January 10, 2013

NORTHEAST MOTORSPORTS EXPO: Craven headlines 25th Expo

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- Steve Perry wanted to do something big for the 25th annual Northeast Motorsports Expo.

NORTHEAST MOTORSPORTS EXPO

When: 5-10 p.m. today; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Augusta Civic Center
Admission: $9 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and $5 for children ages 6-12. Three-day passes for adults are available for $20.

"Each year we try to do something a little different," said Perry, who owns Mainely Motorsports and is in his fourth year of running the show. "Each year we want to have a few good changes."

The anticipated arrival of former NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Ricky Craven and Steve Park will highlight the show this year.

The Motorsports Expo opens today at the Augusta Civic Center from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The show continues Saturday (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). It typically averages between 3,000 and 4,000 spectators for the weekend.

"There is a lot happening this year, for the 25th annual," Perry said. "Ricky coming back to town is huge in and of itself."

Craven, a Newburgh native, began his career as a 15-year-old racer at Unity Raceway in the early 1980s. He joined the Busch North Series in 1990 and won the points title the following season. In 1995, Craven, 46, teamed up with Larry Hedrick Motorsports on the Winston Cup circuit.

Craven qualified for all 31 races that season and was named the Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year.

He will be on hand tonight to sign autographs and talk with fans. Craven, who is an ESPN2 analyst for "NASCAR Now," will participate in a "pass the mic" event at 8 tonight. He will be joined by Park, who drove for Dale Earnhardt in 1996.

"He and Ricky will talk about their experiences and how they went up through the ranks," Perry said.

Craven will only be at the show tonight; Park will be on hand Saturday.

The show tonight will also feature the unveiling of the Heluva Good! Top 25 drivers and racing personalities. Through his web site, Perry asked fans to rank their top-25 racing personalities during the last 25 years of the Northeast Motorsports Expo. The list will be unveiled at 7 tonight.

"We had 75-80 names that we had on our Mainely Sports web site," Perry said. "We asked the fans to rank them. We had drivers, owners, promoters, engine builders. You name it, they were on the list. We asked the fans to tell us who was worthy of the top 25. They voted and we'll announce them (tonight), from 25 right down to No. 1. The list is pretty phenomenal."

Perry added that there will be a variety of seminars going on throughout the weekend.

"We'll have seminars for mechanics, where body shop owners can talk behind the scenes," Perry said. "We'll also have a pit crew challenge. Each year we try to make some changes and we made a few for this year."

Bill Stewart -- 621-5640

bstewart@centralmaine.com

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