LISBON — While a handful of young drivers are busy making names for themselves in the entry-level Bandit, Outlaw and Rebel divisions, the time-tested Street Stock class continues to be controlled by the veterans.
As drivers like David Whittier (already a feature winner in 2017), Jordan Russell and Tyler King hone their skills and gain knowledge, short track aces like point leader Billy Childs Jr., Bryce Mains, who went on a tear in April, and Lisbon’s Richard Spaulding are setting a torrid pace up front.
For 43-year-old Spaulding, a self-employed roofing contractor by day, running near the front is starting to become a habit. In the first six points races, he’s finished fifth or better on five occasions, with the month of May yielding a string of four consecutive top-five finishes.
He’s on a roll, thanks to help from a few talented people and some solid funding.
“I have a good crew behind me, for one thing, so I haven’t had to do as much of the work myself,” Spaulding said. “Good help is always a big plus. I also have the financial support this year that allowed me to buy some new parts for the car. I’ve always run old parts in the past, and those don’t win races.”
Those new parts provide the confidence a driver needs to get the most out of his machine.
“You have to be able to run hard and not worry about mechanical reliability,” Spaulding said. “I bought things like new shocks and other parts that won’t give out. I also won’t retaliate if somebody gets into me, because I don’t like fixing the damage. I’d rather just work hard all week to earn money to make the car go faster.”
Now that he has his chassis setup squared away and is consistently running in the top five, wheeling that familiar No. 36 Chevrolet Monte Carlo into Victory Lane is next on Spaulding’s agenda. In a 16-year career, he has seven Street Stock wins to his credit to go along with 15 in the Outlaw division.
“I think right now in our class, the competition is so tight that it’s all about track position,” he said. “A couple of weeks ago, I started from the back and only made it to fourth place. Passing can be tough, and it can involve contact like it did between Billy (Childs) and I last month. I cut him a break as he went by me, because it’s early in the season and I know he’ll do the same for me later on if I need it.”
As if he doesn’t have enough to do between running his business, racing and maintaining his own car, Spaulding has been busy finishing a car for his wife, Christina, to compete on Wednesday nights in Oxford’s Acceleration Series program.
“She’s coming back this year,” Spaulding added. “I don’t know how long she’ll do it or how it’s going to go, but she wants to get back out there. When she hit the wall that time and I didn’t know what was going on for the first half-hour, I was ready to be done racing. Impacts like that do rock your world.”
Like all of his weekly rivals in Street Stock and the teams in every other division, Spaulding’s on-track efforts wouldn’t be possible without the help of a few key crew members. Even though weekly short track racing is essentially a hobby, it requires a big effort in the shop and pit area to get results.
“I’m fortunate to have the help of Scott Jordan,” Spaulding said. “A lot of people might not know about Scott; he’s the one who helped me win all of those Outlaw races. I also have Todd Hoathorne, Will Barker, Tim Gagnon, Craig Rowe, Paul Rowe, my father, and my son, John. It takes good people to do this, and I sure do appreciate all of their time.”
Along with those vital volunteer crew members who keep the car on-track, Spaulding has a group of local businesses who support his efforts, including Varsity Lettering, Phil Mitchell Logging, Mixers Night Club, St. Laurent Landscaping, Dan Dubois Heating Service, RPM Racing Engines, Countryside Auto Body, Ron’s Transmissions, Spaulding Construction, Dubois Snowmobile Parts & Service and Liberte Auto Sales.
As we approach mid-season and temperatures begin to ramp up (both under the hoods and in the pits), staying consistent and bagging a couple of feature wins are the goals at hand for Spaulding.
“I’d really like to earn that points championship this year,” he said. “I came so close a couple of times in the Outlaws. I won a lot of races, but had one bad week and finished third. You can’t afford to have many off nights in this class.”
Spaulding knows everything will have to go his way to secure that coveted title.
“I’ve improved my equipment, am looking at the big picture every week, and just trying to run my own races. If we can steer clear of trouble and the car stays as hooked up as it’s been lately, I think we can make a solid run at it.”