UNITY, Maine — An auto race in December in Maine?
George Fernald Jr., who leases Unity Raceway from Ralph and Nancy Nason, will hold the first 112-lap Maine State Enduro Championship on Dec. 1 at Unity Raceway.
It will pay $2,000 to win.
It will be for old-style four- to six-cylinder enduro cars. There won’t be street cars with street wheels.
“I’ve been kicking it around for a while,” said Fernald, who will open the racing season with a full card beginning at 1 p.m. this Saturday. “I want to give people their last fix [of auto racing] before the holidays. I’d like to hold this every year.”
He will impose the car claimer rule meaning all the cars will be turned over to him after the race.
The money from the cars will be used for the purse and the claimer rule also “keeps people from cheating them up or using an expensive car.”
“They’ve got six months to find a $200-$300 car they can use to have some fun in,” said Fernald, who is beginning his fifth season leasing the track. “If it snows, we’ll plow the track. If there’s snow on the track and they’re slipping and sliding, it will be up to the drivers to determine how long their car lasts.”
He said the purse actually could be more than $2,000 if they can pick up more sponsors, and he intends to pay the top three finishers, although he could expand that number also depending upon the sponsorship.
He said he has already had “six or eight phone calls” about the race even though the season hasn’t even started yet.
Right now, Fernald has his fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate for Saturday’s opener.
It is titled “Opening Day 212” because the number of laps being raced in the seven classes adds up to 212.
There will be a 52-lap Late Model feature, a 40-lap Wildcat race, 25-lap features for the Monsta Minis, Pro 4’s, Nelcar Legends cars and the Challengers and a 20-lap feature for the Flyin’ 4’s.
Fernald has upped the winner’s take in the Late Model class from $500 to $700 per race.
“I figured if we could draw in at least a couple more cars, it would pay for the difference in the purse and I could afford it. We had some very good Late Model racing last year. We had 14-16 cars every week and I’m hoping to get 16-18 this year,” he said. “We had 10 different race winners a year ago. That’s unheard of.”
There are a number of special races on tap.
They include the Butch Burgess Memorial 34s on May 27, which are 34-lap features in the Late Model and Wildcat divisions. The late Burgess drove the No. 34 car at Unity Raceway.
The Twin 59s in memory of John Phippen Jr. of Town Hill will be held on June 17. This will be for the Late Models and will feature two 59-lap races. After the first one, the field will be inverted (the winner of the first race will start last in the second one, and so on) and the driver with the lowest point total based on their two finishes will be the winner.
The winner of each race will earn one point, the second-place driver will get two points, and so on.
The track will hold its first Pro Stock race since 2010 on the next June 23, when the fledgling Granite State Pro Stock Series 112 will be held.
“It’s a bunch of guys from the old PASS Outlaw Tour,” said Fernald. “I’ve been getting ahold of some of the old Pro Stock guys [from Unity Raceway].”
“And I intend to be in that race since I’m not involved [in running it],” added Fernald.
He said Unity Raceway will be the only Maine track to host a Granite State Pro Stock Series race and mentioned that the tour held one race last year before deciding to put together a full schedule for this season.
He said he was impressed with the promoters and told them if he could help them hold a race, he would.
The Teen Thunder class will join the race card starting on June 2.
The annual Long John feature races will be held on Oct. 13-14 and they will have the Nightmare Twin 50s for the Wildcat and Grand Enduro divisions on Nov. 4.
Fernald also will hold eight Race Your Neighbor series dates in which neighbors can race each other for two laps. They must stay in their own lanes for the first lap. There will be two cars racing at one time and the losers will be eliminated until there is a winner.
It must be a registered street car and the drivers must have a helmet and safety seat belt.
The winners will earn $100 and will qualify for the Sept. 22 finals.
There will be Fernald Frenzy nights in which he will hold special events such as racing backwards and ramp racing.
Fernald said he is cognizant of economic problems and they have set up ways to try to attract fans to the track.
He has certain race nights honoring fans from a specific town or area. They will get free admission by showing proof of their residences (such as a driver’s license).
“And fans can pick up a punch card at Ralph’s discount [variety] store, The Pit Stop, across from the raceway and once they spend $100, they will earn a free ticket for one night of racing,” said Fernald.
Admission will be $10 for adults, free for youngsters 10 and under and it will cost $25 to be in the pits.