PORTLAND — An overflow crowd at the Holiday Inn By the Bay witnessed history in its present form on Saturday night, as Beech Ridge Motor Speedway honored its champions both past and present during the track’s 69th annual Celebration of Awards.
Highlighting the honors were Dan McKeage of Gorham, a champion in multiple Beech Ridge divisions over his 25-year career, who was the latest inductee into the track’s Hall of Fame. McKeage, the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion, has raced himself and supported divisions throughout his career by fielding race cars in numerous support divisions — including cars for his father, Lyman, his wife, Laura, and his twin sons.
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to Dan Walker, who in 40 years has done a little bit of everything at Beech Ridge. In addition to Thursday Thunder competition behind the wheel, Walker — the speedway’s current pit steward — has written press releases, hosted a radio show, and served in numerous behind-the-scenes capacities.
The 2017 Pro Series champion Reid Lanpher collected the hardware for his second such title, and in addition he was named the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway Driver of the Year. With his second Driver of the Year nod, Lanpher etched his name onto the short list of Driver of the Decade nominees.
Sally Gherardi earned her second career Sport Series championship this season, while Adam Lovejoy was a first-time Wildcat champion.
Each of the champions was greeted by a number of past Beech Ridge champions — Ralph Cusack (12 track titles), Dick Wolstenhume (10), Mike Maietta (9) and Mike Johnson (8), who among them have accounted for 20 percent of the championships in the 69-year history of the track. Highlighting the ceremony was the presence of all three 1977 Beech Ridge champions — Johnson, Cusack and Bob Babb — who celebrated the 40th anniversary of those title seasons along with the track’s current champions.
History, both documented and still in the making, continue to make Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and its championships special. With the 70th season of competition at the race track set to begin in the spring, the annual Celebration of Awards was the perfect kick-off to the road back home to Beech Ridge.