After two memorable seasons competing and winning races throughout New England, Derek Griffith is looking to add some southern flavor to his pallet for 2017. The Hudson, New Hampshire native plans to leave the cold and snowy Northeast behind in order to kick off the new racing season in the southern part of the country.
Griffith will head to South Carolina and Dillon Motor Speedway for the Pro All Stars Series Winter Meltdown on February 4. The race, which serves as the season opener for PASS South and the PASS National Championship, features 200 laps of competition with $6,000 going to the winner. The race will draw some of the best from the Southeast, and Griffith is eager to see how he and his team match up.
“I am absolutely stoked. I’ve heard a lot about the track from some guys that ran a Hobby Stock race down there,” Griffith told Speed51.com. “I’m looking forward to going down and racing against those Southern guys because they always bring a lot to the table. If we can compete with people like that, it means a lot.”
What makes him even more stoked is the fact that his team ended 2016 on a particular high note, winning their last two races of the season. They won on back-to-back weekends at Lee USA Speedway’s Oktoberfest and Seekonk Speedway’s DAV Fall Classic. Add to that a spectating trip to Five Flags Speedway and you have a race car driver who is more than ready to mash the gas pedal.
“We’re all itching to get down there, we’ve been kind of bored I would say,” Griffith joked. “Haven’t had any racing going on, we did go down and watch the Snowball Derby and we had a great experience down there.”
This is not the first time in his young career that Griffith has started a racing season in the South. Last season, he competed at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) in the World Series of Asphalt Racing in February. While things did not go smoothly for the duration of the week, the LCM team built upon the experience, catapulting into a successful first full season in PASS North with a win and eight top-10 finishes.
“We went to Thompson after Speedweeks and we finished second. Racing with all those guys, it’s a different world down there than it is up here,” Griffith stated. “A lot of the money rules down there, it would mean a lot more if we go down and do well. We’re a pretty low budget team and we try to do what we can. We put a lot of time, money and effort into our team, and to do well would be huge.”
The Winter Meltdown at Dillon will be the first race of the six-race PASS National Championship, which has two more Southern venues at Orange County Speedway (NC) for the Orange Blossom Special on March 25 and the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) on April 15. Griffith plans to run these events to pursue the PASS National title along with the full PASS North schedule.
“It’s not a thing that we looked at much last year. We saw the schedule (this year) and the way it worked out, we’re already doing half the races on with PASS North. We figured, let’s go down and see what we can do. It’s going to be a lot of racing, but that’s what we want to do this year, we want to race as much as we can.”
Presently the team is only committed to running the full PASS North schedule along with the three PASS South events with National points. While additional races in both the North and South are possible, the team is also looking at running at New Smyrna for Speedweeks once again and considering a return to the Snowball Derby in December, this time with a race car in tow.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Derek Griffith Motorsports