One of the most successful driver and team combinations in short track racing over the past decade is getting the band back together for 2011 after going in separate, yet still wining, directions for the 2010 season.
Ben Rowe will rejoin Richard Moody Racing next season. Rowe met with team owners Richard Moody and his son Josh this week to come to agreement on the new deal.
And everyone couldn't be happier.
“It's great to be back together,” said Rowe. “It was tough to put everything together again because everything had to line up just right, but it did. We all stayed friendly last year after we went our separate ways. We just wanted to go a different route, but we always kept in touch and talked.”
“We're all back together and real happy to be reunited,” said Richard Moody. “It just made sense to have this happen. Benny is as good as they come. He brought me my first championship and we had a good run. We just took a year's siesta and now we've also agreed to get back together.”
“This opportunity to re unite with Ben is exciting for us, we believe Ben and [crew chief] Mark [Lyden] will give us a great chance to compete for a championship, have a great time racing and really be competitive everywhere we go. We enjoyed a lot of success with Ben in the past and had a lot of fun doing so. We spent last year trying to catch him in the Mulkern car, so when he approached my father about teaming up again it was a no brainer. We are really excited and looking forward to this coming season, the team is working now on moving and getting things ready.”
Rowe drove for the Moody team from 2006 through 2009 and won the 2007 PASS North and 2009 PASS National Super Late Model championships with the team. In 2009, Rowe won the PASS South championship after driving a RMR entry is several events during the year.
Prior to the 2010 season, Rowe and the team went their separate ways. The Moody team used Brad Leighton, Trevor Sanborn and Travis Benjamin to fill their seats during the year - with Leighton winning a PASS event at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) and Sanborn winning the summer race at Riverside Speedway (NH) on his way to finishing fourth in the PASS North standings.
Rowe drove the #48 Super Late Model fielded by Scott and Vicki Mulkern this past season and won two PASS North events with it on the way to finishing second to Johnny Clark in the standings.
“I can't thank Scott and Vicki enough,” said Rowe. “We just couldn't make things work out for next year. It's not a bad break-up at all, I've talked to Scott a few times last week and a few times this week already.”
The Moody team will move from Auburn, Maine to a location in Southern Maine closer to the team owners. This will bring about a few personel changes.
“We really appreciate what we have accomplished with Brian Burgess, Buster Bean and Trevor Sanborn and we wish them the best of luck,” said Josh Moody. “We had a good time racing with these guys and thats what it is all about, but we really wanted to move our shop closer to home and this opportunity and the timing of it just made sense.”
A key to the Moody/Rowe pairing will be the addition of crew chief Mark Lyden, who has spent the past several years primarily heading up the #98 Super Late Model team of Adam Bates.
“Is great to bring Mark to this deal,” said Rowe. “He got kind of laid off over at Bates' team and we've worked together in a few races with Avery Motorsports last year. He went to Newport [for the Mason-Dixon Meltdown} with Mulkern's team and we finished third. I like the way that he goes about stuff and I like his work ethic. I really wanted to work with him.”
Lyden also has helped out the Moody team in the past.
“He was with us on some of our Southern trips with Ben two years ago and we are very happy to have him on board to lead our team,” said Josh Moody. “Ben and Mark have worked together a bunch, they have a great relationship and they just really click.”
While there will be a new crew chief for the reunion, the cars will look just like they did in the “old days” when everyone was together. The team will switch back to the #4 and use a yellow paint scheme for the Hancock Lumber sponsored cars.
“I always liked those bright yellow cars,” said Rowe, who also won three PASS North championships driving the yellow #00 entries of Hi-Tech Motorsports.
Setting goals for the 2011 season is going to be simple for the Moodys and Rowe. Johnny Clark has won five of the last seven PASS North championships, with Rowe winning the 2007 title in a Moody entry and the 2005 title while driving for Hi-Tech Motorsports. Clark goes into next season as the favorite to defend his crown, but Rowe and his team want to wrestle that away.
“Johnny is on top in the North right now, there is no question about that,” said Rowe. “We just have to align ourselves with good people so that we can beat him. That's our goal and we are looking forward to trying to reach that goal.”
“We are definitely going after the championships,” said Richard Moody. “We're going to run the full PASS North schedule and the full PASS National schedule. We'll also probably do about a half dozen PASS South races and we'll be ready at the end of the season to do some [open] races down South.”
In recent years, the Moody team has run a second entry in many races. That is something that is likely to happen again on occasion in 2011.
“Ben is going to be in the primary car, but I think that we'll do something with a second car at some races,” said Josh Moody. “We've talked to other people who are interested in renting our equipment and we'll help them get set up.”
But while the plans for the second team are up in the air, the primary team with Rowe appears to be set in stone for some time to come.
“We have fun together and if it's not fun, then why do it?” said Richard Moody. “We're going to be together for awhile. I'm not making any more changes. When we're done together, I think I'll retire.”