helped pay for the trophies that will be presented at the race. Photographed at Speedway 95 in Hermon, Maine August 12, 2010. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Posted Aug. 13, 2010, at 10:25 p.m.

     As a way to honor the memory of his brother and raising money for Camp CaPella, Brent Fletcher of Old Town is putting on the Allen Fletcher Memorial Race Duel 23s on Aug. 21 at Speedway 95 in Hermon.

Allen Fletcher crashed while racing at Unity Raceway on Sept. 28, 2002. He died three days later.

“I thought, ‘Why not take this tragedy and turn it into something positive for kids?” said Fletcher, who was the crew chief for his brother.

Once enough support was raised to cover the prizes and expenses for the racing, they decided to dedicate the rest of the money raised to Camp CaPella on Phillips Lake in Dedham.

According to the Camp Capella brochure, the camp serves children ages 5 and up and adults with physical and developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, autism, Down syndrome and spinal cord injuries.

Camp CaPella’s mission, as stated in the brochure, is to provide life experiences (such as fishing) for people with disabilities and create memories that last a lifetime.

“Even if we raise only $1, that’s $1 more than they had before,” said Wally Gibbons, who has been putting together most of the sponsorships and other work needed to get the event off the ground.

Gibbons and Fletcher are hoping to raise much more than that. A week at the camp can cost as much as $1,250 per person for a full campership.

Racing, which is for Late Model Sportsman class cars, will begin at 7 p.m. with a series of 10-lap heat races, There will be one heat race for every 10 drivers.

“There could be three or four heats depending on how many drivers show up,” said Fletcher, who became a race car driver himself two years ago.

The results of the heats determine the lineup for the first of two 23-lap features. After the first 23-lap race, drivers return to the pits to work on their cars, then draw numbers from a hat for starting positions for the final 23-lapper.

The overall winner, determined by the total points earned based on finishes in the two races, will receive $2,323 and a 6-foot tall trophy. Each 23-lap race winner gets $223 and a trophy.

The cash prize is more than three times the usual amount for an LMS victory. That alone could guarantee exciting racing, said Fletcher.

“It’s going to be a show-and-a-half, I tell you,” said Fletcher. “And it’s not just the money, they want that trophy.”

Gibbons added, “This is their Daytona 500. They get to show what they’ve got in front of a packed grandstand.”

The trophies were built thanks to donations made by Army personnel at Fort Bragg, N.C., where Wally and Penny Gibbons’ son, Capt. Wally Gibbons III, is stationed.

The owners of Speedway 95 gave the OK to race at their facility, which will still hold its regular racing card the next day.

“Del Merritt and Alice Baker have been gracious enough to let us hold the race there,” said Fletcher.

In addition, Maine Racing Hall of Famers Harold “Pappy” Wilcox and Dana Graves will be signing autographs.

Fletcher has no idea how many racers or fans will show up, but they’re all welcome.

“We want this to be a really big event,” said Fletcher.

They’ve been working on this for less than a month.

“Wally took the ball and ran with it. He’s been super,” said Fletcher.”

“Everybody has been so supportive. It’s really amazing,” added Fletcher.

It’s not something he plans on repeating.

“This is one time only,” said Fletcher.

Tickets are $8 for the grandstands, $20 for the pits and children 12 and under get into the stands free.

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