WISCASSET — Dave Brannon can’t tell you how many feature races he won in more than three decades behind the wheel of a race car, but he can tell you how many wins he lost to post-race disqualification.

In that sense, Brannon was the perfect choice to lead Wiscasset Speedway’s revamped technical inspection team for the 2018 season.

“They obviously knew my reputation as a cheater,” Brannon, 54, of Lisbon, said with a laugh.

Brannon was a longtime regular at Wiscasset, as well as at Oxford Plains Speedway and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, running various street stock classes during his driving career. While he hasn’t hung up his helmet entirely, he’s recognized that his days starting dozens of races a summer have ended.

He wouldn’t say he was thrilled to tackle the job of Technical Director at the speedway, but he did realize it was an important next step in his career.

“Racing’s been an awesome sport to me,” said Brannon, who is the postmaster at the post office in Augusta. “For long-term racers, this type of stuff is a responsibility. At some point, you’ve got to serve the sport. I had a great time driving, but now it’s time to serve something other than myself or my teams.

“I think at some point it’s everybody’s responsibility to do the same.”

With that, Brannon has made his presence felt. Not with an iron fist, but instead with an understanding of what it’s been like for him to roll his own cars through the inspection building after a race.

Most notably, Wiscasset Speedway has done away with post-race disqualifications. Instead, position penalties correlate to specific infractions. For example, if a driver finishes third but incurs a three-position penalty for an illegal spoiler or for a car that is too wide, they are credited with a sixth-place finish — keeping the points and purse money associated with that.

It’s a long way from being outright disqualified, losing all points and money, and seeing potential championship hopes dashed before the calendar even hits June or July. It also eases what can be a terse relationship between teams and inspectors.

“A disqualification is so negative,” Brannon said. “You’re getting DQ’d for a spoiler that’s an eighth of an inch too tall on a car with no aerodynamics whatsoever because you want it to look like a race car? That’s ridiculous. If that happens once to a guy, you hear it all the time — ‘Oh, he’s a cheater.’

“For me, it’s about post-race inspection of the car. The car fails. It’s not the driver, not the team, not the crew chief. It’s the car. That’s important.”

Transparency is also important to Brannon. This year, he’s unveiled a “Tech Talk” page on the speedway’s website. Each week, the reports there detail the various infractions and penalties handed out by Brannon and his team of officials the previous Saturday night.

It takes up to three hours each week to compile the notes and write the report, but it saves time elsewhere.

“I think it was Week 2, somebody got penalized, and the next day there were people out there (on Facebook) throwing out all kinds of crap about what had happened,” Brannon said. “Somebody went on and said, ‘Hey guys, relax. We’re all going to know tomorrow.’ That’s a big thing.”

As a lifelong participant in lower divisions around Maine, Brannon admits there are challenges for him when it comes to the Pro Stock and Late Model classes — cars with which he is not intimately familiar. Thankfully, there aren’t as many combinations available for purpose-built cars to fail as there are for, say, four-cylinder drivers turning street cars into race cars, where you can encounter a half-dozen different makes and models in a single division.

In the future, Brannon hopes to have a new appeals process in place for teams in regards to penalties they receive, he’s also working on streamlining the unwieldy rule books for each division — “We have eight classes and we have eight rule books. Shouldn’t chapter one of each of those rule books be the same?” — and he still holds out hope that tracks in Maine can one day operate under similar rules to encourage both competitors and fans to attend more races.

Until that happens, Brannon will continue to work one day at a time to make Wiscasset Speedway a fairer place to race, without favoritism and without penalties too severe to be appropriate for weekly racers.

“I think this job is about being an ambassador between the teams, management and officials,” Brannon said.

For a guy who has been stripped of a win 11 times in his career by failure in post-race technical inspection, he would recognize the importance of such a role.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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