FAIRFIELD, Maine — With the auto racing season on the horizon, Jeff Taylor is a busy man.
The owner of Distance Racing Products in Fairfield and a nine-time Oxford Plains Speedway points champion said he and employee Sean LaPlante have been very busy building and fixing race cars.
They build and fix all parts of the race car except the engine.
“Business has been great. This has been one of our better years,” said Taylor. “It goes in cycles. A lot of people are ready for new stuff.
“The economy isn’t the greatest but everybody is still going racing,” said Taylor.
Taylor and LaPlante work almost exclusively on Pro Stocks, Late Models and Modifieds and he said requests come from New England and eastern Canada.
Pro Stock cars are making a comeback in Maine.
Last season, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway was the only one of the six tracks to have Pro Stocks but Wiscasset Speedway and Oxford Plains Speedway have added the Pro Stocks this coming season.
Wiscasset Speedway and Oxford Plains Speedway are under new ownership as Richard and Vanessa Jordan bought Wiscasset Speedway and Tom Mayberry is the new owner at OPS.
Late Models are still the top classes at Unity Raceway, Hermon’s Speedway 95 and Caribou’s Spud Speedway.
“Several years ago, 90 percent of the cars [built and serviced] were Pro Stocks and 10 percent Late Models. Now it’s 50-50,” said Taylor.
Taylor said the Late Models have been profitable thanks to the American-Canadian Tour.
“We’ve done a lot of LMS cars this year,” he said. “But we still have a lot of Pro Stocks including the PASS [North] champion [Morrill’s Travis Benjamin] and some other [points] champions.”
Benjamin said he will always drive a Distance Racing Products car.
“Jeff does a good job. His cars always drive well,” said Benjamin. “He knows what’s going on. He’s won a lot of races. And if you need something quickly, he’s always got it and he’ll get you right in.”
The Pro Stocks could make a resurgence, Taylor speculated, because the TD Bank (Oxford) 250 is returning to a Pro Stock event this season after six years as a Late Model race.
“When they changed it to Late Models, it was a big deal,” said Taylor. “A lot of racing is dictated by the 250. Everyone wants to go to the 250. But this is the second time they’ve changed [the type of car] in six years and you can’t keep changing. It will eventually bite you in the butt. ”
He said there is more diversity in the Pro Stock cars.
“The Late Models are one type of car and you build it one way. There are a lot of different ways to build a Pro Stock car,” said Taylor.
The increase in business means Taylor’s racing days will be limited.
“I only raced five times last year,” said Taylor. “I haven’t raced a lot the past five or six years.”
Wiscasset Speedway opening Saturday
Wiscasset Speedway will open at 1 p.m. Saturday after sitting idle for two years.
“That’s going to be a great thing. That’s a positive for us,” said Taylor.
Jordan has announced that he will divide his eight classes into two four-class brackets and they will race on alternate Saturdays.
The Pro Stocks, Superstocks, Thunder 4’s and Northeast four-cylinder Pro Stocks will race on one Saturday and, on the following Saturday, there will be Late Model Sportsman, Strictly Streets, Outlaw Minis and Mini-Trucks.
“I’ve never heard of that being done before. I hope it works out well. We’ll see,” said Taylor, a native of Farmington.
Theriault sixth at Hickory
Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault finished sixth in the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway (N.C.) Saturday night.
Preston Peltier of Harrisburg, N.C., took the lead from Parsonsfields’ Trevor Sanborn with 10 laps remaining and took the checkered flag in the Pro All-Stars Series South race.
D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, N.H., was second and Sanborn wound up third.
Berwick’s Joey Doiron was 23rd and Turner’s Ben Rowe was 25th in the 30-car field.