UNITY, Maine — Washburn’s Jere Humphrey helped promote the Long John 100 Late Model race at Unity Raceway last October.
He will be a more permanent fixture at the track this coming season.
Humphrey will lease Unity Raceway from track owner Ralph Nason for two years. They will finalize the contract later this week.
Humphrey will pay $35,000 per season to lease the track.
Humphrey said he is confident he can succeed at the track after George Fernald Jr. said he lost more than $30,000 leasing it the previous five years.
Fernald eventually stopped paying purse money due to financial constraints and the track closed prematurely last August.
“If I thought it was going to be a failure, it would make no sense to lease it,” said Humphrey. “You don’t want to make a fool of yourself.
“I want to try to prove the naysayers wrong,” added the 46-year-old Humphrey. “I’ll run it as a business. I’m going to try to make it more cost-efficient for the racers and the fans.”
He will race on Friday nights this season although there will be some occasional Sunday and Saturday races as well.
“We’re later getting on board than everyone else (at the other tracks),” explained Humphrey. “And I don’t want to cut anyone’s throats (by running head-to-head against them on Saturday night).”
Humphrey also said it was a business decision because he sells racing supplies and fuel through his Last Chance Motorsports Racing Supplies and Race Fuel company to drivers at Speedway 95 and Unity as well as at other tracks.
Speedway 95 races primarily on Saturday nights.
His Last Chance Motorsports team also sponsors “half a dozen different cars” including Deane Smart’s Late Model and Emma Libby’s Sport Four at Speedway 95.
In addition, he owns Humphrey Snow Removal and Property Maintenance in Washburn.
Nason is pleased with the deal.
“(Humphrey) has the knack of pleasing the drivers and the fans. He takes a genuine interest in what they think and he’ll listen to their ideas,” said Nason, who also pointed out Humphrey was able to raise $20,000 in sponsorship money for the Spud 150 race at Spud Speedway in Caribou last season.
“That’s pretty good for Aroostook County,” said Nason. “He has a good grasp of business. He’s really smart. He thinks before he jumps. He’ll be able to secure a lot of sponsorship and that’s going to help him.”
Nason said he intends to “help him as much as I can.”
Nason said if things go well, he would certainly consider leasing it to Humphrey beyond the two years.
“If he does a good job and everything is going well, I might even consider selling it to him,” added Nason.
Humphrey has been a successful promoter. He was president of the Northern Penobscot chapter of the Maine State Truck Pullers Association for eight years and was an 11-year points champion in truck pulling.
He has also promoted sno-cross (snowmobile racing over a challenging course) and mud runs, and he leased Spud Speedway for one race.
Humphrey said fans and drivers had suggested that he consider leasing Unity Raceway “but I never thought about it much until I helped Ralph with the Long John last fall.
“There was still a lot of interest (even after the early closing). There were 68 cars and 908 people, and I sell racing supplies and fuel at Unity, so I felt if I was going to lease it, here was my opportunity,” said Humphrey.
The regular season will start May 26 at 1 p.m.
There will be five weekly classes: Flyin’ Fours, Monsta-Minis, Strictly Streets, Late Models and Enduros.
They will occasionally add races involving youngsters (primarily teenagers), ladies and Bomber class drivers. There will also be a three-race Race Your Neighbor series.
There will be a 150-lap Last Chance Late Model feature at the end of the season that will offer a $10,000 purse.
There will be several promotions and cost-saving deals, he said.
Humphrey said he intends to start “knocking on doors” seeking sponsorship money this weekend.
Humphrey will be the race director and said several track employees have told him they intend to return to work at the track this season.
“I’ll be stressing the 3 Ps: Be professional and polite and have a positive attitude,” he said.
Drivers who want to register for the season can do so online at www.unityraceway.info.