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State Rep. Austin Theriault, one of Golden’s Republican opponents, said the congressman should condemn some of his more progressive colleagues.

October 13, 2023

Growing left-wing split on Israel and Palestine shows itself in Maine

by Michael Shepherd

Wednesday’s pro-Palestine rally in Portland’s Monument Square that led to rebukes from big-name Maine politicians was an example of a long-term trend of diminishing sympathy toward Israel on the American left.

This is something that has been measured in polling over the last decade or so. For the first time, Gallup found this year that Democrats sympathized more with Palestine than they do with Israel in the long-term Middle East conflict, bucking the U.S. foreign policy status quo.

The context: Divides between President Joe Biden and progressives illustrate this on the heels of Hamas’ brutal weekend invasion of Israel. The president defended Israel in a Tuesday speech, while some on his left “sought a more nuanced description of the escalating conflict,” as CNN put it, including a focus on Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

That is what Maine saw on Wednesday. Hundreds attended a pro-Israel rally at a synagogue in Portland at the same time as the smaller downtown pro-Palestine demonstration held by left-wing groups. Notably, the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America joined the event as a sponsor, with a leader saying it was to help provide security there.

The DSA is a major player in Portland politics, racking up some victories in recent years. Nationally, it is going through a reckoning on Israel, something that Politico reported on Wednesday. Progressive members of Congress are letting memberships lapse and criticizing chapters for their roles in pro-Palestine rallies, including one in New York City.

What they’re saying: That chapter issued an apology in a statement that later focused on the right-wing Israeli government’s “escalating human rights violations and explicitly genocidal rhetoric.” In Maine, some demonstrators were clear that their support for Palestine does not extend to Hamas but still blamed Israel.

“I hope this rally doesn’t get twisted in any type of way as support for … Hamas or innocent life loss,” one demonstrator in Portland told CBS News 13. “We are saying that the U.S. needs to stop funding the Israeli military occupation and return land and liberty to the people of Palestine.”

The backlash was swift from many establishment figures in Maine. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from the swing 2nd District, issued a statement denouncing the rally, although state Rep. Austin Theriault, one of Golden’s Republican opponents, said the congressman should condemn some of his more progressive colleagues. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, did not comment.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, a progressive Democrat from the 1st District who has broken with Maine’s delegation on certain Israel-Palestine issues before, sharply condemned Hamas in a statement that said the U.S. must support Israel but that aid “must be predicated on preserving humanity and not on perpetuating greater cycles of violence.”

What’s next: That shows the official line from Democrats is reasonably united around Israel but different in tone. The trend in this debate is resembling Republican fissures on Ukraine’s war with Russia. In March, 53 of them in the Maine House of Representatives voted against a resolution of support for Ukraine.

The Israel-Palestine debate may not make it to the halls of the State House, but the timing of Wednesday’s rally and the groups involved are showing that it is at least an undercurrent in the politics of Maine’s largest city.

State Rep. Austin Theriault, R-Fort Kent, who is challenging Golden in the 2024 race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, blasted Golden for not calling out his party’s association with the Democratic Socialists of America.

October 13, 2023

Maine DSA Stages Pro-Hamas Rally in Portland, Calls Terror Attacks on Israel “Morally and Legally Legitimate”

Hamas Terrorism Exposes Anti-Semitism of Extreme Left


OCTOBER 12, 2023



As the death toll in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict continues to rise, the Maine Democratic Socialists of America (Maine DSA) and the Communist Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) held a rally in support of Hamas in Portland’s Monument Square Wednesday evening.

The militant Islamist organization Hamas launched a multifaceted terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, crossing over the Israel-Gaza border, including an attack on a music festival that killed at least 260 people.

“The corporate media and politicians want the public to believe that Israel is simply defending itself from ‘terrorism’ — that’s a lie,” Zach Campbell from Maine DSA, the rally’s emcee, said in his opening remarks.

“The actions of the resistance over the course of the last day is a morally and legally legitimate response to the occupation,” he said, referring to the Hamas offensive that killed over 1,300 Israelis.

Campbell led several chants to be echoed by the gathered crowd of socialists, including “When Palestine is occupied, resistance is justified,” and “Netanyahu you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.”

A lone counter protester, Tyler Washburn of Harpswell, stood to the side of the protest carrying a sign reading “Israel deserves our support #NoToHamas.”

“When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who said if you see injustice stand up to it,” Washburn said. “After the tragedy that we saw on Saturday in Israel, I wanted to make sure that in Maine’s largest city, Mainers could at least see that other voices were represented in this discussion.”

“Overwhelmingly Mainers oppose what happened and stand with Israel, and I’m here to show that support,” he said.

“When innocent children are massacred, when moms can’t go back to their kids, dads are gone — there’s a time and place to have a civil discourse, and unfortunately I don’t think tonight is the time to be cheerleading for a side that committed atrocities,” he added.

Maine’s Democratic officials have, with a few exceptions, avoided commenting on the protest.

Democratic Maine Congressman Jared Golden issued a statement condemning the “Free Palestine” rally in Portland earlier Wednesday afternoon.

“The idea that any organization or group of people would seize upon the tragedy taking place in Israel and the suffering of the Jewish community to present a false equivalency between the government of Israel and Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran would be almost laughable were it not so sickening given the atrocities committed against the people of Israel these past few days,” Rep. Golden wrote.

“The kidnapping and public abuse, and the murder of women, children, and the elderly, even babies – entire families killed in their own homes; these are the brutal actions of Hamas, a violent militant organization elected and supported by the Palestinians living in Gaza,” Golden continued.

“There is no equivalent evil in the comparably reserved but necessarily strong military response by Israel in defense of its nation and its people,” he wrote. “Most of us would expect no less, perhaps even more if this were happening in America, and in fact, Americans have been killed and taken hostage.”

At least 22 Americans have been killed in the Israel-Hamas conflict, with at least 17 others unaccounted for, according to the U.S. State Department.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins also denounced Wednesday’s rally, saying that the left-wing organizers “should be condemning Hamas, rather than excusing these appalling tactics.”

State Rep. Austin Theriault, R-Fort Kent, who is challenging Golden in the 2024 race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, blasted Golden for not calling out his party’s association with the Democratic Socialists of America.

State Rep. Mike Soboleski, R-Phillips, who is also running to unseat Golden, issued a statement Saturday, Oct. 7, condemning Hamas’ attack on Israel as “horrific and unconscionable.”

“Just weeks ago, the Biden Administration handed over $6 billion to Iran. This kind of foreign policy maleficence is unacceptable and must stop,” Rep. Soboleski said. “Israel has the right to defend itself against these terrorist attacks. I will always stand with Israel. America must always stand with Israel.”

“Tonight’s rally in Portland is a display of unacceptable hate by the left. It may be in line with Portland’s values, but it’s not in line with common sense folks in the rest of Maine,” Rep. Theriault said in his Wednesday statement.

“This is a Democratic Socialists of America rally and Jared Golden has DSA ties,” Theriault wrote. “He should have spoken out against the fact that his colleagues and their affiliated socialist groups have been taking the pro-Hamas position since the Hamas attacks, but he’s been silent for days.”

“He can’t have it both ways. Maine doesn’t need someone like Golden who won’t confront the Democratic Socialists of America on these issues — it needs some simple, effective County common sense,” he added. “We don’t act like this in Maine.”

The Maine House Republicans issued the following statement Wednesday condemning Hamas’ attack on Israel:

House Republicans join the international community in condemning the brutal attack on the people of Israel by the terrorist group Hamas. Earlier this year, the Legislature recommitted itself to combating the global rise in antisemitism. We denounce the unjustifiable killing and injuring of Jewish and other civilians without prejudice. Please join us in praying for Israel.

Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree did not comment on the Portland rally, but issued a statement in response to the attack on Israel over the weekend.

“I am horrified by the attacks against the Israeli people and condemn them unequivocally,” Rep. Pingree wrote. “This unprovoked violence is unacceptable. Today the United States must stand beside the Israeli people on this difficult day and in the days to come.”

Sen. Angus King issued a similar statement on the attack, calling it “a deadly and dangerous escalation.”

Gov. Janet Mills told the Bangor Daily News when asked Wednesday about the rally that her “heart goes out to the people of Israel, Maine’s Jewish community and all impacted by the evil, unspeakable acts of terror carried out this weekend by Hamas”.

She did not comment directly on the rally.

Despite condemnations of the attack from Maine’s entire Congressional delegation and Gov. Mills, many of the state’s top Democratic politicians have remained silent on the conflict and have not yet responded to the left-wing groups’ Portland protest.

The Maine DSA is an active supporter of the Maine Democratic Party, yet as of Thursday Democratic State Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash), the Maine Democratic Party, and House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland) have remained silent on Wednesday’s protest and the conflict.

Former Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, who regularly attends Maine DSA meetings and was recently hired for a political podcast by News Center Maine, has not condemned Wednesday evening’s rally or commented on the ongoing conflict.

The DSA and PSL were not the only left-wing groups to rally support for Palestine — the Chicago chapter of Black Lives Matter came under fire earlier this week when they shared an image appearing to represent a Hamas paratrooper with a Palestine flag.

Former NASCAR driver enters race to dethrone Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd District

September 25, 2023

Maine Public | By Steve Mistler

Published September 25, 2023 at 4:00 PM EDT

A third Republican has declared his candidacy for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat in the hopes of defeating Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden.

Former NASCAR driver and current state Rep. Austin Theriault, of Fort Kent, joins Rep. Mike Soboleksi, of Phillips, and Robert Cross, of Dedham, to compete for the Republican nomination and the right to take on Golden next year.

Theriault’s candidacy has been anticipated for some time because of his public profile from NASCAR and his backing by national Republican leaders.

All three GOP candidates are expected to highlight inflation, immigration and the drug epidemic while trying to pin those problems on Golden, who is in the middle of his third term.

Golden has positioned himself as a moderate Democrat while holding Maine’s more conservative 2nd District, at times angering Democratic activists with his opposition to the American Rescue Plan and President Joe Biden’s college loan forgiveness initiative.

Former NASCAR driver launches bid for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District

September 25, 2023

Austin Theriault is hoping to unseat Rep. Jared Golden

WMTW ABC 8 | Adam Bartow Executive Producer

FORT KENT, Maine —

Current Maine State Representative and former NASCAR driver Austin Theriault launched his campaign Monday for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat.

Theriault, who was born and raised in Fort Kent, is hoping to unseat Rep. Jared Golden in 2024.

Following his NASCAR career, he was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 2022, representing much of the St. John Valley.

In launching his campaign, he says he is committed to making Maine’s 2nd Congressional District a better place for working-class Mainers to live. He says regular Mainers are being priced out and attacked by people in government who hold too much power and not enough common sense and that it’s time for energetic and effective leadership for Maine at a national level.

“I think people across the district are looking for a new generation of leaders. I think age is important. Its time for our generation to truly take accountability for what’s going on in our country. We’re not always going to agree on the issues, but I think its our generation’s time to stand up,” Theriault told Maine’s Total Coverage.

Ex-NASCAR driver Austin Theriault running to unseat Democratic Rep. Jared Golden in Maine

September 25, 2023

Sept 25, 2023

FORT KENT, Maine (AP) — NASCAR driver-turned-politician Austin Theriault announced Monday that he’s entering the Republican primary seeking an opportunity to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden in what’s expected to be one of the country’s most competitive 2024 House races.

Theriault, who made his announcement on radio shows, said he’ll “come in with fire” to confront issues like inflation, illegal border crossings and dying small towns. “Regular hardworking folks are getting held down by out-of-touch, out-of-state elites who are clueless about how hard it is to make a living in Maine,” he said.

The 29-year-old freshman state lawmaker from Fort Kent formally filed his paperwork Monday, joining mortgage broker Robert Cross, of Dedham and another first-term lawmaker, Michael Soboleski, of Phillips, in the primary contest.

The rural, sprawling 2nd Congressional District has become a hotly contested seat as the region has become a conservative bastion in liberal New England. Former President Donald Trump won the district in 2020, giving him an electoral vote.

Golden has won three times, twice defeating former GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin thanks to ranked voting. The voting system is designed to ensure the winner collects a majority of the vote by allowing additional voting rounds in which lower-ranked candidates are eliminated and votes are reallocated. It was upheld in federal court after Poliquin sued after his 2018 defeat.

Theriault isn’t the only race car driver to try his hand at politics in New England. Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott has for decades been a regular at the Thunder Road track, but his racing career didn’t reach the same heights as Theriault.

Theriault launched his career at the local speedway and worked his way to NASCAR’s top level before being injured in a crash at 2019 NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. He has since stepped back from driving, and consults and mentors other drivers.

NASCAR Driver Austin Theriault Files Bid For Maine’s Battleground U.S. House Seat

September 25, 2023

Theriault is running to fight and WIN for struggling Mainers under attack from out-of-touch, out-of-state elites

Theriault has deep roots in the district & a track record of success

For Immediate Release

Contact: [email protected]

FORT KENT, ME – Fort Kent native, small businessman, state representative, and championship-winning race car driver Austin Theriault today filed formal paperwork announcing his intention to run for Maine’s battleground 2nd Congressional District seat.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is expected to be one of the most competitive races in the country in 2024.

Theriault in Victory Lane

“Regular hardworking folks are getting held down by out-of-touch, out-of-state elites who are clueless about how hard it is to make a living in Maine,” Theriault said. “And some of our leaders are not very effective in fighting back – and I will be.

Inflation and the cost of living is out of control, the drug crisis is tearing apart rural Maine, our borders are wide open, our small towns are dying – and I will come in with the fire to confront these issues. 

Joe Biden has failed us and Jared Golden more times than not fails to stand up, speak out, and get the job done for a part of the state that desperately needs leadership. Golden is a nice guy, but he is still part of the problem.

Maine doesn’t need old, failed leaders like Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer – or those will fail to hold them accountable. We need a new generation of leaders who will be effective in fighting back against them and standing up for you.

Here’s why I’m the guy to do that:

My story is similar to that of many rural Maine families: my grandfather, who couldn’t read or write, left school in 4th grade to work on the farm to feed his family. From the grip of poverty, through hard sacrifices and labor from his bare hands, our family built a logging business in Aroostook County. My family taught me the values that govern my life: love of family, respect for people, the value of hard work, and perseverance. 

I grew up in Fort Kent, started racing at 13, started managing my business at 16, and graduated from Fort Kent Community High School. After I stepped back from competing across the country at NASCAR’s most legendary tracks to focus on the business side of racing, I was elected to the Maine House of Representatives, where I represent part of Aroostook County.

I know what Mainers face: the working class is being priced out and attacked by people in government who hold too much power and not enough common sense. It’s time for relentless, energetic, and effective leadership for Maine at a national level. Mainers in the Second Congressional District need a louder, more involved voice in Washington who understands their way of life and will effectively fight for that way of life. I will be that voice.”

About Austin:

Theriault, 29, currently represents the 1st District in the Maine House of Representatives. Traditionally a Democratic stronghold, Theriault won the 1st District with more than 70 percent of the vote in 2022. He’s an Aroostook County-born entrepreneur and former NASCAR driver who is committed to making Maine’s 2nd Congressional District a better place for working-class Mainers to live.

He hails from a multi-generational logging and farming family with deep roots in Aroostook County’s St. John Valley. 

Austin’s family in 2003 and 2023

He started racing at 13, and at age 16, he took over the management of his racing career handling contract negotiations, sponsorship agreements and all administrative tasks. During this time he used these skills and hard work to pursue authentic partnerships and forge relationships across multiple industries.

Austin drove the “Maine Car” at Kentucky Speedway in 2014 

His efforts paid off in 2017 when he captured the ARCA Racing Series national championship, driving for NASCAR legend Kenny Schrader, in a record breaking season.

After Austin stepped away from driving, he fully focused on the business side of the sport where he excels in mentoring, managing and training new drivers. Austin is someone who works to build bridges and will use all he has learned from his family and entrepreneurial efforts to do the same in Washington.

During his first term in Augusta, Austin wasted no time – he got bipartisan legislation passed that will help fix Maine’s roads. He also helped create a new bipartisan law that will bring more forest industry jobs and lower energy costs to rural Maine.

However, he also saw that much more needs to be done for rural Maine immediately – and that’s why he’s running for the United States House of Representatives.

Mainers in the Second Congressional District need a voice in Washington who understands their way of life – and will fight for that way of life while forging relationships that will benefit Mainers for years to come. That’s Austin Theriault.

Former NASCAR driver seeks to outpace Jared Golden

September 25, 2023


Austin Theriault of Fort Kent enters 2nd Congressional District race

Creating a potential three-way primary, a former NASCAR driver from Fort Kent hopes to speed past the two Republicans who have already entered the race to unseat U.S. Rep. Jared Golden in Maine’s expansive 2nd Congressional District.

Austin Theriault Photo courtesy of AT Enterprise

Austin Theriault, a 29-year-old state representative, said Monday he decided to challenge Golden because the three-term Lewiston Democrat “fails to stand up, speak out and get the job done for a part of the state that desperately needs leadership.”

“Golden is a nice guy,” he said, “but he is still part of the problem.”

Theriault’s national reputation may put him in the driver’s seat in a GOP primary field that includes state Rep. Mike Soboleski of Phillips and Robert Cross of Dedham. Other Republicans are still eyeing the race.

Golden, a 41-year-old U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran who grew up in Leeds, squeaked past an incumbent Republican, Bruce Poliquin, to win the seat in 2018. He held off Dale Craft of Lisbon to keep it 2020 and then easily defeated Poliquin again in 2022.

Theriault may prove a tough contender for one of only a few dozen seats nationally that both political parties say is up for grabs. Though Golden has won it three times in a row, rural voters in the biggest district east of the Mississippi River backed former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, delivering him his only electoral vote in New England.

Theriault, who was elected to the state House in 2022, began racing stock cars in high school and competed “across the country at NASCAR’s most legendary tracks” before hitting the brakes on taking the wheel for NASCAR races in 2019. Since then, he has run a driver development business.

“I know what Mainers face: the working class is being priced out and attacked by people in government who hold too much power and not enough common sense,” he said in a prepared statement declaring his candidacy.

“It’s time for relentless, energetic, and effective leadership for Maine at a national level,” he said.

Theriault said that “inflation and the cost of living is out of control, the drug crisis is tearing apart rural Maine, our borders are wide open, our small towns are dying — and I will come in with the fire to confront these issues.”

“Mainers in the 2nd Congressional District need a louder, more involved voice in Washington who understands their way of life and will effectively fight for that way of life,” he said. “I will be that voice.”

Theriault said Mainers don’t need “old, failed leaders” like President Joe Biden, former U. S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — all Democrats.

“We need a new generation of leaders who will be effective in fighting back against them and standing up for you,” he told voters.

Golden had $611,000 in his campaign treasury at the end of June. At the time, Cross had $31,000.

The race, though, will likely wind up attracting millions of dollars in political action committee funds and other donations as the parties vie for control of the closely divided U.S. House.

Republicans will select their standard bearer to face Golden in a June primary. The general election is slated for November 2024.

Electric vehicle standards force a new political debate in Maine

August 23, 2023

by Michael Shepherd August 15, 2023

Environmental groups are forcing the administration of Gov. Janet Mills to consider a rule change looking to drive long-term electric vehicle adoption here, leading Republicans to mobilize against the change.

This comes ahead of a Thursday public hearing on the ideas. It is likely to have all the features of most energy other debates: tension between the short-term costs and long-term benefits at a time of high energy prices and stalled progress toward electric vehicle adoption.

The context: Maine sat at a paltry 4 percent of its 2030 goal last year. It is hard to evaluate what will happen in 10 years by today’s standards, though. There are differing estimates that say electric vehicles could make up between 30 percent and 50 percent of new sales by 2030.

With many in the industry targeting all-electric sales by the middle of the next decade, the market is likely pushing us in this direction faster than it may seem. That is where the state rule changes proposed by groups including the Natural Resources Council of Maine come in.

The two changes, put forward under a little-known process that allows 150 people to petition the Board of Environmental Protection, would address passenger vehicles and large trucks, respectively. That first change would phase in new standards in 2027 that would ramp up to requiring 82 percent of new light-duty sales to be zero-emission vehicles. The second would similarly phase in sales of electric trucks.

What they’re saying: Proponents have said Maine risks falling behind other states on adoption if these rules are not adopted. The administration of Mills, a Democrat, has been skeptical of mandates on the topic, with her spokesperson saying she favors incentives but “would not be inclined to adopt any mandate along those lines.”

Conservative opponents, including the Maine Republican Party and the Maine Policy Institute, have focused heavily on Mills’ role in the debate in their messaging on the rules.

Legislative Republicans are expected to be at the Thursday hearing in Augusta, and one of the most outspoken opponents so far has Rep. Austin Theriault, R-Fort Kent, a former NASCAR driver who told WVOM that the changes were not based in “reality.”

“We’re not there yet, so I think we have to be very cautious and methodical about this,” he said.

What’s next: The board, which was appointed by the governor, will decide whether the rules will be adopted. There have been few hints from staff at the environmental protection department on the rules so far, other than in fact sheets on the proposals that suggest long-term cost savings as a result of the shift.

Maine is at a crossroads on electric generation projects that will determine how quickly the region can turn from fossil fuels. A proposed wind transmission line is facing criticism that resembles early debate over the Central Maine Power Co. corridor, and the state will vote in November on a utility takeover that includes a mandate for more charging infrastructure.

This means talk of electric vehicles is about more than Teslas and Volts themselves. It’s about our electricity future and our need for more power if we’re going to transition away from gas for transportation and heating.

Oxford 250: Austin Theriault returning, teaming up with Travis Mills Foundation

August 22, 2023

Fort Kent native is getting back in the driver’s seat and will try raise money for wounded veterans.


A decade ago, Austin Theriault was the young stud racer trying to make it big in stock cars and hoping to add a win in the Oxford 250 along the way.

Austin Theriault and sponsor Bar Harbor Bank & Trust are turning Theriault’s attempted Oxford 250 run into a fundraiser for the Travis Mills Foundation.

Theriault, still only 29 years old, now spends his days helping guide and mold other hopeful, young racers and representing State House District 1 in the state legislature. His step-back from the driver’s seat, however, will be put on a brief hold this weekend when he makes another try at a 250 title in the 50th running of the big race at Oxford Plains Speedway.

The Fort Kent native said this being a milestone edition of the Oxford 250 played a role in his decision to make another attempt.

“That race has got a lot of history, and people with much bigger names than I have in racing have won that race and have gone on to sort of punch their tickets into the record books,” Theriault said. “So if we could somehow have a good run there next weekend, you know, it’ll be special for me because, once again, it’s a race I’ve always wanted to win.”

He’s come close before. There were back-to-back third-place finishes in 2011 and 2012, to Kyle Busch and Joey Polewarczyk Jr., respectively. He then placed fourth in 2013 and was runner-up in 2014 as Travis Benjamin won consecutive crown-jewel trophies.


Complete Oxford 250 coverage

What followed was a blossoming national racing career that included rides in NASCAR’s Trucks, Xfinity and Cup series and the 2017 ARCA championship before those opportunities disappeared and Theriault switched his focus the past few years to helping young drivers. More recent Oxford 250 attempts weren’t as successful as his string of four straight top-four finishes.

Theriault’s comeback isn’t only about chasing after his own dreams, though. He said he “kind of hitched the horses together” with the Travis Mills Foundation and Bar Harbor Bank & Trust to turn Theriault’s checkered-flag pursuit into a fundraising campaign for the foundation.

Austin Theriault, left, is teaming up with Travis Mills, right, and his foundation to turn Theriault’s attempted run in the Oxford 250 into a fundraiser for wounded veterans. Photo courtesy of AT Enterprise

“I’ve worked with Travis before in the past, and raised some money for the organization, and I feel like we can do something even more so this time around because the race is in Maine and we have a lot of people that are supportive of the efforts already and want to financially support our fundraiser for Travis,” Theriault said. “So, for me, it was a no-brainer to basically, I would say, come out of retirement, in short, and put the helmet back on, and the firesuit, in front of a home crowd, you know, of people that I’ve probably raced in front of before when I was younger, much younger, and give the Oxford 250 another attempt at capturing the trophy.

“I’ve got probably thousands of laps at the track from earlier days of Late Model racing, so I’m very confident and pretty comfortable there, and confident that the few years off I’ve taken from racing won’t be much of a challenge, in terms of getting back up to speed.”

Theriault has spent much of the summer working toward this weekend. First was partnering with Vermont-based Ming Racing to drive that team’s No. 45 car.

“It’s a family team, which is also something I like,” Theriault said. “You know, a lot of these people come to do one-time events and they come from down South, and they’ve got these million-dollar operations. But we’re coming into this, you know, as sort of a family operation.”

Bar Harbor Bank & Trust came on board as the major sponsor for the car, and the bank’s logo will feature prominently on the hood of the car, along with the logo for the Travis Mills Foundation.

“Realistically, if it wasn’t for them sponsoring the race, we wouldn’t be able to do any of this, and none of this money that we’re talking about would have come to fruition for Travis,” Theriault said.

The fundraising goal is to raise up to $50,000 for the foundation, Theriault said, depending on where he finishes in the race. The money will go toward the Travis Mills Foundation, which runs a retreat in Mount Vernon for wounded veterans and their families.


Help Austin Theriault support the Travis Mills Foundation

“It takes money to get people to the retreat and treat them, house them and offer all of these programs that they offer,” Theriault said. “So, to have a small part and play a small part in, you know, making sure that they can continue to provide these services and these awesome experiences and support for the families is really special to me.”

Austin Theriault’s Ming Racing No. 45 Super Late Model race car will feature Travis Mills Foundation and Bar Harbor Bank & Trust on the hood for Oxford 250 weekend. Photo courtesy of AT Enterprise

Theriault has already knocked off some of the rust that developed during his time away from driving. He competed in an Oxford Plains Speedway weekly Super Late Model race on July 30, and placed 10th out of 27 competitors.

“The race that I ran a couple weeks ago, you know, if things go similar to how they went there, I feel like we’re gonna have a good amount of speed and we’re going to be competitive, because I felt like we were really close, as far as what I want to feel in the car, and sort of the lap times we were able to run,” he said.

The next time Theriault plans to be in the car on the track is Friday, when practices start for the Super Late Model cars. And while some drivers elect to get as much time and as many laps as they can in the run-up to Sunday’s feature, Theriault is choosing to take a more measured approach.

“Well, there’s different thought processes. A lot of people go and test before. We decided not to, because I feel like the track changes a lot during the weekend,” he said. “So we’re going to have plenty of time on Friday and Saturday to test, to make changes to the car.

“Sunday is normally going to be a different animal — the track-changing. So we surely don’t want to waste our time and our tires and the equipment, just putting laps and laps that are not going to be helpful for us. So we’ll run what we need to for practice during the weekend, but certainly not going to run more than what would be beneficial.”

That’s the same kind of work-smarter-not-harder way of thinking that Theriault has been trying to instill in other drivers ever since he decided to step out of the car in recent years. He’s now ventured into a role in driver management and development, working alongside former NASCAR Truck champion Ron Hornaday Jr. and providing guidance for racers like Xfinity Series competitor Howie DiSavino III.

“To be honest, I get more out of watching these young drivers be successful than I ever did when I was holding a checkered flag at the end of the race,” Theriault said. “There’s different emotion to it, you know? It’s really special to see young men and women being successful at different levels of the sport.

“You know, a lot of them are either starting out or they’re trying to progress through the ranks. And it’s special to be able to give back some of what I’ve learned and also educate them about some of the mistakes that I made along the way, and, you know, hoping that they also don’t make those same mistakes and they can avoid wasting time and resources and missed opportunities along the way.”

Theriault won a seat in the Maine State House of Representatives in 2022. Between that and his racing management and development work, he said he finds himself busy enough to not even think about getting back into racing competitively.

But this weekend Theriault will be trying to rekindle some magic from those close calls a decade ago while trying to help out a cause that is close to his heart.

Austin Theriault, Travis Mills Foundation entering Oxford 250

August 9, 2023

They’re raising funds to support recalibrated post-9/11 veterans and their families

By Ben Barr

Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 3:53 PM EDT

“I told myself I’d only come out of retirement if it was for a good cause. This is obviously a great cause. We have an opportunity to raise a bunch of money,” said Theriault, 2007 ARCA Series champion.

“(Austin’s team) is hoping to raise enough funds to sponsor a week of families, which is eight families from all across our wonderful nation. Those families come up here and get to have rest and relaxation, but also do activities that are adapted to them specifically for their injuries. If they want to kayak and they’re missing both legs and an arm, we have ways to adapt that so they can do that with their family. We have a high ropes course that people in wheelchairs actually can go through,” said Travis Mills, founder/president, Travis Mills Foundation.

Bar Harbor Bank and Trust is sponsoring the basic race funding for the Oxford 250, and another donor has given $50,000. Donation links are on Theriault’s social media accounts and

“We’re so grateful to have the people on our team that are going to give us the chance to give back to these families and show them how to do things adaptively with outdoor activities as well as indoor activities,” said Mills.

“They need a place to just take a break, hit the reset button on life, and Travis and his team do a great job recalibrating these veterans so that they feel like they have a grasp on life again,” said Theriault.

Theriault will earn $100 for every completed lap plus a $25,000 bonus for a top-five finish if he qualifies. He discussed the keys to the race as he shoots for an extra $50,000 for the foundation.

“It’s all about attrition, staying out of trouble, being respectful, and just saving your equipment so you’re there with about 50 laps to go, and then you can make a charge for the win,” said Theriault.

Their race fundraising partnership extends from Homestead Miami all the way back to Maine.

“Having it here close to home at the Oxford 250 is truly special because it’s here in our backyard. We have 37 program weeks in person this year. We’re going to go over 40 next year. Being able to fund a full week of families means the world to us. It really helps us give back and continue what we do out here at the Travis Mills Foundation,” said Mills.

“When we work together, we can accomplish a lot, and it’s great to see that,” said Theriault.

They’re teaming up to support American heroes.

It costs roughly $50,000 to run the foundation’s facilities for one week.

The 50th Annual Oxford 250 is set for Sun. Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. at Oxford Plains Speedway.

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