Does this mean that Rowe is now just as dominant as he was a few years ago during the glory days with the #00 Hi-Tech Motorsports team (which is now disbanded)?  Maybe.  The cars are both yellow and they keep appearing in victory lane – a lot.

“I don’t know,” said Rowe.  “It’s hard to say.  We’re close.  We’re real close.  We’ve got some of the same guys and some new guys.  Now we are just starting to move people around and figured out where they are best.  Rick and Josh give us everything that we need to do it right.  It’s just a matter of us doing it.  These guys give me everything that I need.  They work their tails off and I just can’t say enough.”
The Super Late Models Go Over the Moats and into the Dirt at Unity and Much, Much More

There are hundreds of parts that can break on a racecar – engines, rear ends, transmissions or just about anything else.  But you usually don’t hear about wheels breaking during competition.
Moody Racing team went winless.  Then Ben Rowe won…and won…and won.  The #4 team ended up closing out 2006 with victories at Beech Ridge, Antigonish and Unity

“We knew that once we got one out of the way, we could keep doing it,” said Rowe.  “The team has come together in the last three or four weeks.  We’ve been doing what we’ve done all year, but things are now starting to finally go our way.”
eventful day.  How did that happen?  The driver wasn’t even sure himself.

“I don’t know,” said Sanborn.  “I knew that we had a good car before the race.  We just got collected in a wreck and couldn’t do anything about it.  The track was blocked and that’s what happens.”

The wreck that Sanborn talked about involved a trip into the turn one dirt banking a water-filled ditch.  It looked like an ugly wreck, but Sanborn knew right away that he made a pretty soft landing in the dirt.
Ben Rowe's #4  (51 Photo)
“I knew that there wasn’t much wrong with the car because I slid up on the bank kind of easy,” said Sanborn.  “I thought that something might be wrong with the ductwork up front and that might cause an overheating problem.  We came in and the guys ripped the front screen off and shoveled about five pounds of mud out of it.  We went back out and gave it our best.  We came home with a top five.”

Making his finish even more impressive was the fact that Sanborn had never raced anything at Unity before the PASS show.  His performance gave him a vote of confidence from his teammate – race winner and three-time PASS North champion Ben Rowe.
At Unity, there were four wheels that did just that though.  Mike Rowe had two wheels break during the 150-lap race while Cassius Clark and Travis Benjamin both had one wheel failure each.

“I’ve never had that happen before,” said Rowe, who has been racing for decades.  “Those were two brand new wheels.  I just can’t figure it out.  The bead broke on the inside, so it was just a bad batch I guess.”


For the first nine PASS North events of 2006, the Richard
Mike Rowe's #24 goes on the hook after a wheel broke.  (Norm Marx Photo)
The Unity victory was especially impressive because it was accomplished using a different racecars than the previous two trips to victory lane.

“We won the two races with a new car,” said Rowe.  “We took the old motor and the old car to Unity and we won with that.”

The #4 team will still have another chance at winning this year when they head to the Mason-Dixon Meltdown at South Boston on November 24th-25th.


Early in the race at Unity, Cassius Clark’s #8 sure didn’t look like a car that would contend for the victory.  Like many of his competitors, Clark ended up visiting the dirt banks surrounding the track.  Heavy rains from the week before created plenty of mud and a lot of that found its way into various racecars during the day. 
Clark’s mud covered ride looked like it would be stuck in the back of the pack for the rest of the day.  But a few timely lucky dog passes helped him overcome both the over track excursion and some early wheel problems to finish second in the 150-lap feature.

“The end of it there was good,” said Clark.  “In the first half, I don’t know.  We got two lucky dogs, separated a rim and did everything but go in the right direction.  With 75 to go, we kept everything going and got up to the front there.

“When the wheel separated, we lost a lap there.  Then we got the lucky dog and the second that we got that, someone hit me from behind and I got into the dirt banks.  We lost another lap, got another lucky dog and went forward after that.  We just came up a little bit short.” 

Clark might still be young, but he has seen plenty of things in his racing career already.  Had he ever seen an asphalt racecar with so much mud in it though?

“I don’t think so,” said Clark.  “There’s probably twice as much [mud] inside too.  The bleeders were full of it.”


Like Cassius Clark, Trevor Sanborn also had a tough road to a top five finish.  Somehow the rookie driver of the Richard Moody Racing #44 ended up fifth after a long and
Jeremie Whorff's #00 was out of the race early, but he still had work to do.  (51 Photo)
Cassius Clark goes backwards into the dirt bank at Unity and then the mud is cleaned off.  Amazingly, he came back to finish second.   (Top - Norm Marx Photo, Bottom - 51 Photo)
“Trevor has never been here before,” said Rowe.  “He came up yesterday and spent an hour testing.  He did a hell of a job.  I told him that if he had stayed out of the moat, he would have been right there with us at the end of the race.  The kid can drive a racecar.”

In Sanborn only raced in five Super Late Model events this year for the Moody team, but three of those ended with top 10 finishes.  Two of those were top fives, including a runner-up finish (to his teammate Rowe0 in the PASS 300 at Beech Ridge.

“We’ve done well,” said Sanborn. “These last few races that I’ve run with Ben have been top fives and that feels great.” 


When the PASS North tour held its first race at Lee USA Speedway (NH) in 2001, Louie Mechalides was there and finished sixth aboard the Cushman Competition #29.  He rolled on to finish second in points for PASS’ inaugural season.
In recent years, Mechalides would run his own car in selected PASS races, but last year the car took a hard hit and hasn’t been back on the tour since.  Lately, Mechalides has been racing, and winning regularly, in the True Value Modified Racing Series.

At Unity, he was back in a Super Late Model though for his first PASS start of 2006.  Mechalides hopped into the Crete Carriers #1 ride and recorded a strong sixth-place finish.

“It was pretty good for the first time out with the car this
year,” said Mechalides.  “These guys call me up when they have a little bit of spare time.  They like to run these PASS races and they help me with the Modified too.  I wasn’t Modified racing, this was the last PASS race and they are right down the street, so we figured that we would give this a try.

“I like racing Pro Stocks.  I’m looking forward to maybe racing a few more times before we go to Florida.  We had a good time.”

Mechalides ran well within the top five for most of the day – which was a long one with 18 caution periods and two red flags.

“I couldn’t believe all of the cautions.  That took quite a bit of time for 150 laps.”     


When Scott Chubbuck pulled his #29 into the pit area after a red flag for a controversial incident between him and Ralph Nason, his car looked pretty rough.  The right side was ripped off and the entire car was covered with mud.  {Note – Nason’s car looked even worse, it was done for the day]
Before the race on Sunday at Unity even started, that helpful spirit showed again.  Rookie Alan Tardiff won his heat race and earned the outside front row starting position.  When he pulled into the pits though, it was discovered that the panhard bar was broken on his #8t machine.

While Tardiff’s crew went to work, they were lent a welder to do the job from Dearborn’s team.  Cushman came over and got involved too, jumping under the car of a rival team to help get it to the starting grid.

“That’s how this series is,” said Cushman.  “It’s a great bunch of guys who race in PASS.”


Thanks to some help from a few fellow competitors, Alan Tardiff made it to the starting grid of the race.  He led the first few laps too.  But a deflated tire left him three laps down early in the race and with so many other competitors one or two laps down and having problems during the day, Tardiff could never make up ground or get the lucky dog passes he needed to get back to the front.  He finished the race in 15th.
The 2006 PASS North Rookie of the Year had higher hopes for the event.  Despite never having raced at Unity before, Tardiff was speedy right away in practice and learned quickly how to get around the place.

“The panhard bar deal sums up our whole race season,” said Tardiff.  “We do good and then stuff happens.  Something breaks or we got run over.  We just haven’t had a year when we could go out and finish decent without anything chasing us.

“The whole race, we were fighting a tight racecar.  The first five laps, the car was good.  We led the first few laps and then the car picked up a push that got worse, worse and worse.  We came in and changed the right rear and it had 11 pounds of air in it.  The car seemed to be a little bit better after that.”
Corey Williams started out the weekend on a high note at Unity, placing second to track master Ralph Nason in Saturday’s PASS Outlaw 100 lapper.  He had high hopes for Sunday as well, but ended up visiting the turn one and two dirt bank and ditch numerous times during the afternoon.

“I think that I was in the moat more than I was on the track today,” said Williams.  “It seemed like every time I entered turn one, someone was either spun out in front of me or someone got in the back of me and spun me out.  It was just ridiculous.”
“We’ve tried some different set-up all year long,” said Clark.  “Harley out at Port City Racecars has been unbelievable to us.  He flew a guy out in July for the [Oxford] 250 to help Ricky Craven and I out.  Our finishes didn’t show it there, but that was really our turning point.  Dennis Reno down in Alabama has been doing our shocks for the last two-thirds of the year.  Between him and Harley, those guys have helped us out a ton.  I’ll never drive anything but a Port City racecar.

Believe it or not, this car finished in the top five at Unity.  (Norm Marx Photo)
Louie Mechalides stays ahead of the pack in the #1. (Norm Marx Photo)
Corey Williams takes a trip into the dirt. (Norm Marx Photo)
Alan Tardiff's team goes to work before the race.
(51 Photo)
Johnny Clark's #54   (51 Photo)
Chubbuck even had to drive back to the pits with his head out the window to see, since his windshield was just covered with mud.

Immediately after pitting in though, an army descended upon the #29.  Crew members from the teams of Ben Rowe, Johnny Clark, Richie Dearborn and Cassius Clark were among those working on the car.  People with no team affiliations hopped in to help.  At one point, I counted 21 people working on Chubbuck’s car and that was only after the crowd thinned enough to get a good look at the scene.

“21?  I think it was more like 100,” said Chubbuck’s car owner Jay Cushman.  There wasn’t anybody here who didn’t want to see us go back out and finish the race.”

“That was really good,” said Chubbuck.  “It really helped out.”

After repairs were made, Chubbuck made it back onto the track.  He made up his laps and finished the race in the 10th position.

The help that the #29 team received was impressive, but not surprising.   That’s been the way of the pit in PASS North lately.  At the tour’s previous event, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Richie Dearborn blew an engine in practice.  Without a back-up motor, things looked bleak for the #33 team until Johnny Clark came to the rescue by lending out his spare engine.  Clark and his team were joined by Cushman and Chubbuck to help Dearborn’s crew install the car in time for the race.   

Ironically, Chubbuck was in the middle of a point battle within the top five of the standings with Dearborn.

“He was the car behind us in points challenging us for third,” said Cushman.  “But we still wanted to help.” 
Just making it to the finish at Unity was quite a task.

“It was a wreckfest out there,” said Tardiff.  “It just wasn’t fun to race when you’d get going and then stop again.”


The 2006 PASS North championship trophy will end up in the Central Maine raceshop of Johnny Clark Motorsports, but it took some help from all over the county to help Clark secure the title this year.
Chubbuck's #29 hobbles back to the pit area  (Top - Norm Marx Photo) where dozens of helpers got it back on track for a top 10 finish.  Yes, there is a racecar in that crowd somewhere (Middle and Bottom - 51 Photos)
Williams was fortunate enough to receive several lucky dog passes during the race.  In fact, he is not even sure how many it took for him to get back on the lead lap for a 12th-place finish.

“There were at least four or five [lucky dogs],” said Williams.  “I couldn’t even count.  I got so many that it wasn’t even funny.”

All in all, Sunday was a frustrating day for the #47 bunch.

“We’re not really satisfied with our finish.  We had a somewhat decent car and we kept pitting to make it better.  Overall, we just didn’t have the car to win.  It just didn’t go our way today.”

Racing at Unity wasn’t in Jeremie Whorff’s plans for the weekend.  The young Maine driver was planning to help his father Bill with his entry in the 150-lap PASS North race.
But after watching his father take part in practice on Saturday, the allure of racing was just too strong for Jeremie to ignore.  He went back to his shop and brought out his own #00 ride to enter Sunday’s event.

