AUGUSTA — From Model Ts to Super Late Models, the 27th Annual Northeast Motorsports Expo and Trade Show is a ride through racing history.

The event — which began Friday afternoon and runs through Sunday evening at the Augusta Civic Center — features a little bit of everything amongst its greater than 55 displays, including a booth dedicated to the early days of racing.

It is only a few minutes before the scheduled start of the Expo when Toby Stinson, representing the Owls Head Transportation Museum, explains to a group of children how an engine works and what leads to a backfire on a display Ford Model T.

Some 10 feet away, Warren Kincaid — a ground vehicle conservator with the Museum — sits next to a 1907 Renault Vanderbilt Racer, which was built as a replica of the famed 1906 French Grand Prix winner.

“Based off of that (French Grand Prix winner) Renault made a scaled down, sports version for regular folks, so to speak,” Stinson later explained. “William K. Vanderbilt and some of his friends bought the only 16 ever made. There’s rumored about four to five that are left and this is one of those five. This is quite possibly one of the rarest vehicles in the world, but when you’re talking American motor sports, it really began with William K. Vanderbilt and the Vanderbilt races.”

According to Stinson, Vanderbilt — of the famed Vanderbilt railroad and shipping fortune — played an integral role in bringing auto racing to the United States.

“His hobby was automobiles and automobile racing,” Stinson said. “He was one of the first people to bring a sanctioned automobile race to the United States, which was the Vanderbilt Cup on Long Island.”

Walking through the rows of displays at the Civic Center is like walking through more than century’s worth of races.

While Stinson educates groups of passers-by on early 20th century race cars at one end of the Expo, six-time Pro All-Star Series North champion Johnny Clark, of Farmingdale, polishes his black 2014 Chevy SS at the other.

Clark — who is there in part to promote his engine provider, Butler-MacMaster — said attending the show helps get himself on track for the upcoming season.

“The biggest thing that helps me out is January is kind of early to have your race cars ready — especially for some guys who are racing up until November — but if I don’t set myself a deadline like January to get at least one car done, then I’ll be behind come April,” he said. “It’s always been good for me to hit this Augusta show and I look at it as I’m ahead of schedule from where I was at last year.

“I enjoy working on them in the shop and getting the guys together. To get three or four of us together twice a week to get one puffed up for the show is fun.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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