WISCASSET — When the Wiscasset Speedway was forced to delay the opening of the 2020 season until August, it felt like there was something missing from the Lincoln County town with a population of just under 4,000 people.

“It just didn’t feel right, it was strange,” said Vanessa Jordan, who owns and operates the track with her husband, Rick. “Let’s just say it wasn’t our banner year.”

With 2020 in the rear view mirror and the 2021 season beginning on April 24, Saturday marked the first time the track was open for use since the final race of the season last October.

Saturday was the first of two open practices scheduled to take place before the opening race. Racers partake in open practice by the type of car they are driving. Racers are allowed up to 10 minutes on the track before the next division is on deck. The divisions continue to rotate throughout the practice.

The Jordans couldn’t have asked for a better day to open the season. With the sun beaming down and temperatures reaching up to 70 degrees, it felt like a day in early June rather than early April.

“It seems as though we get lucky every year with opening day,” Rick Jordan said.

For Yarmouth’s Colby Peacock, the excitement was overwhelming.

“I’m super excited and ready to roll, it’s been a long time coming leading up to this point” Peacock said. “To have last year cut short just gave me more motivation to stay committed and get better each day.”

Just 15, Peacock fell in love with the sport at a young age, when his father took him to races in Wiscasset and Oxford. Saturday was a new beginning for Peacock, as it was his first time racing in a pro stock series car, after racing in a 4-cylinder pro car for the past two seasons.

“It will definitely be an adjustment, but that’s why I’m here,” Peacock said. “I want to make sure I’m fully ready in two weeks’ time.”

Cole Binette takes another lap during a practice session Saturday at Wiscasset Speedway. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Racers from all over southern and central Maine were out on Saturday, including Bill Penfold of Oxford, who had anxiously been waiting all winter to get back on the track.

“Everybody that’s a gearhead is amped, us racers live for opening day, I can’t believe it’s finally here,” said Penfold, who drives a 2012 pro stock Monte Carlo.

Penfold took part in a few races during last years’ shortened season, but found it hard to find the enthusiasm to race in such a short season.

“I don’t think I’m alone when I say that last year was tough in terms of racing,” said Penfold. “To go from 25 to just 10 races was certainly disheartening. I’m more than ready for a full 25 race schedule this year.”

Penfold said he was delighted to see the turnout for practice.

“Look at all these people who are smiling and just happy to be here,” said Penfold. “That’s what was missing last year, the camaraderie we have in this sport. Hopefully we get that back this year.”

Zach Audet of Norridgewock said the feeling of coming off the track after a successful run for the first time this season was unmatched.

“It’s a nice feeling to be out here this early on a day like today,” said Audet. “With last year being shortened I have a lot of racing to make up for.”

Audet arrived bright and early and was the second car on the track.

“It’s all about having a good time out there, I hope to get down here as much as I can,” he said.

Although last years’ void at the beginning of the season was filled near the end, with 10 races taking place, this year feels like a new beginning for the town and the track.

“Everyone involved made last year the best of what they had,” Rick Jordan said. “We hope we can have some normalcy this year while providing a safe and fun experience.”

The track can operate with a crowd at 75% capacity until Memorial Day, when outdoor events are able to open up to a full 100% capacity. While the Wiscasset Speedway holds up to 5,000 spectators, the Jordans expect around 2,500 fans to attend races in the spring.

“I’ve had people calling me all winter asking when we’d open up and how it would look,” Vanessa Jordan said. “Now they have their answer. People are excited and eager to get out here, we are hoping for a fantastic, full 25 race season.”

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