Hall of Fame 2005

Hall of Fame Class of 2005


“Wild” Bill Carlton Driver

Bill Carlton got his start in racing at the old Belfast Raceway in 1948. But it wasn’t until he arrived at Unity Raceway in 1951 that he began to cultivate his racing talent. During the 1950’s at Unity, Bill would race anything with wheels and compete in as many races as he could, including the popular ramp races. It was during this time when his name changed from Bill to ‘Wild Bill’. He says ‘Wild Bill’ came from his many rollovers and continuing in the race once track workers righted the car. But, for those who saw him race, the ‘Wild Bill’ moniker was from his “all out” driving style, which frequently resulted in a race win. With the 1960’s came modified racing at Unity. In 1961, he won the prestigious Governor’s Trophy race, a 50-lap event for the modifieds. When Unity Raceway became an asphalt track in 1963, ‘Wild Bill’ showed he was equally adept on pavement as he was on dirt. During the first three years the track was asphalt, Bill won one track championship and finished second in points in the other two seasons. During a twenty-plus year driving career, ‘Wild Bill’ won well over one hundred races and was a fan favorite wherever he raced.

Jackie Knight Driver

Jackie Knight was one of the most popular drivers to have ever strapped on a helmet and sit behind the wheel of a race car at Oxford Plains Speedway. But, Jackie’s racing career began long before Oxford Plains Speedway opened its gates in 1950. He began racing cars at the Lewiston Fairgrounds in the summer of 1941 with cars right off the street. Following his enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, Jackie went back to racing – first at the Norway Fairgrounds in 1948, then Beech Ridge Speedway in 1949 and Oxford Plains beginning in 1950. He didn’t limit his racing to Maine tracks. Jackie ventured down to the Peabody (Massachusetts) Speedway in the 1950’s and “cleaned house”. When Oxford Plains converted from dirt to asphalt, Jackie never skipped a beat. During the 1960’s, he became associated with the gold colored number “77” Chevrolets. A racing career which spanned almost 35 years, Jackie was voted the ‘Most Popular Driver’ on three occasions and was twice honored by his fellow drivers as ‘Driver-of-the-Year’.

Ed Knowles Track Builder/Owner/Promoter

Ed Knowles is often referred to as the “father of Unity Raceway”. His interest in auto racing was fueled from the winter months he spent in Florida, attending racing events at places like Hialeah Speedway. With a belief auto racing would be popular in Maine, Ed planned to build a race track (the first in the state) on land he owned on the outskirts of Portland in 1948. Instead of building a race track for stock cars, he thought midget car races would be very popular. But, the plan to build the track was quickly cancelled when he heard a track in Scarborough was going to be built by Jim McConnell. Undaunted, Ed looked further north. In 1949, he purchased the Waldo County Fairgrounds in Unity. Renamed Unity Raceway, the half-mile dirt track opened for stock car races ‘officially’ on June 17, 1950. History, however, will show Mr. Knowles attempted to open his new track the previous fall on October 22, 1949 but the race program was never completed due to weather. The track was shortened to a one-third mile oval in 1957 and three years later, Mr. Knowles turned over the daily operations of the track to son Bob.

Gardiner Leavitt Driver/Car Owner/Builder

Gardiner Leavitt has raced on the dirt of Beech Ridge Speedway, the high-banks of Dover (Delaware) International Speedway and numerous short tracks in the northeast United States and eastern Canada. Affectionately called the “Geezer from Keezer”, Gardiner’s fifty-plus year involvement in auto racing began at Beech Ridge in 1951. The white and red number “35” was a familiar and popular site for race fans and competitors alike. When the Late Model NASCAR North Tour was created in 1979, Gardiner decided it was time to try something new. After twelve years competing in NASCAR events from North Carolina and Virginia to the Maritime Provinces of Canada, Gardiner retired as a driver to take on the new role of tutor to young, inexperienced drivers. For over fifty years, Gardiner has worn the hats of race driver and car owner, teacher, fabricator and race parts supplier. Gardiner and wife June have an extended “family of friends” throughout the northeast. Gardiner is a member of the Beech Ridge Speedway Hall of Fame.

