AUGUSTA — If you believe in fate, you might have found the winning Power Ball combination on the backs of patrons’ hats Friday at the Augusta Civic Center.

Camouflage caps emblazoned with the car numbers for NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Sr. — among others — were plentiful as men, women and children lined up to enter the Civic Center wearing everything from black and blue Amsoil letterman jackets with matching bandannas to Long John 115 tee shirts.

Each in attendance on opening day of the 28th Annual Northeast Motorsports Expo and Trade Show had at least one thing in common — a love of racing.

“It gets in your blood and you can’t get rid of it,” said Clarence McCullough, 49, of Kenduskeag.

McCullough was at the Civic Center on Friday with his son, William, 17, as a part of Speedway 95’s display booth. The elder McCullough said he used to race at Speedway 95 and Unity Raceway, but now just enjoys watching his son get behind the wheel.

A junior at Central High School in East Corinth, William McCullough competed in the Street Stock division at Speedway 95 this past season. Attending Friday’s Expo brought back some of the emotions of why the 17-year-old enjoys racing, even if the season is still at least four months away.

“It’s a place to get away,” William McCullough said. “Out on the track nothing else matters.”

For many, Friday was an opportunity to share a mutual passion with friends and family. As William McCullough stood by his No. 72 1986 IROC-Z Camaro, his father talked with a friend of his from Speedway 95, Pete Roach, 44, of Brewer.

Roach was at the Civic Center with his daughter, Lexi, 15, and son, Cody, 10. Lexi said she had competed in Teen and Ladies division races the past few years, while Cody hoped to get behind the wheel on a competitive basis for the first time next season.

Family also brought Howard White, 62, to the Civic Center. A native of Hull, Massachusetts who now lives in Benton, White was there to not only check out what the show had to offer, but to lend his support to his older brother, Bobby.

The 69-year-old White made the trek up from Scituate, Massachusetts in hopes of spreading the word about Vintage Midget Racing, an organization for which he still races.

Much like Clarence McCullough, it is clear racing is still very much in Bobby White’s blood. One of the two cars he brought to the show was the very same car he drove in the late 1970s, sold in 1981 and bought again in 2014 when he had a relapse of racing fever.

Russ Poland, of Wilton, shares the elder White’s passion for racing.

It was approximately 15 minutes before the Expo began and the 69-year-old Poland — who was the points champ in the Eliminator class at the newly reopened Oxford Plains Dragway this past season — was talking with his long-time friend, Rick Plato, 63, of South China, just to the left of the large staircase in the main lobby of the Civic Center.

The two used to race together — Plato has stopped competing in recent years — and have been coming to the Expo for the past 10 years. They talked about the usual things — state of the area tracks, racing conditions and so forth — and could not help but crack a quick joke when asked what brought them to the Civic Center.

“The wives had to get us out of the house somehow,” Poland said with a laugh.

“They go shopping, we come here,” added Plato with a matching smile.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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