Del Merritt to purchase partner’s share of Speedway 95 racetrack

Posted Aug. 12, 2011, at 5:41 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 12, 2011, at 8:51 p.m.

Alice Baker, co-owner of Hermon’s Speedway 95, intends to sell her share of the track to fellow co-owner Del Merritt this fall.

Baker and her late husband, Red, bought Hermon’s Speedway 95 in 1977 along with Merritt and John Michaels.

Michaels eventually sold his share to the Bakers and Merritt.

Red Baker died in 1991 but his wife and Merritt continued to co-own it.

Merritt said “I’d love to have her stay but she said she’s ready to retire and I understand that.

“She will be missed. She had been a checks and balance for me,” said Merritt. “We’ve always had a good working relationship.”

Merritt said he anticipates spending $350,000 to buy Baker out since former Wiscasset Raceway owner Dave St. Clair offered them $700,000 for the track last year. They agreed to sell it but then Merritt had a change of heart.

Baker’s ready to move on.

“I’ve been there long enough,” said the 73-year-old Baker. “There are more things I want to do. I’ve got two small grandchildren to play with.”

In addition to her 18-year-old grandson Todd, she has two granddaughters: 2-year-old Tabitha and nine-month old Theresa.

Baker has been keeping the books at the track after starting out as a scorer.

She retired from her full-time job as the deputy registrar of probate for Penobscot County four years ago.

“I’ll miss it,” said Baker. “I had a good time being out there. You have your ups and downs but that’s true of everything. I didn’t expect to still be doing it at this age.”

She admitted that she expected the job to become easier after she retired from her full-time position with the county “but things keep changing and it gets to be a handful.”

Baker said she will mostly miss the people.

“The people are nice and I’ve seen generations (of racers) over the years. It has been interesting to watch especially when you see the grandchildren (of former drivers) out there (racing).”

Baker predicts that Merritt will do a “good job” as the sole owner.

“He likes people and he’s good at his job,” said Baker.

Merritt said he has a “positive outlook” for the future of the facility but is unsure of his role.

“I’ve got many options,” said the 67-year-old Merritt, who owns several other businesses and apartment houses. “I’ve got some ideas about how I’d like to run it. But I might want to retire. I could sell it or lease it.”

But he wants it to remain a racetrack and, if he continues to help run it, he said he doesn’t want to change the rules.

“There may be some minor tweaking of the rules but I don’t intend to make any big changes. You don’t want to force the drivers to have to go home and spend $2,000 to $3,000 on their cars (because you changed the rules),” he said.

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