Dave St. Clair of Liberty does a burnout on the fronstretch after winning a Late Model race at Wiscasset Speedway in July of 2016. Staff file photo by Travis Barrett

WISCASSET — The name most synonymous with Wiscasset Speedway is a name that Dave St. Clair initially didn’t even care for.

“Dave — that’s my name,” St. Clair said two Saturdays ago at the track during a break in the racing program.

He’s better known in Maine racing as Boss Hogg, a name he got in the early 1980s thanks to the popular television show on CBS aired at the time, “The Dukes of Hazzard.” He shared a certain affection for cigars that mirrored one of the show’s main characters.

“I had a guy working for me at the time and he started calling me ‘Boss Hogg,’ and they put it on my race cars and it stuck,” St. Clair said. “I didn’t care for it that much at first, especially when little kids would come up to me and say things like, ‘How you doin’, Hoggy?’

“But that’s how it started, and it turned into what it turned into.”

The same could be said of Wiscasset Speedway’s two signature events, both of which St. Clair started when he owned the track from 1991-2007. The second of those races, bearing St. Clair’s nickname, the Boss Hogg 150, is slated for September.

The first and longest-running of those is this Sunday’s Coastal 200 — and for all of St. Clair’s history at Wiscasset Speedway, it’s a race he’s never won.

Dave St. Clair of Liberty in Wiscasset Speedway victory lane in 2016, Photo courtesy of Peter Taylor/Wiscasset Speedway

After a vicious crash during a race in 2017 seemingly put an end to the Liberty man’s driving career, the 2018 Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee is back this season with eyes on winning Sunday’s $5,000-to-win Coastal 200.

“They think I should retire. What do you think? I’m only 71,” said St. Clair, who began racing in 1965 when he was 17. “If you can’t be the winner, you might as well be the oldest loser.”

St. Clair doesn’t know how many races he’s won — “It’s over 100, if you count everything. But I don’t know how they even keep track of that stuff.” — but easily the most significant victory of his career came last year.

In the early spring of 2018, St. Clair was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“I had a cold and I got pneumonia. That’s how they found it. A local doctor in Liberty, Maine, she found it. Very lucky I was,” said St. Clair, who had the upper part of his right lung removed. “Cancer sucks. You don’t always think of it, but everyone is touched by the disease. If they don’t have cancer, they know somebody who has had it, has gotten it, has survived it.”

St. Clair made his 2019 debut by finishing eighth in a Pro Stock feature at Wiscasset on May 5. It was his first start in nearly two years, and it came almost three years since his last victory.

He won a pair of Late Model races in the summer of 2016 at Wiscasset, the track where he last won a championship in a Limited Sportsman car in 2003. St. Clair said he’s considered driving race cars until he’s 80 — though his wife, Sandra, and his daughter, Tammy, have made their opposition to that plan clear to him.

Dave St. Clair of Liberty, second in the yellow car, chases Wayne Helliwell Jr. of Dover, New Hampshire during qualifying for the 2014 Coastal 200 at Wiscasset Speedway. Kennebec Journal file photo

“I don’t see a problem with it. I’m in as good of health right now as I’ve been in the last 10 years. I feel good,” St. Clair said. “I remember (my last win) well. Right here in 2016, I beat Nick Hinkley. He’s leading the race, I’m running second on a restart. He got on the (radio) and said that I bumped him. I didn’t bump him. He was watching me too much in the mirror. He went out and I got under him and won the race with two laps to go.

“His father wasn’t happy. He wasn’t happy, either. But you know what? I was happy.”

Saying the cancer bout changed his perspective on a lot of things, it’s clear that St. Clair doesn’t have any ambition of giving up the seat in his No. 14 race cars any time soon. The racing itself is something he still enjoys, though with business endeavors in gravel, trucking, used cars and equipment, he doesn’t enjoy capping his days with lots of hours in the shop preparing race cars for the weekend.

But he used to.

In his heyday three decades ago, St. Clair would routinely run up to four races per week, from Connecticut to Canada, and he won races at tracks across the state of Maine and was a multi-time champion at Unity Raceway in the mid-1980s.

His most significant contribution to racing in Maine was his purchase of Wiscasset Speedway in 1991 from its original owner, Walter Cronk.

“Oh, I agree with that,” said Ken Minott, the Wiscasset Speedway promoter and unofficial statistician and historian. “Throughout the 80s the track never had the stability it needed. It changed hands through the 80s so many times and so many different management groups came through. Roots never took hold until Dave had it.”

And once St. Clair opened it for the first time on July 19, 1991 — without enough money left to even cover the checks he’d written to get it open until people showed up for that first race night — he knew it needed something to put the race track on the map.

In the mid-1990s, the Coastal 200 started as a 150-lap race for Pro Stocks. Today, it’s a 200-lap race for the speedway’s Late Model division.

Only multi-time track champion Scott Chubbuck has ever won the race more than once, going back-to-back in 2001 and 2002. Since it became a Late Model race in the mid-2000s, no driver has won it more than once.

Dave St. Clair, of course, has never won it. His grandson, Josh St. Clair, won the Coastal 200 in 2014, when Dave finished fifth.

Certainly, Dave would like to win the Coastal 200 in his career, but he said it’s not something that’s kept him up at night. Most importantly, it’s a race that has cemented Boss Hogg’s Maine racing legacy — even without ever having visited victory lane himself in the race he created.

“Most people in Maine that know racing know who I am,” St. Clair said.


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