AUBURN — After an up-and-down winter that transitioned from raging blizzards to record warmth in what seemed like 36-hour time frames, race fans in central and western Maine are more than ready to preview the brand new season ahead.
They’ll have that opportunity beginning on Monday, March 12, as the annual Auburn Mall Race Car Show opens its doors at 9 a.m. The show runs until the Mall closes at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 18.
Organized by longtime and dedicated local race fan Ray Giguere, this year’s show will debut new rides for several local drivers. Among the vehicles on display are entries from Oxford Plains Speedway, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Wiscasset Speedway, the Wicked Good Vintage Racers and Oxford Dragway.
As this longtime preseason display enjoys a resurgence in popularity thanks to Gigure’s promotional efforts and driver awards, race teams are using it to shine a spotlight on their plans for a new season.
“I’ve been fortunate once again this year to have strong interest from teams around the area,” Giguere said. “We’ll put the focus on several support classes this year, since they’re the ones who keep weekly short track racing healthy.
“I appreciate the effort so many are making to have cars ready in time. I know it’s still early, but they see the value in displaying their cars in the mall for a week,” Giguere added. “It’s widespread exposure you just can’t buy. I hope folks will come out to admire their hard work and get a glimpse into the 2018 season.”
Among those scheduled to unveil new rides for 2018 at this year’s show are Addie McDaniel, of Bridgton, who is moving from Bandits to Street Stock at Oxford; 2017 Oxford Rebel champion Cody Childs, of Auburn, who moves to Outlaws; and Lisbon veteran Richard Spaulding, who stunned folks with a new paint scheme.
Veteran racer Mike Rand owns the Street Stock that McDaniel will drive in 2018, and says helping the young hotshoe advance her career has him pretty excited.
“I’ve kind of lost my desire to drive the car every week, and I felt Addie was ready for a new challenge,” Rand said. “I’ve known her since she was a kid, her passion for racing is amazing. She has the talent and focus to do this.
“I’m excited to see what the 2018 season brings for her,” he added. “There is no pressure, and I know she’ll do a great job. I want her to have fun this year as she learns. We’ll maintain the car at my shop and enjoy working together to gain performance.”
The 17-year-old driver from Bridgton is bubbling over with enthusiasm as fans learn of her plans for 2018.
“I’m super excited about this new opportunity, McDaniel said. “I’ve always wanted to drive a Street Stock, and now I have the chance to do it. I know there will be a learning curve, but I’ll have to stay focused and keep my cool.
“Luckily, I have Mike, my father, Gary Davis and a couple other veterans to guide me,” she added. “I’ll draw off their years of experience as I get it figured out and dialed in. I can’t wait for the new season to get rolling. I want to learn and have some fun.”
Childs, of Auburn, can’t wait to kick off the new season after three strong years in Runnin Rebels. A brand new Gen 4 Chevy Camaro was built for him during the winter by Rich Sirois, owner at Warrior Race Cars.
“I’m excited about moving to the Outlaw class, it’s going to be a challenge,” Childs said. “There will be an adjustment period, but we’ll attempt to learn something new each week. We’ll keep putting the pieces together as we try to get that first win.”
Childs knows the level of competition he’ll face in 2018 will be stiff.
“It’s tough not to set our goals very high coming from a Rebel class in which I’ve had so much success,” he said. “If we can earn Rookie-of-the-Year honors and a decent finish in points this year, I’d be happy. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t chasing a win or two, but I’m not going to let that determine the success of our season as a whole.”
Spaulding stunned the crowd of onlookers Sunday evening as he rolled a freshly-painted blue Chevrolet Monte Carlo into the Mall. Spaulding has raced an orange car every year since he started competing at Oxford in 2002.
“My son had been bugging me about it for a while now,” Spaulding said. “It’s taking me while to get used to, but there are times when change is good. The car has treated me well, so I gave it a nice facelift. I hope our fans like the new look.
“I had a very competitive season in 2017, and hope to carry this new color to Victory Lane this summer. The car looks great, I’m happy with it, now I hope it’s as fast as it is eye-catching,” he said.
The freshly-painted Chevrolet Monte Carlo of Lisbon native Richard Spaulding sits on display Sunday evening in the Auburn Mall. The veteran of Street Stock action at Oxford stunned longtime Oxford fans with an all-new paint scheme after running strictly orange cars since 2002.
Bridgton native Addie McDaniel poses next to the Mike Rand-owned Street Stock entry she’ll drive this summer on Sunday at the Auburn Mall. McDaniel will also continue to compete in the Rebel division at Oxford on Wednesday nights.