Mike Rowe (24) of Turner stays ahead of Johnny Clark (54) of Hallowell during a 2005 auto race at Unity Raceway. Credit: Michael C. York / BDN

Unity Raceway has always been a special place for Winterport native Joey Doyon.

He used to race there and his parents, Roger and Barbie, worked at the track. His father was a member of owner Ralph Nason’s pit crew when Nason was racing, and he also owned a race car that was driven by Mike Harnish Sr. in the mid 1980’s.

Now the longtime auto racer from Winterport is getting the chance to run the track.

He is leasing the Unity Raceway from Ralph Nason, who has owned it since 1980. The track has been sitting idle for the last several years, while being listed for sale. Doyon is planning to bring back auto racing on the dirt track, and the door is open for him to eventually own the raceway.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said the 40-year-old Doyon, who lives in Frankfort with wife Holly and four children.

“I’m excited about it,” he added.

George Fernald, who used to lease the track, dug up the asphalt in 2017 to transform it into a dirt track and Doyon will continue to run it as a dirt track.

He is hoping to have three or four auto races this winter as well as other events like snowmobile races.

Next season, he plans to hold auto races every other weekend. On the weekends when they aren’t racing, the track will be used for other events, he said.

Doyon has been working on the track over the summer, thanks largely to sponsors and donors that are supplying him with the funding he needs to upgrade the track and the facility. He has replaced eight rows of wooden planks with new ones in the grandstand, he is also rebuilding a fence near the road and he’ll also be leveling out the track.

“The track is in pretty good shape. There are a couple of bumps in turn one,” Doyon said.

A lot of people have stopped in to the track to wish him well in his new venture and swap stories with him about racing at Unity, he said.

Leasing the track is something Doyon has had on his mind for several years and he has developed a strong friendship with Nason, who has been very helpful and has supplied him with equipment to aid him in his upgrading of the facility.

Doyon began racing at Unity Raceway when he was 15 years old and had intended to race at Hermon’s Speedway 95 this season, but decided it was more important for him to work on the track at Unity and get it ready for the winter season.

Since managing a track is something new for Doyon, he knows there are going to be some bumps along the way.

“I’m going to make mistakes because I haven’t been on this side of [racing] before. But I think we can do it. I have a good team around me,” he said.

Nason is happy to have Doyon leasing the track.

“I have known him since he was a boy. He has some good plans for it,” Nason said. “He has always been a hard worker.”

Nason would not divulge the terms of the lease, but Doyon will have the option to buy the track.

Doyon said his wife, former Husson University basketball star and 1,000-point scorer Holly Gracie, has been very supportive and that they will have a meet-and-greet event on Oct. 23 at the track. There will be live bands performing later in the day.

The pair will have a “trunk-or-treat” event for the kids involving a pre-Halloween celebration with candy.

That will kick the activities off and last from 1 to 4 p.m.

Doyon said everyone is welcome and he is encouraging race car drivers past and present to show up in their current or old race cars — including dirt track cars.