LOVELL — It started when his grandfather first strapped into a race car way back in 1966, and continues with a third-generation racer pulling into Victory Lane.
Evan Armington, grandson of Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame member Steve Blood, is winning races against stiff competition while proudly carrying on a longstanding family tradition of success on the local short-track scene.
The 19-year-old athlete from Lovell notched his first Modified feature victory at Oxford on Aug. 8, and backed that effort up with a solid runner-up drive the next week.
“We kind of went back to the basics,” Armington said of his team’s recent success. “When we first got this car from Dale (Shaw), I earned fourth- and fifth-place finishes with it at Oxford and Beech Ridge, respectively. Those runs gave us confidence, so we started tweaking on it to put ourselves into contention for a top three.
“By the time we finished making adjustments, we were a long way off from what we had for a setup when we bought the car a few years ago. So we looked through our notes, noticed a few things and put it back to where we started. That original baseline setup has been successful.”
Armington races a chassis built by his uncle, the 1994 NASCAR Busch North Series champion and noted chassis builder Dale Shaw, of Center Conway, N.H. Armington’s mother is the sister of Stephanie Shaw, Dale’s wife. Dale originally intended to race the car full time, but only ran it on four or five occasions.
“It’s only been wrecked once when I got into one of those big tractor tires at Star Speedway that just loves to eat cars,” Armington added. “It’s a great piece. It handles well and reacts to any adjustments we make the way it’s supposed to. I’m very happy with it right now.”
Despite a less-than-stellar car count in the Modified class, the competition has been strong in 2015. Early on, Ryan Robbins dominated the class, but lately, guys like Scott Alexander, Matt Sanborn and now Armington have caught up. The open-wheelers are now fun to watch.
“These cars are an absolute blast to drive, and I think we’re putting on a decent show. They have pretty decent tires and have a ton of horsepower for a 2,600-pound car. We run a GM Crate engine, which puts out about 350 hp and really cranks.
“Plus, you can build one of these for reasonable money. Availability of front clips is the only concern, but the folks at Howe Chassis are coming up with a factory-replica snout to cure that problem. I really love these modifieds.”
Like so many other young racers, Armington got his start in Go Karts at the tender age of eight. After seven highly-successful seasons of Karting (32 wins, five titles), he bypassed the sometimes tricky Legends cars and moved directly into the Roadrunner class at Beech Ridge.
“We made the big step from a Go Kart to a full-bodied stock car,” Armington said. “The rules said a drivers learner’s permit is required to race down there, and I got mine a few days before my first event. I was fortunate to have a little beginner’s luck and won in my second start.”
As for carrying on the family legacy of short track success, Armington says it makes him proud to continue what Blood started all those years ago.
“It’s impressive to me to see what D.J. has accomplished,” Armington said about his talented cousin, 2014 PASS North champion D.J. Shaw. “He’s pretty much always been in a touring series, but my grandfather never did much of that.
“He was an Oxford guy through and through, with an occasional trip to Beech Ridge for that year-end deal. So to be carrying on his tradition of success in weekly racing is a huge source of pride for me.
“It’s hard to describe how good it feels to pit my car on the same concrete slab he used back in the day. We even work on the car where his old shop once sat, although it’s been expanded to three bays now. It’s pretty cool to keep that history alive.”
In fact, one of Armington’s key sponsors, The Homestead Scoop & Gallery, in Lovell, sits on the site of the original family homestead built by his great-grandfather. Just another element of this tightly-knit, family-backed team with the right core values. The team also receives support from James and Edie Day.
“We’re a proud family, and one that races together week-in and week-out. When things go like they have been lately, it just doesn’t get any better. We’ll just try to keep this momentum going for the balance of 2015, and if we win again, that would be great. Regardless, it’s been a blast.”