The auto racing season at Speedway 95 in Hermon gets underway on Saturday afternoon but the drivers and fans won’t notice the most significant change at the track until the following Saturday.
That’s because Saturday’s race card will get underway at 2 p.m. so the new lighting system won’t be unveiled.
But night racing begins on Saturday, May 19 and the new lights will be in use.
Speedway 95 owner Del Merritt said they had problems with the old lighting system last season and they weren’t cost efficient, so he decided to upgrade the system with LED bulbs.
“We could have gotten by a few more years [with the old system] but it cost us ungodly electric bills every month,” explained Merritt. “It cost us $4,500 for 32 hours of light.
“It had to be addressed if we’re going to compete with other racetracks and we needed to bring the price down,” Merritt said. “It’s one of those necessary evils. The savings should be phenomenal.”
Kim Baker Allen, the office manager and head scorer, said “once they pulled the (old) wires, they realized they were 25-26 year-old household wires. They weren’t UV protected. We’re working with Efficiency Maine to get where we should be.”
Efficiency Maine is the independent administrator for energy efficient programs in the state.
Allen also said they are tweaking the public address system and replacing some of the wooden planks in the grandstand.
“We’re getting 88 new lights and 88 new planks,” quipped Merritt who is celebrating his “50th or 51st year” at the 52-year-old track.
Merritt said 2017 was a positive one at the track.
“We had a good field of cars. I was happy with last year,” said Merritt who is hoping that momentum carries over to this season.
He said the track wintered well and is in good shape.
The classes will remain the same with the Late Models, Street Stocks and Sport-Fours racing on Saturdays along with another class which will vary. The Caged Runners will be the fourth class most of the time but the Sportsman-Outlaws and NELCAR Legends Tour will also fill in.
Wacky Wednesday racing will begin on June 13 with the Modified Enduros, RoadRunners and Stars of Tomorrow being the regular classes and a variety of other races, including stunt races, filling out the card.
This Saturday’s opening card will include all of the classes from the Saturday and Wacky Wednesday shows.
The defending points champions are Steuben’s Brenton Parritt (Late Models), Corinth’s Jordan Pearson (Street Stocks), Hudson’s Isaac Rollins (Sport Fours), Carmel’s Dennis Burns (Modified Enduros), Hampden’s James Goodman (Road Runners) and Nick Huff (Caged Runners) and Holden’s Jordan Kimball (Stars of Tomorrow) and Steve Kimball (Sportsman-Outlaws).
Among the special weekends on tap will be the Monster Truck Tour on June 1-2; a 150-lap Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model North race on June 17, the Camp Capella Touch-A-Truck show on Sept. 15 and the Paul Bunyan Speed Weekend on Oct. 12-14 that will include a Late Model 150-lapper and the eighth annual Ikey Dorr Memorial Street Stocks race.
There will also be a fireworks spectacular on June 23.
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