George Brockman of Freeport, left, talks with Dave Coutermarsh during Summerfest on Sunday at Wiscasset Speedway. Kennebec Journal photo by Travis Barrett

WISCASSET — “These cars are a dime a dozen,” said George Brockman on Sunday afternoon, motioning a couple dozen yards away to the two cars he brought to Summerfest 2019, the annual Maine Vintage Race Car Association celebration of the history of stock car racing in the state of Maine.

The cars Brockman cares for are certainly recognizable to the state’s auto racing fans. The first is the No. 60 Powersports Chevrolet that Joe Bessey once owned, driven by championship-winning driver Geoffrey Bodine in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The other is the No. 55 Burnham Boilers Chevrolet that Brad Leighton and Mike Stefanik made famous in these parts in the old NASCAR Busch North Series during the same era.

NASCAR teams are in constant search of the latest and greatest, building new race cars at an alarming rate. The ones they can’t sell to lesser funded teams or strip down for parts and pieces they can utilize are tossed into the scrap heap. A few successful cars might be saved and put on display in a museum collection or somebody’s personal garage.

The thing is, “DoDo Brockman” — as he’s better known in racing circles — is not entirely correct. These two cars he cares for are anything but commonplace.

Unlike in their competitive days, the two cars now have second seats installed on the passenger side. The No. 60 has a removable door panel on the passenger’s side, and a hinged roll cage behind it which can swing open. Even the seat is mobile, swiveling in its place to make it easier to get in and out of.

In April, Brockman took the car to Richmond, Virginia as part of the Adaptive Motorsports and Wellness program headed by Brian Hanaford out of Plymouth, New Hampshire. Where the car once battled the likes of Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon on the track, and reached a top speed of 193 mph when Brockman took it out of retirement for a run at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, it now serves a much different — and greater — purpose.

Over the course of two days at Richmond International Raceway in the spring, it took 15 disabled veterans out for a spin around the NASCAR track as part of a ride-along program. Another 15 veterans, Brockman said, drove themselves around the three-quarter-mile track which plays host to two NASCAR weekends a year.

Maine Motorsports Hall of Famer Steve Leavitt went with Brockman and helped prepare the cars for their time on the track.

Scarborough’s Joe Bessey owned this NASCAR Cup Series car once piloted by Geoffrey Bodine. The car is now a two-seater that provides ride-alongs for disabled veterans. Kennebec Journal photo by Travis Barrett

Describing the experience, even for a speed junkie who builds hot rods out of his shop in Freeport, was nearly impossible. All Brockman could do to try and illustrate the emotions he felt was tap his heart — soundly — three times.

No other description was really necessary, but Brockman is a storyteller. So, he told some.

“The stories are just absolutely amazing,” said Brockman, the vice president of the MVRCA. “One of the guys was named Louis, he was a triple amputee. He’d been married three times — twice to the same woman — and had a whole bunch of kids. He took an ABC reporter out with him, driving the car. It was a blast.

“When I took some people out, I went as fast as the car could go. It was so much fun. It’s unbelievable. The other guys we had driving them, too, were just amazing.”

Brockman bought Bessey’s old car in 2012 and after doing some land speed runs with it, he turned it into a two-seater. Last winter, Brockman took over the No. 55 from Richard Aherne, who maintained the car after Steve Griswold passed away in 2013. Griswold enjoyed a nearly two-decade run as a Busch North Series car owner for drivers Leighton, Stefanik and Andy Santerre, winning three series championships.

The car was donated to the MVRCA.

This Busch North Series championship-winning car once driven by Brad Leighton was donated to the Maine Vintage Race Car Association last winter. It was fitted with a passenger’s seat for ride-alongs provided by Freeport’s George Brockman. Kennebec Journal photo by Travis Barrett

On Sunday at Wiscasset Speedway, both cars provided ride-alongs for spectators. The reward for kids hopping in the car and letting Brockman wheel you around the track?

Old New Hampshire Motor Speedway trophies.

Even with dozens of cars covering all eras of auto racing in Maine on hand Sunday for the car show, cookout, barbecue competition and vintage racing program, it was hard to find a better connection between the sport and its fans than through Brockman’s cars.

Both of them, which once competed at the highest levels of NASCAR in New England, never had more successful on-track days than they’ve had this year.

And neither of them could be qualified as “a dime a dozen.”


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