NEWTON, N.C. – Rollie MacDonald says he has never experienced anything like it.
MacDonald’s King Racing crew and familiar No. 13 stock car was unable to cross the U.S. border at Houlton, Me. For nearly four days last week before finally being allowed entry en route to a Super Late Model 300-lap race in Newton, N.C. that ended with a crash through 243 laps.
MacDonald was already in Newton waiting for the crew and the car they were hauling to join him for the weekend race when he got a phone call at about 2 p.m. on November 14 that the crew was being turned away at the border due to issues that he said have never happened and which he described as trivial.
“It’s a grey area that never affected races before,” he said. “We didn’t do anything wrong. It was just paper work. They didn’t impound anything but they turned us around.”
Cassius Clark from Farmington, Me. was scheduled to drive the car and became part of the story that went viral throughout Maine and reached the level of the state governor.
When reached early Friday afternoon, MacDonald said the crew was still being turned back. He said it would take 22 hours of straight driving from Houlton to arrive in Newton for the race. That meant not arriving in time for the practice and qualifiers Saturday morning.
The crew could not leave Houlton until 4:30 p.m. ET, MacDonald said, but took barely 19 hours to reach the famed Hickory race track in Newton and the crew had just 10 minutes to enter a last-chance race at 1 p.m. to qualify for the feature.
“They drove all night and got to the track by noon (Saturday),” he said. “It took them 19 hours and 35 minutes.”
Ironically, the car ran better than it has just about all year, MacDonald said. Clark and the car started 32nd and roared all the way to third place after 77 laps.
Then disaster struck once more. Clark pitted after 110 laps, still holding third place, to replace tires. Soon after, the left rear tire went flat from a puncture caused by some object on the track. Clark got back on the half-mile oval three laps behind the lead lap and was sidelined due to a three-car crash on the 243rd lap.
“It was just bad luck,” MacDonald said. “We couldn’t get back those three laps. We could have easily won the race, but we’ll never know.”
MacDonald has been working since the race to enter a race in Pensacola, Fla. That begins with practices on November 29, qualifiers on December 1 and the feature race on December 3.
Rollie MacDonald’s familiar No. 13 stock car is shown during CAT 250 race in Enfield. (File photo)