HERMON, Maine — Shane Tatro is a firm believer in the Sportsman class.
That’s why he is trying to drum up interest in Saturday’s 50-lap Sportsman feature at Hermon’s Speedway 95.
The Sportsman feature highlights a full card of racing beginning at 5 p.m.
It will be the first feature in a three-race Sportsman series at Speedway 95 sponsored by Gardner Construction Enterprises.
The other two races will be held on June 23 and Aug. 11.
Tatro has been contacting drivers to enter the race.
“The excitement is catching on. I’m trying to get two or three more cars to show up. I’d like to see us have a 12- to 14-car field,” said Tatro. “We’re starting to see them bring back the old Late Models from the ’80s and ’90s.”
Those Late Models would qualify as Sportsman these days, according to Tatro.
He explained that the Sportsman cars are much less expensive than the Late Models.
“They are a similar type of [eight-cylinder] car but they’re a lot more affordable to race,” said the 30-year-old Tatro.
He pointed out that a rear end package is $1,500 on a Sportsman car, compared with $5,000-6,000 for a Late Model. He added that brakes for Late Models are around $3,000, compared with $600-$700 for Late Models.
He said he could build a “real nice Sportsman car for $10,000 but a Late Model is $20,000 to $30,000.”
“And a Super Late Model is upwards of $70,000,” he added.
The big difference between the Late Models and Sportsman is the front frames are different and the Late Models also use racing slick tires “while we’re on 8-inch treaded tires.”
Tatro, a Hermon resident and Iraq War veteran, won the first Sportsman feature at Speedway 95 two weekends ago when close friend Steve Moulton, who was leading the race, got swallowed up in a late-race wreck.
Tatro was going to run a Pro All-Stars Series Sportsman race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough last weekend but his older brother Eric, who does a lot of work on his car, became ill so they didn’t race at all.
Tatro put together impressive back-to-back seasons in the PASS Sportsman Class the previous two seasons.
He was fifth in points in 2010 and was second a year ago with two wins and three top-five finishes in six races. He was tied with Windham’s Donny Morse in points but had one more win. Tatro shared the series lead in wins with Dan Mckeage of Gorham.
He was considering the PASS Sportsman tour again but a schedule change altered his thinking.
“The first race was supposed to be on May 5 but they added one on April 15,” said Tatro. “I’m an accountant. I work six or seven days a week during tax season. That’s tough for a guy like me. I didn’t have time to get the car ready and if you miss the first race, why bother [running the seven-race series]? It was very disheartening.”
But he also said racing the PASS tour is financially draining.
“I picked up a check for $250 for finishing second in points. It cost me $400 just to go to the banquet to pick up my trophy and the check,” said Tatro. “It costs you $1,000 just to enter a race. And they’ve scheduled a race in Stafford [Conn.]. That’s 320 miles away. It would cost me at least $500 to drive my truck there and back.”
He does intend to run the two remaining in-state PASS Sportsman races at Beech Ridge on Sept. 14-16 and at Oxford Plains Speedway on Sept. 29-30.
He said he will miss traveling to some “real neat tracks” on the tour and racing with some drivers who have become friends.
He will race at Speedway 95 this season although he won’t do every race so he won’t be running for the points championship.
Tatro does intend to do the three-race series which will also have its own points champion based on those three races and he has his eyes set on challenging for that title.
“I’ve never won a points championship. I’ve been a bridesmaid four times,” he said.
He is excited about spending most of his season running at the newly renovated Speedway 95.
“I want to support the racetrack. I’ve been very impressed with everything they’ve done. It looks so much better. It looks very professional with a closed-in atmosphere instead of looking like a track inside a cow pasture.”
He said his goal is to “win as many races as I can and have a real good time. I want to bring the fun back into racing. I don’t have to worry about long hauls. I’ll be racing five miles from my home.”