“We decided last night to come up here and have some fun racing,” said Jeremie Whorff.  “I came up yesterday and was just going to help my father this weekend.  But I really couldn’t stand to sit there and not race, so I went back to get my own car.  We worked late last night and got it early this morning to come up.”

An early incident took Jeremie out of the race, but his day wasn’t finished.  After retiring from the event, he donned a headset and went back to the original plan of being a crew member for his father’s team. 

“We kind of had some fun today,” said Jeremie.  “We had some bad luck at the beginning.  Another car got a little overanxious and got our right front in a racing deal.  It wasn’t running the greatest, so I just parked it and helped my father.”

“I don’t know.  What a long race that was.  I don’t know what guys were doing, but I guess it’s just the last race of the year.  We weren’t that good.  We thought that we were good in practice, but we weren’t good in the heat race.  We didn’t have much time to change things because they were rolling stuff out pretty quickly.”
“During that caution with Ralph [Nason] and [Scott] Chubbuck, we came in and changed front shocks and springs.  After that, we started coming.  We went down two laps.  We had a wheel break.  We made both laps up thanks to the lucky dog.  It was good to get on the lead lap, but we kept passing the same cars.  I think if we could have stayed up front the whole race, we would have been pretty good.” 


It was announced during the Unity driver’s meeting that the 2007 PASS North season will start at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on the third weekend of April.


The 2006 PASS North season is now completed and it turns out that some real heavy hitters were shut out of victory lane this year.  Mike Rowe, Richie Dearborn and
Rick Martin all won in 2005, but not this year.  There weren’t any first time victors in 2006 either – despite strong performances by Travis Benjamin, Travis Khiel, Corey Williams, Trevor Sanborn, Alan Tardiff, Alan Wilson and several others.

NASCAR drivers Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace also collected podium finishes in PASS North this season, but did not visit victory lane.  The drivers who did?  Cassius Clark won five races, Ben Rowe ended the year with three straight victories and Johnny Clark, Scott Chubbuck, Dale Shaw and Patrick Laperle each won one race each.
Things didn’t work out as planned in the race for Ramstrom though.  He got involved in a turn three tangle on the first lap.  His car was hardly damaged, but Ramstrom’s hand got caught in the steering wheel, resulting in a fracture to his wrist/arm area.  Team members reported that Ramstrom was in good sprits while being treated at a local hospital.


Johnny Clark (PASS North Super Late Models), Derek Ramstrom (PASS Outlaw Overall), Matt Lee (PASS
the Wildcat/Strictly Stock feature, Carl McAlpine came out on top in the Stock Eight class, Kevin Douglass was the winner in Stock Fours and Kevin Nutting bested the Mini Truck field.


Derek Ramstrom claimed the PASS Outlaw overall championship on Saturday, despite getting taken out of the Outlaw 100 feature early on.  Sunday’s plan was for the teenager to try out the car that his team had just acquired from Steve Perry of SP2 Motorsports.  The change of ownership was so recent, that the car still sported the same paint scheme as it did when Brad Leighton and T.J. Brackett raced for Perry’s team.
Scott Mulkern (L) talks with Ralph Nason before the race. (51 Photo)
Derek Ramstrom's new #35.  (51 Photo)
Travis Benjamin stands by his #17.  (51 Photo)
Outlaw Northern Region) and Chris Staples (PASS Modifieds) will be honored for their 2006 championship on November 3rd when the PASS banquet is held at Verrillo’s Convention Center in Portland, Maine.


The PASS North season might officially be over, but that doesn’t mean that the racing is for many of the tour’s drivers.


Among those in the pits at Unity, but without racecars of their own, were Scott Mulkern, Dale Shaw and his son D.J. Shaw – who finished 10th in Lee USA Speedway’s Late Model National 100 the day before.


Also at Unity, Jason Taylor held off Gary Norris, Jr. and Troy Morse to win Sunday’s PASS Modified finale.   Chris Staples finished ninth and claimed the 2006 PASS Modified championship.

Terry Merrill bested Mike Landry and Allen Moeller to win the 75-lap Limited Sportsman feature.  Kurt Hewins won