JESSE SMITH GOES FROM WRENCHING TO RACING

At last weekend’s Racin’ Preview in Portland, Maine, there was a sharp and familiar looking Pro Stock with an unfamiliar number on the side.  At first glance, it appeared that Gary Smith’s #75 PASS machine was renumbered as the #75. 
But that’s not the case.  The #55 car is actually what long-time crew member and son Jesse Smith will race himself during the 2006 season.

“We’re going to try and run about 10 races at 95 [Speedway] in Bangor,” said Jesse Smith.  “My Dad is also going to run the full PASS deal.  I could run 14 races at 95 and the full PASS deal if we pushed it.  But we’re going to pretty much focus on 10 and see what we can do.”

The younger Smith will also be at the PASS shows to turn wrenches on his father’s car.
51's NORTHERN EXPOSURE by Mike Twist
It's Showtime, Father & Sons and the 250

A good sign of that is this weekend’s 26th Annual Racearama show.  For decades, the show has been a primer to the racing season and has also allowed competitors, crews, fans and officials to bench race.  This year, the show moves from its traditional home in Western Massachusetts to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro – the home of the New England Patriots Football team.

The show will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Dana Farber Fieldhouse.  Hours on Friday are 4-10pm, Saturday’s hours are 10-10pm and gates will be open on Sunday from 11am-4pm.

Speed51.com will be browsing around the show to get the latest photos and news from the off-season.  Stay tuned next week to see what we found.
There will be some shiny racecars at a place known for football this weekend.  (51 Photo)
Mike Rowe  (51 / Justin St. Louis Photo)
RACEARAMA ON TAP FOR THIS WEEKEND

This past week in New England, the temperatures have not even gotten above freezing in most places.  It’s not exactly the kind of whether to make anyone think about going to the track, but with only a month before tracks start to open their gates in the regional, the racing oil will be flowing soon.
“I’ll definitely be helping my Dad,” said Smith.  “We don’t have enough crew to do two separate deals, so we’ll do what we can and try not to spread ourselves too thin.”

Smith is looking forward to the new challenge of driving a Pro Stock.

“I’ll be getting my feet wet.  I’ve been setting them up for a long time now, so I guess I’ll see if I can drive one now.”
ROWES TO RACE IN CANADA

Another father and son duo that PASS fans might be familiar with are planning on making some headlines North of the Border this summer.

Mike Rowe and his son Ben are both planning to enter the ACT Late Model event at Sanair Superspeedway in Quebec on July 8th-9th.  Mike Rowe will drive the #88 car owned by Maine businessman Mike Lux, while Ben will wheel the #10 owned by former ACT driver and current White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH) promoter, David Avery.
Jesse Smith and his #55.  (51 Photo)
The $10,000 to win race will take place on the 7/8th mile oval at Sanair and is expected to draw an estimated 75 plus cars.

OXFORD 250 TICKETS ON SALE

The deadline for spectators to renew reserved seats to the TD Banknorth 250 has passed, meaning that outstanding seats in all three price blocks are available to anyone on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hailed as America’s richest one-day short track race since its inception in 1974, the 34th annual TD Banknorth 250 is scheduled for Sunday, July 30 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
For the third consecutive year, Oxford’s showcase race is scheduled on an off weekend for the elite NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, fueling anticipation that some of the biggest names in racing will join the top Pro Stock competitors from New England and Canada in the chase for a first prize exceeding $25,000.

Nextel Cup champions Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch have tested their mettle at the TD Banknorth 250 under the current scheduling arrangement, along with 2005’s Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year, Kyle Busch. Kenseth finished third in 2004, while Kyle Busch ran sixth in 2005 after leading the race prior to a pit stop with fewer than 50 laps remaining.
"We are certainly as anxious as everyone else to find out which Nextel Cup drivers might decide to join us at this year’s TD Banknorth 250,” said Oxford Plains Speedway President Bill Ryan. “It is fun to hear the speculation and buzz in the racing community as we get closer to spring. I think most of our fans would agree that it has brought an aura and some national attention back to this great race.”

With the best remaining seats now up for grabs and only a select number of seats available on race day, speedway officials suggest buying your tickets now. Sales are expected to be brisk in March and April, possibly before any potential commitments from Cup drivers, as spring fever sets in here in the frozen Northeast.

TD Banknorth 250 weekend is a three-day event presented by New England Dodge Dealers. It includes Call of the Wild Night, an OPS Weekly Racing Series program on Friday, July 28, and the American-Canadian Tour Maine-Ly Action Sports 100 on Saturday, July 29. Those are separate admission events from the TD Banknorth 250, although three-day pit passes are available.

This year’s TD Banknorth 250 will have special historic implications as ageless Mike Rowe of Turner attempts to become the first four-time race winner, breaking a record he now shares with Dave Dion and Ralph Nason. Rowe was recently named 2005 Touring Series Driver of the Year both the Northeast Motorsports Expo and the Web site Speed51.com, a tribute to the long reach and rich tradition of this race.

One regional favorite who would like to stop Mike Rowe is none other than his son, Ben, the 2003 and 2004 champion who hopes to etch his name on that short list of three-time champions.

Other former champions expected to take their shot at another title are Gary Drew, Scott Robbins and Canadian racing legend Junior Hanley. And that doesn’t include a lengthy list of short-track stars who have yet to solve the toughest short track race in America, including eight-time OPS champion Jeff Taylor, Johnny Clark, Tracy Gordon and Dale Shaw.

Seats are available at $50, $40 and $30. A seating chart is available on online at www.oxfordplains.com. For more information about specific seat availability or to purchase tickets, please stop by the Speedway office on Route 26 or call (207) 539-8865 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.  (OPS PR)



The TD Banknorth 250 played before a packed house in 2005.  (51 / Justin St. Louis Photo)