Some things never change.
Another year has gone by, and once again Waterville’s Jon Weeks will return to the Winterport Dragway.
“Death, taxes and that are pretty much guaranteed,” joked Weeks, who placed third in the Bikes and Sleds Class last season.
Weeks, 61, says he got into racing bikes in 1984 and it is not anything he plans to give up soon. The season is set to begin on April 27 — with the first Bikes and Sleds race slated for the following week — and expect Weeks to be right in the mix once again.
“I’ve got a different bike that I’m trying to get together for the start of the season,” Weeks says, “but beyond that it’s about doing it as well as I can.”
Weeks is heading back to the past for this bike change, switching over from his 1984 Kawasaki GPZ 1100 to an old favorite in his 1978 Honda Hondamatic 750.
“I am well known for Hondamatic,” Weeks says. “They were extrememly competitive when they first came out, and as times have changed people have gone away from them. I still have a garage full of them.”
Weeks believes the Hondamatic can still more than hold its own against the competition, and when May 4 rolls around he’ll get the chance to prove it.
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While a handful of race veterans will once again be vying for supremacy, 15-year old Reid Lanpher, of Manchester, will be looking to make a name for himself this season.
The Maranacook sophomore grabbed headlines last year when he signed with JR Motorsports — owned by Sprint Cup drive Dale Earnhardt Jr. — but Lanpher said financially it didn’t make sense to head down that same road again.
Instead, Lanpher will compete in Pro All Stars Series North and at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough.
“We’ve started our own kind of team this year,” he said. “This year we buckled down, got a race car and got a full-time crew chief.
“We’ve got all the tools. We’ve just got to kind of put everything together. We’re going to run some select PASS races and then full time at Beech Ridge.”
Serving as crew chief for the No. 59 car will be Jason Ricker, who brings plenty of experience to the table even if it is their first time working together. As Lanpher prepares for his first race he says he does have some mixed emotions.
“Honestly, it’s to some extent pretty nervewracking but at the same time it’s pretty exciting for me,” Lanpher said. “There’s not high expectations going in. Everything’s going to be new to me, and that kind of takes some pressure off as a rookie, so to speak. …You worry about so much on race day, and then as soon as you get behind the wheel you just drive.”
Lanpher is registered to race in the PASS North Ripley and Fletcher Ford 150 at 2 p.m., April 26 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
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As many tracks deal with the aftermath of this winter, Wicasset Speedway is no different.
“Mother Nature laid a winter on us,” owner Richard Jordan said. “We’ll race the third Saturday of this month. Good lord willing, we’ll do it.”
Jordan intended to have the first practice this Saturday, but the track wasn’t quite where it needed to be in order to run. Even with the cancellation of the trial run, Wicasset is still set to open at 2 p.m., April 19.
Of course, that is weather permitting.
“We’re at its mercy,” Jordan said. “The thing is we all know that, and you have to at least have a plan. If it works out, great. If it doesn’t, it’s great too. We will do everything we can to make it happen.”
Evan Crawley——621-5640 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @Evan_Crawley