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June 28, 2023

Vroom! Caribou's Spud Speedway revs up changes with new investors

Spud Speedway Courtesy / Spud Speedway New partners at Spud Speedway in Caribou have plans for upgrades.

Spud Speedway has been a part of the Caribou entertainment scene since 1964, offering nights of car racing and other events.

It has been owned by Aroostook County native Troy Haney since around 2008.

Now Haney has sold a 50% share of the speedway to Jim and Michelle Gamage, who moved to Caribou from Rockport three years ago. The Gamages owned a temp agency in Rockland, but when business dried up in during the pandemic, they moved up to the County, where they have a cabin on Cross Lake. The Gamages also own a construction-related business, 180 Sealcoating & Striping. 

"We'd been coming up here for 20 years for the snowmobiling," Jim Gamage told Mainebiz. "When COVID hit, we moved up here full-time."

Snowmobiling link

Gamage said he was particularly interested in the snowmobile and ATV trail system and looked at ways to promote it. He thought the perfect way would be a weekend-long SnowBowl event featuring professional Snocross racers, stunt shows and related events.

"We needed space and I pitched the idea to [speedway owner Haney]. I said, 'I have an idea and you have a racetrack,'" Gamage recalled. 

Spud Speedway, with its central location that connects with the Interconnected Trail System, known as ITS, is now home to these two events that link snowmobiling and ATV culture, breathing new life into the racetrack. 

Spud Speedway
Spud Speedway in Caribou

At the time Gamage approached him, Haney was in the process of trying to sell the track, but once he heard Gamage's idea he took it off the market. 

Spud Speedway had the benefit of having a track and grandstands, but also 50 surrounding acres — land that abuts farmland. In short, it was the perfect scenario for a large-scale event like the SnowBowl. 

The first SnowBowl took place in early March. It featured professional snowmobile Snocross racers, a Rave-X Motosports snowmobile stunt show, groomer rodeo, poker run and fireworks.

The four-day event attracted an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 spectators. 

"You couldn't find a hotel room anywhere around here," Gamage said.

With the general lack of rooms, Gamage learned early on he was casting too wide a net with advertising dollars. 

"We were advertising throughout New England," he said. But with so little lodging availability, "we redirected advertising to places where people could day-trip here ... There's a huge need for lodging."

Spud Speedway
Snowmobiling contributes $600 million a year to the Maine economy.


With the success of the SnowBowl, the partners are now planning their next event, the DustBowl, which will be Sept. 14-17.

While the Snowbowl highlights the snowmobile industry, the Dustbowl will highlight ATVs, dirt bikes and "all things outdoor recreation," Gamage said.

He is inviting back the Rave-X stunt riders and there will be grass drag races, truck and tractor pulls, a Zip Line, mechanical bull, fireworks and a laser light show.

Snowmobiling brings adds an estimated $600 million to Maine’s economy annually, according to a University of Maine study commissioned by the snowmobile program of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. But ATVs are quickly filling in the summer months. ATV registrations topped 82,000 in 2022, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

"With the best trail systems in the Northeast, this was a no brainer idea just waiting to take off in Aroostook County," said Gamage.


Gamage recognizes that to bring people into larger events of this kind the County needs more housing options.

He's taking a stab at it.

Initially, the Gamages bought three cabins on Cross Lake. They live in one and rent out the other two.

And for this season, he's also working with a Pennsylvania builder of tiny homes, Lancaster Homes, to bring in 10 tiny cabins, which can sleep 2 to 4 people, on site.

Event venue

He also envisions the site being a spot for proms, weddings, sporting events, corporate outings, equipment auctions, outdoor roller-skating, drive-in movie nights and so on.  

Plans include new fencing, lighting, sound, clearing land to construct and install a grass drag track and certified pulling track for the coming Dustbowl.  

Down the road, Gamage said he envisions building a dedicate event center, with a restaurant and bar and event space.

Owners would also like to build an event center at Spud that would offer a place to have a restaurant and bar and space.

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