Last year, the Pro All Star Series’ Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway was one of the first major short track events to be postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event returns in 2021 with double the fun, with a pair of 150-lap races taking place on April 2-3.
Several of the PASS standouts of the Northeast will make the trip south for Easter weekend, kicking off their season with two races in one trip. One such driver, Travis Benjamin, is excited to head to North Carolina and get the season underway.
“I’m excited to see the south again,” Benjamin told Speed51. “I think we’ll have a good shot at it. We’ve always been pretty decent there. You have to get through the first one to get to the second one, obviously, but I think we’ll be decent.”
Two-time Easter Bunny 150 winner Ben Rowe will be especially busy at this year’s event. Not only will he compete in both PASS Easter Bunny 150s, but he will also be racing with the ACT Tour in both of their 125-lap features at Hickory.
“Good thing I’m physically fit, right?” joked Rowe. “I say I’m more like a camel, I’m ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Derek Griffith has already been busy to start the 2021 season, with a World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing championship and a trip to the Rattler 250 under his belt. He hopes to carry that momentum into Hickory.
“It’s hard not to come into it with a little pep in our step,” Griffith said. “We ran good at Speedweeks, we ran good at the Rattler and we had a good run at the Derby, too.
“A lot of people that are going to be running that race have been sitting idle all winter. They haven’t been doing much other than some iRacing stuff. I think that plays into our favor, having seat time over other people. I have a hard time sitting idle, myself, so it’s good for me to get seat time during the offseason. We’re already off on the right foot, so hopefully that comes into play for us.”
Griffith described Hickory as a track with plenty of personality.
“The place has a lot of attitude. It’s a really rough, weathered race track, but it has this patina about it that everyone likes. It’s a tight, bullring-style race track that’s comparable to back home. That’s why you get a lot of the Northern guys that want to come down. I’ve always liked the place since the first time I went.”
That personality will test drivers all weekend long with the pair of 150-lap Super Late Model races. However, Benjamin says he is trying to prepare for the event like a single 300-lap marathon, and then taking the weekend one day at a time.
“It’s like preparing for a 250 or 300 lap race. It’s the same as always, just make sure everything is put together. I’m going to take it one race at a time. I’ll worry about the first one before I worry about the second one.
“And if something stupid happens in the first one, we’ll load up and go home,” Benjamin said with a chuckle.
Rowe noted from recent testing in both the PASS Super Late Model and the ACT Late Model that the two cars approach the track very differently, adding another dynamic to the weekend for him and other drivers partaking in all four races over the two days.
“The ACT car is a little higher and rolls over a lot more since you’re on springs itself. Inside the car, you feel a lot more, the throwing you out the passenger’s window.
“In the Super, you’re all tied down, you’ve got the bump stops, it’s very rigid. You feel the roughness of the track a lot more. The ACT car, you didn’t really feel that, you just glided over it, and it was fun.”
Race fans unable to attend the Easter Bunny 150s will be able to watch live on Speed51.TV. Click here to learn more about the broadcast and order your video ticket today.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo