“We were going to wait until the end of the year, but I had a few good offers to sell stuff,” said Poulin. “John Fleming bought a car [the black #5 that Kyle Busch drove at this year’s Oxford 250] and P.T. Watts came in and Mike’s going to be good for the rest of the year. We’re still going down South to try and win that. P.T. Watts and Mike are going to finish up the rest of the year, I got a good return on my equipment and I decided it was a good time. If I had decided to sell everything in December, it might not be worth anything.”
The team has even put together a second car on occasion with such marquee names as NASCAR Nextel Cup star Kyle Busch, two-time NASCAR Busch North champion Brad Leighton and 2001 Oxford 250 winner Gary Drew behind the wheel at various points.
But when Rowe finished second to Ryan Lawler in the Over the Mountain 150 PASS South race at Hickory a few weeks ago, it turned out to be a swan song of sorts for the team. The #24, Rowe and all of the key crew members raced at Beech Ridge in PASS North this past weekend, finishing third, but it was under new ownership.
The entire SP2 Motorsports #24 team has been sold from Scott Poulin and Steve Perry to longtime Pro Stock/Super Late Model team owner P.T. Watts effective with this past weekend’s event.
Watts might now be at the helm, but he doesn’t plan any major changes right away.
“The plan is that everything for this year is going to stay the way that it is,” said Watts. “Next year, we’re going to change the color of the car and the number to #2. Mike will still drive it. That’s as simple as it is.”
Poulin planned to dismantle the SP2 team after the Mason-Dixon Meltdown at South Boston over the Thanksgiving weekend, but the opportunity to sell the team to Watts and keep it intact was too good of an opportunity to walk away from.
“We’ll still be a team,” said Rowe. “We’re staying with them through the rest of the year and they are helping us out. P.T. Watts has bought this [yellow #24] car and he is helping out a lot. I’ll probably run the red car [the #24 Rowe has had much success with] next week. “
POWERHOUSE SP2 TEAM CALLS IT A DAY by Mike Twist
Mike Rowe's SLM Team Gets Sold to PT Watts
In recent history, it’s hard to imagine a race team that has built up a better resume than SP2 Motorsports. Over the last 18 months, the Southern Maine-based team has won the biggest Super Late Model events in the Northeast – the Oxford 250, the Pullen 300 at Beech Ridge, the Atlantic CAT 250 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Unity 250 with Mike Rowe behind the wheel. They put their names in the record books as the first PASS South winners by taking the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory. With the 2006 season winding down, they even were in the position to win double PASS titles – Rowe leads the PASS South standings and is right in the mix of a three-way battle for the title in PASS North.
And how does Rowe stack up against that esteemed list?
“If I had to pick 10 [of the best] drivers [that I’ve seen] in all my years of owning the car, he’s with every one of them,” said Watts.
Rowe also gains an occasional teammate in Meserve, who drove in the NASCAR Grand National (now Nextel Cup Series) earlier in his career, founded Distance Racing Products [now owned by Jeff Taylor] and currently works full-time for the NASCAR team of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. He still races a Watts-owned car a few times a year.
“It’s going to be great,” said Rowe. “Stan will be my teammate [next year]. I’m sure that we’ll have some good cars and we’re just going to go out there and have some fun.”
Watts is no stranger to racing. His black #2 Pro Stocks have been a fixture at tracks throughout New England for years. At Thompson’s PASS North race in July, he fielded a car for NASCAR personality Jimmy Spencer, who finished second. He’s had the ageless Stan Meserve drive several races for the #2 team at various times throughout the last few seasons and has an impressive list of former drivers.
“Mario Caruso, David Caruso, Jimmy McCallum, Ronnie Bouchard, Kenny Bouchard, Stan Meserve and now Mike Rowe,” said Watts, rattling off the names. “I’ve been here many times since I was here. I started when I was 16 and that was my birthday. Now I’m 55.”
SP2's fleet of cars included the red and yellow rides of Mike Rowe's (Jamie Williams Photo), as the black #5 of Kyle Busch, which was sold to Canadian Pro Stocker John Fleming.
Watts is based in Massachusetts, but he not figured out where the team will work out of 2006. For now, they will stay housed in the Saco, Maine shops of SP2.
“I don’t really know yet,” said Watts. “Right now, we’ll leave it as it is for the rest of the year. Then we’ll talk.”
Rowe joined forces with SP2 in the middle of the 2004 season after the team parted ways with driver Jarod Robie. Almost instantly, they clicked and started running up front.
The PT Watts' #2 car, as driven at Thompson by Jimmy Spencer earlier this year. (TIS Photo)
“We’re always proud of everything,” said Poulin. “Even today [in Sunday’s PASS North race at Beech Ridge], Mike didn’t give up. He got up to third place. He’s an incredible driver and he can still drive. I would say he’s still got five, six or 10 more years of being competitive. You don’t know. This whole team is great. They just don’t give up. That’s what I wanted. When I got into racing, I had guys who gave up. But I found a team and a driver who gives it his all. I had a two year commitment with [sponsor] Mike Lux and at the end of those two years, we’d re-evaluate. We’re at the end of those two years and this is it.”
“I really want to thank SP2 Motorsports for everything that they have done. I just can’t say enough for what they have done for me. I’ve had a ball running down south with them. That cost us a lot of money. Maybe that was our mistake [financially], but I enjoyed every part of it.”
Poulin is stepping away as an owner to focus on other business interests.
“We’ve got a small sub-development right now with four
houses and I’m looking at [building] a 19-house
subdivision for next year,” said Poulin. “I’m going to try
and do some new and different things. I want to enjoy
what I’m doing and I didn’t really get to go to the races
much this year. I have a lot of other stuff going on and
it was a good time to move on.”
Poulin isn’t ruling out some type of future racing
involvement either. He just doesn’t want to own a team.
“I still want to stay in racing. I contacted Ralph Nason
about buying or leasing Unity. As of right now, nothing
has happened with that. He’s not too interested in leasing
it, he wants to sell it. I don’t want to get into another full-time job that way. I’ve looked at that. I’ve looked at helping Tom out with PASS. I definitely think that this is the best series going. I absolutely hate those Late Models.”
Poulin also admits that the rift in Northern New England racing between Late Models and Super Late Models helped make his decision easier. In 2007, the Oxford 250 will switch from Super Late Models to Late Models while PASS North has announced plans to hold a competing event on the same weekend. The battle lines are being draw and a CART/IRL type turf war over New England stock car racing appears to be unavoidable.
Before hooking up with Rowe, Jarod Robie drove for SP2 Motorsports. (Norm Marx Photo)
“When that all happened, it just re-affirmed my decision that I wasn’t going to be around [as an owner],” said Poulin. “I don’t want to go to the Oxford 250 with a Street Stock and try to race. Bill Ryan was very good to us with the Kyle Busch deal. I have nothing bad to say about him. He’s got a great facility and a great idea up there. It will probably work just fine, but it’s something that I personally just don’t want to be a part of.”
SP2 co-owner Steve Perry will field the #25 car for Brad Leighton at the September 24th PASS 300 at Beech
Ridge, but he is also looking at stepping away from the sport for the time being. When asked about his plans on Sunday as the sun set over Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, his response was short, sweet and literal.
“Watch this right now,” said Perry, turning to leave the pit area. “I’m walking off into the sunset.”
The #24 SP2 Super Late Model (Norm Marx Photo)
Rowe is interviewed by SPEED TV's Bob Dillner after winning at Hickory early this year.