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July 6, 2018

Caribou's Spud Speedway gets new life; Unity Raceway faces uncertain fate

Maureen Milliken
Maureen Milliken
In Unity, which is between Waterville and Bangor, Unity Raceway owners Ralph and Nancy Nason have put the one-third oval back up for sale after a pending sale fell through.

While a speedway in Caribou is hoping it has new life, one in Unity is once again up for sale.

Spud Speedway in Caribou hosted the Aroostook Federal Credit and Loan Firecracker 200 Tuesday, the first stock car race at the track since 2015, racing blog speed51 reported.

The quarter-mile speedway closed to auto racing in 2015 because it was losing money, and was used by the Northern Maine Karting Association in the interim. It reopened Tuesday after owner Troy Haney made major improvements to the 50-plus-year-old track.

Tuesday's 200-lap race race was part of the Pro All Star Series North, which brings the top stock car drivers from Maine and New Brunswick.

"The last three weeks we've had an incredible amount of work done," Haney told speed51. He said they replaced the bleachers, fixed the fences, lights, sound system and landscaping.

Haney said he hopes other stock car races at the track will follow, and the PASS race will be an annual event. He told speed51 the race helped boost the community, too, including raising $13,000 for more than 24 Aroostook County food pantries as part of the Feed the County School Drive.

In Unity, which is between Waterville and Bangor, Unity Raceway owners Ralph and Nancy Nason have put the one-third oval back up for sale after a pending sale fell through.

George Fernald Jr., a former driver who had leased the track for many years, and two years ago entered into a purchase and sale agreement, has been laid low by illness and scrapped his plans to buy it in May.

The Bangor Daily News reported today that Ralph Nason is putting the track up for sale.

"You can't pay the bills," Nason told the BDN. "The light bills are so high, the insurance (cost) is so bad, and you have to pay 30 people who each work five hours (on race night)."

Unity Raceway opened for auto racing in 1948, and the Nasons bought it in 1980. It's New England's longest-running asphalt track.

Fernald lost $30,000 when he leased the track from 2008-12, according to the BDN. He also has torn up the asphalt with the intention of making it a dirt track.

Dirt track racing tends to be more rough and tumble, but also has less wear and tear on tires, and has proved to be doing better with fans and financially than asphalt tracks, the Racing News and other racing publications have reported.

Nason said the fact the asphalt has been dug up may help the sale, because it has more potential uses. He said it would cost about $175,000 to repave it.

Nason said higher gas prices, fewer races, lower attendance and other entertainment options have added up to make running the track not worth it.

Nason said the track could still be a dirt track or converted for motocross, tractor pulls or big-truck racing.

He said the track needs work, including a new drainage system. He wouldn't disclose a selling price to the BDN.

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