WISCASSET — Chris Thorne hopes only one start all season is enough. For the most successful driver in the history of Wiscasset Speedway’s Late Model division, he should know.

“I don’t think it really matters,” said Thorne, of Sidney. “We’ve run the same setup in the car for the last three seasons and haven’t really changed much at all. We won the last race last year, so I think we should be fine.”

Thorne, 38, will make his season debut in Sunday’s Coastal 200 at the track. It is the most prestigious race of the year for the speedway’s regular competitors — a $5,000 to win event that, although it attracts a few outsiders annually, places the spotlight directly on one of the most competitive weekly divisions in Maine over the last decade.

Thorne is a five-time Late Model Sportsman champion at Wiscasset Speedway. In the more than five decades of competition at the 1/3-mile speedway, no driver has more Late Model titles.

“Even on a weekly basis, there’s probably six or eight of us that have a chance to win,” Thorne said of the bi-weekly 40-lap features. “The other 12 (cars) are just there. But at the same time, there’s been but a few comers and goers over the years. There have been some guys that have come in and contended, like Mat Bourgoine last year. Logan Melcher, he had a strong year a couple years ago, but now he’s running Pro Stocks.”

Thorne has just one Coastal 200 win to his credit.


He won the event in 2016, and last year he was leading until a late-race restart gave the lead to Liberty’s Josh St. Clair, who won the race for the second time and capped his season with the division championship.

He’d like to win the Coastal 200 again. It’s the biggest race he competes in year after year.

“For what we do, it’s the biggest thing there is,” Thorne said. “I’m not going to go run the Oxford 250 or anything like that.”

The beauty of an extra-distance race is that it rarely matters who else is in the field, how stiff the competition is. Ultimately, it’s all about racing your own race and running your own pit strategy regardless of what the other cars on the track are doing.

Last season, Thorne said he nearly went a lap down waiting for his pit stop for fresh tires, which was enough to nearly pull off the victory.

“Racing yourself? Yeah, you are really,” Thorne said. “I always like to save my best tires for the second run of the race. The first half of the (Coastal 200) is always about staying on the lead lap and staying out of trouble.


“Like any long race, you have to worry about yourself most and be there at the end.”

Thorne isn’t competing for the Wiscasset Late Model title in 2022, citing family commitments.

“When you’re young, you’d do it every night if you could,” said Thorne, a father of three. “But then you have a career, kids, and everything gets busier. I still like to race, but sometimes other things take precedence.

“I’ve been busy with work and my kids playing baseball. It doesn’t leave much time for other stuff, and they’ve had their games on Saturdays. They only get to play baseball for a few years and I can race for another 40 after they’re done if I want to.”

Comments are not available on this story.