Stan Meserve, right, of Skowhegan, is inducted into the Wiscasset Speedway Hall of Fame by track promoter Ken Minott on Saturday at the track. Kennebec Journal photo by Travis Barrett

 

WISCASSET — The man who helped put Maine auto racing on the nationwide map added another line to his already stacked resume.

Stan Meserve, the Winslow native who now calls Skowhegan home, was one of six people inducted into the 2020 Wiscasset Speedway Hall of Fame on Saturday at the track. Joining Meserve, whose two track championships came 20 years apart, were Bill Cost of Bangor, Chelsea’s Dave Darveau, Kenny Lund of Brunswick, the late Mike Moody and two-time track champion Kenny Wright of Woolwich.

Wiscasset Speedway, which has not yet opened for racing this season due to COVID-19 public gathering restrictions statewide, inducted an inaugural 13-member Hall of Fame class in 2019 as part of the track’s 50th birthday celebration.

“It’s always been my favorite track,” said Meserve, 79, whose last stock car race behind the wheel came in 1998, when he won a 100-lap event at Wiscasset. “The track is wide, it’s banked. You can race here.”

The track hopes that’s the case next weekend. Track owner Vanessa Jordan confirmed that the speedway expects to be open for racing on August 1, with strict guidelines for fan attendance in place. She said they are still working out exact details on how to best comply with the restrictions of spectator numbers.

Meserve headed south for big-league NASCAR racing long before northern New Englanders believed they could. In 1968, he made 31 starts in what is now the NASCAR Cup Series. He later went on to work on building cars for NASCAR teams before moving back to Maine two and a half years ago.

“The state owes him a great deal for what (he’s) done everybody,” Cost said.

During a race in 1969 at Daytona International Speedway in Florida, ironically, it was Darveau who helped Meserve get up and running.

Literally.

Darveau was in the pit area that day, unbeknownst to Meserve. Meserve’s engine would not fire, and the man who would go on to found Distance Racing Products — the chassis-building company in Fairfield owned by nine-time Oxford Plains Speedway champion Jeff Taylor — couldn’t figure out how to start it.

Dave Darveau of Chelsea, center, chats with friends and family after being inducted into the Wiscasset Speedway Hall of Fame on Saturday at the track. Kennebec Journal photo by Travis Barrett

“Here walks up Dave,” Meserve said, looking at Darveau while recalling the story Saturday. “You probably snuck in. I know you weren’t supposed to be in there. But Dave asks how things are going, and I told him, ‘Not every well.’ He said, ‘Let’s open it up and take a look,’ and he looks around and tells me to go to the auto parts store and get this and that and a distributor cap, and then the engine fired right up.”

Darveau made more than 1,200 career starts at short tracks from Maine to Florida, winning an astounding 692 feature races. He won championships at Wiscasset in 1976, 1978 and 1984, and he’s a member of both the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame and the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame.

It seemed that everybody inducted on Saturday had a connection to Meserve.

Wright, whose two-year run as track champion from 1993-1994, saw his Late Model Sportsman dominance ended by Meserve’s 12-win 1995 season. That title gave Meserve his first championship at the track since 1975.

Wright was just 39 when a back injury forced him to retire from driving. He’d won two championships in the late 1990s in the Northeast Pro Stock Association (NEPSA), the precursor to what is now the Pro All Stars Series.

“In the beginning, I just wanted to go out and run every lap and just finish the race,” Wright said. “That mindset back in my younger days, you look at how many cars we had, you just had to bide your time to get up through the field. That’s the part I really enjoyed.”

Ironically, Wright was driving one of the cars Meserve built while competing in a heated on-track rivalry for the 1995 Wiscasset championship.

“I couldn’t have done what I did without Stan and his wife Diane,” Wright said.

Moody was a contemporary of Wright’s, a good friend of his, before Moody tragically lost his life at just 27 years old. Moody still recorded 35 wins and two championships in the track’s Street Stock division.

None of the accomplishments of any of the drivers would have been possible of course had Wilford Cronk not built the track and opened it in 1969. Cost was an original member of the speedway’s staff, serving as its public relations point and track announcer for the first 13 years it was open.

“For 13 years, it was just life,” Cost said. “It’s what you did.”

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