Johnny Clark says he loves Unity Raceway for “all its character.”

“It’s not a place you just sit back and ride,” Clark said. “You have to go after it. I love the place. I love the bumps and all its character. You have to go and drive your heart out there.”

Clark will make his first appearance at Unity since he won a 150-lap feature on Father’s Day 2010 when he competes in the second annual John Phippen Memorial on Sunday.

This year, Johnny Clark’s father John plans to compete as well. John Clark Sr. hasn’t raced in 18 years.

“I’m pumped,” said Johnny Clark, the four-time defending Pro All Stars Series North points champ. “It’s cool to be able to do this with my dad. I just told him that it’s like riding a bike, I’m sure.”

The race is held in memory of John Phippen, who won seven points championships at three different tracks. Phippen, whose racing career spanned 31 years, died of a heart attack after a September 2010 race at Speedway 95 in Hermon.

Johnny Clark edged out Phippen for his first Pro Stock victory, which came in a 150-lap feature at Wiscasset Raceway in 1997.

“I remember him coming over to victory lane and congratulating me on a great race,” Clark said. “I won’t forget that. Everybody loved John. He didn’t have any racing enemies.”

John Clark, 57, last raced in 1994.

He said he was close with Phippen and was “looking to participate.”

“I’m going to go up and see if I can get a comfortable feel in the car,” he said. “If I do, I can have some fun. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll park it. It has the potential to be a really fun day.”

John Clark will drive a Late Model driven by another John Clark, although there is no relation.

Unity will host a pair of 59-lap features Sunday.

Drivers are scored a point for the place they finish. For example, a victory would net them one point. After the first 59-lap feature is completed, the field will be inverted — the winner will start from the back — and a second race will go green. The driver with the lowest point total will win the $1,500 purse, which will match the Long John as the largest at Unity this season.

A full card of racing is scheduled Sunday, with each division holding double points racing.

Unity will also host regular racing at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“The Late Models won’t have to qualify for the race Saturday,” track manager George Fernald, Jr. said. “What we will do is qualify the top six cars for Sunday’s race. We expect 14 or 15 cars.”

Clark will drive a Late Model owned by Dean Fuller. Clark’s crew chief on PASS North — Fairfield native Chad Dow — put the Late Model together.

Farmington native Cassius Clark drove Fuller’s car to a second-place finish in this race last season.

“We’re putting Johnny in it now,” Dow said. “He has the experience and we’ll try to bring home something. Cassius had other commitments but Johnny gets around this place pretty well.”

The field will also include defending Late Model points champ and Madison native Jeff Burgess.

“I’ve raced with Johnny before,” he said. “We’ve semi grown up racing together. But as far as I’m concerned, he’s just another car out there. If he’s better than me, he’ll get by. If I’m better, I’ll get by him. It’s going to be interesting. It’s the highest paid race of the season, which is nice.”

The Phippen Memorial gets under way at 1 p.m. Sunday.

* * *

Chris King planned on racing a limited schedule, if he raced at all, at Unity this season.

It didn’t take long for those plans to change.

“We dug the car out of the garage and raced a couple weeks,” King said. “They needed some cars so we decided to race. It was kind of a last-minute deal. We didn’t have to do whole lot to at least run laps. We just loaded it on the trailer and went racing.”

King, 41, is racing a mid-1980s Camaro in the Wildcat division. He won the points championship at Unity in 2010.

“I don’t want to get tangled up running for points, but we’ll race until we have something else going on,” King said. “If nothing else comes up, we’ll be here.”

* * *

Left turns: Speedway 95 is hosting a 50-lap Late Model feature Saturday. It’s the second of three Late Model championship series races. … Defending Oxford Plains Speedway Late Model points Jeff White is eighth in points after two races. The Winthrop native finished seventh and 14th.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]


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