One thing that has been lacking in the NASCAR Busch North Series over the past few seasons has been the emergence of new blood into the series. While several full-time competitors like Tracy Gordon, Mike Rowe, Dale Shaw, Carey Heath and Greg Shaffer have cut back their schedules over the past few years, precious few new drivers have stepped up to fill the void left behind. Ryan Moore joined the tour in 2003 and Ryan Seaman was the sole Rookie of the Year candidate running full-time in 2004, but on average more teams have been going away than joining the traveling circus.
LEWANDOSKI ANNOUNCES FULL BUSCH NORTH CAMPAIGN by Mike Twist
Team Plans Move From Connecticut to North Carolina
However, one driver and his family-owned team have made the commitment to not only join the series full-time in 2005, but to jump in with both feet. 19-year-old Charles Lewandoski told Speed51.com this week that he’ll be running the full schedule this coming season and moving to the heart of stock car racing to do it
“We just finalized everything and we are going to be running for the Busch North Rookie of the Year title this season,” said Lewandoski. “We’re working away for the start of the season right now and we’ll be ready. Our goals are to win Rookie of the Year and to be in the top 15 of the points so we can go to Irwindale [for the NASCAR
Lewandoski practices for the rained out fall event at Wall. (Ken Spring/Charles Lewandoski Racing Photo)
All-Star Showdown] at the end of the year. I think that towards the middle of the season, after we get some experience, we’ll be really strong.”
The Stafford Springs, Connecticut driver grew up in the shadows of the Stafford Motor Speedway. However, he’ll be racing out of a new home within a few months. The Lewandoski team will be relocating to Concord, North Carolina in March. They are going to set up shop in the same complex where Billy Venturini’s ARCA team is based out of.
Lewandoski gets ready to race.
“We outgrew our old shop and were looking for a new place,” said Lewandoski. “It was my father’s shop and we were really fortunate to have someplace to race out of with tools and welders, but it was getting too small. I’ve spent about five weeks over the past few months in North Carolina and it makes sense to move down there. Our bodies, chassis, rear ends and transmissions are all built within an hour of our new shop. If we wrecked bad enough, the car would be going down there anyway.”
“Moving down south will help us to better equip our team and have the resources to compete. Travel is a problem, but we’ll have a better racecar at the track with this arrangement, so it will be worth it. Plus, I really have a lot of interest in doing things outside of Busch North racing and this will allow me to do that.”
Lewandoski has friends that compete in the ARCA Re/Max Series and USAR Pro Cup Series, so he looks forward to joining up with them on any of his off weekends. He also has another close ally down south in three-time Busch North champion Andy Santerre, who lives in nearby Harrisburg and will be working as the team manager for Grizco Motorsports in 2005.
Heading up Lewandoski’s team will be crew chief David Hirsch.
“He’s a good all around guy,” said Lewandoski. “He was down south in the early and mid 90’s and is from Stafford Springs just like me. We have really good chemistry together. He’s 34. That is perfect because he is old enough to have been through things in racing, but young enough to understand where I’m at. We are a good match.”
Having a professional young driver join the Busch North Series could prove to be very beneficial to everyone
“Andy is one of the guys on the top of the list of who I owe everything to,” said Lewandoski. “He has helped my career, he is a great friend and we go to lunch together nearly everyday that I am down there. He has done a lot for me and I keep saying that maybe I can return those favors someday. Being down there, maybe I can start doing that.”
Lewandoski (#01) did get the chance to run a few races in 2004. Here he runs with 2003 Rookie of the Year Ryan Moore (#74). Ken Spring/Charles Lewandoski Racing Photo
involved. Lewandoski thinks that his personal goals in racing could be exactly what NASCAR is looking for as well.
“The best things that I can do for myself are also good for the series,” Lewandoski said. “I want to bring good, clean equipment to the races and to be respectful both on and off the track.”
The Lewandoski team has four cars in their stable. Three of those are former Buckshot Jones cars from the NASCAR Busch Series.
Although the team does not yet have a sponsor, the lack of one will not deter their efforts for 2005.
“We are still talking to a few sponsors and hopefully that will come about,” said Lewandoski. “But either way, I’ll be running the full season this year.”