51's Northern Exposure Presented by Twist Family Motors
A Fire in Vermont, a Growing World for PASS, a Team
For Sale, an Upstart SLM Tour and Much More
By Mike Twist, Northeast Editor

Fire Keeps Phil Scott's Business Down, But Not Out

Last fall, Hurricane Irene's remnants hammered the state of Vermont causing many people to lose their homes and businesses.  Lt. Governor and ACT Late Model driver Phil Scott was one of the faces behind a “We are Vermont Strong” campaign that encouraged everyone to rebuild…and rebuild they did.

Less than a half year later, Scott found out personally what it means to be Vermont Strong.  Last Friday night, Scott was the last person to leave for the day at the business he is a partner in, Dubois Construction.  It wasn't long afterwards when he was called back due to a major fire than leveled the business and consumed trucks, equipment and the building itself.  Quick thinking and an excavator helped knock down a wall to the main offices, where a safe of documents was pulled out, but otherwise everything was a total loss.

By Tuesday, the business was back in business - set up in an office trailer.  Scott was thankful for all of the support that the company received, even from its competitors, and he posted the following message to Facebook.

“I am overwhelmed with offers of help....thank you all. Fortunately, DuBois was insured, and though insurance never makes you whole, we will be able to rebuild, unlike many who lost their homes and businesses after Irene. If you feel compelled to help, please consider donating to one of the Irene relief organizations or your local volunteer fire department. Thanks again.....Phil.”

PASS Keeps On Growing

Back in 2001 when Dale Shaw out-finished Jim McCallum and Richie Dearborn at Lee USA Speedway (NH) to win the first ever PASS North Super Late Model event, nobody knew what the future of the tour would hold.  After all, PASS North was started up to fill the void of the NEPSA Tour, which had recently gone out of business.  Former NEPSA driver Tom Mayberry, who at the time had no background in promoting a race series, started PASS.  Against all odds, the series became a major success. 

Now, less than a dozen years later, PASS has grown into a franchise that has expanded beyond its Northern New England home.  There are now two PASS Super Late Model tours, a PASS Modified tour and a PASS Sportsman tour.  Recently, the series announced a deal to take over the sanction of the All-American 400 at Nashville's Fairgrounds Speedway. 

The All-American 400 is one of the most storied events in all of short track racing and it has run under the sanction of NASCAR's All-Pro Series, the ASA National Tour and the CRA Super Series.  A deal to have CRA sanction the event this year fell through after a date that did not conflict with the big Oktoberfest Super Late Model show at Lacrosse Speedway (WI).

PASS apparently wasn't concerned with such a conflict though and will now promote the race, promising to “return the All American 400 to its rightful place as the premier Super Late Model event in the country.” In a recent press release.  While those moves and claims might not make many friends with other SLM promoters across the country, it does give the Maine-based sanctioning body a bigger footprint on the national short track racing scene. 

Granite State Pro Stocks Look For a Big Season

Meanwhile, there is another New England based Super Late Model tour with its eye on the future.  The upstart Granite State Pro Stock Series is getting geared up for the 2012 season and issued this press release recently:

“Mike Parks and Jack Bateman, founders of the New Granite State Pro Stock Series, were pleased with the turnout at three meetings last week to discuss rules, purse structure, race procedures, and answer questions as they plan their first season for pro stock racers. 

“The series sanctioned a race last summer at Twin State Speedway,  Claremont, NH. The inaugural season, featuring a series of races at New Hampshire speedways, will begin Memorial Day weekend, May 26, with the running of the “David's House 106” at Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, NH.

“WOW!” said Mike Parks, President of the GSPSS. “The turn out  far exceeded what we expected. With three meetings spread out  over the state of New Hampshire there were over 35 Pro Stock  race teams represented.”

“Well known racers Babe Branscombe, Louie Mechilides, Barry Gray, Jimmy Renfrew, Jay Sands, Fran Colson, Rich Eaton, and Jake Vanada are just a few veteran pro-stock racers that were on hand.

“We were able to cover a lot of ground on some rule concerns and there will be some changes made,” Parks said. “We wanted to listen to the years of experience that attended the meetings. It's important to listen to the competitor.” 

“Parks also announced Star Speedway official Pete Frappier will  join with Modified Racing Series official Scott Miller as Tech Inspectors.

“Rules can be found on www.granitestateprostockseries.com  Remember May 26th the David's House 106 at Monadnock Speedway.”

Veteran Dearborn Closes Up Shop

For the first part of PASS North's history, there wasn't a competitor who was more committed to the tour than Maine's Richie Dearborn.  He towed to all of the shows and was known as one of the most personable people in racing.  He didn't do half bad on the tour either - winning five races through the years.  That is good enough to tie for fifth place on the PASS North all-time win list with Sam Sessions - the highest ranking of anyone without the name of Clark or Rowe.

But all good things must come to an end and this past season, Dearborn decided to hang up his helmet.  Now, all of his racing equipment is up for sale.  Everything from a pair of racecars to a pit cart to tools is up for sale and it all can be found on Richie's website RichieDearborn.com.

Back when I covered PASS races, Dearborn was always one of the friendliest people in the pit area, so it might be nice if he doesn't get any offers on his equipment and decides to go racing again.  However, this also gives someone a good chance to buy some race ready equipment, or maybe even a complete team, that is proven to be capable of visiting victory lane in PASS North competition.

Roger Hill Passes Away

What does a Hillbilly from North Carolina have to do with New England racing that is hundreds of miles away?

Plenty….if that Hillbilly was Roger Hill.

The head of the Hill racing family passed away last week.  He founded a race team that towed out of North Carolina to Modified races all up and down the East Coast.  In addition to racing on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the Hillbilly Racing team also would enter open shows at tracks like Star Speedway (NH).  The team also called out several different New England drivers to fill its seats through the years.  Connecticut drivers Eddie Flemke, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat, Mike Christopher and James Civali had stints in the car.

Hill, a former Modified driver himself, was 64 and leaves behind his wife Sandra, two sons and six grandchildren.  One of his sons, David Hill, has served as the team's crew chief for years. 

Pit Stops

-  Ted Christopher will once again drive the Brady Bunch #00 Modified in the Tour-Type Modified division in the 2012 installment World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) next month.  This duo has gone to Florida Speedweeks together for years with plenty of success.  In fact, we would tell you how many races they have won together down there but we cannot count that high.

-  Legend Cars have been added to the lineup of Fast Friday events at Seekonk Speedway (MA) this year.

-  Last weekend, the Northeast Motorsports Expo took place in Augusta, Maine and there ended up being plenty of Northeastern racing news and notes that came out of the show.  Click Here for the Speed51.com News and Notes package from the event.

Phil Scott.  (Leif Tillotson Photo)
The All-American 400.  (Mike Twist / 51 Photo)
Jesse Smith (#55) told us last weekend that he plans to compete in many of the Granite State Pro Stock events this season.  (Mike Twist / 51 Photo)
Richie Dearborn's #33 Super Late Model.  (Mike Twist / 51 Photo)
The Hillbilly Racing #79 Modified - shown here at Thompson in 2008 with Ronnie Silk behind the wheel.  (Jamie Williams Photo)