UNITY — The night before his biggest day of the year, Joey Doyon slept for only an hour – in his truck.

Doyon, manager of Unity Raceway, has put countless hours into restoring the recently dormant track to its former glory. Ahead of the facility’s reopening Sunday after four years without racing, the Frankfort native didn’t want to fall asleep far from the track as he dealt with nerves and went through his final preparations.

“I had big-time butterflies,” Doyon said Sunday afternoon. “I still do. We’ve been preparing for this day for a long time, and you want everything to go perfectly.”

Seeing the crowd in the grandstands from the pit area across the track, though, was nothing short of perfection for Doyon. Neither he nor his wife, Holly, had anticipated the turnout and support Unity Raceway received for its much-awaited return to racing.

It was an afternoon of loud engines, dusty air and nostalgia as the track held competitive racing for the first time since 2017. One of the largest crowds in raceway history filled every seat, from the covered grandstand to the sunny bleachers, to watch racers circle Maine’s oldest track.

For several years, Doyon was one of the most prominent racers on the old Unity asphalt track. Last summer, Doyon decided to take it upon himself to revive the racetrack, and he reached an agreement to lease the facility from Ralph Nason, the raceway’s owner for more than four decades.


“It killed me because this track means so much,” Doyon said of the track’s inactivity. “My dad used to work here in the pit gates, and he worked with Ralph for years. After COVID, I reached out to Ralph and just kept bugging him about it. I knew I could put in the work; I wanted to have a day like this again.”

Although various dirt-car drivers had tested the new track prior to Sunday, Unity had not held formal racing since 2017 on asphalt. This July afternoon, then, was a historic day at the track, which treated fans to racing on a different surface.

Some of the old drivers from the track’s asphalt days returned, including Edward Archer of Pittsfield, a former track champion whose Chevy Cobalt was coated in thick dirt by the time his race concluded.

“I have a Cobalt that’s been on asphalt, and this is my third time racing it on dirt, and it was phenomenal,” Archer said.” When he first wets it, it’s pretty slippery with a lot of sliding, but it’s fun. … The biggest problem we’re having is that we can’t see out the windshield, but we’re getting dialed in.”

The buildup to racing at Unity was much anticipated on social media. A new Facebook page, “Unity Race Way, The Rebuild,” was created in August 2021, and posts teasing the return of racing have routinely received hundreds of likes, comments and shares.

Although the Doyons knew there was a lot of excitement ahead of Sunday, they were not prepared for exactly how fervent that enthusiasm would be.


“We’ve already had to go make another food run, and it’s not even race time yet,” said Holly Doyon, who worked concessions while her husband helped man the pits. “I was not expecting anything close to this, but it’s great to see that people are so excited about it. It’s such a surreal feeling to see how many people are here.”

The Doyons got messages throughout the day from racing fans in awe of the atmosphere and the work that had been put into the track. Such sentiments were prevalent in the pit area, where fans could pay $20 instead of the standard $5 to get a different view of the action.

The current plan, Joey Doyon said, is for Unity to offer racing every other Sunday. That will allow the facility to alternate racing weeks with Get Er Done Speedway in Skowhegan in order to maximize fan attendance and racer participation at both racetracks.

On the days in between, Doyon is sure to be found somewhere around the Unity track. Even after receiving dozens of rave reviews for the facility’s condition, he believes the work to bring back the heyday of Unity Raceway is only getting started.

“With the dirt, people didn’t know what to think, and I didn’t either. I’m still learning it,” Doyon said. “We’re still trying and figuring things out, but the support has been incredible. What a day.”

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