Among the interesting mix of rising stars and seasoned veterans on the New England Super Late Model scene, there are some drivers who seem to slip through the cracks. It’s easy to get overlooked in such a vast sea of talent, even if you have big skills behind the wheel.
For 32-year-old Trevor Sanborn, staying under the radar doesn’t disrupt his focus. He knows he’ll make the headlines in due time. Sanborn, part of a family synonymous with short track racing here in the Pine Tree State for decades, is easily one of the most gifted and underrated drivers within the six-state region.
As of July 10, the man affectionately known as “the Mayor of Parsonsfield” has five starts in 2020 with a top-10 finish in one of the PASS races at White Mountain Motorsports Park. While there have been a few minor issues, this incredibly talented driver knows there are brighter days on the horizon.
“We didn’t have much luck in our first outing of the year with the Granite State series at Claremont,” Sanborn said. “Things picked up when we went to White Mountain for the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) opener and finished sixth. When we went back down there, we had a right front tire go down.
“On our most recent trip to North Woodstock, we missed the setup and just weren’t very fast. We’ve got some miscommunication issues to deal with, but we’ll work through them. I think we’ll be alright from here on out.”
If you were to describe Sanborn’s climb into short track racing’s most competitive division, the best way to put it would be “baptism by fire.” Not many racers take the same path, yet that’s how the youngest of the infamous Sanborn clan paid his dues.
“I started racing Karts back in 1998 when I was 10 years old,” Sanborn explained. “After five years, I moved directly into the Pro Series at Beech Ridge in 2003. My Dad didn’t want me in the lower classes where they slam and bang every week. He wanted me to learn how to race clean with respect right off.
“So it was a huge learning curve for me, for sure. But I learned that cleaner style of driving, to stay off of people, and just focus on running my own race. It was tough, but it forced me to learn fast and gain the respect of the veterans. I don’t regret that move and would like to think I’m better off for making it.”
When he first arrived in the Pro Series, Sanborn was competing against some of Maine’s top drivers.
“I had guys like Bobby Babb, Mike Maietta Sr. and the late Bub Bilodeau to race against,” he explained. “They were the guys to beat at Beech Ridge back then. That forced me to get up on the wheel quickly. Those guys didn’t exactly move over to let me go by, and I didn’t expect they would.”
Known for years as a Beech Ridge regular, there was some question among his legion of fans as to whether or not he would return to the storied oval on Holmes Road in Scarborough at all this year.
“We’ve actually talked about going back to Beech Ridge as a team just recently, for two reasons,” Sanborn said. “For one, they’ve opened the rules up to where you can run double-adjustable shocks, bump springs and those type of things. Plus, they’ve made their weekly shows a four-tire race.
“So no more two-tire deal, everybody has four tires and you’re on an even playing field. I think it’s going to be a lot better this year, and can say I would feel comfortable going back there. We still plan to run some PASS and Granite State races, but we’ll probably be at The Ridge when we’re not touring.”
That level of competition we referred to earlier has risen to new heights in 2020. Sanborn has his work cut out for him to keep up with the ever-changing technology in Super Late Model racing.
“We’re seeing the level of competition get tighter and tighter every year,” he said. “The drivers are all getting better. They’re learning what they need in their cars, more of them have a new chassis now, and that all makes for very little separation in qualifying. You don’t see anybody lapping the field any more.
“It’s getting closer and closer with each passing season. It makes us all seek out that little advantage. You might miss a detail as minor as being off by 1/16th of an inch on something, but it means you’ll be out to lunch that week. It has become a science with these cars. You have to stay on top of them.”
Trevor’s older brother Adam has enjoyed his own success on the ovals, but now supports his little brother in a big way. His pride in Trevor’s skills shows through in any given conversation.
“Our family has had its fair share of success in racing, but never had the proper funding or full-time pit crews,” Adam explained. “Trevor always dreamed of going somewhere in the sport. From winning too many Karting titles to count, to running out of space for trophies, he’s been fully devoted to his career.
“Our family name has always been well known around the tracks, due mostly to my brother’s talents. He is an impeccable driver with the composure of a man twice his age. You never see him drive over his head, he doesn’t tear up his equipment, and he’s always respectful to his fellow drivers.”
Despite his immense natural talent, Sanborn could not be pursuing his dreams of oval success without the support of several devoted people.
“I need to thank my crew chief, Tony Ricci; my spotter, Dan (Bub) Collins; my tire specialist, Mario Ercolani; mechanic Corey Sanborn and our awesome team cook, Nikki Ercolani. I appreciate all they do for my racing program and would be lost without them.”
Along with those dedicated people working behind the scenes, Sanborn also has an excellent group of marketing partners on board who help make his program more competitive.
“I’m fortunate to have the support of some great companies, including Smoker’s Haven, Karma Salon and Day Spa, Mad Mike’s Custom Detailing, and Rejuvenate Canna Company. They keep us going.”
As this bizarre, delayed and rather abbreviated season rolls on, Sanborn has some clear goals in mind.
“We just need to get a win or two to lift our team morale,” he said. “We go good some times, then we don’t run very well other times. We need to establish the consistency it takes to be in a position to win or place in the top three. We have the speed at most races, now we need to keep the car up front.”
-Story and photo by Phil Whipple, Speed51.com Northeast SLM Correspondent