One of New England’s all-time greatest drivers switched gears in 2009, and ended up very satisfied with his change of scenery.
Mike Rowe, 59, of Turner, Maine, won The Pine Tree State’s 2009 NASCAR championship. He launched to state champion status from his 2009 NASCAR Pro Series (Late Model) division track championship at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine. The .333-mile paved oval is acclaimed as one of the top motorsports and family entertainment facilities in the nation.
A seasoned veteran, Rowe sounds like he had an enjoyable experience in 2009. Not only did he compete full time at Beech Ridge for the first time in his life, he also joined a team for which he had never driven before. He ended up adding some polish to a fabulous career.
The Beech Ridge championship gave Rowe a trifecta of career track titles in Maine that also include speedways in Wiscasset and Oxford, both most recently in 1990. In all, Rowe has 10 career track championships and several series titles. Rowe also has eight career NASCAR Camping World Series East wins, most recently in 1991. He finished second to Jamie Aube for the 1990 series championship.
Rowe was looking to do something different in 2009 and longtime Beech Ridge car owner Dick Fowler was looking for a driver. The combination of driver, owner, team and track was a perfect fit. Rowe’s 2009 record at Beech Ridge included seven wins, 11 top 5s and 13 top 10s in 13 starts.
“Dickie has a great car and crew, and he’s very familiar with Beech Ridge. He lives five miles from the track. It takes a lot more than the driver to win races. This was my first Beech Ridge championship, but it was Dick’s ninth as a car owner. They do an awesome job with the car, and I’m fortunate to be behind the wheel.”
Rowe’s first exposure to racing came 41 years ago when he worked as a mechanic on a 1955 Chevrolet stock car.
“I helped with that car, asked to try it out, and I’ve been racing ever since,” Rowe said. “Some people like to play golf. Racing is my golf game.”
While Fowler is the car owner, his son, Mike, a possible heir to the driver’s seat, is crew chief. Crewmen include Jason Fowler, Danny Morgan, Dave Grigsby and Jason Welch.
The Chevrolet race car is based on a Distance Racing Chassis and powered by a P.T. Watts engine. Sponsors include Lus Enterprises, RJF Motorsports, Rowe & Sons Trucking and Roy’s All Steak Hamburger.
Rowe says the Beech Ridge track operators, the Cusack family, maintain a “beautiful” speedway.
“The Cusack family are great people, and it’s great to be affiliated with them,” Rowe said.
While plans for 2010 are not completed yet, Rowe is contemplating retirement, as least from weekly racing, after next season. He’d like to drive for the Fowlers again next season at Beech Ridge for one last full-season effort, and that may very well happen.
“I’ll be turning 60, and maybe after next year that’s the time I should retire from weekly racing,” Rowe said.
His tone of voice indicates sincerity as he reflects on his career, but one can also hear a ring of pride in a standout career and an outstanding 2009 season he enjoyed with the Fowler team.
Mike Rowe won seven times at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in 2009.