Wiscasset Speedway is reviving an old tradition with the Coastal 200, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 25.
“It actually started out as the Coastal 150 back in the mid-90s,” said Ken Minott, the track announcer and promoter at Wiscasset. “Late 2000s, it kind of disappeared. Since the Jordans bought the track, we’re kind of looking ahead to the new ownership group but also honoring the history of the track. This is a race that a lot of people have been asking for so we really wanted to bring it back.”
The purse for the Coastal 200 is $18,700 plus lap money. There’s a $500 halfway leader bonus, and finishing money ranges from $3,000 for first place and $1,600 for second to $300 for places 28 to 32.
The Coastal 200 is a Late Model Sportsman race that will be capped at 32 drivers. Pre-registration is $50 and same-day registration is $75.
“We’d like to get (32),” Minott said. “Being the first year back, we’d certainly be happy with a car count in the mid to upper 20s. Right now, we have about 14. But there’s a lot of other drivers who have told us they’re going to race.”
Among those already signed up is Wayne Helliwell, Jr., of Dover, N.H., who is the reigning American-Canadian Tour champion. Helliwell was also the ACT tour points leader as of the end of April.
Holding the race on a Sunday is also keeping with the track’s tradition, Minott said.
“It’s primarily been run on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend,” Minott said. “We typically race on a Saturday. But it provides a chance for outside drivers to run their regular race on Saturday and race with us on Sunday if they like.”
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Pete McCollett of Readfield announced his retirement in the pits at Wiscasset Speedway after winning his final race last August. McCollett has moved over to the owner’s side, and is still at Wiscasset regularly this season.
“I have an outlaw mini stock, which Shawn Kimball drives,” McCollett said. “I also have a Thunder 4 car — I’m putting a motor in it. We’re going to have guest drivers the rest of the season.”
McCollett said he began to miss racing when the weather got warmer and he normally would have been a driver — especially with the mini stock car Kimball is driving.
“I wish I actually could try it out, but I can’t now, because he’s so much bigger than me,” McCollett said. “So I might climb into the Thunder 4 car one night myself.”
McCollett said he might try to convince other retired veterans to take a turn as guest driver in the Thunder 4, including Kevin Douglas, Mark Edgecomb, and Kimball’s father, Mike.
“Mike hasn’t raced in at least 20 years that I know of, so we’re going to try to get him in one night,” McCollett said.
In Kimball’s first race this season, he and McCollett went down to Wiscasset with a bad motor and finished last. That was expected, but McCollett said the whole point was to not miss a week for points standings purposes. The second week, Kimball won the heat race, but again finished last in the regular race.
“They DQ’d two cars,” McCollett said. “We moved from ninth in points to fifth in points.”
So, how would McCollett describe the difference between driving and being an owner?
“There’s not much,” he said. “There’s still (as much) stress as a car owner — especially when you’re the one footing the bill.
“I’m actually having fun being a car owner. It makes me proud to watch the car go around the track.”
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Richmond’s Leandra Martin is back racing in the Thunder 4s at Wiscasset this season after debuting last year.
Martin said her only race so far this season, on May 3, was “not very good,” but she’s optimistic she can fare better in the future.
“It’s more of just remembering where you have to let up on the gas, where you have to put on the gas, knowing how close you are to the cars in front of you — just getting the hang of that again,” Martin said.
Martin was a standout softball pitcher and Richmond High School, and her younger sister, Meranda, is the Bobcats’ current ace. Martin’s cousin Cody Tribbett also races in the Thunder 4s, and Cody’s brother Nate races in the outlaw minis. Leandra’s uncle, Casey Nash, races in the prostock division, and her grandfather, Gary Nash, oversees what the family does in racing.
Martin said how much fun she had racing with her family was a big factor in her coming back this season.
“I see myself doing it for a while — probably not moving up in classes, just sticking to what class I’m in now,” Martin said. “It’s pretty much a beginning class. It’s not really racing very hard for money. All the other classes are pretty competitive. I’m just out there doing it for fun.”