Tuesday, March 11, 2014
WISCASSET — They barreled around the three-eighths mile banked oval track, chewing up the asphalt under a blistering sun and cloud-less sky.
The familiar smell of burning rubber and the distinct sound of roaring engines meant only one thing Sunday at Wiscasset Raceway: Opening day had arrived.
“Everybody is just excited to get going,” said Casey Nash of Richmond, who finished third in the 30-lap Late Model Series feature. “Everyone is also a little rusty. I know I’m pretty rusty.”
Added Allan Moeller Jr. of Dresden, who finished third in the Super Street class. “You get a little nervous opening day. But the competitive spirit takes over. It’s been a long winter and we’ve all been in the garage a long time.”
Seven divisions raced at Wiscasset, which moved to a Sunday schedule this season with the hopes of boosting attendance and driver participation.
Mark Lucas of Harpswell won the Late Model feature, followed by Rowland Robinson Jr.
The goal for many drivers on opening day was simple — go hard, go fast, but leave the track with body and car intact.
“The big goal is to run well and come home with all the fenders on it,” Nash said.
For some drivers, like Nash, Moeller, Craig Robbins of Palermo and Bob Grady of Pittston, the racing went well. While none took a checkered flag Sunday, they left without much damage to their cars, which is like a victory, albeit without a payout.
For others, like Pete McCollett of Readfield, the day didn’t go as planned or hoped.
McCollett, 48, competes in the Mini Stock division. Sunday marked his 20th season of racing, and the previous 19 opening days went a little like this one.
“I have never won on opening day,” said McCollett. “I’m frustrated. I wanted this one badly. We’ve been working on the car since November.”
The day ended immediately after it began for McCollett, who converted a Volkswagen Golf into a race car.
“We broke a timing belt during practice, which took the valves out,” he said. “The day was over for me.”
McCollett vowed to return next week with his car, which looks little like a Volkswagen these days,
“It’s got a Camaro nose and it’s 18 inches wider than what it was,” McCollett said. “The roof is chipped in four inches, too. We’ll go back and figure it out and be back next week.”
Robbins, who owns Hydraulic Solutions in Winslow, has raced for nine years. He competes in the Late Model class.
He took a new car to the track Sunday.
“I didn’t have a chance to practice over the weekend,” he said. “We wanted to shake it down and see if the nuts and bolts were tight. We wanted to come back in one piece.”
Moeller Jr. is in his second season of racing full time. His father, Allan Moeller Sr., races the Pro All Stars Series Sportsman series.
Junior was in senior’s car Sunday. The two said it’s been an eventful start to the season.
“Last week in practice we blew the engine,” Moeller Jr. said. “The car I normally run I don’t have right now. Fifteen laps into practice we blew the transmission and blew a hole in the motor. We had a lot of work to do in a week.”
The motor problem came about two weeks after Moeller Sr. blew out an engine at Beech Ride Motor Speedway in his PASS car.
“We took parts of two engines and made it into one,” Moeller Sr. said.