New to the 2005 schedule is a stop at Motor Mile Speedway (VA). Meanwhile, Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) will host an event for the first time since 1992. Not returning to the 2005 schedule are races at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME), Lee USA Speedway (NH), Seekonk Speedway (MA) and Wall Township Speedway (NJ).
PHIPPEN RETURNS TO HOMETRACK
On the silver anniversary of his racing debut at Unity Raceway (ME), John Phippen is returning to the Pro Stock wars at the track for the 2005 season.
The Busch North cars will be on track in June. They will visit New Hampshire twice over the course of the year, but only on Fridays. (51 Photo)
The slate includes 13 events, with New Hampshire International Speedway and Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) hosting two dates each. Stafford will host their second date on Wednesday night, August 10th. A late summer midweek show has been held at Stafford in the past for the NASCAR Modified Tour, but in recent years all Busch North races at the facility have been on Fridays or Sundays.
Also notable is the fact that races at New Hampshire will be scheduled for Friday afternoons instead of Saturdays. The change was made to free up the track’s schedule for a move to Saturdays for NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying.
Phippen has called Speedway 95, an hour north of Unity in Bangor, Maine, home for recent seasons while filling out his schedule with a limited run of PASS events and open shows such as the Oxford 250. His record at Speedway 95 was impressive with two track titles over the past few years.
One of Phippen's most memorable races, however, was one that he didn't win. After open-heart surgery in 2000, Phippen sat out 10 weeks to recuperate and planned to run
Phippen (#59) leads a logjam of Pro Stocks. (Norm Marx Photo)
schedule of touring races as a support division to their headlining Pro Stock class with Mark Lucas winning the championship. Unity hosted five events for the cars as well in 2004.
CHISHOLM HAS WEIRD SPEEDWEEKS
What will no doubt end up being one of the strangest occurrences in racing this year occurred last week during Florida Speedweeks. Canadian Pro Stock driver Donald Chisholm was the unlucky driver involved when a track cleanup buggy ran into his racecar on pit road.
“Never, never, never have I seen something like that,” said Chisholm. “It would be one thing if he didn’t have a radio on, which he did. Two guys told me they heard it on the scanner.”
The incident overshadowed the fact that Chisholm had a good car during the races.
“We’ve been here the last five years or so. Everytime we leave here, this is the way. We typically have fairly competitive cars. We set fast time tonight but had to go to the back. That stuff happens too. We were going to be ok. We had passed a bunch of cars. It is hard to imagine.
There might be plenty of snow on the ground in New England and more on the way next week, but there are a few racecars that were loaded up this week for fans to gather and see.
The annual Racin’ Preview in Portland, Maine at the Portland Expo Center runs this weekend. The two-day show takes place on Friday evening and all day Saturday and is organized by Racin’ Paper publisher Mark Thomas.
Several PASS Pro Stock (Super Late Model) drivers will be on hand this year to sign autographs and meet fans. 2004 PASS Champion Johnny Clark, Ben Rowe, Mike Rowe, Cassius Clark, 2004 Rookie of Year Donnie Whitten, Gary Smith, and Corey Williams will take part in an autograph sessions starting at 2pm on Saturday afternoon.
The Mods at Unity will get the chance to tour with PASS as well. Here they are last year at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH). (Norm Marx Photo)
a few laps during a doubleheader weekend at Wiscasset Raceway. After the regular 35-lap feature was rained out on Saturday night, Phippen entered the 150-lap main event on Sunday afternoon. But once he settled into a groove, those "few laps" increased to the entire length of the race and a sixth-place finish.
The 53 year-old driver will be well prepared for his return.
"We've got two cars ready to go. They're both 1999 Monte Carlos, but I've done a lot of work on them over the winter so we'll keep up with the newer ones," said Phippen.
MODIFIEDS FIND A HOME AT UNITY
Also making news at Unity this week was the announcement that the Modifieds, as in PASS-type Mods, will be competing during the summer as part of the track’s Thursday Night Thunder series.
A 15-race schedule is planned with weekly shows from June 2 to Aug. 25 and special events on Sunday, Sept. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 8.
"There are at least 15 to 20 Modifieds around here," said track owner Ralph Nason. "This class has a lot of potential for growth, so it's going to be a win-win situation for the drivers and fans."
The Modifieds to be raced at Unity resemble IMCA Modifieds and made their Maine debut as a regular division at Wiscasset Raceway (ME) two years ago. The track dropped the division in 2004, but PASS sanctioned a
Speed 51 will be attending the show in an effort to cure a little bit of cabin fever, as well as to bring you photos and any news right here next week.
RACEARAMA UP NEXT
Also coming up soon is the oldest winter racing show in New England, Racearama at the Big E Expo in West Springfield, Massachusetts. This three day show features displays from all type of auto racing and is organized by Speedway Scene, the regional racing newspaper where a teenage Bob Dillner first made his debut in racing media.
Racearama takes place on March .
Speed 51 will also attend Racearama and bring you the latest news from that event as well.
CRAVENS WELCOME ADDITION
Maine’s favorite racing son, Ricky Craven, has welcomed a new entrant into his driver development program. Craven and his wife Cathleen, welcomed Lydia Cathleen Craven into the world earlier this month. Lydia weighed in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces and was just under 20 inches long.
Craven has deep roots to New England racing. He is a former competitor in the ACT and NASCAR Busch North Series. The rest of the racing world knows that he has won two NASCAR Cup races in his career and scored a top five finish in his first start for Jack Roush in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series last week at Daytona.
The #54 car of Johnny Clark will be at the Racin' Preview this weekend. (51 Photo)