Fernald upbeat despite postponement of Unity Raceway opener

Posted May 12, 2011, at 8:07 p.m.
Last modified May 12, 2011, at 9:07 p.m.

George Fernald Jr.’s enthusiasm for the upcoming season at Unity Raceway remains high despite a rainout for the weekend opener.

“I think we’re going to have a real good year. We have a lot of cars signed up. I’m looking forward to it,” said Fernald, who is in his fourth season leasing the track with his wife, Sherry, from Ralph and Nancy Nason.

Fernald decided to postpone Sunday afternoon’s opening card due to an inclement weather forecast.

It will be pushed back to the following Sunday (May 22) at 1 p.m. The program will include a 111-lap Late Model feature which will pay the winner $1,111.

“We want this to be a big deal,” said Fernald who doesn’t want to take a chance with the weather.

The threat of bad weather would hurt the car count and the attendance, he surmised, and he also didn’t want to get halfway through the program and have to shut it down due to rain.

Fernald thinks he could have as many as “30 or 40” Late Models running this season and he has taken the initiative to “make it more affordable” for the drivers.

For the second year, Fernald has required that the Late Model cars undergo a thorough dyno inspection at Butler and MacMaster Automative. It cost the drivers $250.

The idea belonged to Ed Bellows, who was the chief technical inspector and has now been appointed racing director for the upcoming season.

After the engine undergoes its dyno inspection and is deemed legal,  the engine is sealed with Unity Raceway seals/bar codes.  A copy is kept on file at Butler and MacMaster and also with the track techs.

“It can’t be any more than 425 horsepower,” said Fernald.

That helps to ensure parity and limits the amount of work that has to be done during post-race technical inspection.

As long as the seal isn’t tampered with, the car’s engine will pass inspection.

If it has been tampered with, the engine will be sent to Butler and MacMaster for further evaluation as the information from the seal/bar code is compared with the information on file.

“It makes things a lot easier. The racetrack isn’t a good place to tear an engine apart,” said Fernald. “It’s dirty and dusty. It saves everyone.”

Fernald also said Unity has changed tires, going from the American Racer to Hoosier tires.

“We have really researched this out,” said Fernald. “The American Racer tire is no good after 150 laps. The new Hoosiers are good for 400 laps.

“This will save our drivers half the tire bill,” said Fernald who pointed out that each tire costs approximately $120.

There will be nine classes at Unity Raceway, which will switch over to Saturday nights at 6 on May 28.

There will be nine classes every weekend.

In addition to the Late Models, there will be the Monsta Minis (souped-up  four-cylinder cars), Wildcats (eight-cylinder), Pro-Fours (ultra souped up four-cylinder with an outlaw body), Super Streets (eight-cylinder, more horsepower and a more adjustable chassis than Wildcats), Ladies, Teen Thunder, Flying Fours and a new six-cylinder Challenger Class.

The Ladies, Teen Thunder and Flying Four classes involve four-cylinder stock engines.

The Challenger Class will involve claim racing.

Anyone can fill out a claim form and buy a car involved in the Challenger Class for $800. But a claim form must be filled out and submitted to a track official before the feature. If you’re also racing in that class, you can fill out a claim form and give that driver $400 plus your race car.

“And that race car (being traded) has to be be in raceable condition,” said Fernald.

“We want to put inexpensive racing back in play,” said Fernald.

The drivers who are selling their cars can take the safety equipment out of it.

Fernald said drivers who wreck their race cars can sell their race cars to junkyard for the going rate of “around $400. That’s what the scrapyards are paying for them these days.”

Then they can turn around and buy another car and race it, he said.

In other Unity Raceway news, Fernald said Bellows will also be the chief starter and the new technical inspectors will be Dan Sampson and Jud Derbyshire.

He also said they have put approximately $4,000 into the track, they have improved the concessions and Pepsi has replaced Coke as a sponsor.

“We appreciate Coke but we figure we will sell 30 percent more with Pepsi,” said Fernald.

Theriault racing at OPS Sunday

Seventeen-year-old Austin Theriault of Fort Kent, currently eighth in points in the American-Canadian Tour points standings, will run in the Big Jab 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday beginning at 2 p.m.

After finishing seventh in the tour’s opening race, the Governor’s Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway (N.H.), he failed to qualify for the Merchants Bank 150 at Thunder Road International Speedbowl (Vt.) in the second race.

“Oxford is a breath of fresh air,” said Theriault in a press release. “It’s a circle and you’re always turning but it is much more forgiving than places like Thunder Road. There’s a lot more room on the track. There’s multiple grooves to race in. We’re looking forward to redeeming ourselves there.”

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