The Star-Herald

Loring Timing Association holds annual land speed races

LIMESTONE, Maine — The Loring Timing Association Land Speed races kicked off Sept. 1, with racers from across the country coming to push their vehicles to the limit and compete for high speeds. 

Due to state regulations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, spectators were not allowed to attend this year’s races. Crews, participants, and their families were required to stay at least six feet apart from others, and masks were required in all areas except for the racer’s personal pit stalls, which were spaced apart into zones to coincide with state crowd size rules.

Earlier this year, the Loring Timing Association had to cancel the July event in Maine, due to uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions and the insufficient number of confirmed entries leading up to the race.

The LTA stated via social media that the September event was in accordance with all state guidelines surrounding the virus, with the race schedule being a noon start on Sept. 1, between 10 a.m. and noon on Sept. 2 and racing through 5 p.m., and a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule for Sept. 3-5.

Among the racers was Ron SanGiovanni of Wallingford, Connecticut, who came up with his family and a few friends for the big event. SanGiovanni described the group as “a bunch of gear heads going fast.”

SanGiovanni and his son, Ron Jr., raced in a rear engine modified roadster with a body built form a World War II airplane drop tank.

“Back in the day it was very common to start out with an aerodynamic device and the World War II airplane fuel drop tanks were perfect to do that after the war was over,” he said. “That began around 1949.”

SanGiovanni said this was the 11th year he’s attended the Loring race, and that he and his family came up as rookies during the very first year the event was held. 

On Sept. 2, Ron Jr. was able to achieve a speed of 229 miles per hour.

SanGiovanni, his son, and family friend Steve Vanblarcom have all achieved the distinction of getting into the “200 Miles Per Hour Club” at both Loring and the Bonneville salt flats, which SanGiovanni said requires setting a record of over 200 miles per hour based on the requirements of the venue.

He said the feeling of achieving such a high speed can be intense, and the car moves around quite a bit.  “You’re holding your breath, you really are,” he said.

His wife, Laura SanGiovanni, nicknamed his car “The Mistress” because he spends a great deal of time, effort, and money on the vehicle. “He bought her a condo, or a garage, and he likes to buy her sparkly things,” Laura said.

“It’s a place to put money instead of scratch off tickets, cigarettes, or sitting at a bar,” Ron SanGiovanni added. “It’s a hobby.”

Veteran racer Ron Keselowski, shown here in 2019 with one of his vehicles that hit close to 250 mph, attended this year’s land speed races at the former Loring Air Force Base Sept. 1-5. (Chris Bouchard)

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