Bates Has His Beech Ridge Story Come Full Circle By Mike Twist
NH Driver Wins His First Career PASS North Race
On a Saturday afternoon in May, 2007, a young driver from Western New Hampshire showed up at Maine's Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) as part of the tough PASS North “Rookie Class of '07”. Adam Bates had been racing Late Models at Twin State Speedway successfully, but found his introduction to the touring ranks to be a challenge at best. He got bounced around during his heat race and ended the day with a wrecked racecar and a DNQ. Nobody would have blamed him for just giving up at that point.
But Bates and his team didn't give up. Not by a long shot. They fixed the car and towed even further north the next day to Speedway 95 near Bangor, Maine. Then, in his first ever actual PASS North start, Bates turned heads by finishing ninth. From there, the team kept gaining experience and getting better, winning heat races and posting solid finishes.
Saturday night at Beech Ridge, their effort came full circle as Bates recorded his first PASS North feature victory - exactly 14 months to the day after his first taste of the track - 14 months that seemed like ages.
“It felt like forever,” said Bates of his time waiting for victory number one.
Bates might have had some time to prepare for that victorious moment, but the feeling of actually winning a race still hit him hard.
“I'm still in shock I think,” said Bates, while standing in the technical inspection area after the victory lane celebrations died down. “I just don't know what to think or say right now. It's incredible, I can't describe how good it feels.”
That was okay though. After all, Bates did plenty of talking on the track at Beech Ridge. He won the heat race around dinnertime, started on the pole position at 9:15 and ran in the top three for the entire race, putting on great battles with veteran Scott Chubbuck and fellow
young guns Derek Ramstrom and D.J. Shaw before leading the all-important 150th and final lap of the event.
Those other three drivers all made Bates work for the lead, but all three had different reasons for not catching him at the end. Ramstrom had a driveline failure surface on a late restart and he was eliminated from the race on the spot. Chubbuck spun his tires on the final restart. Shaw raced hard, but clean, and couldn't quite catch Bates as the laps wound down.
Meanwhile, Bates paced himself perfectly.
“Third was the furthest back I got,” said Bates. “I was trying to save my tires the best that I could. I didn't want to burn them up more than I had to. They told me at the end of the long run, I was running a little bit quicker than the #77 [Chubbuck]. Derek [Ramstrom] was really good too and it was unfortunate for him what happened on that restart. That helped me. It's not the way you want to get by someone though.”
The final test for Bates came on lap 141 restart, that is when he lined up next to Chubbuck for the final time. The green flag waved and Bates went, but Chubbuck didn't.
“I should have had that, but I just spun the tires,” said Chubbuck who dropped back to
D.J. Shaw rocketed by to grab second place and planted himself on Bates' bumper, but a
bump and run move wasn't on the menu for that young racer.
“I didn't think I could catch him [Bates] and then Chubbuck spun the tires,” said Shaw.
“Once that happened, I thought maybe I had something for him. If I wanted to get
aggressive, I might have been able to get it, but he has never raced me like that, so I
wanted to return the respect he gives to me.”
“I always try to race clean,” replied Bates. “I figure if I race clean, they'll race me clean
in return. DJ ran me hard, but clean and I need to thank him for that. It was fun racing
Actually, racing anyone at Beech Ridge had become a pretty fun thing for Bates. Yes,
his first experience at the track wasn't that great but after that things got better quickly.
In last fall's PASS 300, he had one of the quickest cars before a mechanical failure
sidelined him. At the 2008 season-opener, he finished a then-career best fourth.
Bates knew he'd be good this time around at the Ridge as well, but he didn't necessarily predict a victory either.
“I knew that we would be decent, but I didn't know that we would be this good,” said Bates. “I was a little concerned because I didn't know how it would be when it was warmer out. It was warmer in practice than in the spring and we weren't quite as good. But it seemed to come to us. In the heat race, it was awesome and we kept it up in the feature.”
Adam Bates (#98) leads Scott Chubbuck and DJ Shaw in the closing laps at Beech Ridge. (Jamie Williams Photos)
Derek Ramstrom had one of the best performances in the race with his #35, but driveline problems kept him from finishing. Meanwhile, the #21 of Beech Ridge regular David Oliver finished sixth. (51 Photo)
While a new face appeared in victory lane, several familiar ones to PASS fans didn't have such good days.
Ben Rowe, who led the point standings heading into the night, saw his #4 Super Late Model get towed in by two wreckers after hitting the backstretch wall hard. Contact between Rowe and Richie Dearborn was the cause, although both drivers had differing opinions on who was to blame (we'll have more in our upcoming Beech Ridge leftovers). Johnny Clark and Travis Benjamin struggled with handling issues all night long.
Cassius Clark and Mike Rowe made contact late in the race, with Clark finishing eighth and Rowe being penalized back to ninth for rough driving. Dearborn eventually dropped out of the race with an oil leak. Hometown racer Kelly Moore and Beech Ridge track champion Bib Bilodeau were both eliminated in a first lap wreck.
Better luck on any of those drivers' parts probably wouldn't have changed the results much though. Of those drivers, only Cassius Clark ran in the top three at any point in the race.
Meanwhile, a trio of Beech Ridge regulars stacked up well against their touring competition. Finishing behind Bates, Shaw and Chubbuck were track regulars Bill Rodgers, Aaron Ricker and David Oliver. Recent PASS South race winner and former Beech Ridge regular Trevor Sanborn placed seventh.
The PASS North Super Late Models return to action on Saturday, July 12th at Thompson International Speedway (CT).
Adam Bates (Center), DJ Shaw (Right) and Scott Chubbuck (Left) were the podium finishers at Beech Ridge. (Jamie Williams Photo)