WISCASSET, Maine — Richard Jordan was a teenager when Wiscasset Raceway opened as Wiscasset Speedway in 1969. He actually attended the first race there.
“My mother [the late Evangeline Jordan] was a big race fan,” he explained. “And I had 40-50 relatives in the area and we’d meet at the track.”
Three years ago to the day she died, Richard Jordan and wife, Vanessa, bought the track at auction on July 12.
Now the Kingfield man will plot the future of the track as he waits for lawyers to return from vacation, enabling him to sign the formal contract.
He bought the track for $130,000.
Doug White had bought it for $500,000 in 2007 but financial problems resulted in him shutting it down after the 2010 season.
“We’re hoping to have a race in October just to get folks together. Last year, a lot of concerned citizens and race fans had the ‘Save Wiscasset Raceway’ races in the second week of October,” said Jordan, who owns the Jordan Lumber Co. in Kingfield with brothers Jonathan and Leslie.
Close to 2,000 fans and 170 cars showed up at the track to demonstrate their support for the raceway last October.
“Our ideal goal is to give it a big facelift,” said the 58-year-old Jordan. “It’s going to take a lot of work. Everybody knows it has needed one for a while. Some of the items we’ve thought about is get rid of the tires around the perimeter of the track; a modern-day scoreboard; and a new front fence. We’ve been trying to be proactive about meeting new people and sharing ideas.
“We’d like to have a public cleanup day in two, three or four weeks,” added Jordan. “People have expressed a desire to do something. We have a list of things that need to be done so they can come, bring what they want and do the chore that they want. And we’ll have a cookout.”
He said the outpouring of support has been “unbelievable,” starting with Wiscasset town manager Laurie Smith.
“They told us how much they want Wiscasset Speedway to survive. I haven’t heard anything negative. I’ve been inundated with phone calls from people wanting to help. It has been heart-warming,” said Jordan, who was born in Boothbay but moved away from the area 54 years ago when his father, Everett, started the business in Kingfield.
He intends to bring the Pro Stock class back to Wiscasset.
Wiscasset ran Pro Stocks from 2007-2009 but dropped the class after the 2009 season due to a lack of cars and interest.
The Pro Stocks, which are the most expensive cars and the fastest, are only racing at Scarborough’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, as the state’s other four tracks (Unity Raceway, Speedway 95 in Hermon, Oxford Plains Speedway and Spud Speedway in Caribou) feature Late Models as their top class.
“Pro Stocks and Wiscasset go together,” said Jordan, who began racing Late Models at the age of 54 at Wiscasset.
“It was part of my bucket list,” said Jordan.
He intends to keep ticket prices down.
“I’ll have a $5 entry fee,” said Jordan. “I want to fill the bleachers. I want to make it affordable for families.”
He will be at the track as much as he can, but it is 83 miles from Kingfield to Wiscasset, so he said he may hire a promoter or someone to help run it.
Jordan didn’t intend to buy the track when he attended the auction.
“I just wanted to lend my support. It was like a daughter. I just wanted to make sure it was going to be in good hands,” he said. “And by the time [the bidding] was done, it was in my hands. This is what God wanted and we’re going to make it work.”
Pittston’s Ben Ashline, who races in the American-Canadian Tour, predicted that Jordan will make “that place thrive.
“He’s a very good guy. He’s been a very successful businessman and there’s no doubt he’ll make the track just as successful. It’ll take him a little time to get it going but I’m sure he’ll build it up,” said Ashline.
“I wish him all the luck in the world. He’s a really likable guy,” said George Fernald Jr., who leases Unity Raceway from Ralph and Nancy Nason. “It’s not going to be easy for him. He’ll be the hero for a year or two and then they’ll turn on him and he’ll be the [jerk] who runs the track.”
Fernald said “80-90 percent” of the cars that used to race at Wiscasset Raceway are still sitting in their owners’ garages.
“They haven’t gone anywhere else to race,” said Fernald. “They need to come back and support Richard.”