Veteran short track driver Gary Smith fulfilled a dream over the weekend, driving to victory in the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) 150 on Sunday at historic Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.
Not only was the victory the Bangor native’s second career win on the PASS tour, it was his first career victory at Beech Ridge.
Another veteran of Maine’s paved ovals, nine-time Oxford Plains Speedway champion Jeff Taylor, crossed the stripe in second, while former Beech Ridge champion Curtis Gerry finished third. Smith took the lead from John Peters on lap 37 and pulled away from the field.
“It’s so hard to win these PASS races, the competition is so tough,” Smith said. “We’ve really put in an effort to be strong down here, and today it paid off. This puts the icing on the cake.”
“That was my goal,” he added. “We really never gave it a thought until we won up at Oxford a couple of times, but we thought it would be kind of neat to do that. That’s what we focused on, but it’s tough.”
Former PASS winner Garrett Hall started sixth and finished fourth, while two-time PASS champion Travis Benjamin completed the top five.
Taylor was apologetic to a fellow racer after the 150, yet seemed happy with his performance.
“I have to apologize to Reid Lanpher, I spun him out and I didn’t mean to do it,” he explained. “I’m sure they aren’t happy, but it was my fault. This was a great day for Distance Racing Products. Gary was there before me, and he never gave up on us. That means the world to me.”
Gerry started 27th in the 29-car field and did his typical methodical march up into contention. Always a threat to win at Beech Ridge, the Waterboro native showed plenty of muscle again on Sunday.
“This is like a win for us, given how far back we started today,” Gerry said. “We were horrible in the heat race, and starting out back was difficult for us. We thought we were going a lap down early, but the holes finally opened up and let us move forward. It was a lot of work, but at least we got here.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the PASS 150 on Sunday were Donnie Colpritt Jr., Trevor Sanborn, Alan Tardiff, Lanpher and Brandon Barker. Beech Ridge regular Dan Winter finished 11th, the final car on the lead lap. Three cautions slowed the pace, while Smith’s margin of victory was 2.416 seconds.
Other notable finishers include Westbrook’s John Peters, who led for 32 laps and finished 13th; New Hampshire hotshoe Derek Griffith (16th); former series champion Ben Rowe (17th); two-time Oxford Plains Speedway Pro Late Model champion TJ Brackett (19th); and point leader DJ Shaw (22nd).
The next stop for the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models is Vermont’s Thunder Road International Speedbowl, set for this coming Friday evening, September 28. This will be a first-ever appearance for PASS North during Milk Bowl weekend after racing on Memorial Day weekend there the past several years.
Race fans will be able to watch Friday’s PASS event, as well as the entire Milk Bowl race weekend, via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com.
-Story by: Phil Whipple, Speed51.com Northeast SLM Correspondent
-Photo credit: Norm Marx / PASS