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Roger Maynor lives to race cars

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead Raceway. (July 16, 2011) Credit: Daniel Brennan

He's dedicated decades to the same sport that took his father's life, he's by far the all-time winner at Riverhead Raceway, yet it's still hard for Roger Maynor to find a reason that would deter him from racing.

"I don't really know one," said Maynor, 54. "It can be a little frustrating at times, and I have lost a little ambition. But it's still fun for me and I figure I have a few years left in me before it stops being fun."

Considering the circumstances, at one point, many were surprised racing would ever be enjoyable for Maynor.

Ernie "The Wrench" Maynor, Roger's father, was killed in a figure 8 race at Islip Speedway in 1982. But the memory of his father's life only accelerated Maynor's desire to continue racing. Ernie's No. 82 is retired at the track, so Roger flipped the numbers and his Chevy Impala is No. 28. The Bay Shore native won his first race in 1985 and has won 107 more at Riverhead Raceway since then. His 108 victories are the most of any driver in any division on a Long Island track.

"A lot of people questioned it," Maynor said. "But I'm a racer; my dad would've been mad at me if I had quit."

Maynor, who finished second last Saturday in the figure 8, said the experiences he's had that cannot be quantified are what still leads him to the track on a consistent basis.

He connects with the smiling youngsters who flock to Riverhead Raceway requesting his autograph. And in some instances, he's even inspired them to compete. A few years ago, a young racer brought an old photo of himself that pictured him as a 10-year-old sitting with Maynor in Maynor's vehicle.

"That just kind of made me feel good. That he would remember that is special," Maynor said.

Maynor describes himself as a "one-man band." His car handling, which is still widely believed to be second to none, coupled with wisdom inherited from his father, has led him to continued success despite what he considers to be some of the challenges of this racing era: sophisticated cars and reckless young racers.

"I remember my father every day," Maynor said. "I learned so much . . . for what he accomplished, I saw him do things that amazed me."

These days, it's Maynor who is still amazing fans.

New York Sports