This past Thursday, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway hosted what could be the final Mid-Week Series Showdown in track history. The event is a staple in the track’s season schedule and gives competitors from other tracks in New England the opportunity to race against Beech Ridge regulars in various mid-week divisions at the conclusion of the season.
15 competitors showed up to compete in the Truck division on Thursday night and the starting lineup for the feature was decided by two qualifying heat races, which set the event apart from the standard Thunder procedure at the track.
Brad Weismann took off with the early lead in the first qualifying heat, pulling away from his competitors. Father-son duo, Jeff Gillette, Sr. and Jr., ignited a battle mid-pack on lap 5, with Jr. holding onto the position.
Brad Weismann held off his competitors through the finish, picking up the first heat victory as John Curtis and Matt Curtis rounded out the top 3.
Matt Merrill held the early advantage over Trace Ayers in the second and final qualifying heat. Will Potter and Nate Zinck went door to door early, battling it out for third. Both drivers went around on lap 3, with Zinck taking the brunt of the damage as he barreled into the turn 2 sand pile. The incident resulted in an early race caution.
Matt Merrill held tight to his lead on the restart. Nick Calvert, returning to his roots in a truck, advanced to third over Noah Merath on lap 6. He continued his pursuit in the closing laps, quickly overtaking Trace Ayers for the runner-up spot as Noah Merath followed in succession.
Matt Merrill was able to fend off Nick Calvert to the finish, scoring the heat victory. Noah Merath rounded out the top 3.
John Curtis took off with the early lead in the 25 lap feature race. Trouble was brewing early as Trace Ayers and Nick Calvert collided on the initial lap in turn 2, resulting in an early race caution.
John Curtis pulled ahead on the restart as Jeff Gillette, Sr. and Matt Merrill battled it out for the runner-up spot. The drivers duked it out for a couple of laps until Gillette, Sr. pulled ahead on lap 5. His joy didn’t last long as his son, Jeff Gillette, Jr. quickly stole this thunder, taking over the position.
Gillette, Sr. faced mechanical troubles on lap 8, spinning twice on the front stretch. The incident resulted in another caution.
Jeff Gillette, Jr. powered to the lead on the restart, quickly pulling away from his competitors. Drivers were 3-wide for the runner-up spot on lap 16, with Matt Curtis powering ahead with the advantage.
Alex Moore took a spin on lap 16 in turn 1, which led to a caution. Matt Curtis took over the lead on the restart, but trouble was lingering once again as Dave Lamson took a spin on lap 18. This drew out another quick caution.
Matt Curtis and Jeff Gillette, Jr. went nose to nose on the restart. The drivers battled it out until Gillette, Jr. pulled ahead with the slight advantage with just two laps to go. He continued to hold off Matt Curtis in the closing laps, picking up the feature victory. Matt Merrill rounded out the podium.
The 350 Outlaws joined the program on Thursday, rallying up 22 drivers for their feature event. The 350 competition also kicked off with two qualifying heat races.
Cam Childs took off with the early lead in the first qualifying heat. Brady Childs was also on the move early, powering into the runner-up spot over Jason Gammon on lap 3 as Drew Morse followed in succession.
Cam held off Brady to the finish, capturing the heat victory. Drew Morse rounded out the top 3.
Nate Barth, attempting a 2-peat, pulled away with the early lead in the second and final qualifying heat. Trevor Sanborn was bad fast once again, picking off Barth for the top spot on lap 3.
Jon Emerson, a Wiscasset regular, advanced to third over Nate Barth on lap 4. He made his way to Trevor Sanborn’s outside door just two laps later, challenging for the top spot. The two drivers battled it out until Emerson pulled ahead with sole possession of the spot with just one lap to go.
Emerson was able to fend off Sanborn to the finish, picking up the heat victory. Nate Barth rounded out the top 3.
Cam Childs took off with the early lead over Jon Emerson in the 25 lap main event. Corey Morgan took a spin on lap 9 in turn 2, bringing out the first caution of the feature.
Cam Childs pulled ahead with the slight advantage on the restart. While battling for position, Nate Barth and Josh Toothaker collided on lap 16 in turn 3, resulting in both drivers taking a spin and drawing out another yellow.
Rick Spaulding took a hard right directly into the turn 4 wall on the restart, resulting in an immediate red flag. Spaulding climbed out of the car under his own power, but quickly dropped to his hands and knees next to his car after exiting his vehicle.
It was truly a scary moment on the track, but Spaulding was quickly attended to by the track safety crew and was thankfully able to walk away from the wreckage under his own power.
Jon Emerson powered to the lead on the restart, leaving Cam Childs and Brady Childs battling it out for position once again. The two relatives duked it out for a few laps until Brady pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 18.
Jon Emerson held strong through the finish, scoring the feature victory. Brady Childs and Cam Childs rounded out the top 3.
The 6 Shooters concluded the Mid-Week Series portion of the program with a final 25 lap feature race. 9 competitors showed up to compete in the division on Thursday and the starting lineup was determined by a final qualifying heat race.
Matt Morneau took off with the early lead over a Beech Ridge racing veteran, Gerard Cote, in the qualifier. Rookie, Ethan Guptill, was on the move in the closing laps, attempting to track Morneau down for the top spot with just two laps to go.
Morneau was able to hold Guptill off, securing the heat victory. Michael Phillips rounded out the top 3.
Matt Morneau held strong in the 25 lap feature, pulling away with the early lead once again. Gerard Cote went off into the turn 3 dirt early, resulting in a caution.
After a strong performance all day, Ethan Guptill fell out of the groove while battling for position on lap 9, coming to a slow before making the dreaded righthand turn into the pits. Two of his fellow competitors pulled off-track just 4 laps later, leaving just 4 drivers left on the track.
Michael Phillips was in hot pursuit of the leader in the closing laps of the race, pulling up to Morneau’s outside door to challenge with just 3 laps to go. Morneau was able to hold his groove, picking up the feature victory. Michael Phillips, William Barker and Matt Hiscock rounded out the top 4.
Thursday was certainly a bittersweet day at the track, knowing that the event could potentially be the track’s final Mid-Week Series Showdown in history. But, the competitors still managed to keep it classy AND put on a great show, considering the tough circumstances.
Thank you so much to the Beech Ridge track staff for keeping a smile on their faces, maintaining perseverance through the hurt and putting on an A+ show for all to enjoy. You truly are an incredible team.
If you have ideas on how to save our track, please join the Save Beech Ridge Speedway group on Facebook and share your thoughts.
Until then, PLEASE support what could be the final NASCAR Nite event in track history this Sunday, September 26th. It is shaping up to be a HUGE event. The racing action kicks off at 2:00 pm.
Continue chasing the checkered and support your local short tracks. It’s more important than ever before.
#weareBRMS and we will get through this together.
Cover photo credit: Jamie Williams – Finish Line Photography