AUBURN — Every spring since 1979, racers and fans in and around the Twin Cities of Auburn and Lewiston have gathered at the Auburn Mall to shake off cabin fever and get a glimpse into the coming season.

The mall hosts its annual Race Car Show from Sunday, March 27, through Sunday, April 2 this year.

“It’s a lot of work, but can also be very rewarding when the halls are filled on Friday night and Saturday,” show promoter Ray Giguere said. “I’ve been trying to build it up the last few years, and the results have been very satisfying.”

A parade of race cars down Center Street at 2 p.m. on Sunday will kick things off. The cars will return to the mall via Turner Street before being rolled into the building to take their places at 5 p.m. 

Giguere, a truck driver at Regency Transportation and lifelong race fan from Auburn, is now in his sixth year as the show’s organizer. He took it over from Dan and Shannon Morris in 2012, who, along with John and Dottie Patria, assumed control in 2007 after Oxford Plains Speedway bowed out.

“We’ll be rolling nearly 75 racing machines of all types into the mall on Sunday night,” Giguere added. “We’ll have cars from Oxford, Wiscasset, Beech Ridge and Oxford Dragway. I feel this could easily be the nicest assembly of quality cars on display at the show in several years.” 

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The list of local racers planning to exhibit includes two-time Oxford champion Shawn Martin of Turner, Addie McDaniel, Cody Childs, Wiscasset regular Jimmy Childs, Oxford veteran Richard Spaulding, and rising star Shelby Shurtleff. 

Former WMTW weatherman Tom Elliman had the initial concept for the mall show when he worked for Bob Bahre back in 1979. The concept then, as it continues to be today, was to build interest for the coming season here in the Twin Cities, where a large number of fans live.

Auburn native Bob Morris and the late Bob Walker of Norway staffed the mall show in the 1980s and 90s on behalf of the speedway. Both were excellent at promoting the sport and connecting with race fans. 

“I think everybody realizes the benefit of creating this kind of interaction between racers and fans,” Giguere said. “Along with great exposure for those teams with local and regional sponsors, the real value here is that personal interaction.

“I have an autograph session scheduled from 6-8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, where all drivers are required to be with their cars. The last two years, we’ve packed the place with fans taking photos, getting autographs and getting to know drivers. Building those relationships is what keeps people interested in racing.”

The biggest thing Giguere has done to provide incentive to local racers is to hand out awards for various classes. That turned what could have been viewed as a simple static display to increase traffic at the mall into a more-than-legitimate car show. This year, the prizes up for grabs are worth noting. 

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New for 2017 is the Bob Walker Memorial Award, presented to a show participant based on their previous season’s on-track results, contribution to the sport and conduct, both on and off the track.

Walker, the “Voice of Oxford” for 35 years, left an indelible mark on Maine auto racing and passed away in February. This year’s award ceremony will take place on Saturday, April 1, at 4 p.m. 

“Every car owner or driver who brings a car to display gets an 8×10 plaque, whether they win an award or not. For our Best of Show Award this year, the winner gets a brand new fire suit (that sells for $700).

“Second place will receive a new helmet, and third place will take home new racing shoes and gloves. That should create a little extra incentive for those local painters and graphic designers.”

Giguere has worked hard to find support for what he’s done to build this annual gathering for local racers and fans.  

“I’m fortunate to have a group of over 20 valued sponsors who are covering the cost of this year’s show. I’ll donate my time since it goes over so well with racers and fans. I’m happy to give local racing a boost and keep this tradition alive.”

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Oxford Plains Speedway Street Stock veteran Richard Spaulding’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo sits in the Auburn Mall during the 2016 Race Car Show. Spaulding and several local racers who compete at Oxford, Beech Ridge and Wiscasset will have their 2017 machines on display at the Mall from March 27 through April 2. 

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