Camp kids and staff with car 2013

photo by Alanna McHenan.

story by Chris Roy

Donald Rideout of Washburn, ME is one of the drivers competing in the Northern Lights & Bombers Series at Spud Speedway.

Like most race car drivers Donald has spent the off season getting ready for the 2014 race season at Spud Speedway. “I have been working on our upcoming Camp Adventure raffle. I also try to help out as much as I can by answering questions that other racers sometimes have about multiple topics. I try to help support the track and help other drivers as much as possible. I also race RC trucks in the off season. It helps to satisfy the competitive urge. Of course, I’m also building a new Bomber car this year. Bomber cars require much less time and money to build and since this winter seems to be dragging on forever it will be a quick build. I can’t really do much with it in the cold months since our garage is not heated.”


After sitting out the 2013 race season due to an injury, Donald is hoping to get some seat time in a limited schedule this season. “2014 is going to be a slow year in terms of racing. After having surgery on my wrist in December of 2012 I had to give up racing for a bit. I had hoped to return this year but I will not be able to do so. Not full time anyway. I intend to race the Bomber class. We only run Bombers a few times out of the season. I plan to concentrate on our Camp Adventure raffle and supporting the track. I help the owner with the Spud Speedway website and I try to help out in any other way that I can as well. We, RTM Racing, have tried to be as involved with the race track as possible. For the past two years we have given away a $25 Family Pass every week. This was made possible by money from our sponsors. This year we are unable to do this since I have not sought out sponsorship. Since I won’t be racing in my normal class I won’t need the help of sponsors. We will be at every race event possible to show our support.”

A Veteran of some of the old school tracks, here in Maine where the tracks can be as tough as the drivers racing on them, so which one of these heart pounding tracks is Donald’s favorite? “Of the three race tracks I have raced on, the old Unity dirt track (now Fantasy Speedway), Speedway 95, and Spud Speedway, I would have to say that Spud is the smoothest of them all. Many drivers say that Spud has an “Extra” turn that can be tricky but I have never really noticed. I think this is mostly noticed by the bigger rear wheel drive classes and not the front wheel drive classes. Spud is a nice track as most drivers will tell you. Most of the out of town drivers that come here say that they love how easy it is to move around our track. I guess the biggest “key” to getting around the track is to not let the smoothness catch you off guard. In other words, it can be so smooth you end up pushing your car harder than you should. Next thing you know, you’re in the grass.”

During the race season Donald and his race team help support the local Diabetes camp for children. “When we started racing we soon discovered that racing could be a good way to get involved in other things. People knew us from racing so we were able to use that to our advantage. We decided to find a worthy cause to help raise money for. Camp Adventure seemed like the perfect cause. It was local, it was for kids, and it was the perfect way for us, personally, to give back because my girlfriend’s son Logan is a Diabetic. Logan has been able to attend the camp a couple of times, all due to the generosity of others who donated money to pay for a scholarship that allowed him to go. This year I plan to incorporate our new Bomber car into the Camp Adventure raffle. It will serve as a Camp Adventure/RTM Racing joint venture. I intend to display the car wherever I sell tickets for our raffle as well as race it. It is a good way to get people’s attention and that will hopefully help sell tickets. I want to have all the campers sign the car. I also plan to let all businesses that donate to our raffle sign the car as well. In fact, I am going to let anyone that buys a raffle ticket, sign the car if they want to.”

The fans and drivers love an exciting race, side by side racing, the bump and run, 3 wide racing BUT, safety is always important when racing. “Safety should ALWAYS come first. I believe in doing things right when it comes to racing. That means everything from building the car, to the way I drive it on the track. I feel that the biggest problem with safety is the cost. Sometimes things are so expensive that it makes it difficult to be able to take advantage of them. HANS devices, for example, are one of the best pieces of safety equipment a driver can have. The issue for most is the cost. A typical HANS device can cost $600, usually more. Don’t get me wrong, they are worth every penny. Some people just don’t have that kind of money, especially in the low budget beginner classes. Look what happened in Florida recently. A young girl was killed her first time on the track, during practice. I am not positive but I believe that the report said she was not wearing a HANS device or anything like one. She impacted a cement barricade and died from the injuries that she sustained in the crash. Does that mean that she would have survived with a HANS device? Not necessarily, but maybe. I believe in safety, but I also believe that no amount of safety equipment will GUARANTEE your safety. We as drivers must do all we can to be safe when we get behind the wheel of a race car. Many times drivers get frustrated or angry when they are on the track and they turn their cars into one ton weapons. I guess what I mean is that safety is what we make it.”

Sponsors are a key aspect of racing, the sponsor the race cars, the race tracks, and the races, otherwise ticket price for the fans would be much higher. “Sponsors are one of the most important things you need if you want to be competitive. To be competitive takes money and if you don’t have much you will DEFINITELY need sponsors. The race track itself also needs sponsors in order to offer purse money and trophies for the drivers. It can be difficult to get sponsors. The first time I decided to look for sponsors I took a step back and asked myself “What can I do differently to get sponsors?” The whole point of sponsorship is to get your business name out there. It is just another way to advertise. This gave me an idea. If I took some of my sponsorship money and purchased a $25 Family Pass to give away every week then that would give me the opportunity to read aloud all my sponsor names when we gave away the family Pass. This plus nice sponsor decals and a nice looking car worked great for getting sponsors.”

Donald would like to tell all the race fans about the upcoming season at Spud Speedway. “This year is going to be a VERY EXCITING year for spud speedway! It is our 50th Anniversary! The new motto is Door to Door Since ’64. There will be LOTS going on this year. Monster Trucks, Day of Destruction, Mustang Car Show, Carnival Weekend, North-South Outlaw series, 4th of July fireworks show and much, much more! If you have never been to Spud Speedway, this is the year to check it out! If you have been there, make sure you come back this year.”