Bob Libby Driver/Official

Bob Libby began racing at Beech Ridge Speedway in 1954. He spent twenty-five years driving race cars and winning races from Massachusetts to the Canadian Maritimes. Highly respected as a driver and car owner by his fellow competitors, Bob was elected to the position of President of the Main State Stock Car Racing Association to an unprecedented 15 terms. In the early 1960’s, Bob also served several years as President of the Pine State Stock Car Association at Oxford Plains Speedway and was instrumental in creating the speedway’s asphalt transition to the same size as Beech Ridge’s 1/3-mile track. For the last 50 years, Bob has quietly and modestly influenced the direction of Beech Ridge Speedway and the sport of auto racing in Maine as a driver, car owner, multi-term MSSCRA President and, for the last fifteen years, the Director of Competition at Beech Ridge. Bob Libby is a member of the Beech Ridge Speedway Hall of Fame and joins his brother Phil as a member of the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Floyd “Zeke” Trask Track Announcer/Official/Historian

The original “voice of Oxford Plains Speedway”, Floyd ‘Zeke’ Trask embarked on a twenty year career as track or “race” announcer when Oxford Plains Speedway opened its gates for the first time in May 1950. But, Zeke’s association with Oxford Plains Speedway began long before that May afternoon when he described the racing action to over 5,000 excited race fans. He worked alongside speedway owner George Damon in the planning of the speedway and the formation of the Pine State Stock Car Racing Association the year before. Zeke joined Damon in appearing before various town and state officials on behalf of auto racing. Zeke did experience first hand what it was like to drive race car. He never raced at Oxford Plains Speedway, except in the occasional officials’ race, but he did drive Wimpy Millett’s coupe in several races at the old Norway Fairgrounds in the early 1949. When the speedway was purchased by Bob Bahre in 1964, Zeke joined the staff as a caller for the scorekeepers, a judge and spare announcer. In 1971, he became the full-time announcer before retiring two years later. Zeke added the titles of “author” and “historian” to his resume when, in 1999, he documented the early history of Oxford Plains Speedway in a book titled “Oxford Plains Speedway – The First Three Years – 1950–1952”.

Elijah “Tiger” White Driver/Car Owner

Elijah ‘Tiger’ White never started driving a race car until he was 50 years old and a grandfather. Known for the black with orange stripes Fords bearing the number “156”, Tiger’s driving career was a brief five years in length. Tiger began racing at Oxford Plains Speedway in 1965 behind the wheel of a 1956 Ford in the old Sportsman division. Even though most of the drivers Tiger competed against were half his age, before most race nights were over, they would be following the “racing grandfather”. When Speedway 95 outside Bangor opened in July 1966, Tiger raced twice on weekends – Saturday nights at Oxford Plains and Sunday afternoons at Speedway 95 – and he won at both tracks. After he won a race, Tiger delighted the race fans by doing a headstand on the roof of his winning car. Tiger retired from driving in 1969, a season in which he sustained injuries in several accidents. He returned to racing the following season as a car owner with Stan Horne driving the tiger striped “156”. Together, they won the track championship at Oxford Plains Speedway in 1975. Tiger finally retired from active participation in 1976.

Pat & Harold “Pappy” Wilcox Official/Scorer – Driver

It is only fitting Pat & Harold ‘Pappy’ Wilcox are entering the Hall of Fame together. Pat and Harold had a deep affection for auto racing, wherever Harold was racing, Pat would be right by his side helping to get Pappy’s race car ready for the next event. Pat was more than a supportive wife. She was as deeply involved in auto racing on the grandstand side of the fence as her husband was on the track. She was a judge (a job usually held by men) and scorer at Unity Raceway and Pat even tried her hand at race promoting. Harold began racing at Belfast Raceway in 1950 before calling Unity his “home track” the following year. Pappy also raced at Bass Park, Exeter Speedway and Brewer Speedway. In addition to racing cars, Pappy was stunt driver – jumping ramps, going through the “wall of fire” and driving into a 5-ton block of ice. He was the first driver from Maine to race the NASCAR Grand National circuit, now Nextel Cup Series. In 1961, Harold drove the circuit from Norwood (Massachusetts) Arena to Ashville (North Carolina) Speedway. Pappy returned to Maine the following year. He retired as a driver in 1972, after twenty-two years of thrilling race fans, to support his son’s racing career as a car builder and advisor.

Mike Rowe  
Bob Babb Jr.  
Ed Drake 
Mike Rowe  
Lorraine & John Rice  
Steve LeClair