Maine’s oldest stock car racing facility has been sold.

Longtime Unity Raceway owner Ralph Nason, who has owned the stock car racing oval in Unity for more than 35 years, has agreed to a sale of the track to George Fernald. Nason confirmed the sale of the track Thursday afternoon.

“As of January 1, he’s going to be in control of it,” said Nason, who would not disclose the purchase price. “It’s just kind of time for me. It was one of those things where the longer it goes where I don’t (sell) it, then comes the time where I’m forced to do something with it.

“I didn’t want it to come to that.”

“We have done a deposit. It is final,” Fernald said. “I’m going to see him later (Friday) with more money.”

Unity Raceway opened in 1948 for auto racing. The horse track was converted into a dirt track for stock cars, and it was eventually paved with asphalt in the late 1960s. According to the Maine Vintage Race Car Association, Unity Raceway is the state’s longest-standing race track.

Nason bought the track in 1980 from original owner Ed Knowles, who had bought the property from the town of Unity in 1947. Knowles, according to Nason, acquired the track when it was held by the town because back taxes were owed on the land.

Fernald, of Benton, previously leased the track for operation from 2004-2009. Prior to that, he competed in weekly racing events at the track while the Nason family operated it. He said talks to buy the track became most serious within the last month.

“I’m really excited. It’s always been my home,” Fernald said. “I love the place. I know Nancy and Ralph are getting up there in years, and I wanted to make sure it always stayed a race track.”

Like Nason, Fernald wouldn’t disclose the final purchase price for the track and surrounding land. “All I’ll say is that it’s a lot of money for me,” he said.

While Nason had never actively shopped the track to potential buyers, he had entertained several offers over the past decade. His son, Ralph Nason Jr., ran the track during the early-2000s, and later Fernald leased the track from the Nason family.

More recently, Nick Huff of Orrington leased the track from Nason beginning in 2015. Huff is operating the track on a week-to-week basis this season.

Nason, 76, said he’s probably spoken with “about 50” interested parties over the last decade. Ultimately, part of his reasoning for selling the 35-acre property the speedway sits on now is because Fernald is committed to short track racing.

“I just got done building 10 one-bedroom apartments across the street,” Nason said, “I’m really sick and tired of building. That’s the only other option that’s there for that property, in my mind. It’s low-income housing or it’s a race track, which I really wanted to see.”

Both Nason and Fernald confirmed that Huff will continue holding the race events he has promoted throughout the remainder of the season.

“It’s really nothing against Nick or what he’s doing (at Unity),” Fernald said. “It really was just an opportunity for us to make sure that it stayed a race track (in the future), which is what we all want.”

As for next year, Fernald said he expects Unity Raceway to be closed for much of the spring and summer.

“We are planning on closing it for most of next year for repairs,” Fernald said. “Maybe we’ll have two or three races toward the end of the summer, but I think most of the year it will be closed for repairs so that we can come back with a whole fresh new look.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC