Shawn Dickinson communicates with a car to enter the track during an April 13 practice at Wiscasset Speedway. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WISCASSET — For many years, the Coastal 200 was something of a gift. Wiscasset Speedway ownership offered it to a group of weekly racers who had few options to go anywhere else and compete.

Things sure have changed.

For those who couldn’t tell you the difference between a Modified and a Mini Stock, a little history lesson.

Wiscasset Speedway’s Late Model Sportsman division is something of an island in Maine’s motorsports community. With fewer bells and whistles than their Super Late Model counterparts, the cars themselves are not eligible for events like the Oxford 250 or myriad other Pro All Stars Series-sanctioned events.

Other than a handful of cars that call Speedway 95 in Hermon home, there are no other Late Models competing in Maine, and it’s been that way for over a decade — since Tom Mayberry bought Oxford Plains Speedway in 2013. 

The Coastal 200 began in its early years as a Super Late Model race, and then became a Late Model race under former track owner Doug White in the mid-2000s.


In its early years, the race paid a couple of thousand bucks to the winner — a nice increase over a weekly $700-$800 purse, but nothing that generated much interest outside of the Wiscasset Speedway pit area.

It was really just a chance for weekly teams to test themselves outside of the usual 35- or 40-lap weekly feature events and slap on some fresh tires to see how they stacked up against one another over a long haul.

Under the current ownership of Richard and Vanessa Jordan, the Coastal 200 morphed into one of Maine’s major auto racing events. On Sunday, it will pay its largest winner’s purse ($15,000 to win) and be contested with likely its largest field of competitors. As of Wednesday, 33 cars had entered or verbally committed, while there were new teams which popped up for Thursday’s open practice session.

Only two races in Maine this summer — the Oxford 250 and the inaugural Celebration of America 300, both at Oxford — will pay more than the Coastal 200.

In auto racing, there’s a simple premise: money talks. It gets people’s attention.

“It’s a big payday, that’s for sure,” Skowhegan’s Kris Matchett said.


Sunday’s starting grid is nearly guaranteed to include Oxford 250 winners, Boss Hogg 150 winners, previous Coastal 200 champions, multi-time Wiscasset Speedway champions and some of the region’s best short-track talent. 

But also in that starting field will be a number of racers who have long competed nowhere except Wiscasset Speedway, proud members of the rank-and-file local Late Model Sportsman division. The Coastal 200 has been referred to by these drivers as both the Oxford 250 and the Daytona 500 of this division.

The influx of outside invaders and top-quality stock car teams has done nothing to dampen the spirits of those drivers the race was initially designed for.

If anything, the interest from afar has had the opposite effect.

“I think it shows a lot of popularity in our class,” said Brent Roy, of Vassalboro, now in his fifth season in a Late Model at Wiscasset. “There’s just more excitement about the race now.”

Roy finished fifth in last year’s Coastal 200.


“That really showed that I might have something for these guys that race full time and have been doing it for years and years and years,” Roy said, acknowledging the difficulty of only racing in one extra-distance race a year.

On Sunday evening, with dusk settling in over the horizon behind Wiscasset Speedway, a driver and a team will celebrate a signature win in Victory Lane. They will have in hand the largest check ever issued for the winner of a Late Model race in Maine’s history.

Will it be one of the outsiders, swooping in to take the money from the locals? Will it be that one of the undersized and under-funded weekly teams scores an unlikely triumph? Will it be a first-time Coastal 200 champion or a repeat winner?

In the end, it won’t really matter.

Whoever wins, it will be a gift.

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