Manchester’s Reid Lanpher (left) competes in a race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough. Credit: Courtesy Finish Line Photography

PORTLAND, Maine — This weekend likely marked the final regular race meet at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough. Track owner Andy Cusack announced the track was under contract to real estate developers at the year-end awards ceremony after the races Saturday night.

Beech Ridge First opened in May 1949.

Cusack told the hushed crowd that he’d received a random phone call from out-of-state land developers this year.

“It took a long time but, at the end of the day, they made me an offer you would not refuse,” he said. “The value of the speedway is surpassed by the value of the property. It’s a matter of economics.”

The nearby Scarborough Downs horse racing track, which opened in 1950, closed in 2020 after being sold to developers in 2018 for $6.7 million.

Cusack said he wanted to make the announcement during the awards ceremony in person and not just on the track’s Facebook page in the offseason.

“You guys matter. This place matters,” he said.

The news shocked the crowd, according to several people who were there, with many breaking into tears. In the pits, drivers put on smoke shows, burning out the tires they’ll no longer need.

As the news hit social media, some race fans were unsurprised at the news.

“Who didn’t see this coming? Car counts dwindled every year, the grandstands looked barren every week,” said Ed Johnson, moderator of a Beech Ridge Facebook group.

“This track has been a way of life for many of us here in Southern Maine,” Melissa Bourgeois-Lang said. “Truly shocking, even hearing the rumors for a few years now and seeing the decline in spectators.”

“With the value of the land and the struggle to make racing profitable, it was inevitable,” Andy Meserve said.

Cusack left open the possibility of a 2022 race season if the deal fell through for some reason in the off season.

James B. McConnell of Scarborough first opened Beech Ridge’s famed third-of-a-mile dirt oval 72 years ago on land he’d cleared in a timber-cutting operation. Two-time track champion and flagman Calvin Reynolds of Buxton bought the track in 1973.

In 1981, Reynolds sold it to 12-time track champion Ralph Cusack, who was at the speedway the day it opened in 1949. Cusack paved it in 1986, then sold it to his sons Glenn and Andy Cusack in 1997. Andy became sole owner in 1999.

Though regular racing is now over for the season, Beech ridge has two remaining events on its schedule. They include a demolition derby and the amature wildcat series showdown.

If Beech Ridge closes for good, Oxford Plains Speedway, Speedway 95 and Wiscasset Speedway will be Maine’s only three remaining car race tracks.

A call to Andy Cusack was not immediately returned Sunday morning.

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.