Opening day at Wiscasset Speedway finally arrived last weekend. But similar to the landscape seen around the business and sports world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was met with changes and restrictions that everyone would need to adjust to. The 2020 season, which was originally scheduled to start in late April, was put on hold while track officials worked with State of Maine officials to help find a safe way to include fans in the stands. The final weekend of July the state released guidelines that restricted grandstand seating to just 200 fans, separated into four distinct sections of 50 people. Other standard coronavirus safety protocols were implemented to keep people safe while enjoying a day they had waited over three months to arrive. Track officials made the decision to start up the schedule wherever it happened to fall in the season, so Group 2 divisions got the nod to race. The show included a 50-lap main event for the Wood Pellet Warehouse Late Model Sportsman, along with races in the Modified, Outlaw Mini and Strictly Street divisions.
Clinton’s Frank Moulton and five-time defending LMS champion Chris Thorne of Sidney got the honors to lead the first feature race of the season to the green flag, thanks to their respective heat wins. Moulton got out to a good start shaking off the challenge of Thorne. Former champ Will Collins moved up into second to pressure the leader, bringing Josh St Clair and Andrew McLaughlin into contention as well. In the meantime, Thorne struggled with handling on his car and began to drop back on the outside. While Moulton enjoyed a two car-length advantage, Collins had his hands full trying to hold off the pair behind him. McLaughlin carefully picked his way around the outside and took over second by lap 16, along with St Clair moving up to third. Moulton was now a half straightaway ahead, but his car soon began to get tight and he slowly fell back into the clutches of McLaughlin.
A balance of patience and persistence paid off on lap 22 with McLaughlin driving around Moulton to take the lead. All the while St Clair stayed just a car length behind the pair, waiting for a mistake by either driver. Once McLaughlin took the lead he steadily pulled away over the second half of the race and ran away to the win in his #26 McLaughlin’s Garage sponsored ride. It was a prototypical win for the 2018 champion and driver of the year. St Clair never had a real shot to pressure McLaughlin for the win over the second half of the race. He would settle for second. Moulton held strong despite his handling issues and came home with a strong third-place finish. Brandon Bailey of Wiscasset made a late-race charge to finish fourth while Collins held on for fifth. The race went caution-free.
In other action, third-generation racer Jonathon Emerson of Sabattus picked up an emotional victory in the 25-lap feature for the Portland Glass Strictly Streets. He raced door to door with his father and defending champ Zach Emerson for the first 16 laps of the race, trading the lead five times, until he finally secured the lead and went on to the win. His father joined him in victory lane to claim the second-place trophy after a tight battle with Brad Erskine who settled for third, In victory lane, the Emerson family shared in the victory and shed some tears as they paid tribute to the patriarch and mentor of the family, Larry Emerson (Jonathon’s grandfather and Zach’s father) who had passed away early last winter following an illness.
“There are no words to describe how I’m feeling right now,” said the winner as he held tight to a special checkered flag his family had made for the occasion.
In the 30-lap feature for the Hancock Heights Modifieds, defending champ Adam Chadbourne of Woolwich held off rival Nick Reno of West Bath for the wire to wire caution-free victory. Reno took home the second-place trophy while Brian Treadwell of Hancock ran a strong race finishing third. The 25-lap feature for the Kennebec Equipment Rental Outlaw Minis was also a caution-free contest that was led wire to wire by Zach Audet from Norridgewock. James Grover of Newcastle matched his career-best Outlaw Mini race with a runner-up finish. Ryan Keniston rounded out the top three with his first podium finish.
Wiscasset Speedway returns to action Saturday, September 8 with Group 1 making their season debut. The Norms Used Cars ProStocks have center-stage with a 50-lap spotlight feature. Also in action will be the Maxwell’s Market Super Streets, The Schooner Bay Taxi Thunder 4 Minis, and the Brackett’s Market 4-Cylinder Pros. There will also be a 100 lap enduro to wrap up the program, sponsored by Ideal Portable Toilets of Wiscasset. Full race day schedule and other information on the remainder of the 2020 schedule can be found on the website at www.wiscassetspeedway.com
-Wiscasset Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51