Andrew McLaughlin and Ryan Beal have known each other for a long time.
They went to Harrington’s Narraguagus High School together.
McLaughlin, who is from Harrington, graduated in 2003 while Beal, who hails from Cherryfield, got his high school diploma a year later.
They are also two of the consistent front-runners in a challenging Strictly Street Class at Hermon’s Speedway 95.
McLaughlin, Beal and Cornville’s Shelby Kimball are the only ones who have taken the checkered flag in the class as each has two wins so far.
McLaughlin also has three seconds and a third, Beal has two seconds and Kimball has a second and a third.
Beal missed the last race to attend a wedding.
McLaughlin and Beal represent the third generation of racing in their respective families.
Their grandfathers Gary McLaughlin and Louie Santerre used to race against each other on a track in Cherryfield and Beal’s uncle Andy Santerre, the four-time K and N Pro Series East points champion, used to race McLaughlin’s father, David.
“Racing has been in both of our families our whole lives,” said McLaughlin. “We always had the same interests and stuff. We’d work on cars and motors and go to races, stuff like that.
“We’ve always gotten along pretty well,” added McLaughlin.
“We grew up 10 minutes away from each other. We’ve always been around racing,” said Beal, who drives the No. 44 car in honor of his grandfather Louie Santerre and his uncle Andy, who both drove No. 44 cars.
McLaughlin and Beal enjoy racing in the Strictly Street class and said there are plenty of top-notch racers in the class.
“It has been very competitive so far,” said McLaughlin, who is gunning for his second straight points championship and leads Kimball by 38 points atop the standings. “It’s been really fun. I’m learning a lot.
“You have to bring your ‘A’ game and put in the extra effort during the week at home and in the shop,” said McLaughlin. “You want to find something in the setup that will give you an edge. You try to make your car work a little better than the next guy.”
“It’s pretty tight,” Beal added. “It’s a very good class.”
Unlike McLaughlin and Kimball, Beal won’t be running for points because he won’t race every week.
“At first I thought about running for points but when you do, there’s a lot of drama back and forth all season long. And racing every week is hard. It’s too costly. I’m doing this out of my own pocket although I have a few buddies who have chipped in to buy me a tire or some gas and stuff,” said Beal. “I would rather just race for wins.”
Beal won’t be racing this Saturday as he will be helping his close friend Wayne Parritt with his car and doing some spotting for him.
“We work together. He helps me. He built my car,” said Beal, who bought his race car from Parritt.
Beal posted his first-ever win in the season-opening race and won again three weeks later in the 35-lap series race. The class has a three-race series every year.
McLaughlin won the second and fifth features and Kimball captured the third and sixth races.
“I’ve been happy with my start,” said Beal. “I’ve had pretty good luck every week except our last race when the car broke. We’ve had the car to beat.”
He said he frequently talks to his uncle Andy, the competition director for Hattori Racing in the K and N Pro Series East circuit.
“I ask him what I should try for a setup,” said Beal.
McLaughlin has been pleased with his start but reiterated that it’s important to “try to make my car better every week” to compete with the likes of Beal and Kimball.
“Ryan has been around racing his whole life and works really hard on his car. He puts in the time and he has good people around him helping him. He knows what it takes [to win].
“Shelby is running even better than she did last year,” McLaughlin added. “She doesn’t make any mistakes and she holds her line real well.”
Racing will begin at Speedway 95 at 7 p.m. Saturday.
There will be a full race card, including a 50-lap Late Model feature which is the second of three in the series.
Unity has weekend doubleheader
Unity Raceway has a doubleheader of racing this weekend.
The Saturday night race card will begin at 7 p.m. instead of 6 and Sunday’s racing begins at 1 p.m.
The John Phippen Memorial Late Model race will be held on Sunday but there will be two heat races for it on Saturday night.
The top three in each heat race on Saturday night will earn the top six spots for the first of two 59-lap segments on Sunday.
After the first 59-lapper, the field will be inverted (first-place finisher starts last, etc.) for another 59-lapper and, after the second race, the driver with the fewest number of points will be declared the winner.
John Phippen. the popular driver from Town Hill, won seven points championships at three tracks. He died of a heart attack at a race at Speedway 95 in September 2010.
Sunday’s racing in the other classes will be for double points.