Richard Jordan doesn’t have all the “hows” figured out yet, but the Wiscasset Raceway's new owner hopes to hold one race there before the end of the 2012 racing season.
Jordan wants to celebrate the track’s return with everyone else who feels close to the place and has been rooting for its survival.
The 58-year-old Kingfield man, who lived in Edgecomb until he was 4, didn’t expect to be the high bidder at a foreclosure auction July 12. He had put up the required $25,000 deposit, along with roughly half a dozen other prospective bidders; but he was hoping the property would go to someone with “deep pockets,” he said.
As it turned out, Jordan’s $130,000 was all it took.
That and more than $40,000 in outstanding property taxes and a still unknown cost to address environmental issues at the racetrack. “Yankee ingenuity” can help with those, he said.
Jordan is considering seeking a partner in the business, in addition to his wife Vanessa Jordan, whom he said is “joyfully nervous” about owning the track.
His winning bid at the auction was Jordan’s first win at the track where he has raced a dozen or so times, mostly in 2008 and 2009. He was just a teen when he and his family attended the first race ever held there in 1969, when it opened as the Wiscasset Speedway.
Jordan has some things in his favor as he makes a go of his new venture. He already knows how to run a business. He owns Jordan Lumber Co. in Kingfield. His father Everett Jordan started the business after his sawmill in Edgecomb burned in the 1950s.
Now 90, Everett Jordan is excited that his son has bought the raceway. Richard Jordan said his father can’t wait to start mowing the grass there.
A lot of other people want to help too. Several came up to the new owner minutes after the auction ended. One said to just let him know when to bring the hammer and nails; another offered to bush-hog.
The next day, Jordan was thinking of scheduling a date when volunteers could gather and organize.
In addition to his business experience and a prospective group of volunteers, Jordan is encouraged by the welcome he received from Wiscasset Town Manager Laurie Smith and Town Planner Misty Gorski.
“Thank you for investing in our town,” Smith said as she shook hands with Jordan. “We just wanted to let you know we’re here if you need anything.”
Until that moment, Jordan hadn’t been sure what kind of outlook the town would have toward the track’s next owner. “What a relief that was,” he said later, about the warm reception the officials gave him.
He also had a positive exchange with one of the track’s next-door neighbors, Rhonda Hamlin. “I’m glad you’re going to keep it a track,” she said.
Hamlin was one of about 40 observers at the auction. Like others, she was hopeful a race lover would buy the track. She and her husband Dale Hamlin took the track’s previous owner Doug White to court, after he held a music festival called Oxxfest there in 2010. In May, Lincoln County Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm barred White’s Wiscasset Raceway from holding any music festivals or music concerts that would require special amusement permits.
Interviewed July 13, the couple’s lawyers Portland attorneys Timothy Zerillo and John Burke were not sure if the order would apply to the new owners. That could depend on a number of factors, but they don’t plan to explore that question unless similar problems arise, they said.
No Oxxfest, or anything close to it, is in Jordan’s plans. But he might have someone sing the national anthem or have a band play at a race sometime, he said.
“I have no intention to have a concert. That never has been an interest of mine, at all,” he said. “I always want to be a good neighbor.”
Just before the auction, Jordan looked over to the pit area and thought of a time in that very spot about four years ago when someone gave his mother Evangeline Jordan, who was in her mid-70s, a ride on the back of a motorcycle. It was one of many good memories the family had made at the raceway.
The auction fell on the third anniversary of Evangeline Jordan’s death. Her son said later that, when he was looking toward the pits, he’d said a prayer and told her maybe the track would end up being his.