Ben Rowe is Named as PASS North Champion For the Fourth Time
Title is Decided Between Father and Son At Dramatic White Mountain Season Finale
Ben Rowe has now won four Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North Super Late Model championships and each time, the job gets tougher and tougher.
“This kid can get it done,” said Ben’s car owner, Richard Moody. “He knew exactly what he had to do. He had a tire going down and we were worried about that with 20 laps to go, but Brian kept him calm and we decided to have him stay out.”
The championship is Moody’s first as a car owner, but many of the team members that were hand-picked for the #4 crew have been at the head banquet table alongside Rowe before.
“This same bunch of guys have been with me for all of them,” said Ben Rowe. “Rick came on as my car owner last year. He wanted to run for the championship and he gave us everything that we needed for that. It was just up to us to do it. All of the equipment is here. It’s just a matter of getting the right people around it and having fun. If you have fun, you’re going to win races. That’s what we do. We come to the racetrack and have a lot of fun.”
“I’m really happy,” said Moody. “I have a great bunch of guys. It’s kind of like a family affair, as you can see with all of the people here. My sons, my daughter and my wife when she can – everyone comes around. We have fun with what we do and the guys worked really hard for this to happen. That’s what it is all about.”
Entering the White Mountain race, it was actually possible that any one of three men could emerge as the series champion. While the Rowes were favored to win the title, Richie Dearborn could have come out on top if he had a good day and his competition had bad ones. Unfortunately for the Hollis, Maine driver though, those tables were turned. Dearborn got caught behind an incident at the start of the White Mountain feature and was in last place just a few laps into the event. After that, he had a flat tire and finished 23rd.
Meanwhile, the Rowes both won their heat races and collected valuable points due to that feat. However, because of PASS rules that do not allow a current season feature winner to start inside the top 10 of a race, they started deep in the pack at White Mountain. Ben lined up in the 11th position, and Mike started 14th. At the start, they cautiously moved up. Soon, they were in the top 10. Not much later, they were both in the top five.
Near the end of the race, the two drivers had their races go into different directions and that could have changed the outcome of the title fight. Mike Rowe got quicker at the end and was able to dive past Trevor Sanborn to grab second place. Meanwhile, Ben Rowe had a tire going down and even though he nosed into the lead briefly with 52 laps to go, in the end he was just lucky to hang on to finish fifth.
“We had those yellows there at the end and that helped me a little bit,” said Mike Rowe. “The tires cooled off and I got to second.
“Ben had a tire going down. I pulled up alongside him and I thought that it looked okay. I didn’t want to tell him to pit and have to have him come through from the back with 20 to go when we were running for a championship. He was limping around with that. He did a good job to keep it going like that.”
“When we took the lead, I knew that [race leader] Cassius was really good,” said Ben Rowe. “I was going to let him go back by me. Then I started getting loose for some reason and I hadn’t been that bad all night. Then my father ran into the back of me. So did the #17 [Travis Benjamin]. It just seemed like I couldn’t get going. [Crew Chief] Brian [Burgess] said that my left rear was going flat. So I had my father look at it, the #17 look at it and Johnny [Clark] look at it. I wanted to pit. I was screaming that I couldn’t race on a flat tire. They said that I had to make it to the end though and we did.”
The final result was, even with the late race drama, Ben was able to beat his father by only seven points for the title.
Ben Rowe joins his wife, sons and car owners Josh (L) and Richard (C) Moody in victory lane. Norm Marx Photo)
For his first two titles in 2002 and 2003, Rowe beat Sam Sessions and Johnny Clark by a comfortable margin. In 2005, Rowe was part of a three-way dogfight going into the season finale at [All] Star Speedway. But while Mike Rowe and Cassius Clark were both mathematically able to topple Ben on that day, all that Ben needed to do was to finish 17th or better to secure the crown. He ended up eighth in the feature and the race was drama-free for him.
On Sunday at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH), there was plenty of drama before the championship was decided. Ben Rowe led his father Mike into the race by a margin of 13 points and all day long, who would emerge as the championship was in question – right up until the last lap, when Ben was able to nurse a car with a tire going flat to a fifth-place finish and collect enough points to win for the fourth time.
Now Rowe, who has started every PASS North race in the series’ seven-year history, has more championships than anyone else combined. But Rowe races for wins and not records, and didn’t even realize that until it was pointed out to him in the championship celebration after the checkered flag waved at White Mountain.
“Really?” said Ben, showing surprise at learning that fact. “That sounds good.”
Although the Moody team had plenty of fun this season, Ben admits that racing his father for a championship is more about nerves than enjoyment.
“Racing your father for the championship. Now that’s not much fun,” laughed Ben.
All season long, the two Rowes raced hard and fair for every position on the track.
“He races me hard,” said Ben of his father. “He’ll run me down, he’ll knock me out of the way and he’ll do what he needs to do to win. But he won’t turn me around and spin me out. It’s vice versa too. We both race each other hard. It’s nerve-racking sometimes, but when we came in here today we basically knew that one of us would win the championship.”
And even though Mike Rowe was disappointed with not winning the championship himself, he still had plenty of fatherly pride in watching his son win the big prize.
“We’re happy with second and happy that Benji won,” said Mike. “Congratulations to him. He is definitely good. He’s been good for a few years now really. It’s fun racing
Ben Rowe's (#4) and Mike Rowe (#2) battled for the title on Sunday at White Mountain. (51 Photo)
with him and I enjoy it. If I’m going bad, like I was at the beginning of the race, I’ll let him go. I just wanted to survive. He did what he needed to do.”
The mutual respect between the two title fighters didn’t end with just the drivers though. Both competitors hold a lot of respect for the other’s teams as well.
“Those guys are on top of their game and we’re just bridesmaids again here that’s all,” said Mike Rowe.
“There are a lot of good teams out here,” said Moody. “Mike has run really well this year and so has Trevor [Sanborn], Johnny [Clark] and Cassius [Clark]. The top five or six teams [in PASS North] are great and we’re just glad to be able to run with them.”
The 2008 PASS North season is scheduled to kick off at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway is Scarborough, Maine on April 19th.
Even though the 2007 PASS North season is complete, that doesn’t mean that all of the teams are done racing for the year. Several competitors, including Cassius Clark, Ben Rowe, Mike Rowe, Trevor Sanborn and Derek Ramstrom are expected to enter at least one of the two PASS South events that are left on the 2007 schedule.
Those final two races will be The Howler at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC) on October 27th and the second annual Mason-Dixon Meltdown, which will take place at Concord Motorsport Park (NC) on November 16th-17th.
Ben Rowe is now a fourt-time PASS North champion. (51 Photo)