HARRINGTON, Maine — Harrington’s Alex Berry and his family know the meaning of commitment.
For five years, Berry and his parents, Mike and Tanya, would commute to Richmond so Alex could race go-karts.
“It was three hours up and three hours back every weekend,” said the 17-year-old Berry, who will be a senior at Narraguagus High School in Harrington in the fall.
After 25 wins and three points championships in go-karts, Berry moved up to stock cars at Speedway 95 in Hermon a year ago and collected three third-place finishes and a fifth in 19 Street Stock races.
Just six races into the current season, Berry already has five top-four finishes including three top-threes. And he is leading the points by a 16-point margin over Cornville’s Shelby Kimball.
“We bought Andrew McLaughlin’s car which won the last two [Strictly Street] points championships and 20 races,” said Berry. “That has helped us quite a bit.”
Berry had bought McLaughlin’s 1987 Chevy Camaro for $6,500 but the engine blew early in the season so he had to take the engine from the 1981 Camaro he raced a year ago and install it in the McLaughlin car. He bought his 1981 Camaro from Chuck Hall.
“[The 1981 Camaro] was a good starter car but you weren’t going to win in it,” said Berry whose family paid $4,500 for it.
This year he expects to win in McLaughlin’s car.
“My expectations would have been a little bit better if we had [McLaughlin’s] motor in there. But [last year’s engine] is pulling better than we thought it would. I’m pleased,” said Berry.
McLaughlin, who is also from Harrington and has moved up to Late Models this year, has been impressed with the young driver.
“He’s really smooth. He runs good laps and he’s consistent,” McLaughlin said. “And the thing I like best about him is his passion. He loves to drive.”
Berry said McLaughlin and McLaughlin’s father, Dave, have helped him with the car and he can always call them for advice. Dave McLaughlin rebuilt the car for his son.
“They know the car inside and out. They’re real nice people. They’re as good as it gets,” said Berry.
Berry enjoys the Strictly Street class, saying it is extremely competitive every night.
“It’s difficult to get by cars,” said Berry. “Shelby and I have been going back and forth all year and Bobby Seger has been a real threat lately.
“The racing has been great. And you don’t have people out there wrecking cars,” he added.
Berry got hooked on racing the first time he attended a go-kart race when he was “11 or 12.”
He had always loved to watch Sprint Cup races and when he got a chance to sit in his first go-kart, he knew he wanted to race.
His parents promptly bought a go-kart.
He is still looking for his first feature win in a stock car — he has won heat races — but he knows it is just a matter of time.
“We’ve had some tough breaks. We should have won a couple of races but things didn’t go in our favor. We keep getting closer and closer,” said Berry.
The youngest of three children, Berry said he is indebted to his parents for their financial and moral support.
“They have been very supportive. Owning a race car is a big expense,” said Alex whose father, a truck driver, also helps him work on the car when he’s home.
He said his brother Chris and sister Lauren attend his races from time to time and that Mike Moore of Machias hauls his car to the track and also works on the car with him.
Berry’s goals this season include winning the points championship and going to Victory Lane. He said he would love to win the third annual Ikey Dorr Memorial 50-lap race on July 11.
“And I’d like to get my name out there. I’m hoping somebody notices I can drive and would be willing to put me in a Late Model car [some day],” said Berry who is hoping to put a new engine in his car in time for the Dorr race.
“I would like to move into a Late Model but it’s hard to tell. I don’t have the knowledge to go out and run competitive in that class right now. That class is really competitive,” said Berry who also noted that the expense of owning a Late Model car could be prohibitive which is why he is hoping to drive for somebody who would own the car.