Frenchville native Shawn Martin, a regular in the Late Model division at Oxford Plains Speedway, will return to defend his title in the third annual Spud 150 at Spud Speedway in Caribou on Saturday. Racing begins at 4 p.m.
Martin, who now lives in Turner and works for the Oxford Networks, said he is looking forward to returning home, seeing his family and friends and racing at the track where he cut his teeth.
“I love long distance races and the 150 will bring in more cars. It’ll be a lot of fun,” said the 32-year-old Martin. “That track is so much fun to drive. The racing surface is phenomenal. There is so much grip. You can really get up on the wheel (and drive it hard). Tracks like Oxford and Beech Ridge (Scarborough) are more about finesse.”
He said the third-mile track is “almost egg-shaped” which makes it unique and a real challenge for drivers who aren’t familiar with the track.
“When you go around turn three, you think you’re coming up to another straightaway but, instead, there’s another turn there,” he said.
The other aspect of the Spud 150 that makes it interesting is they have the race broken up into two 75-lap segments and they invert the field after the first 75 laps. There is a 10-minute intermission between segments so drivers can put on new tires and service their cars.
A number is drawn by a member of the crowd following the first 75-lapper and that number dictates the starting grid for the second 75-lapper.
The numbers put into a hat for the drawing reflect the number of cars on the lead lap plus the number zero.
For example, if 14 cars finish on the lead lap, numbers 0 thru 14 are put into the hat.
If the 0 is drawn, the cars will start exactly where they finished.
If a 1 is drawn, the winner must start at the back of the field (including lapped cars) so the second-place finisher will start on the pole.
If a 7 is drawn, the top seven finishers start at the back with the winner starting last, the second place car starting next-to-last, etc….
Spud Speedway owner Troy Haney said he got the idea from the old Winston Cup Open race.
“I always like the concept. It’s designed for the fans,” explained Haney. “Instead of having someone run away with the race, some of the top drivers will have to drive up through the pack (after being inverted to the back).”
“It has worked well the last two years,” said Haney. “It also gives the cars that are a lap down after the first 75-lapper a chance to get back on the lead lap.”
Martin said the key to winning the race will be to “keep your fenders on the car.
“It tends to be a rough race,” said Martin, who finished sixth in the Late Model points at OPS this season. “You need to steer clear of accidents. You’ve got to make sure you don’t tear your car up. You’ve got to be patient and let things sort out (first).”
He said he expects Andy Saunders, who battled him to the wire a year ago, to be one of his chief competitors along with St. Clairs: Dave, son Puncin and grandsons Josh and Ryan.
“Andy will be fast and the St. Clairs are always fast up there,” said Martin.
Haney said he expects 18-19 cars for the race.
Spud Speedway regulars Connor Thibeau and Milo Haney should also be in the thick of it.
Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault, who won the initial Spud 150, can’t race because he has an American-Canadian Tour event, the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200, at Thunder Road Speedbowl (Vt.) on Sunday.
Troy Haney, who said he has had a rough year due to numerous rainouts, indicated that if there is inclement weather scheduled later Saturday evening, the Spud 150 may moved up to the front of the race card.