The late racecar driver and Town Hill resident John Phippen was inducted posthumously into the Wiscasset Hall of Fame of Racing over the weekend. PHOTO COURTESY OF WISCASSETT SPEEDWAY

Wiscasset Hall of Fame of Racing inducts Town Hill resident  

TOWN HILL — Late Town Hill resident John W. Phippen Jr. was inducted into the Wiscasset Hall of Fame of Racing July 23.  

The Hall of Fame Class of 2022’s six other inductees were Larry Emerson, Ray Penfold, Chuck LaChance, J.C. Marsh, Norm Sherman and Forest Peaslee. The vote to induct Phippen, who died in 2010, was unanimous. 

At the celebratory luncheon, track announcer Ken Minot read a statement reflecting on Phippen’s career. 

“‘Big’ John was a larger-than-life character and one of the sport’s most genuinely nicest people to ever strap into a race car. But the old adage ‘nice guys finish last’ doesn’t apply to John Phippen. Not only did he win a lot of races, he did it at nearly every track he drove on, winning Prostock titles at Unity, Speedway and Wiscasset – a feat only equaled by the great Stan Meserve.  

“Big John broke into the racing game in 1974 and found early success at Unity Raceway, then branched out to Speedway 95 and Spud Speedway, winning multiple championships and multiple sportsmanship awards along the way. When Wiscasset Raceway reopened in 1991, Big John showed up to take on Maine’s fastest track. He went toe to toe with many of the greatest of the sport and continued to find his way to victory lane. In his seven years at Wiscasset Speedway, he notched over 25 feature wins and finished Top 3 in the Prostock/Sportsman 5 times including the 1999 Championship. Through the ’90s, he would often race at different tracks in a single weekend. Big John was also known for one of the most unique and entertaining victory lap celebrations ever where instead of driving around the track, he would take the checkered flag and run around the top three cars, ending his victory celebration with ‘Thank you very much! Thanks for coming!’ to the cheering fans. 

“But the most prideful part of his career – even above the multiple championships, were all the sportsmanship awards he received and his relationship with his fans and fellow drivers. Big John was named as one of the ‘Hella of a Good Top 25 Drivers’ in Maine Motorsports and has been a unanimously voted inductee into the 2022 Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame later this year.” 

Members of Phippen’s crew, including Stephen Swanson, Joseph Swanson, John Chipman, Greg Linscott and Mike Allen, were present to accept the award.  

Phippen owned and operated Hillside Garage with his wife, Deborah. Phippen first worked alongside his father for many years before taking over upon his dad’s retirement. Deborah estimates the garage was in business for more than 60 years. 

“He was very well liked among his competitors, fans and racing personnel,” Deborah said of her husband’s racing career. “You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the local area that hasn’t heard of Big John Phippen and his car number 59.” 

Phippen died on Sept. 11, 2010, of a massive heart attack after a race at Speedway 95. He was 57. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.