In a world where racing has become such a costly sport, Wiscasset Speedway is a breath of fresh air for both competitors and fans.
The 3/8 mile oval is located just north of Brunswick, nestled in the heart of Wiscasset, Maine. The high-banked speedway is widely known among competitors as a high-speed speedway, which adds to the excitement of the racing action.
Track Promoter Ken Minott is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the track, assisting with track advertising sales, social media posts, website management and more. He’s also been announcing at the speedway since the final race of the 1992 season; making him a permanent staple at the speedway each and every race weekend.
Track owners Richard and Vanessa Jordan joined the Wiscasset family in 2012, hosting their first full year of operation the following year in 2013. The couple are very present throughout the race season, assuring that track operations are constantly running smoothly and fans are enjoying a safe and fun environment. They vow to make Wiscasset Speedway a place, “Where friends and families traditionally gather to have fun and enjoy exciting, affordable entertainment”. When it comes to the Jordan’s, Ken Minott has nothing but wonderful things to say about the pair.
Ken says that Richard is very hands-on when it comes to his involvement with the track. He’ll frequently give race fans rides down to the race track so they won’t miss a single second of the racing action. He’s also a figure in the pits, checking in with drivers and teams to see if any of them need any help. Ken says that Richard is frequently reminding staff members and race teams that, “This isn’t my track, it’s OUR track”. Richard and Vanessa are not close-minded and willing to hear input from fans, teams, drivers and staff on how to make the track better. “They go out of their way to make every race team feel welcome – whether they’re regular weekly competitors or it’s their first time ever at the track,” Ken says. Drivers are not just the entertainment at Wiscasset, they’re a part of the Wiscasset family. They are also the voice of change at the speedway.
In recent years, Wiscasset has made a lot of renovations to the track. The laundry list of enhancements includes new walls and safety fencing, track surface repairs, new Whelen safety lighting and more. With the dangers of racing becoming more prevalent, it was important for the Jordan’s to assure that driver and staff safety was one of the top priorities. They also wanted to enhance the fan experience, which involved installing a new sound system, scoreboard and updating the concession stands.
One of the biggest track changes is the new Victory Lane, which is located directly in front of the Main Grandstands. No other track in Maine has a Victory Lane quite like Wiscasset, so they set themselves apart from the rest in bringing Victory Lane to the fans. “It gives the drivers the chance to get up close with the fans in a way they won’t find at any other track. Kids love to line the fence to high-five the drivers as they celebrate,” Ken says. Kids are treated like royalty at Wiscasset, which adds to the family-friendly atmosphere.
The C&D Laundry Kids Club has been a huge hit at Wiscasset. Penny Shorette and her daughter Stephanie head the club, which brings fun, kid-friendly activities to the track. There are bike giveaways, prize giveaways, junior official experiences and more that happen over the course of the season. They also allow children to do the command of firing up the engines before feature races. Children under the age of 18 are also allowed in the pit area at Wiscasset, which is another factor that sets Wiscasset apart from the rest. “For some racers, this is a key reason why they have chosen to race at our track. They can have their family with them right there in the pits and their children can see first hand the work that Mom or Dad does on race day,” Ken says.
Although children’s admittance into the pit area is a benefit to the track, Ken also stresses the dangers of the pit area. There are risks associated with allowing children into the pit area, especially with cars on the move and wrenches flying. Track staff members are frequently reminding drivers and teams about pit area safety, assuring drivers that if they abide by the rules, the benefit will still be in tact. The involvement of children at the speedway is just one of the many ways that Wiscasset Speedway stands out among other local tracks.
The speedway is known for their low admission prices: Admission is only $5 for children and adults over the age of 7 and children 7 years of age and younger get in for free. Pit passes are only $20 for children and adults, but all children in the pit area must be accompanied by an adult. The speedway is also very active on both their website and social media pages, where new events and track news is consistently being shared with fans. The speedway also accepts cards as a form of payment at the gate and recently introduced the “My Wiscasset Speedway Card”, where fans can add money to a card that can be used for admissions, concessions and more.
“While the basics of racing remain the same as always, the race itself – while always the primary focus – just isn’t enough anymore. What the fans expect from their time at the track and how you can reach these people HAS changed,” Ken explains. In a day and age where change is prevalent, Wiscasset Speedway is keeping up with tending to the fan culture. Keeping up with the fan culture involves branching out and bringing different forms of entertainment to the speedway besides the typical short-track racing that people see in the weekly program.
On Friday, May 25th and Saturday, May 26th, Wiscasset Speedway will be hosting the Monster Truck Throwdown. The weekend-long event provides families with the opportunity to see these larger-than-life trucks on a local stage. Keeping their idea of affordable fun in mind, the cost of the event is $10 for children and $15 for adults. There are family ticket packages available for the event and there will be a free preshow pit party as well. The Maine State Truck & Tractor Pullers Association will be hosting truck pull events on both Friday, July 20th and Friday, September 14th. Plus, the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience will be making a stop at the track on Thursday, August 16th. This will allow fans to hop into an actual stock car and experience the thrill of a high-banked, fast track like Wiscasset.
