There won’t be any stock car racing at Spud Speedway in Caribou this season.
At least for now.
Troy Haney, who owns the racetrack, said he learned soon after the 2015 season ended that John Albert would not lease the track for a second year.
Albert, a Limestone native and longtime racer, was not able to lease it because of financial constraints, according to Haney.
“Last year was a tough year for them. They tried, but it was tough,” said Haney. “In addition to the normal stuff, you’ve got to fight things like the weather and scheduling conflicts and that makes it inherently difficult to make it successful on a week-to-week basis.”
Haney had someone else lined up to lease it, but he said the person had some “medical issues at the last minute” and the deal fell apart.
Albert had been the owner-operator of the track for four years in the early 1990s and has served as the track’s promoter. The 76-year-old Albert began racing at the track when he was 21.
Haney does intend to maintain the track in case somebody decides to lease it or buy it, and he noted that they will have go-kart racing every Friday night.
He said he is exploring the possibility of holding a few “large [extended-lap] races” this season.
Haney said stock car racing is a challenge in Aroostook County and that in his best year of the five years he has owned the track, he lost over $25,000.
“We have a limited number of people, they have lower budgets, and there are fewer businesses to support it,” he said. “The youth of today is more interested in faster phones than faster cars.”
Haney was leasing the track to Albert for $1,000 per month, and he said he will sell the track and the 48-acre property for $300,000.
He estimated that he has put $250,000 into the track since he has owned it.
The one-seventh-of-a-mile go-kart track is inside the one-third mile oval stock car track.
Haney is donating use of the go-kart track to the newly-formed nonprofit Northern Maine Karting Association.
“I have a soft spot for kids,” said Haney, who also hopes the young go-kart racers will turn into the stock car drivers who could resurrect the sport in Aroostook County someday.
He said if the kids are taught sportsmanship and the need for racing to be fun, first and competitive second, “we can build a base of good quality racers with the right attitudes to make the track successful in five or six years.”
They built the go-kart track three years ago and it has grown from “three to four [racers] to 15 this season.”
“We have three classes: kids 5-7 years old, juniors who are 7-12 and a senior class for 13 and over,” said Haney. “There are four apiece in the kids and juniors and six-to-seven in the senior class.”
He feels the track can be successful “with the right management.”
“You need to make it a year-round track with snow sled racing in the winter. I just don’t have the time to do that,” said Haney, who owns Haney’s Building Specialties in Caribou and travels a lot as the regional director of sales for the Quebec-based Berger Peat Moss company.