Spencer Morse knew something bigger and better was on the horizon after a successful season competing in the Strictly Stock division at Maine's Oxford Plains Speedway in 2014. What he didn’t know was that the opportunity of a lifetime would be presented to him during the racing offseason.
Morse, of Waterford, Maine, was recently selected by 35 Oxford Hills Middle School students as the driver for their No. 0HMS Aspire Higher Super Late Model that will compete in the Super Late Model division at Oxford Plains and attempt to qualify for the 42nd Annual Oxford 250 on August 30
The opportunity is one that he could never imagine and one that he says he is extremely grateful for.
“We had a really good season last year and went about things the right way,” Morse told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We thought maybe I could get into a PASS Modified or something like that but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be in a Super Late Model and by no stretch of the imagination did I think it would be a brand new Super Late Model.
“The opportunity that comes with having all of these 35 kids involved is unbelievable. Never would I have thought that it’d be such a high profile ride as this is. I would have to say this is the best opportunity that could have ever come along for me.”
The Aspire Higher Race Car is a project created by the Oxford Hills Middle School technical program in conjunction with local chassis shop Crazy Horse Racing. Crazy Horse Racing houses the car in their South Paris, Maine shop and students visit the shop each Thursday to work on every aspect of the car. CHR owner Judy Green told Speed51.com that the program isn’t just a sit-and-learn type of program. From the time the students arrive to the time they leave they are hands on.
Morse echoed Green’s statement and said that ever since he was named the driver he’s been visiting the shop on Thursdays to build a relationship with the students and help them “tinker” on the race car.
“They do everything from helping hang body panels to putting the front end together,” said Morse. “Every aspect of the car they’ve had some involvement in. It’s even more than that. They’re marketing the car, they’re going to get sponsors, and they’re working finances and all of that stuff.”
Although things have gone smooth since he was elected by the students as the driver of their race car, Morse said that the initial face-to-face meeting with the students was actually quite intimidating.
“I put together a cover letter and resume just like I would anywhere else,” Morse said of the process he had to go through to apply for the ride. “They interrogated me. It wasn’t an interview, it was an interrogation. It was rough, but I made it through and the kids liked me.”
Prior to the racing season even starting in the state of Maine, the Oxford Hills Middle School students have already added a plaque to their trophy case. At the recent Northeast Motorsports Expo in Augusta, the students were presented with the Best Appearing Super Late Model award for their creative design featuring the school colors (green and gold) and the school’s mascot, a Viking.
In a marketing proposal created by the students, they list their goals for the 2015 season as “Rookie of the Year, top-10 in points, win a race, learn and most importantly… have fun.”
Morse, who finished second in the Oxford Street Stock division in 2014, believes that all of those goals are attainable. The only difference between his goals and those goals listed by the students involves the biggest race of the year at his home track.
“Really, I want to qualify for the Oxford 250,” said Morse. “It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a little kid. It’s been a dream of my dad’s and it’s been a dream of my grandfather’s that used to race. All they’ve wanted to do is drive a car in the Oxford 250 and I’m the first one with a chance to qualify. There’s a lot of pressure for me to make that happen, but I think we have one heck of a shot to get in.”
One thing that Morse won’t be lacking behind the wheel this upcoming season is the motivation and hard work that it will take to succeed. With an opportunity of a lifetime and 35 hard working students behind him, he plans to give 100-percent to his team every second he’s strapped into the race car.
“If you’re not motivated to have a chance to run in the Oxford 250, I don’t know what you’re doing at a race track,” said Morse. “The thing is, I was going to put pressure on myself to perform no matter what. But now that I know it’s not only me I’m going to disappoint, I have 35 kids that have their heart and soul in this thing. There’s nothing I want to do more than see those kids happy with my performance and anything I can do to get it done, I’m going to do it.”
In addition to the hard work from the students, Morse said that none of this would be possible without the hard work and commitment from Crazy Horse Racing. CHR owners Mitch, Judy and Micky Green have opened up their doors to the students and in the meantime opened up an opportunity for Morse that otherwise may not have been possible.
“Their cars are so good, but that’s not the total package with these guys,” Morse said of the Crazy Horse Racing staff. “It’s family. You go in there and I don’t care if you’re buying parts for your four-cylinder Rebel car or you’re buying parts for your Super Late Model, when you go in there you’re family.
“It’s been great working with them this year because I get to see them a heck of a lot more because my car is there. This program couldn’t happen without them and without this program I’d still be in a Street Stock, so I owe them so much that I can’t put it into words. They’re such great people and they do so much for the community.”
Thus far, the support from the local community has been tremendous, according to Morse. That may be because at the end of the day, the car truly is a community car. When Morse navigates his way around the 3/8-mile Oxford Plains Speedway, he’ll not only be representing himself, 35 students and Crazy Horse Racing, he’ll also be representing a community.
“This is more than just a race car,” said Morse. “These kids are learning a lot of life skills that could take them a long ways in life. I’m just so impressed. When I was 13 or 14 years old, I could not walk up to somebody and say, ‘I’m doing this and this is how much money I need and we’ll put you on this part of the car.’ There’s no way in heck I could get that done and these kids can do it.
“It’s an amazing group of kids and an amazing community. You need all of that to make something like this happen.”
To support the students, you can "like" their page on Facebook by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com