51's Northern Exposure
In the Middle of Show Season....But Racing Season Isn't Far Off
by Mike Twist
SPEEDWAY EXPO IS UP THIS WEEK

It's not quite time for racing season to start in New England, but there is a can't miss event on the calendar for this coming weekend.  The Third Annual Speedway EXPO, which can trace its roots back to the old Racearama shows, will take place at the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Speedway EXPO will feature displays by many tracks throughout the Northeast, a number of seminars geared towards short track racing, vendor displays and appearances by short track drivers who will include Ted Christopher, Matt Kobyluck, Steve Park, Dave Dion and Mike Stefanik.

The show will run from 5-9pm on Friday, 10am-9pm on Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sunday.

As sponsor of Speedway EXPO, Sunoco is distributing thousands of $5-off coupons at 160 participating Sunoco stations throughout New England.  The coupons will allow adults to attend EXPO for just $11.  Children under 10 are free.  The $5 discount coupons may be redeemed when tickets are purchased at the SpeedwayEXPO box office.

For a complete schedule of events and news from the show, be sure to visit www.speedwayexpo.com.

Speed51.com will be on hand to photograph some of the new paint schemes and bring you the news from the show next week.

NOTES FROM THE RACIN' PREVIEW

While Speedway EXPO is coming up this weekend, last weekend's Racin' Preview at the Portland, Maine Expo is fresh in the rear view mirror.

This year's show featured displays from PASS, ACT and the True Value Modified Racing Series as well as most of the tracks in Maine and a few in neighboring New Hampshire.

This year, the show was mostly all about showing off new hardware and fresh paint and it gave fans and teams a chance to mingle in the off-season.  There wasn't much new news hitting the street at the show, but we did come away with a few nuggets of information:

- Dan McKeage's “Naughty”  #40 was on display in the ACT booth.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The Beech Ridge veteran and 2007 PASS Sportsman champion is in the process of converting his Beech Ridge Pro Series machine to ACT Late Model specs and he hopes to run 10 ACT Late Model shows this season. 

Although several Beech Ridge Pro Series competitors have entered PASS races with their weekly machines, it is rare to see one converted to Late Model specs.  Alan Tardiff's team is the only other entry that we can recall that has done so for an ACT points race, while Aaron Ricker did enter his car into last year's TD Banknorth Oxford 250 - a major Late Model race that is run mostly under ACT rules.

-  Part-time True Value Modified Racing Series driver (and former race winner) Tony Ricci will run his #4 Modified again this year and also has some plans to tackle a little bit of fendered racing.  Ricci reports that he will drive the #1 Cat Scale entry owned by Brad Watson in five to six PASS North events.  Previous drivers for Watson's team have included Sammy Sessions, Randy Turner and Louie Mechalides.

...AND THE WINNER IS….

This weekend there were some awards handed out and not just at the Oscars.  At the Racin' Preview, the Mainely Awards were presented by the Mainely Motorsports television program and Eastern Awards and Engraving.  This was the first year for the Mainelys and several Maine competitors were honored. 

The most emotional moment of the awards might have been when teenaged racer Jordan Emerson was given a Mainely for Breakthrough moment of 2008 for returning to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway less than one year after a near-fatal wreck there.  Emerson was on hand at the Racin' Preview to accept her award.
Here are all of the 2008 winners:

Driver of the Year, Touring Series - Johnny Clark (PASS North)

Driver of the Year, Premier Series at a Weekly Track - Bobby Babb  (Pro Series Champion, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway)

Driver of the Year, Track Support Division - Mike Short  (Strictly Stocks, Oxford Plains Speedway)

Driver of the Year, Female - Sally Gherardi  (Super Series Champion, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway)

Driver of the Year, Entry Level Division - Justin Karkos  (Mini Stocks, Oxford Plains Speedway)

Driver of the Year, Karting - Bobby Timmons

Breakthrough Moment - Jordan Emerson

Still Getting it Done Award - Mike Rowe

Favorite Event of 2008 - The TD Banknorth Oxford 250

Surprise Moment of 2008 - Kevin Harvick Winning the TD Banknorth Oxford 250

Favorite Coverage, Non-Asphalt Short Track Racing - Oxford Plains Go-Kart Racing and Richmond Raceway Kart Racing

Next Generation Pick for Stardom - Tyler King (Karts)

Drive You Would Most Like To See Return to Full-Time Competition - Jeff Taylor

Favorite Photo - Wizz Colognue (Unity Wreck)

RACE SEASON IS COMING UP

It's hard to believe with all of the snow on the ground in Northern New England, but the racing season up here is scheduled to kick off in a little more than a month in New England.  The first major asphalt oval track races of the year will take place in Connecticut with the running of the 13th annual Budweiser Modified Nationals for SK Modifieds at Waterford Speedbowl on March 27th-28th and the Icebreaker at Thompson on April 5th.

The PASS North and ACT seasons start on the same day - April 19th.  The PASS North teams will be up at Speedway 95 in Maine while the ACT competitors will converge on New Hampshire's Lee USA Speedway.
The True Value Modified Racing Series season is scheduled to start at Monadnock Speedway on April 25th.





There are always plenty of cars and displays to see at the Speedway EXPO.  (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Johnny Clark was named as the Touring Driver fo the Year in the Mainely Awards.
Sally Gherardi, who showed off her #77 at the Racin' Preview, won a Mainely Award.  (51 Photo)
Dan McKeage's #40 Pro Series...uh...ACT Late Model...entry for 2009.  (51 Photo)
Scenes from the 2009 Racin' Preview.  (51 Photo)