CASSIUS CLARK FOLLOWS IN THE WINNING FOOTSTEPS OF HIS FATHER by MikeTwist
PASS Racer is On a Hot Streak After a Long Run of Bad Luck
Cassius Clark is one of the breakthrough stars in the IBG-PASS Pro Stock Series right now. Yet many people don’t know the low key driver very well. It seems that more people are confused about his surname than anything else. Casual fans often mistake Clark for being a sibling of defending PASS champion Johnny Clark. They are both young, talented and from Maine. They are even very close friends off the track, but they are not related.
week. They would run from the sandpiles and jump in the racecars and race with everybody. He stopped racing for 20 years and became quite a canoe racer and a ski racer. He was about the third best ski racer in New England. He’d try motorcycles and just about anything under the sun. Then in 1985, he started racing at Oxford again and I was four or five years old. In 1987, they started running the Busch North races at Oxford and he won the first one. The year after, he started racing for Quint Boisvert in the Skoal car [Chuck Bown, Curtis Markham and Dale Shaw are all among the other drivers who have also had that ride]. So we started traveling around and going to races.”
Unfortunately, Billy Clark didn’t get to enjoy the kind of career longevity that some of his peers, such as Bobby Dragon, Dale Shaw and Kelly Moore, did. An accident off the track pretty much ended his tenure as a driver.
Cassius Clark before the start of this season's PASS season opener at White Mountatin. (51 Photo)
“He got hurt in a trucking accident,” said Cassius Clark. “He rolled his truck over and banged his shoulder up. He’s got an artificial shoulder now and his back is messed up. He ran a Pro Truck race three years ago, but he never raced much after that.”
But Billy Clark stayed involved in racing behind the scenes as his son followed in his footsteps as a ski racer. This created a situation to get Cassius Clark behind the wheel.
“My Dad was crew chief on a Legends car for Ed Chapman, who owns my car now, and we went around with him for two or three years. Then his boy started racing, but that didn’t work out. I always wanted to race since I was little
Unfortunately, Clark picked a bad race to make his PASS debut at. Over 50 cars were entered for the 36 car field at Oxford. Clark came up two positions short of gaining a starting spot. But he’s been in every PASS event since. In fact, the PASS car is one of only two different race machines that Clark has wheeled in his career.
“I never raced go karts or anything, I’ve raced Legends cars and Pro Stocks and that’s been it.”
“We thought that we could sell the Legends car and maybe squeak together an ACT car and go racing that way, but Ed came in and step up to help us. He had two Pro Trucks and that series had just become defunct, so we traded those to a guy in Canada for a Hanley car. We got that ready and the first time that I was ever in a Pro Stock (or full-size racecar) to race was a PASS event. We tested it once before the race, but we missed most of our practice because we had the wrong transmission in the car. We got out in the final practice and Jeff Taylor was out on the track. We were turning laps right with him. So we were fast from the get go.”
anyways, but we never could really afford it. But, we sold a jet ski and got a Legends car. We started racing when Ed was getting out of it.”
A Legends car was a good start for Clark.
“We had good success with that; we went to Las Vegas, Charlotte and Florida. We had a lot of fun. The Legends cars are quite a handful actually, but I learned a lot”
After the 2001 season, Clark though about moving up into a full-sized car. The then 20-year-old driver and his family weighted their options and ended up getting help to go a level higher than they had even hoped.
Clark is no stranger to readers of Speed51.com. Here he speaks with Mike Twist at Racearama this past winter. (Norm Marx Photo)
Clark spotted for Ben Rowe at Speedfest in Florida earlier this season. (51 Photo)
wasn’t so bad because at least we were running well. If we were running bad and then breaking down, it wouldn’t have been fun at all. It got frustrating after a few of them, but at least we had something to look forward to every week. If we get banged up, we come back just as strong. We knew that things would turn around sooner or later.”
And things have turned around. At the end of last season, Clark won a non-points PASS race at Quebec’s Autodrome Montmagny. He started out 2005 with a third-place run at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH) and backed that up with a victory at Thompson two weeks ago.
But that doesn’t mean that the 23-year-old is the only member of his family who knows his way around a racetrack. 15 years ago, his father Billy, was one of the first stars of a then young NASCAR Busch North Series. The elder Clark only won two Busch North races, but finished within the top five of the series point standings four times in the five year span of 1987 to 1991. More notable is the fact that when the Busch North record book is opened, the very first race winner in the series' history was Billy Clark.
The road that he took to get started in racing was a lot wilder back in those days than it is now.
“My father started racing when he was 15 at Oxford,” said Cassius Clark. “He used to run against 130 guys every
In Pro Stocks, Clark has been known as one of the hardest luck drivers in PASS over the last few years. In 2003’s $100,000 to-win Big Dawg Invitational, he was a contender before losing a wheel just past halfway. Last season at Thompson, he was looking like he would run away and possibly lap the field when an oil line fitting came loose. More oil line problems and a wreck cost him a shot at victory in the second Thompson race of 2004.
“We were there all the time last year, with just didn’t finish with them. We were usually one of the cars to beat.”
Clark didn’t let the bad luck get him down.
“We’ve had a lot of bad luck and learning over the past few years, but we’re starting to get there now,” said Clark. “It
Even when he is not racing, Clark is still at the track as much as possible. This past winter, he went down to Speedfest at USA International Speedway (FL) and served as Ben Rowe’s spotter. While down there, he picked up a few thoughts on special events where Super Late Model and Pro Stock teams from PASS, the CRA Super Series, USRA and Sunbelt Series could all get together and compete.
“It we can get a deal like that (Speedfest) where we can race together, I don’t think that you will see the guys from any one series stand out over anyone else.”
“I think now with the bodies we are pretty close. Everyone pretty much runs the same shocks and a frame is a frame. The biggest difference is probably with the motors. But now, the way that everyone is talking, I think that we might have the same horsepower up here that they have down there.
Clark isn’t far from his roots these days. His father is still a key part to his racing program.
Clark had to beat PASS champions Ben Rowe (L) and Johnny Clark (R) to win at Thompson. (Norm Marx Photo)
“He the crew chief on my car. It’s just the two of us with one other guy who helps out in the shop. We both work during the day and work on the car at night. Hopefully, we don’t wreck the car the weekend before because that means that we stay up late getting it back together.”
And while Billy Clark turns plenty of wrenches, he doesn’t get too involved with telling his son how to drive.
“He doesn’t really tell me too much,” said Cassius Clark. “He gives me some pointers, but basically he’s just more hands on with the car. He lets me figure it out the hard way and learn from it.”
Surprisingly though, Billy Clark has never practice or tested his son’s #8 car.
“He’s never tested it. I’m the only one who has ever driven this car. Once we get going, maybe he could jump into a car once in awhile. I’m sure that he’d love to.”
Clark sits in his #8 car on the line at Oxford in April, 2002, ready to attempt his first PASS race ever (Norm Marx Photo)