51's NORTHERN EXPOSURE by Mike Twist
News from PASS, Busch East, ACT and More
SPEEDFEST DRAWING NORTHEASTERN INTEREST

Teams of the IBG-PASS Pro Stock Series won’t turn a lap for their home series until the April 29th season opener at Oxford Plains Speedway, but that won’t keep many of the teams from taking to the track a little bit sooner in warmer climates.
One team that won’t be competing at Speedfest will be the #29 Cushman Engineering bunch out of Maine.  Ted Christopher was slated to drive their car in the event, but the plans were changed when TC got the opportunity to drive in the Rolex 24 event at Daytona on the same weekend.  [Click here for more].  The team will now cheer on Christopher at Daytona before getting ready to attack the oval at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) in search of the Speedweeks Super Late Model championship.

PASS SILLY SEASON IN FULL SWING

While some PASS teams are getting ready to head to Florida, others are hard at work adapting to planned lineup changes for 2006.
Several New England-based teams are making the trek to Florida for Speedfest later this month at USA International Speedway in Lakeland.  Owner-Driver Scott Mulkern will join the SP2 Motorsports team and driver Mike Rowe along with the Tom Estes-owned operation of Ben Rowe in carrying the PASS flag for the race.  Massachusetts driver and True Value Modified Racing Series regular Louie Mechalides will also dust off his #47 Pro Stock for the trip.

Those four might not be the only ones from the region.  Young Mainer Corey Williams is also considering making the trip to Speedfest.
There will be some changes for 2005.  Stefanik will be back in the #55, but Santerre has elected to get out of the #44 car and focus on a management role with the team. 

The #44 operation is looking at different possibilities for 2006 and no replacement for Santerre has been decided upon yet.

As far as the third team goes, reports are that Leighton is seriously considering increasing his status to full-time with the team for 2006 with Irving Oil stepping up their role as the team’s sponsor.
Meanwhile, a few PASS regulars might be looking to spread their wings beyond the series in 2006.  Both Cassius Clark and Johnny Clark are said to be seriously exploring the possibility of going NASCAR Busch East Series racing this year. 

GRIZCO GEARS UP FOR 2006

There is no doubt which team were the top dogs in NASCAR Busch North Series competition in 2005.  Grizco Racing had their two full-time teams with Andy Santerre and Mike Stefanik sweep the top two points positions, while part-timer Brad Leighton had many good runs in the #25 car.
What will Johnny (and Cassius) do in 2006?  Stay tuned.  (51 Photo)
Last year, Mike Rowe was at Speedfest.  He'll be back again this time with a few friends.
Donnie Whitten is out at Richard Moody Racing after finishing sixth in the 2005 standings.  The team will change their number from #83 to #44 and have retained Travis Khiel to drive in a limited schedule of events.  The team has also formed a partnership with SP2 Motorsports.  Speed51.com will have more details on the new lineup at RMR coming soon.

A few towns over in Biddeford, Maine, a new PASS team is also being formed with ties to SP2 Motorsports.  PPI Motorsports bought one of the cars that Mike Rowe drove for SP2 in 2005 and will put Beech Ridge standout Curtis Gerry behind the wheel for a limited schedule of PASS events.
MAINE RACING SHOW SET FOR THIS WEEKEND

One of the staples of the off-season in New England racing has been the Northeast Motorsports Expo in Augusta, Maine.  The racing show returns for its 18th engagement this Friday through Sunday with nearly all area tracks and sanctioning bodies having a presence at the show.

Andy Santerre will be on hand on Saturday afternoon to meet fans.  Ryan Moore will be at the show on both Friday evening and Saturday afternoon in the Get-Etched.com booth. 

The IBG-PASS Series will show off the #24 car of Mike Rowe and the new #44 ride that Travis Khiel will drive this coming season.  Two PASS Modifieds and a PASS Outlaw Late Model will also be on display.

BUSCH EAST SNOWMOBILE RIDE COMING UP

When racecar drivers can’t race because of snow on the ground, what do they do?  They hop on snowmobiles instead and there is one event every year where fans can also take part in the fun for a few very good causes.
Andy Santerre should be getting used to making banquet speeches - he's done just that for the since 2002.
The seventh annual Busch North (now Busch East) Scene Snowmobile Poker Run will take place in Rangeley, Maine on February 4th.  The day will start out with an optional 11am drivers meeting at the Rangeley Inn. Ride credentials can be purchased for $20 at the Rangeley Inn all day and you can ride with the 11am group or ride with your own group at any time during the day.

The $20 ride credential also gets you admission to the entertainment night at the Rangeley Inn. There will be dinner specials and drink specials exclusively for those with a ride credential. The proceeds from the ride will all go
to several great charities including the Maine Special Olympics and the Busch North Series Women's Auxiliary and their various charities.

There will also be 100's of raffle prizes and great auction items at the event. Busch North Scene will also be awarding the 2004 Busch North Scene Driver of the Year at the event, along with the 2004 Fans Favorite Driver award. As part of the evening entertainment, three nationally known comedians will perform at 9pm.

Last years event was the most successful to date, raising well over $8,400 for the charities. Over 250 people participated in the event.

For more details, please email at scene@neracing.com or call Busch North Scene at (207) 224-2060.

CANNAN READY TO ENTER NEW ERA

In 2006, PASS will sanction the asphalt track at Canaan Fair Speedway.  Last week, the sanctioning body held an informational meeting to discuss plans for the coming season.

Considering that it took place smack in the middle of the holiday season, you might expect that many teams would pass on attending and rely on the rumor mill to bring them up to speed on any new developments, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Approximately 65 teams in various divisions were represented and interest among competitors about the coming season is said to be very high.

Rules were distributed with more announcements coming soon.

ZACH TO READY TO ATTACK NEW SEASON

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour hotshoe Zach Sylvester is busy planning for 2006 and has a few new arrangements for the season.  Sylvester has aligned himself with a new crew chief for the season.  Former Lia Motorsports, Inc. head wrench Kevin Crowley will join Sylvester’s #15 team.  Sylvester will also take to the banks of Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday nights throughout the year, driving an SK Modified for Johnson Racing.

ACT PLANS OFF SEASON BANQUET

ACT Late Model and Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT) competitors will be honored for their 2005 accomplishments on January 14th at the annual ACT Awards Banquet held in Burlington, Vermont.  Champions will be honored and several awards, including Most Improvement Drivers and the Sportsmanship Awards, will be handed out at the ceremony.



Leighton's #25.  (Justin St. Louis / 51 Photo)
Last year's Rangeley ride.   (51 Photo)