UNITY, Maine — There are 13 more racing dates on the Unity Raceway schedule but the season could come to a screeching halt next weekend.
George Fernald Jr., who is in his fifth and final season of leasing the track from Ralph and Nancy Nason, said Saturday night he can no longer pay the purse money awarded to the drivers after each race.
He estimated that he pays out $5,000-$6,000 every week in purse money.
“We just don’t have any money left,” explained Fernald.
He estimated he has lost $20,000 this year due to low car counts and poor attendance and more than $30,000 overall and said “We’re not going to get any of that money back.”
He said it is unfair to his family to continue losing money.
He said he will continue to award trophies to the top three finishers in each of his seven classes but if the drivers want purse money, they will have to come up with it among themselves or find it somewhere else.
“That’s the only way to keep it open. We’re planning to race next Saturday night but we’ll see if enough cars show up to help us out,” said Fernald. “If they don’t care about the track, why should I?”
Fernald said he will drastically reduce the price of admission for the fans from $10 in the grandstands and $25 in the pits to $5 and $10, respectively, beginning next week, to try to keep the season alive.
Drivers had mixed emotions about the news.
“It’s going to be hard to come back racing,” said Clinton’s Tim Robinson. “It’s $110 a tire and $10 a gallon for race fuel. It’s hard. I have two sons [Cole and Kyle Robinson] who race in the Monsta-Minis. Every extra little bit [in purse money] helps us. It’s going to be tough to do it.”
Robinson sympathized with Fernald’s situation.
“There’s nothing he can do. You can’t afford to lose money every week,” said Robinson.
“I don’t come here for the money,” said Oakland’s Cody Robbins. “You never really make anything anyway. The trophies are all I care about.”