Reaction from drivers to Pro All Stars Series (PASS) officials moving one of their biggest events from mid-September to late April provided a great topic for off-season conversations around New England.
Starting with the Northeast Motorsports Expo & Trade Show in mid January, talk throughout the aisles included chatter about the PASS 300’s new date. The race is now scheduled for Saturday, April 29, at the famed Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine. Ever since the PASS 400 Weekend was created back in 2005, it has always been run in mid-to-late September.
“I think it will be a cool new twist to the 300 having it in the spring time,” Joey Polewarczyk Jr. said. “All of the bigger races in the north usually run in late summer or early fall, so this will be nice to have a big one right away. We are definitely looking forward to it. If you can win a big race like that early in the year, it could give you a lot of momentum to carry through the rest of the season.”
When the Oxford 250 was moved from its traditional date in mid-July to late August in 2015, it took some of the appeal of PASS 400 weekend away. By that time of year, some budgets were exhausted from both the team owner and fan perspective. Now, both groups can plan for the big show long before they get specific with an Oxford 250 budget.
“I think it’s a great idea,” two-time Oxford 250 winner Travis Benjamin said. “I remember one year we ran the Oxford 250, the Remax 250, then went to Chaudiere for their 200 and then on to Beech Ridge for the 300, all in one month. That was very difficult; to maintain the car in that month was a ton of work. Thank God we won two of those races, or my budget would have been spent.
“This new date will give teams a chance to spread out their budgets. I also think the car count will be better in April. I’m excited for it, and I think it will be another great race.”
Three-time Oxford 250 winner and Maine Motorsports Hall of Famer Mike Rowe won the inaugural PASS 300 on September, 25, 2005. His son Ben crossed the stripe in second before claiming the 300 as his own in 2006.
Mike earned his second 300-lap victory in 2007, while multi-time series champion Johnny Clark won the event in 2008. Mike Rowe earned his third 300 win in 2009, an incredible feat.
For both PASS regulars and Beech Ridge weekly warriors, the 300 can be a big challenge. One driver with tons of experience at The Ridge and the equipment to win hails from Jay, Maine.
“It’s an interesting move,” PASS regular and former Beech Ridge Pro Series champion Dave Farrington Jr. said. “It certainly gives a different feeling to the race. We have been close to winning both in the spring and the fall, so we definitely feel capable of winning. I understand the move may be to help keep this major event away from the Oxford 250.”
Farrington’s observation may be on target. When the 250 and 300 were two months apart, the 300 had a better chance to stand on its own merit. When that gap closed by a month, the odds changed. This move to April puts the 300 directly in the early-season spotlight; when fans and media alike are ready to go.
“I really like the idea of having the 300 so early,” former Granite State Pro Stock Series champion Derek Griffith said. “Beech Ridge was always hot and dry when they ran it in September. Hopefully, more fans will come out in spring than they did in the fall to watch this great race. I think it was a good move for teams and fans.”
-By Phil Whipple, Speed51.com Contributor. Photo Credit: Speed51.com