“These events goes into the need to keep up with the demands of the times and give our fans a wider variety of motorsports entertainment,” Ken says. The speedway is looking forward to bringing a diverse group of motorsports enthusiasts to the track in 2018. Although a handful of new events were added to the 2018 schedule, the weekly racing program will be back and better than ever this upcoming season.
Wiscasset Speedway runs a unique schedule, hosting 2 different “groups” of racing divisions on alternating weekends throughout the race season. Group 1 consists of the Pro Stocks, Super Streets, Thunder 4’s and more. Group 2 consists of the Late Model Sportsman division, Strictly Streets, Modifieds, Outlaw Mini’s and more. The schedule was created with the drivers and fans both in mind. “For the drivers, the benefits include making a race season more affordable, allowing them to stretch their budget, and give them time to make repairs and keep their car on the track every other week,” Ken explains. Some drivers race in both groups in different divisions while other drivers help out their friends or watch from the stands on their off-week.
For fans, the alternating schedule brings more variety to their world every week and cuts down the time of the racing program, which is especially beneficial to families with small children. This season’s weekly program kicks off with Group 1 on Saturday, April 21st. In addition to the weekly program, the track also hosts a handful of “Marquee” events every season.
Wiscasset Speedway is home to the Coastal 200, which is New England’s largest Late Model Sportsman race. The winner takes home $5,000 and drivers up and down the East Coast come to compete in the famed event. This year’s Coastal 200 will take place on Sunday, May 27th. “Over the years, it has established itself as a Memorial Day weekend tradition, and what we hope is that it’s a race that drivers want to add to their resume. Still, to this date, there has only been one repeat winner of the Coastal 200,” Ken says. The event is always exciting and wildly unpredictable, making it hard to miss.
For Super Late Model fans, the track will be hosting their annual Boss Hogg 150 on Sunday, September 2nd. Nick Jenkins took home the win in 2017, but drivers like Garrett Hall, John Peters, Jacob Dore and Jeff Burgess have been fierce competitors in the past. The winner will take home $5,000 in this race as well, leaving a lot on the line for all competitors.
Another staple event for the track is the Amsoil Dominator Strictly Shootout, which takes place toward the conclusion of race season. This season’s race will be on Saturday, September 29th. Dave Brannon, who is the new Technical Director for the track in 2018, hosts the Shootout. Drivers from surrounding tracks show up to compete in the event, which is always a blast to watch. Kyle Hewins is looking to defend his title in 2018 as the Shootout champion.
The event has some changes coming in 2018, with ten laps being added onto the lap count and the feature lineup determination process being reformatted. “The top 18 drivers who qualify via heat races will have a full 18-car redraw on the front stretch at feature time. That will add an entertaining twist for the drivers AND the fans alike,” Ken explains. The total race purse is $4,500 and the winner will receive some unique prizes, which include a custom cowboy hat and belt buckle. This highlight event puts Street Stock/Wildcat drivers in the spotlight, granting them the opportunity to show their fans and competitors just what they’re made of.
In addition to these events, Wiscasset Speedway increased payouts for EVERY division for 2018, adding a bonus incentive for the drivers and teams that dedicate so much effort, time and hard work to putting on a good show for the fans every week.
The track will also be welcoming the 350 SMAC (Super Modified Atlantic Charter) division to the track on Saturday, August 11th. This is a monumental event at Wiscasset, seeing that this will be the first time ever that Super Modified’s will be running a feature event at the speedway. The newest touring series on the East Coast will be sure to bring excitement to the track come August.
After 26 years of involvement with the speedway, Ken still hasn’t grown tired of the track atmosphere at Wiscasset. He calls the track his “second home” and says he loves watching fans and drivers grow up in front of his eyes. He says that he wasn’t even much of a race fan before joining the track in 1992. But, now it’s become a bigger part of his life than he ever imagined. His biggest accolades go to his wife Robin and his kids that have put up with his countless hours of time and effort that he’s put into the speedway. Ken sends thanks to Dave and Sandra St. Clair, who invited him into the Wiscasset family to begin with. He shows the upmost appreciation towards Richard and Vanessa Jordan, who have allowed him to live out his dream of helping Wiscasset Speedway become a great source of excitement for both drivers and fans alike.
“It takes so many dedicated and enthusiastic people to make it happen – a lot of people behind the scenes who don’t normally get the accolades. What makes Wiscasset work is that we try to fill our team with people who are there because they want to have fun doing what they do and have a desire to make the place succeed,” he says.
With wildly passionate staff, owners, fans and competitors, Wiscasset is sure to continue to stand in a league of it’s own in 2018 and for years to come.
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