UNITY — All the ingredients were there for a splendid opening day at Unity Raceway on Sunday, including a beautiful sun-splashed spring afternoon and more than 500 people in attendance.

The only thing missing from the recipe, it seemed, were race cars.

A total of only 23 cars showed up to compete in one of the track’s four regular divisions, including only six entries for the headlining 35-lap Wildcat feature race.

“Looks like we need 40 degrees and three feet of snow to get cars to come out,” race director Ed Bellows of China joked to open the pre-race drivers’ meeting prior to the start of the 2017 season at the state’s oldest stock car racing facility.

“I have no idea (where the cars are). With the payout we had, I thought we’d have had at least 10 or 12 cars,” said Jordan Pearson, of Corinth, after winning the Wildcat feature. “Hopefully, it will pick up. We’ll see.”

Pearson earned $350 for the victory, a strong purse for the Wildcat/Street Stock division at any track in Maine. Brad Norris of Ellsworth, the 2016 track champion in the division, said he heard of three or four cars that were planning on racing at Unity on Sunday but were either wrecked or had mechanical issues in need of repair after racing at Speedway 95 in Hermon on Saturday.

Track owner George Fernald acknowledged that Sunday dates are challenging for promoting a race track, particularly one that is only planning on running once a month through the summer.

“We were the last ones to race this week,” Fernald said, noting both Speedway 95 and Wiscasset Speedway competed on Saturday. “I know that there’s twice as many (cars) out there. We planned on 15 cars (in the Wildcats), but they just didn’t come.”

Fernald remained positive on a number of fronts, despite only four cars in each of the Flying 4 and the new 6 Shooter divisions. In building off a successful late winter addition to the schedule, in which Unity held three 100-lap Enduro races, there were 23 entry-level Enduro cars on hand for the final race of the afternoon.

“It’s something to build on from here,” said Fernald, who plans to make capital improvements to the facility between now and the next scheduled event on June 25. “We’ve got a full month off now, so we’re anxious to do some work now that the racing is over.”

Pearson started fourth in the Wildcat feature, but had the lead by the time the race restarted on lap four. When the polesitter Norris stumbled on the initial race start, outside polesitter Kyle Robinson — making his first career start in a Wildcat — drove around him on the outside to the lead. Pearson followed him around the high side.

Bob Seger Jr., who was debuting a car he brought to the track for the very first time Sunday, speed down low and motored his way into second place. But when he wiggled sideways underneath Robinson while trying to take the lead away, he took out Robinson and himself and handed the lead over to Pearson.

Pearson, restarting on the outside on the lap four restart, pulled clear by several car lengths and never looked back as the race went green to the finish. Norris, who had dropped all the way to fifth at the start, took second by the time the cars hit the backstretch.

Steve Rackliff of Starks finished third, taking advantage of Robinson’s early retirement from the race and Seger battling handling issues the longer the race went on.

“The inside of the track was very, very dirty. If you got down there you were pretty much just holding weight,” said Pearson, who won four races at Unity last season. “I got lucky that those two cars had that mess there. I got through it, and that was really the end right there.”

Norris said he simply couldn’t find any traction in the inside lane.

“It was wet and it was dirty. There was just no groove down there,” said Norris, who plans on competing exclusively at Unity this season. “Usually, the inside’s pretty good here. The last couple of years the high line’s been a little bit better, but there was just nothing down there today.”

Brian Sweatt won the 15-lap Flying 4 feature, while Jesse Dodge was victorious in the 15-lap 6 Shooter race.

For Dodge, of Fairfield, it was his first career win in any division after racing for the last three years. He believes the 6 Shooter class will grow this summer as it competes in its first season, utilizing truly stock cars with six-cylinder engines.

“My buddy and his dad, I’ve been using their garage to put the car together,” Dodge said. “It’s a cheap class. It’s pretty reasonable. I’m a little surprised (there aren’t more here), but I’ve heard of a bunch of people putting them together. It will grow.”

Craig Landry and Mike Landry won the two Enduro division races.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC