Looking Ahead to 2010
Before the PASS North Super Late Model, PASS Modified and PASS Sportsman banquet was held Saturday night in Westbrook, Maine, series President Tom Mayberry addressed the audience.
“We're just going to go over a few things,” said Mayberry to start his speech about the state of the series.
Mayberry went on to acknowledge the pain that many teams felt during the season as the recession had an impact on their racing budgets.
“This has been a real, real tough year with the economy and travel,” said Mayberry. “Still, the support that we received from everyone this year was unbelievable. I thank you all for that.”
Mayberry also went on to say that a schedule for the 2010 season is close to being finalized and should be released sometime in the next one to two weeks.
Mayberry confirmed that in 2010, there will be three PASS North races at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and two events at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH). He also confirmed a return to New Brunswick's Speedway 660 on the same weekend as this year. The series will also return to Canaan Fair Speedway (NH) after a few years with the track off the PASS schedule. A return to Seekonk Speedway (MA), which hosted its first PASS race ever this past year, is set as well.
Mayberry said that he will have meetings with other tracks this week and a few more events will be scheduled.
The role of the Holland family and New England Race Fuels in supplying the series with Sunoco Racing Fuels was also acknowledged.
“Without the Hollands and Sunoco, this thing would have never survived,” said Mayberry.
The current fuel deal with New England Racing Fuels and Sunoco is up at the end of 2009, but Mayberry stated that he'll be meeting with the company on March 17th and 18th and that he is “real confident” they will return in the same role for 2010.
All in all, Mayberry said that PASS is in good shape looking towards the future.
“We're looking forward to 2010,” said Mayberry. “I think in a year or two, the stuff with the economy is going to get a lot better and things will be more positive for everyone. We're in this for the long haul and we'll be here for as long as you want us to.”
Four And Counting for Clark
Johnny Clark was the big winner of the night at the PASS banquet, having been honored for his fourth PASS North championship.
Clark credited his Robert Green-led team, which includes many family members and close friends, with his success.
“I've never even got to a race, won a race or won a championship by myself,” said Clark.
Also honored at the banquet were PASS Modified champion Scott Grant and PASS Sportsman champion Carey Martin.
The Mayberrys Are Honored
PASS officials and competitors surprised Tom Mayberry, his wife Mary and his children Mike and Amanda with a special award that they organized in secret to be presented at the banquet.
“I thank you and your family for all of the sacrifices that you've made for us,” Johnny Clark said to the Mayberrys as he presented the award. “Without that, we wouldn't be standing here. We wouldn't have a Modified Series or a Sportsman Series without those sacrifices.”
The Mayberrys received a standing ovation during the award's presentation.
Missing in Action - A Pair of Sixes
The number six might have been feeling a little bit lonely at the PASS banquet on Saturday night. The sixth place finishers in the PASS North and PASS Modified standing weren't there at the ceremony and apparently weren't missed either.
Cassius Clark finished sixth in the PASS North standings, but was in North Carolina carrying the banner for Maine in the CRA-sanctioned North South Shootout Super Late Model race at Concord Speedway. Clark finished third in that race and his progress in the event was a popular conversation item among his fellow racers at the banquet, but there was no mention of his PASS North accomplishments in 2009 at all when the top 15 drivers in the division were honored.
After calling up seventh place points man Travis Benjamin, emcee Marco Thomas simply said. “Now, it's onto the top five.”
There was absolutely no official mention of three-time race winner Andy Shaw at the banquet either. Shaw was ranked second in the standings to eventual champion Scott Grant going into the Lee USA Speedway finale. He and car owner Dave Weir were then suspended for the Lee event, and most likely next season as well pending appeal and the payment of a fine as a result of an engine rules infraction.
But when the top 10 drivers were announced in the point standings, Shaw was not even read to be among them. A check post-banquet of the final PASS standings showed that Shaw was ranked sixth in the final standings.
Grant did acknowledge Shaw in his acceptance speech though.
“I'm just going to put it out there,” said Grant. “I would have liked to have raced Andy for this.”
It remains to be seen too if Clark and Shaw will suffer more than just hurt feelings because of their absences. PASS rules require that a competitor be personally in attendance at the banquet to collect their purse fund check.
The Pro All Stars Series presented several special awards at the banquet.
Adam Bates (North SLM), Dan Somes (Modified) and Dan McKeage (Sportsman) won the hard luck awards. Derek Ramstrom (North SLM) and Scott McDaniel (Modified) won the Most Improved Awards. Nick Ribbe (North SLM), Scott Grant (Modified) and Clyde Hennessey (Sportsman) won the Rookie of the Year awards.
The Sportsman awards were presented to Adam Bates (North SLM), Sumner Sessions (Modified) and Mike Landry (Sportsman).
Tom Mayberry also presented a special appreciation award to Jack Gerbrands and his staff at Northern Race Tire.
“They've been with us since the start,” said Mayberry.
What They Said…
“Congratulations to Ben on his two championships. I'd be lying though if I said it's too bad that you didn't sweep all three.” - PASS North champion Johnny Clark to Ben Rowe, who won the PASS South and National championships, but finished second to Clark in the PASS North standings.
“I never even knew what tire softener was until Benji showed me.” - Johnny Clark on racing Ben Rowe on the now-defunct NEPSA Tour in the late 1990's.
“We try not to give two awards to the same person, but we couldn't think of anyone more deserving of this [The PASS North Sportsmanship award].” - Tom Mayberry on Adam Bates, who also won the PASS North Hard Luck award.
“They're big, big, big… 2XL… 3XL...” - Ben Rowe as he sorted through his team's PASS National SLM Championship jackets.
“He's spending more money now than if he was still racing.” - Johnny Clark on PASS President, and former racer, Tom Mayberry
“It's a lot of fun for us guys from up north down south when we can go down there, race with them and beat them.” - Ben Rowe on PASS South racing
“He's my favorite UPS driver and if you see Matt Sanborn [another UPS driver who races Late Models at Oxford Plains Speedway), tell him that.” - Marco Thomas on Scott Alexander
“Do you really drive the big brown truck?” - PASS Official Scott Reed to Scott Alexander
“He's someone in my old age category. You can't just let all of these kids come up and get all of the hardware.” - Marco Thomas on Kelly Moore
“Everyone knows that he'll race anything anywhere he can. He's the King of the Spectator Drags too.” - Marco Thomas on Lyman McKeage, who finished in the top five of the PASS Sportsman point standings
“Dan McKeage picked up the Hard Luck award. He hit the wall hard to get it.” - Marco Thomas
“I wouldn't drive anything else. It's not what everyone else has, but I like it.” - Johnny Clark on his Port City chassis
“My team does everything. I just drive the car.” - PASS Modified champion Scott Grant.
“Glen Bradbury has a deal for you. His car's for sale and we heard him try to sell it about ten times tonight in the lobby [waiting for the banquet to start].” - Marco Thomas
“Thank you all, have a great winter and we'll see you again next year.” - PASS Sportsman champion Carey Martin