IT'S THREE IN A ROW(E) IN ACT LATE MODELS by Mike Twist
Drivers From Seven States and Two Canadian Provinces Compete in Quebec
What does a racecar driver do in his spare time for enjoyment? Some go fishing, some go golfing and some wait for the winter to go snowmobiling.
time PASS and two-time TD Banknorth 250 winner isn’t admitting it.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Rowe laughed.
Is it a close-knit group of crew members who are racing for the right reasons? Maybe.
These guys have fun,” said Rowe. “It’s David and his father Donny. There’s a guy Ed and I don’t even know his last name to tell you the truth. They’re older fellas. They do it to have fun. They drink a few beers at the shop. That’s how short track racing was 10 years ago. Now, on the PASS side we have full-time employees and shock deals. It’s a huge deal. Here, it’s all about just going out and having fun. There’s nothing better than that.”
Ben Rowe just goes racing more often when he’s got an off weekend from the PASS North tour. At this point, you can bet that many of the regulars in the ACT Late Model Series wish that he would get a different hobby.
For the third ACT race in a row, it was Rowe who ended up in victory lane. The latest winning effort came at Lee USA Speedway on Tuesday night as Rowe led all 100 green flag laps with David Avery’s #10 car.
Avery, a former ACT competitor himself, got out of the driver’s seat after the end of last season to devote more time to the family business, New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park. He still had a potent Late Model in his shop though and asked Rowe to give it a whirl. Then, as they said, the rest was history.
The Lee doubleheader with the ACT Late Models and True Value Modified Racing Series had been scheduled for May, but rained out. After a brief shower this time around, pace vehicles for both tours helped dry the track. (51 Photo)
“When they approached me last year, this deal was only for the Sanair race,” said Rowe. “David had his back surgery, then he had his knee surgery and he would never get back into a racecar again. So the Sanair deal turned into a White Mountain deal, because they own the track. Then, it turned into three or four races. Now, it’s seven or eight races on my off weekends.”
Rowe started out his ACT season by failing to qualify for the season opener at Thunder Road. Now, he’s come back to win his next three races.
“To win two in a row is unheard of and to come back and win three in a row, is big. “
So what is Rowe’s secret weapon that allows him to win three consecutive races in a very competitive series?
Is it an unfair advantage with the car? No.
“This car is an old car,” said Rowe. “They took the shocks off at Sanair and [ACT Head Tom} Curley couldn’t believe how old they were. They gave us a new set and gave us a new MSD box to put in. I like what they do with the rules. If they think someone has an advantage, they just keep throwing stuff at them. I can’t say enough about this tour. Everyone has basically the same cars, you work on the chassis and work on driving it.
Is it having Ben Rowe behind the wheel? If it is, the two-
Rowe races his #10 with the #29 of Mark Lamberton. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Is it where you start the race? In this case, Rowe led from the pole and didn’t give up the lead at all.
“Starting position is everything,” said Rowe. “You’ve got to go in your heat race to get a good starting position.”
In reality, Rowe’s secret weapon is not just one thing. Just like in any other tour, it’s having the total package needed to win races….multiple races.
“The cars are equal, so it also comes down to driving ability and head games sometimes. I don’t know. These cars are so close that it makes you work on your chassis more. Practice is so critical. I showed up here at 2:30 and the line to get in this place was an hour and a half. David ran out and paid another way in to get me in the track. I paid twice just to get into the gate to practice. That is how important practice is, especially
here. The track gets real slick after about 50 laps on the track.
“This is a fun racetrack. I’ve never won at Lee before. I’ve always liked the place, but struggled.”
Although Rowe led from flag to flag, it wasn’t a Sunday drive either. First, Mark Lamberton kept Rowe honest by staying right in the tire tracks for most of the race.
“I knew that the #29 [Lamberton] would be strong,” said Rowe. “I knew that we would run clean together, side-by-side and nose to tail.”
“I was behind Ben and I felt that I had a better car than him and was saving tires," said Lamberton. "All of a sudden on one of the last restarts, it got real loose on us and I just wanted to finish. I started going backwards.”
Rowe takes the checkers. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Later on, Rowe would pull away from Lamberton, but his chances of a runaway victory seemed in jeopardy as the final laps clicked down. A pair of cautions in the last dozen laps and one false restart kept the field close. Young Lee USA Speedway regular Jeremy Harclerode got around Mark Lamberton for second place on lap 93 and with a two laps to go he closed on Rowe’s back bumper. The newcomer raced the veteran clean though and could not get around Rowe’s #10.
“I didn’t know the other guy,” said Rowe. “And I knew that I needed to go right there. I was so free up off the corner that I couldn’t flat foot it. They told me five to go and I hoped that I could hold him off for those five laps
unless he tagged me from behind. He raced me clean and it’s fun to race against guys like that who I’ve never even seen. I’ve heard their names before, but never raced against them.”
“I did all that I could do to get around the #29 and I was a little loose off,” said Harclerode. “I could catch him, but passing him was another thing. I might have been able to do something with it, but it would have taken another three or four laps.”
“He had a strong car,” said Lamberton of Harclerode “I think that he had the strongest car at the end. Then, I say that and Ben was probably just sitting back there waiting for someone to try him.”
There won’t be four in a row by a Rowe however. This weekend, Rowe and the ACT Late Model Tour will head in different directions with the Maine driver heading back to his regular gig driving the Richard Moody Racing #4 in the PASS North race at Speedway 95 in Bangor, Maine. The ACT regulars will head West to New York to take on Airborne Speedway in Plattsburg.
Already, there are a few teams breathing a sigh of relief about that.
Rowe is joined by runner-up Jeremy Harclerode to his left and Mark Lamberton to his right. (ACT Photo)