The engines finally roared and fans again enjoyed stock car racing on Saturday, Aug. 1 at Wiscasset Speedway.

Knox, Waldo and Lincoln county drivers were among those who took part in the first races at the 51-year-old track after previous events had to be called off due to the on-going COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Ken Minott of the track said opening day arrived; however, similar to the landscape around the business and sports world due to the pandemic, it was met with changes, restrictions and adjustments.

Minott said the 2020 season, originally scheduled to start in late April, was put on hold while track officials worked with Maine officials to help find a safe way to include fans in the stands. The final weekend of July the state released guidelines that restricted grandstand seating to 200 fans, separated into four distinct sections of 50 people. Other standard coronavirus safety protocols were implemented to keep people safe while enjoying a day they had waited more than three months to arrive.

Track officials made the decision to start the schedule wherever it happened to fall in the season, which meant Group 2 divisions got the nod to race on opening day. The show included a 50-lap main event for the Wood Pellet Warehouse Late Model Sportsman, along with races in the Modified, Outlaw Mini and Strictly Street Divisions.

Minott said Frank Moulton, and five-time defending LMS champion Chris Thorne, had the honors to lead the first feature race of the season to the green flag, thanks to their heat wins.

Moulton roared to a good start shaking off the challenge of Thorne. Former champ Will Collins moved into second to pressure the leader, which brought Josh St. Clair, and Andrew McLaughlin into contention. In the meantime, Thorne struggled with handling his car and began to drop back on the outside.

While Moulton enjoyed a two-car-length advantage, Collins had his hands full as he tried to hold off the pair behind him. Mclaughlin carefully picked his way around the outside and took over second by lap 16 as St. Clair moved up to third. Moulton was a half-straightaway ahead, but his car began to get tight and he slowly fell back into the clutches of McLaughlin.

A balance of patience and persistence paid off on lap 22, as McLaughlin drove around Moulton to take the lead. Meanwhile, St. Clair stayed just a car-length behind the pair, as he waited for a mistake by either driver.

Once McLaughlin grabbed the lead he steadily pulled away over the second half of the race and ran away to the win. It was a prototypical victory for the 2018 champion and driver of the year.

St. Clair never had a real shot to pressure Andrew for the win over the second half of the race. He settled for second. Moulton held strong despite his handling issues and came home with a third-place finish. Brandon Bailey made a late-race charge to finish fourth, while Collins held on for fifth. The race went caution-free.

In other action, third-generation racer Jonathon Emerson picked up an emotional victory in the 25-lap feature for the Portland Glass Strictly Streets.

He raced door-to-door with his father and defending champ, Zach Emerson, for the first 16 laps of the race. They traded the lead five times, until Jonathon finally secured the lead and went on to the win.

Zach joined him in victory lane to claim the second-place trophy after a tight battle with Brad Erskine, who settled for third.

In victory lane, the Emerson family shared in the victory and shed tears as they paid tribute to the patriarch and mentor of the family, Larry Emerson, Jonathon's grandfather, and Zach's father, who passed away last winter following an illness.

In the 30-lap feature for the Hancock Heights Modifieds, defending champ Adam Chadbourne held off rival Nick Reno for the wire-to-wire, caution-free victory. Reno took home the second-place trophy, while Brian Treadwell ran a strong race to finish third.

The 25-lap feature for the Kennebec Equipment Rental Outlaw Minis also was a caution-free contest that was led wire-to-wire by Zach Audet. James Grover matched his career-best Outlaw Mini race with a runner-up finish. Ryan Keniston rounded out the top three with his first podium finish.

The individual results from Aug. 1 racing were;

Wood Pellet Warehouse Late Model Sportsman (50 laps – spotlight) — 1, Andrew McLaughlin, Harrington; 2, Josh St. Clair, Liberty; 3, Frank Moulton, Clinton; 4, Brandon Bailey, Woolwich; 5, Will Collins, Waldoboro; 6, Brent Roy, Vassalboro; 7, Scott Hall, Jay; 8, Logan Melcher, Fayette; 9, Branden Fowler, Rome; 10, Dave St. Clair, Liberty; 11, James Barker, Turner; 12, Alex Waltz, Walpole; 13, Chris Thorne, Sidney; and 14, Matt Bourgoine, Stetson.

Hancock Heights Modifieds (30 laps) — 1, Adam Chadbourne, Woolwich; 2, Nick Reno, West Bath; 3, Brian Treadwell, Hancock; and 4, Jeff Prindall, Lisbon Falls.

Kennebec Equipment Rental Outlaw Mini (25 laps) — 1, Zach Audet, Norridgewock; 2, James Grover Jr., Newcastle; and 3, Ryan Kenniston, Smithfield.

Portland Glass Strictly Streets (25 laps) — 1, Jonathon Emerson, Sabattus; 2, Zachary Emerson, Sabattus; 3, Brad Erskine, Solon; 4, Steve Rackliff, Starks; 5, Brett Osmond, Wiscasset; 6, Brady Romano, Livermore Falls; 7, Michael Haynes, Livermore Falls; 8, Caleb Emerson-Mains, Richmond; and 9, Paul Hopkins, Camden.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.