Editor’s note: At press time, the subject of this story, Joey Doyon, had been charged with aggravated assault and assault. He was arrested July 26 with a hearing date of July 27. This story had been written and published online before the arrest, and we believe it contains valuable information. For more information about the arrest, see “Frankfort man charged with assault,” elsewhere on this website.

UNITY — “Junkyard” Joey Doyon has been around racing all his life. His dad worked the pit gate at Unity Raceway, while his mother organized the Junior Fan Club for the track and sold beer in the stands. Even his grandmother, he said, worked the concession stand. He started racing at 15.

“Anybody that has ever raced at this track wants it back,” he said.

After two years of asking Ralph Nason, the track’s owner, if he could take over the track, Nason finally agreed this year. “I think he got tired of me leaving him messages,” Doyon said.

Unity Raceway July 21. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

The track  was built in 1948 and Nason bought it in 1980. It has not been operated since 2017.In 2016, Nason entered into an agreement to sell the facility to George Fernald of Benton, who had previously leased it. Fernald started to grind up the track’s asphalt surface to return it to dirt, but then had health problems. In 2018, he sold the track back to Nason.

The question people keep asking Doyon is will the track be dirt or paved. “I haven’t decided on the surface yet,” he said. “A test is in the works.”

Doyon said the agreement he has worked out with Nason consists of a one-year lease with an option to buy after that. On this day, Doyon, along with his young helper, Anthony Lancaster, replaces large sections of wooden fencing along the road frontage. “I’m not afraid of hard work, doing something I love, for something I love,” he said.

Starting small, Doyon hopes to offer musical events or a cookout first and see how things progress. Several groups have approached him, he said, about doing lawnmower races or an ATV course event. “Basically, I’d like to have a place where people can have fun.

“Obviously I’d like to have racing here,” he said. “It will happen someday.”

Nason told The Republican Journal July 22 he felt Doyon’s ideas were solid. “He’s into his family and into family-type events,” he said. “I think those types of events could do pretty good.”

Nason said if it were up to him, he would get two or three bluegrass, country or even classic  rock bands and have a concert. “It could be fairly inexpensive if they were local,” he said.

The grandstand at Unity Raceway July 21. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

With the rise in popularity of ATV riding, Nason said, a 4-wheeler jamboree event where people camp overnight could be successful. Motocross events for 7-, 8-, or 9-year-olds would fill the stands and the idea of having a countywide fair back at the race track would be well received.

Nason recalled an offer he had in the past where a prospective buyer wanted to tear down the grandstand. “To me, it’s part of the history of the place,” he said, and added he no longer was interested in pursuing the sale to that buyer. “I don’t need to get rid of it,” he said. “I have no payments. I don’t want to do it, my kids, who were instrumental in making it a success, don’t want to do it.”

“This is a good deal for him (Doyon),” Nason said. “He wants to build something for his family.”

For now, Doyon said, the biggest job he has in front of him is cleaning up the facility and putting up a fence. As he explained his vision for the track, a passerby stopped to wish him well and ask if he needed anything. “It’s been awesome,” he said. “A lot of people in the community are really excited. … It’s going to take everyone to make it work.”

The 40-year-old Doyon, a paving professional by trade, said he knows several people in the racing world. One such acquaintance, he said, is Del Merritt, co-owner of Speedway 95, whom Doyon said has given him helpful advice. “I don’t want it to be a competition,” he said. “I just want all tracks to be successful.”

In looking to the future, he said he wanted more than just a paving career. “I feel this is where I need to be,” he said. “I want to fire this thing back up.”

Doyon’s sister gave him his “Junkyard” moniker in 2008 after a late night of scrapping to replace a pinion gear. “I couldn’t get the axle out and it was getting to be crunch time to get to the race,” he remembered. “I took five bolts out of the differential and jammed in a gear from another car.”

Even though the car would not roll on its own, Doyon said, he raced it anyway and came in second place. By the end of the race, he said, the rear end was smoking. Doyon said his sister spray-painted “Junkyard Joe”  on the side of the car and the nickname stuck.

His best year, he said, was 2016, when he won five times with four different cars. Recently he has raced in North Carolina. “Car owners spend a fortune to send us down to Hickory Speedway,” he said. “It’s really huge.”

Having driven for local legend Dave St. Clair, Doyon remembered using St. Clair’s grandson’s spare number 33 car. “I’d use duct tape and make the number into ’38’,” he said.

The most important reason his dream of taking over Unity Raceway is becoming a reality, Doyon said, is his wife, Holly. With the same drive she had while playing basketball at Husson University and scoring over 1,000 baskets, he said, she is determined to make this work.

After all, he added, “The track is really special to a lot of people.”

Anyone interested in supporting the Unity Raceway rebuild effort, which currently is purchasing planks for bleacher seats, can donate through Facebook and Paypal by contacting mrsjunkyard48@gmail.com or by sending a check directly to P.O. Box 53, Frankfort, ME 04438.

filed under: