In the last few years, Bobby Timmons III has finished second a lot. It’s something he has learned to take in stride.
But this weekend, as “BT3” rolled his race car out of its trailer at Star Speedway for the first time, he already had a win in his back pocket.
The third-generation Supermodified star from Windham, Me. is the second recipient of GNG’s Gift, a memorial sponsorship awarded in remembrance of late Maine racer Greg Peters.
Timmons was honored on January 7 at the 34th Annual Northeast Motorsports Expo in Augusta, Me., where the Peters family presented him with a $5,000.09 check to bolster his racing efforts in 2023.
Known as “Grand National Greg” for his boundless enthusiasm for the sport, Greg Peters was respected not only as a driver, but as a mentor for young racers like his son John. When Greg’s battle with cancer came to a close in 2021, John, his mother Gail and sister Heather organized GNG’s Gift as a way to carry forth Greg’s generosity and legacy.
Timmons knew the Peters family from competing against John at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Though their racing paths had diverged since then, Timmons knew what Greg stood for. Timmons, therefore, opted not to pursue GNG’s Gift in its first year. When his own 2021 season ended with a needlessly-wrecked race car, Timmons immediately shared his frustration from across the frontstretch. The crowd was delighted. But Timmons knew Greg Peters would not have been impressed.
Self-awareness led to self-improvement.
“After the season ended, I did three or four counseling sessions online,” Timmons said. “Just to try to…first off, enjoy the sport more, you know, not get so wound up, not be so angry. And to just only worry about the things that I can control.”
Timmons fine-tuned his physical health in the offseason as well, entering the 2022 season with a new outlook. The results on the track spoke for themselves. In weekly competition at Star Speedway, Timmons won twice and finished second in points to home-track favorite and Supermodified wunderkind Jeffrey Battle. Timmons won twice more on the road with the 350 Super Modified Atlantic Charter (350 SMAC) touring organization, tying for fifth in the season standings on a part-time schedule. And he returned to big-block Supermodified racing at Star, debuting a new car in the International Supermodified Association’s season finale.
“I had probably the best year I’ve ever had as a driver last year, and I leaned on that heavily in the application process,” Timmons said. “Just because I felt like that aligned with Greg’s core value of ‘how bad do you want it?’ Not only to be a better person overall, but to be a better race car driver. And…I feel like it worked.”
Timmons was unveiled as one of three GNG’s Gift finalists in the days leading up to the presentation. Fellow finalist Nette Humphrey shares Timmons’ Supermodified roots, racing with 350 SMAC as well as at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, N.H. The only woman to compete full-time in SMAC in 2022, Humphrey tied Timmons for fifth in points and finished second in points at Riverside with two feature wins.
Super Late Model racer Kate Re was the third finalist. The Maine teen and third-year Pro All Stars Series regular was named a Kulwicki Driver Development Program driver in 2022, but a challenging opening to the season forced Re and her family team to pare their schedule back. Re complemented her new itinerary with charity work and a role in the pit area at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Both Humphrey and Re were presented with awards of their own. John Peters wanted to give applicants more to shoot for than a single grand prize.
“We had a lot of deserving winners of the award,” Peters said. “And we wanted to give some recognition to the people who really put in a really strong application, to make it a little bit less of a one-shot deal. So we wanted to be able to add some recognition to those people.”
A 2017 KDDP finalist himself, Peters understands the pressure of being one applicant in a crowded field.
“We also wanted to give people applying in the future more reason to come back and apply again,” he said. “It could be easy to feel distant from one winner…[because] nobody knows how many applications come in, right?
“So now that we’ve added a second layer of recognition, there’s more to shoot for. I hope that it encourages more people to say, oh yeah, I can get this if I put in the best application.”
Not that there was any shortage of drivers vying for the honor. “We actually had a lot of new applications,” Peters said. “I’d say fifty percent were new from last year. Which is great, it means we’re reaching new people. And it also keeps us very diverse.”
Indeed, Humphrey and Re were among a deep field of women applying for the sponsorship. “We were so excited about that,” he said. “And we also had people who were racing entry-level divisions at a weekly track, from people who are running on the premier tours in New England. So we have that range of teams that reach out.”
But only one applicant can win. And that applicant needs to align closely with the three core values that represent Peters’ father best: a family focus, an unbreakable work ethic, and passionate dedication to success. “It’s not all on-track,” Peters says, adding that every applicant’s case of need is considered as well.
While Timmons’ results were notable, how he got to that point was far more important.
“What was different about Bobby was how unique and genuine and real his story was, in his application,” Peters said. “That’s one of the things that we, only as a family, get to see that nobody else gets to see, is what did they say to us? What did they write? How did they position themselves and articulate why they needed this?”
A natural storyteller with an appreciation for racing history, Timmons co-hosts the Black Flagged Podcast with founders and friends Charlie Sanborn and Brad Saucier. Timmons’ at-the-track anecdotes on the weekly program offer a crucial look into the sometimes-insular circle of Supermodified racing, making him not only one of the discipline’s most visible racers but one of its strongest ambassadors.
Articulating why, then, may come easier to Timmons than he would readily admit.
“The way Bobby did that was unique from everybody else,” Peters said. “It’s that he put a unique story forward that made him relatable to everything we built the program on, all those three core values, and a really unique case of what this program was supposed to be.”
Unique is a fitting word for Timmons’ chosen racing discipline. Crate-engined “350 Supermodifieds” are raced regularly at only two tracks in New England. Their big-block, alcohol-fueled progenitors are strictly a touring attraction. ISMA, the premier Northeastern series for big-block Supers, has no New England appearances in 2023, leaving the door open for the second-year New England Supermodified Series, a venture backed by Maine’s PASS, to fill the big-block void.
Seat time in a Supermodified, then, means a fair bit of windshield time for a driver from Maine. And GNG’s Gift will help Timmons through what he expects to be a busy year.
“I’ve been telling everybody I have a big calendar at work,” Timmons said. “And I’ve got all the races filled in for SMAC, Star, NESS and ISMA. I’m gonna get to work on Monday, and look at what’s coming up that weekend, and whatever looks like the most fun and enjoyable to me.”
Chasing a championship, then, may come second to trophy-hunting. “There’s some dates that cross over and overlap, so as far as chasing a championship with the 350, you kinda got to pick one or the other,” he said. “You can’t really do both. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
And for Timmons, whose father and grandfather made their careers in big-block Supermodifieds, racing the new big-block car is a priority. “We ran that once in the Star Classic last year,” he explained. “It went good, it just didn’t stay together. We’re working on that, getting that freshened up. We’d like to run that seven or eight times. The main goal will be the 350, like last year. But we plan on going to Berlin, Michigan with the ISMA tour. And then, like I said, just whatever race looks like the coolest that weekend, we’ll pick it.”
Timmons, who turned thirty just days after the announcement, has no designs on a big-league racing career. But being one of the younger supporters of a legacy division is plenty of weight to carry.
Garrett Lamb, a rising star in the Pro All Stars Series ranks, was the inaugural GNG’s Gift recipient. Second in PASS Modified points in his rookie season, Lamb and his family applied the winnings to their 2022 efforts. Lamb won the PASS Modified crown and unveiled his 2023 plans at the Northeast Motorsports Expo, showcasing the Super Late Model they would debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway earlier in April.
Timmons could appreciate the coincidence that the first two GNG’s Gift winners were, at the time of the award, open-wheel racers from the same Maine town.
“The Super Late Models are obviously the king around here, but I mean, we’re all racers,” he said. “Whether we race bicycles or cars, you know, we all want to do it. Obviously, Garrett was plenty deserving of the award a year ago, so it’s cool to see it also stay in Windham.”
The honors may remain in Windham, but the dollars will find their way well beyond the state line, enriching racers and tracks throughout New England.
It’s what Greg Peters would expect.