SWANTON — Cam Gadue and the rest of the Airborne drivers have gotten the green flag to race, but things will be very different this summer.
Racetracks in Vermont and New York will be open to drivers, but spectators will have to get creative if they want to catch a race.
Circumstances may be less than ideal, but Gadue is grateful to get his car out of the garage and onto the speedway.
“We’ve got a new motor and new body on the car this year. We did 31 races last year, so it got pretty banged up,” explained Gadue.
Gadue spent the month of May practicing at Devil’s Bowl, running under the new regulations that allowed for a maximum of ten cars on the track and five crewmembers per team.
“We took that time to try to dial in the car. I wanted to take advantage of it as much as I could. There’s not much time to practice on dirt before a race,” said Gadue.
Adjusting to the new body and motor and the rest of the overhaul required some diligence.
“I took notes on how the car handled; that helped me predict how the car would handle when we did get to racing.”
Gadue had his car ready to go in March, just before COVID-19 hit.
“The shutdown has been tough on the racing community. Sponsors aren’t making the same money right now, and when you’re not making money, you have to cut costs,” said Gadue.
“There are a lot of guys who’ve lost sponsors temporarily--at least until business starts back up; this has affected everyone.”
The racing community in Frankin County is a resilient one, and Gadue has enjoyed being part of it.
“You appreciate the people you meet and the friendships you develop,” said Gadue.
Gadue got his start in 2016, after spending years watching the sport. When he began racing, he made up for lost time.
“I was racing twice a week last year, and on Thursday, I was on Trampas Demar’s crew at Thunder Road; sometimes, I’d help at Mowhawk,” said Gadue.
“People want to help each other, and I can’t think off the top of my head how many times people have helped me. I always try to do the same.”
Racing requires plenty of support, whether from family, crewmembers, or sponsors.
“The ones that you become closest with are your crew. They help you during the week; racecars are high maintenance. We’re working every night.”
A night at the track also gives Gadue a chance to unplug.
“At Devil’s Bowl, there’s no cell service; I put my phone in the toolbox and don’t look at it until I get home. It’s kind of nice to escape for a couple of hours,” said Gadue.
“My generation grew up with cell phones, so we don’t know what that’s like on a regular basis. It’s nice, actually, to step away.”
Gadue enjoyed racing at Devil’s Bowl, but this year he and his team will be racing strictly at Airborne.
“We chose Airborne for the convenience of the Saturday race. I was looking forward to focusing on one track and having more time to do some other things over the summer. Racing two tracks kept us very busy last year,” said Gadue.
“I remember my Dad telling me last year when I got worked up about the time that I was burning the candle at both ends.”
The idea to take on two tracks came from Mark and Lynn Denton.
“In 2018, I was pitted next to Lynn Denton. She raced a four-cylinder like I did,” said Gadue.
“They raced two tracks the year before; when I was talking with Lynn’s husband Mark, he told me how much racing two tracks had helped Lynn.
“The two tracks gave us a lot of experience and gave me a lot of seat time. I wanted to learn quickly, and I did,” said Gadue.
“I was looking forward to applying what I learned last year to this year,
We were running in the top five pretty consistently, and I even had a second-place finish at the end of the year.”