Around the Track: Harrison in title form at Wiscasset

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DURHAM — Another second-generation racer from central Maine is enjoying a stellar season going in circles down on the midcoast.

For 22-year-old Durham native Michael Harrison, son of Oxford veteran Kenny Harrison, the 2018 season has been productive, with two wins, five top-five and nine top-10 finishes in nine starts in Wiscasset Speedway’s highly-competitive Super Street division.

It’s the kind of consistency that wins championships, a goal never far from Harrison’s mind. The young driver is quick to credit others for his recent success.

“I would never be running this well without the help of my parents,” Harrison said. “My father has run this type of car for years, so his knowledge is a huge benefit to me. He’s a big factor in my success.”

Now in his fifth year of racing, Harrison is another graduate of the popular Thursday Thunder program at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. He started competing there in 2014 and honed his skills for two years on the Scarborough oval. In 2016, he moved to Wiscasset and won their Thunder 4 Mini division title.

“I finished fourth in points in my first year at Beech Ridge and was hooked for life,” he explained. “In 2015, I won the Beetle Bug JV championship. That Thursday Thunder Program is the perfect place for anybody just starting out to get the feel for racing. It’s a great mix of beginners and veterans.”

In 2017, Harrison won Rookie-of-the-Year honors in Super Street. Now, as his sophomore season draws to a close, he treasures the feeling of solid finishes. Winning two consecutive features on July 14 and August 11 was huge.

“That first win didn’t come easy, I had to work very hard for it,” Harrison said as he reflected on his mid-summer hot streak. “As for the second one in August, I still can’t believe it. It was pretty amazing.”

The level of competition in his class makes the success of 2018 more satisfying for the young racer.

“Every one of those guys has 10 or more years of experience and each one is a true champion,” he said. “I’m actually learning a lot as I compete against them. I watch how they drive and study their lines. It forces me to improve and makes me a better driver. I feel like I’ve gained some skills this season.”

Harrison is another one of several central Maine-based racers thrilled to race at Wiscasset each year.

“Richard and Vanessa Jordan are both awesome people,” he said. “Their entire staff and our fellow racers are nice to us. If anybody needs a part, it gets loaned without questions. If you come into the pits with a flat, everybody runs over to help get you back out there. It’s a really great place to race.”

Along with his immense natural talent behind the wheel, Harrison gets to draw on two highly skilled veterans to guide him as he seeks that coveted Super Street championship.

“Ken Farley is also a big part of our success this season,” Harrison explained. “He owned my father’s Limited Sportsman cars at Oxford for over 20 years. Together, they’ve been really helpful to me.”

Kenny won an impressive 34 features in his long and successful career at Oxford Plains Speedway. In an era where skills won races rather than money, he was one of the best at his craft. 

Along with an experienced and reliable race team to kep his efforts on track, Harrison also has a fine group of marketing partners who support his program in 2018.

“I’m fortunate to have a great group of businesses helping this team,” Harrison added. “They include include Ken and Roxie Farley, H.E. Brewer, Sheebeo Excavating, AP Electric, DoDo’s Hot Rods, Royal River Boat Yard, Refinishing Solutions, Troy Morse Trucking, Trash Guy, Curtis Lawn & Yard Care, Todd Harrison Builders and Kelsey Brook Farm.

“Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to do this. I appreciate each one and I’m proud to represent them at the speedway.”

Jason Oakes has turned a ton of laps at Wiscasset Speedway. The veteran from Boothbay says Harrison has progressed and matured a great deal in a relatively short time.   

“I’ve raced with the Harrisons these past few years,”Oakes said. “As with all racing
families you enjoy watching the “youngsters” develop and mature. Michael has already become quite an accomplished driver, and he truly loves the sport. I hope to see him continue his racing career and know that I’ve helped improve his skills.”

As the season quickly draws to a close, that one specific goal is dominating his thoughts almost daily.

“I’m going to do my very best to win that Super Street championship,” Harrison said. “That’s been the goal since the first green flag waved, and it’s still within our grasp. We’re locked in a tight battle with veteran Mike Hodgkins, and it won’t be easy to get it done. We’re going to give it our best shot.

“In the future, I’d love the chance to drive a Late Model or Super Late Model. But for now, I’m focused on the task at hand. I’ve always wanted to earn a Super Street title, and I’d hate to see it slip away now.”

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Michael Harrison drives down the front stretch at Wiscasset Speedway earlier this season. The driver from Durham is within six markers of Super Street championship point leader Mike Hodgkins as the 2018 season starts to wind down. 

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