SCARBOROUGH — As the “changing of the guard” continues across the entire scope of Maine short track racing, another example of that incoming talent put in an impressive performance any “rookie” would enjoy in 2015. 

For 20-year-old Garrett Hall of Scarborough, moving up to the premier NASCAR Pro Series class at Beech Ridge meant a huge challenge. It’s common knowledge that class is one of if not the most competitive weekly divisions in the entire state.

Yet, with help from his chassis builder, a supportive family and dedicated crew, Hall battled up front all season long — and nearly claimed the championship against red-hot Reid Lanpher.

“Our results were way better than we expected for our first year in such a tough class,” Hall said of his incredibly-consistent efforts. “Our goal was to win Rookie-of-the-Year honors, since there were two other drivers stepping up at the same time.”

In 15 starts, Hall posted nine top-five finishes and landed inside the top 10 on 13 occasions. His team was fast right out of the box, scoring an impressive second-place finish in Week 2 on May 30. While he may not have visited Victory Lane, those steady top-five runs kept him in the thick of the points race.

“A lot of our success this year has to do with Jeff Taylor, owner of Distance Racing Products. He’s been a huge help with getting our chassis dialed in so well. It takes a great handing car to get the kind of results we’re enjoying, and his wealth of knowledge made that possible. We’re very fortunate.”

Hall’s weekly battles against Lanpher thrilled fans all season long. Lanpher got stronger as the season progressed, taking the points lead away from Hall in early August. Yet, going into the season finale this past Saturday night, the two were separated by a mere 10 markers.

“I liked racing with Reid because he’s got class and shows respect to other drivers,” Hall added. “We get along pretty good; we seem to race clean against each other and haven’t really had any issues on the track. I didn’t have any problems with anybody at Beech Ridge all year, which is a good thing.”

Hall started racing in 2010, competing in the Thursday Thunder program at Beech Ridge. He drove in the Mad Bomber class, known as a great training ground for aspiring young racers. From there, he moved up to the Sport Series, just a notch below the Pro Series super late models yet nearly as full of talent.

“We ran three years in the Sport Series, which is also very competitive. In our first season, we finished fifth in points and earned Rookie-of-the-Year honors. In my second year, I finished second in points and received the Driver of the Year award. In 2014, I won the class championship. We figured it was time to move up and give the Pro Series a shot.”

Hall is a perfect example of how aspiring young talent should look at the sport. Climbing the ladder in stages, getting his program dialed in at one level before advancing to the next. He’s a calculating, patient racer, willing to pay his dues before taking on a new challenge. Like a handful of other 15-to-21 year-olds in the sport, he possesses the intelligence and maturity to match a heavy right foot.

“Racing takes a combination of things to be successful,” Hall explained. “I learned early on that good equipment and ability are key factors, yet it also takes team chemistry, strategy and even a little luck. With our No. 94 team, we have those elements in place, plus the backing to make it possible.”

As we’ve documented all season when looking at other drivers, those financial resources are required to compete at any level, especially in a super late model. Hall’s natural talent and easy-going personality have drawn the support it takes.

“We’re fortunate to have a great group of sponsors that allow us to compete at this level,” Hall added. “Our marketing partners include Portsmouth Ford Quick Lane, Quinn’s Installation, McCormick and Sons Trucking, New England Tech Air, Robinson’s Transmission, DNL Weatherization, American Legion Post 76, GreatMoose.com, G.C. Libby Septic Service, JPR Lobster, New Energy Solutions and Black Point Auto & Towing. Without the support of these great folks, we simply could not do this.”

Hall also credit his team’s hard work for his success of 2015. That squad is comprised of his father, Dennis Hall, Dave Reed, Scott Dery, Jason Rule, Chip Deane, Willy Quinn, Nathan Carr, Kevin Smith, Ben Hall, Nate Leavett and Craig Smith.

Despite falling just a tad short of the championship, Hall and his team know they’re blessed to have enjoyed such a fabulous rookie season. There are many veteran teams that would have loved to post so many top-five finishes in a class where a top-10 is impressive on any given night. 

“We exceeded our own expectations by a long shot, so we can’t say we’re disappointed finishing second in points,” Hall added. “I would have liked to score a win, but we ran up front each week and that’s all any team can ask. As far as I know right now, we’ll be back in 2016 to take another crack at it.”

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