Wednesday, May 22, 2013
UNITY — Jere Humphrey makes a living selling racing supplies, equipment and fuel to tracks around the state. He's served as race director at Spud Speedway in Caribou and helped operate a truck pulling association in Northern Maine.
“I've been around motor sports all my life,” the 46-year-old Houlton resident said. “I've done a lot of everything and am ready for my next challenge.”
That next challenge is reviving Unity Raceway.
Humphrey agreed to lease the track from owner Ralph Nason through the 2015 season. Humphrey said the lease is about $30,000 a year.
“We didn't have any difficulty coming to terms,” Nason said. “I think he'll do an excellent job. He's very professional. I want to see him do well and I want to see the track do well. At least it's open.”
Unity Raceway closed in August because of financial difficulties.
George Fernald, Jr. had leased the track from Ralph and Nancy Nason for five years. Fernald didn't renew the lease at the end of the season.
Nason re-opened the track Oct. 14 for the Long John race. Humphrey, who says he will relocate to the Unity area for the summer, sponsored the annual race with the intent to gauge interest in the track.
“We promoted the Long John and it was a success,” he said. “It was a pretty good show. We decided that we already sell parts and fuel so the only thing left is to lease the track. It was hard to see it close. We have a deep passion for motor sports and we want to show the community we want to work for it.”
Added the 73-year-old Nason: “We've been talking since October.”
Humphrey owns Last Chance Motorsports in Washburn. He sold fuel and parts at Unity in 2010 before becoming race director at Spud Speedway in 2011. He's also sold fuel and parts to Wiscasset Speedway and Speedway 95 in Hermon.
Humphrey also was president of the Northern Penobscot Pullers Association.
“We've been involved with everything,” he said.
Unity Raceway is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend and will run through the Long John race in mid-October. Humphrey said he will offer five weekly divisions, including Late Models, Flyin' Fours, Monsta Minis, Enduros and Strictly Street.
He also plans to hold 150-lap Late Model feature Sept. 1 that will offer $10,000 to the winner. Humphrey put on a similar race at Spud Speedway.
“We paid out $14,500 in purses for that race,” he said. “It was a big draw.”
Weekly racing will be held at 7:30 Friday nights.
“There is potential there,” he said. “We're going to try to make this work.”
Jeff Burgess, who won the 2011 Late Model points championship at Unity, said the agreement provides a sense of relief for area drivers.
“It's really good it's going to stay open,” he said. “We're glad to see that. Friday night racing is great for me, too. I work for myself so I can leave at 3 p.m. It's good for the area.”
Bill Stewart – 621-5640