HERMON, Maine — To go directly from the Bomber class at Hermon’s Speedway 95 to the Late Models would be like going from Class A ball to the major leagues.
But that is what 17-year-old Ryan Modery has done and, in just his ninth race in the Late Models, the Hermon native captured his first win Saturday night.
Not only was it his first win, it was his first top-five finish in the track’s top division.
“My goal was to get a top-three finish this season. I never expected to get a win,” said Modery. “It was awesome.”
He said he was also touched by the response of his competitors.
“They all came over and congratulated me. They were all happy for me,” said Modery, who will be a senior at Hermon High in the fall.
“It was really special,” said Scott Modery, Ryan’s father and crew chief and a former Limited points champion at Speedway 95. “They came over one at a time, shook his hands and someone poured water over him.”
Scott Modery said it showed that his son has been accepted by the veteran drivers and that he has shown the proper respect on the track by racing them clean and not getting in their way if they have a faster car.
Ryan Modery won the race by passing longtime racer Duane Seekins of Stockton Springs on the inside groove in the final two laps.
Scott Modery was pleased that Seekins raced him clean.
“Duane could have used him up but he didn’t. He showed him a lot of respect,” said the grateful dad.
Ironically, Scott Modery bought a car off Seekins for Ryan when his son started his racing career four years ago.
He won the points championship in the entry-level teenage class Stars of Tomorrow during Wacky Wednesday racing and was second the next year before moving up to the Saturday night Bomber Division a year ago and winning the points title thanks to five trips to Victory Lane.
But the Bombers are a far cry from the Late Models where the cars are much faster and the competition is much stiffer with some veteran, top-notch racers in the class.
“It has been a lot harder. I’ve gone from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive, and these cars have a lot more power,” said Ryan Modery.
He admitted that it has been “pretty frustrating at times” but he also said he has learned a great deal.
“I listen to what the other drivers tell me,” he said.
What are the two primary lessons he has learned?
“Just keep a level head and don’t back off,” said Ryan Modery.
Even though he hasn’t had nearly the success he had in the Bomber class last year, he said he is enjoying the Late Model Class “a lot more.”
“Stuff happens a lot quicker,” said Ryan Modery.
He does feel he is improving as he gets more familiar with the division.
“It does get a little easier every week and I’m just trying to get better and better every week,” he said.
Scott Modery, who won 14 races when he captured the Limited points title in 1998, said he has been impressed with his son’s performance in the Late Model class.
“He has a great attitude. He’s calm and collected,” said the proud father.
For the rest of the season, Scott Modery would just like to see his son “finish races” and get more seat time.
“I want him to race clean, stay focused and learn from the other drivers,” said Scott Modery who is building his son a Chevy Monte Carlo for next season.
Ryan Modery is currently driving a Ford his father used to race. It once belonged to four-time K and N Pro Series East points champion Andy Santerre.
“It’s about 25 years old,” said Scott Modery.
Ryan Modery said he would like to get “a couple more wins” this season.
For the Moderys, racing is a family affair.
“I have a picture of him as a baby sitting in my [race] car,” said Scott Modery.
Scott Modery and longtime girlfriend Valerie Enos have a 10-year-old daughter, Brittany, in addition to Ryan.
“This is our family sport,” said Scott Modery.