SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Wyatt Alexander could not believe what was happening around him.
A crowd had surrounded his race car as friends, family, crew members, fans and track workers gathered to congratulate him on what was undoubtedly the biggest victory of his career Sept. 26 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.
Alexander, a 22-year-old senior studying mechanical engineering at the University of Maine who was recently named the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Northeast Region Rookie of the Year, had just won the 100-lap Pro Series super late model finale that concluded the season at the historic third-mile paved oval.
That alone would have been reason enough to celebrate, but there was a lot more to it than that.
One week prior to Alexander’s victory, on the final night of points racing at the track that opened as a third-mile dirt track in 1949 and was paved in 1987, it was revealed that track owner Andy Cusack had reached an agreement to sell the beloved race track to a property developer.
It came as a shock to everyone in attendance, including Alexander, who chased points at Beech Ridge for the first time this year. While he didn’t grow up attending races at Beech Ridge, many of his closest friends, as well as his girlfriend and her family, did.
He knows what the track means to them.
“It takes a lot to make me speechless, but I was,” Alexander said about the news of Beech Ridge’s impending demise. “My emotions immediately projected onto other people. I was thinking about my girlfriend and her family and the staff in general that have been involved there for a long time. Some of my really close friends grew up there.
“Some of my best friends in the whole world and people I’ve become close with now I met at Beech Ridge,” Alexander continued. “I know what it means to them.”
So as Alexander emerged from his car following an intense 100-lap battle with Joey Doiron and Curtis Gerry, emotions were high. Alexander exited his car, waved the checkered flag, slammed his hand onto the roof of his car and was picked up by friend Brandon Lizotte and carried away from the car in celebration.
Then Lizotte tripped and fell, dropping Alexander on his back.
“He tried to basically pick me up when I jumped off the roof and then we hit the asphalt,” Alexander said. “We rebounded, we got back up from the tackle and continued to celebrate.”
The lead up to the victory celebration, which Alexander admitted included plenty of tears, was full of emotional moments. It started with the decision to run a tribute paint scheme on his car, which typically carries the No. 96.
Instead, the car Alexander drove Sunday carried the No. 51 as a tribute to Dan and Jeff Walker, the father and brother of his girlfriend Lindsey Walker. The car number also featured a collage of pictures, while Dan and Jeff Walker’s names lettered above both the driver side and passenger doors.
“I knew going into it I wanted to do something special,” Alexander said. “My girlfriend, Lindsey, I met her because of all of our mutual friends that are clustered around Beech Ridge. Her father is a longstanding employee or has been involved with the speedway for 41 years and her brother raced there for a long time.
“A picture had been floating around on Facebook of Dan, Lindsey’s father, one of his first Wildcats, which is a street stock,” Alexander explained. “It was a pretty crude looking red and white No. 51. So I thought, ‘Well, that would be a pretty good one to throw back to.’”
He had to burn the midnight oil to get the throwback done in time for Sunday’s race, but with the help of family and friends, the reveal went off without a hitch.
“I wanted to do something cool and it worked out,” Alexander said. “Obviously, that was just one portion of what was a really, really cool day.”
The emotional moments continued later in the day. As Alexander was finishing his final run in practice, he decided to give one of his friends, Garrett Lamb, the chance to turn some laps in his car.
“He races the PASS Modified Series up here. He’s been doing my tires 90 percent of the year and has been a critical part of our success throughout the year,” Alexander said. “He’s only ever driven a pro stock (super late model) once for a few laps at Oxford. In my mind, it is inevitable that he’s going to race a super late model at some point.
“He grew up at Beech Ridge. I thought that one, I need to return the favor to him somehow because he’s done a lot for me. Two, there’s no way that I can look at him 10 years from now and think, ‘Man, he never got to drive a super late model at Beech Ridge.’”
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