CARIBOU, Maine — The return of go-kart racing and the unification of three classes into a new Outlaw Sportsman Division highlight the changes being implemented at Caribou’s Spud Speedway this season.
The racing season will get underway at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 25.
Troy Haney, who has owned the track since 2009, is hoping to get more kids involved in racing and will have three go-kart classes, while also building a track within the Spud Speedway oval for the go-karts.
The classes will be Kids Karts for ages 5-7; Junior Sportsman for ages 8-12 and Seniors Sportsman for 13-and-over, including adults.
Nate Anderson, who owns Thundering Valley Raceway for go-karts in St. Albans with his wife, Marti, will be the keynote speaker at a free seminar for potential go-kart racers at 1 p.m. Saturday at the technology vocational center in Caribou High School.
Former Spud Speedway go-kart racer Tom Hale will also be on hand to field questions.
There used to be go-kart racing at Spud Speedway more than 20 years ago.
“It’s something we’ve been toying around with the last couple of years but we couldn’t put it into motion,” explained Haney. “But the timing is right and the reaction we’ve received has been solid enough to move forward. There has been a decent amount of parents who are interested in at least testing the waters.”
Haney said the track being built for the go-karts will be approximately one-fifth of a mile and will cost in the vicinity of $10,000.
The go-karts will race as part of the weekly program at the facility.
He said he was considering having the go-karts run the regular one-third mile oval but Nate Anderson pointed that you can make a go-kart go 100 miles an hour “and the [protective] cage would never hold up to the impact [if there was an accident].”
“So we’re going to build a secondary track that will require them to slow down in the corners and stuff,” said Haney.
Anderson will help with the new track design while advising parents and drivers how to keep the racing safe.
The Outlaw Sportsman class will encompass Super Streets, Late Models and Pro Stocks and is designed to attract more cars since there is a lot of flexibility from a rules package perspective.
“We’re hoping to open up the doors to a lot of Canadian drivers,” explained Haney. “Their old Pro Stock cars didn’t fit into our Late Model class [due to regulations] but now they’ll be able to.”
He said Spud Speedway had only two Canadian race cars in their five classes a year ago but they’ve already heard from 7-10 drivers who have expressed interest in racing at the track this season.
He is also hoping Canadians will get involved in the go-kart racing, but one major sticking point is getting the Canadian cars across the border.
“There are a lot more rules and restrictions now. It wasn’t a problem several years ago,” said Haney who noted that he is working with “[Senator] Susan Collins’ office” to make it easier for Canadian drivers to enter the United States and race at Spud Speedway.
The track’s other classes will be the Street Stocks, Fast Fours, Challenger Series and the four-cylinder Northern Lights division.
There will be heat races and consolation races before each feature and points will be accrued in those races as well as the features.
In addition to the weekly racing, there will be a three-race Day of Destruction Series involving a demolition derby and a variety of other races including a bag race and a chain race.
In the bag race, the driver is blindfolded and a passenger tells him or her how to steer the car. In the chain race, two cars are linked by an eight-foot chain and the front car has the engine but no brakes and the back car has no motor but it does have brakes.
The highlight of the opening day race card will be a 75-lap Outlaw Sportsman race.
The season will be capped by the Spud 150 at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8. It will be a Late Model race but it could be changed to an Outlaw Sportsman event.