Six to join Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame

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GRAY — Officers of the Maine Vintage Race Car Association, parent organization behind the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame, announced the six inductees who comprise its Class of 2018 on Sunday. 

Car builder Steve Leavitt, engine builder Dave MacMaster, snowmobile racer Tom Peters, along with drivers Rick Zemla, Doug Ripley and Dave St. Clair make up the group’s newest class to be enshrined.

These six highly-accomplished individuals will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 14, 2018, at the Augusta Civic Center. 

Leavitt, 66, originally of Kezar Falls now living in Moorseville, North Carolina, and the son of 2005 inductee Gardiner Leavitt, was a successful Maine car builder, fabricator and innovator in the 1970s and 1980s. 

After earning a solid reputation here in New England, he moved south in 1992 and soon made a name for himself in NASCAR working for the famed Hendrick Motorsports. Leavitt now builds cars in his own shop in Mooresville. 

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This coming Sunday, Leavitt will be in South Windsor, Connecticut, to accept his father’s induction into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. 

“This is truly a great honor for me,” Leavitt said via telephone from his shop in North Carolina on Monday. “With my father being inducted by NEAR this Sunday and the news of my own selection for Maine, it’s an exciting time.

“I’m good friends with both Dave (MacMaster) and Rick (Zemla), and I’m lucky to be part of such a great class. I built a lot of cars in my day for champions like Robbie Crouch and many others. My work was noticed, and I’m very proud.” 

MacMaster, of Litchfield, is the founder of Butler and MacMaster Racing Engines, located in Hallowell. He sold the company in 2010 after building championship-caliber engines for 30 years.  

Peters, a native of Stockholm, Maine, and now residing in Presque Isle, was one of the most successful snowmobile racers ever from the state of Maine. Peters raced in the late 1960s and 1970s as a low-budget independent, yet consistently beat the factory-backed teams on the ovals. 

Zemla, of Westbrook, had a long and successful career at the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough. Zemla won two Late Model championships in 1982 and 1983 before earning Rookie of the Year honors on the old NASCAR North tour in 1984.  

Ripley raced primarily at Unity and Wiscasset in his years behind the wheel. He won the points championship at Unity in 1962 and a title at Wiscasset in 1983. Ripley earned over 60 feature wins in a stellar career. 

St. Clair, known affectionately in racing circles as “Boss Hogg,” has raced for decades and still competes on a part-time basis at Wiscasset, the track he owned from 1991 to 2008. St. Clair started racing in 1965 and won four titles at Unity. 

Since the inaugural class in 2004, the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame has inducted 98 individuals. The Maine Vintage Race Car Association (MVRCA) was co-founded in 2002 by Allen Brann and the late Bob Morris, of Auburn. 

pwhipple@sunjournal.com  

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