51's Northern Exposure Presented by Twist Family Motors
Show Season Starts, New England Fans Get a New
Attraction, TC Gets a PASS North Shot and Much More
By Mike Twist

Augusta Show Warms Up the Winter in Maine

One of the brightest spots on the winter calendar for New England short track racing is coming up later this week.  The Northeast Motorsports Expo will return to Augusta, Maine for its 24th Annual show from Friday, January 6th through Sunday, January 8th.

Show highlights range from a public appearance by homestater Andy Santerre on Friday evening to autograph sessions with various weekly and touring drivers throughout the weekend to a Saturday Night seminar called “Passing the Mic” which will feature Santerre answering the public's questions along with media members Stephen Perry, Karl Fredrickson and Marco Thomas, as well as PR representative Travis Barrett.

The centerpiece of the show though is always a number of displays from area racetracks, where 2012 schedules will be available and a number of cars from various divisions will be on display.

This year, there will also be a “2012 Young Guns Competition” where show attendees can vote for a racer in the 15-21 age bracket.  The top ten drivers in voting will then face a panel of experts who will ultimately decide which one gets to test and race a NASCAR K&N Pro Series entry for Archie St. Hilaire's Go Green Racing team in the September event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

For more information on the show, please visit www.northeastmotorsportsexpo.net.

Northeastern Racing to Get a New Shrine at the Magic Mile

There have been plenty of great figures in New England racing history through the years and now the sport will finally get a permanent home where those legends can be honored and celebrated.  Earlier this off-season, it was announced that the Northeast Motorsports Museum will be built on the grounds of New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Two men who are very familiar in New England racing circles, Dr. Dick Berggren and Ricky Craven, are a part of The Racing History Preservation Group that is working with the management of NHMS to build the 20,000-square foot facility.

"We are working hard to develop year-round tourism opportunities and good economic development here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The museum will serve as one of those anchor attractions," said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the speedway in a track press release. "This is a major coup for the state of New Hampshire to have it located here and not in another New England state. I'm sure with Dick's passion and energy, plus the support of race fans and nearly 400,000 visitors a year to this site, this will be a very successful project."

"It's great to be home," said three-time NHMS winner Ricky Craven. "This museum is such a great opportunity to protect some of the things that have been a big part of my life and a big part of my career. How I preserve those things is important to me, and what Dick is doing is motivation for me to bring some things to the table for this attraction, one of which is the car I raced during the Thanksgiving race here. It's also the car I won my first race in at Martinsville. I have that car, and my objective is to get that car refurbished and make it part of the display, mainly because I want people to understand the history of the sport."

A track press release went on to give the following information about the project:

“The museum will display numerous cars on the first floor of the building. The second floor will house a library, memorabilia collection that will include helmets and trophies, as well as a theatre that will show videos of the regions motorsports history. The museum's library will include photographs, slides, negatives, programs, books, posters and magazines.”

"We feel an urgency to preserve as much of the Northeast's racing history as we can," said Dick Berggren. "Too many photo collections, newspapers, books, programs and even cars have already been lost. The sport will benefit when folks can come to a first class museum and learn about as much of the area's rich racing history as we can save and make available to the public."

RHPG has been awarded 501 (c) 3 (non-profit) status, which results in tax advantages for donors. To receive a literature package on the new museum, please call (978) 471-9161 or write Racing History Preservation Group, 7 Bayview Rd., Ipswich, Mass. 01938. For more information please visit www.NEMSMuseum.com.

Speed51.com will have much more about this project coming soon, so stay tuned.

PASS North to Make First Appearance at Stafford

One of the only short tracks in New England where the PASS North Super Late Models have already visited with host the tour in 2012.  Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) was included on the PASS North schedule that was released last month.  The series will make a stop at Stafford on Sunday, August 26th.

Stafford is best known for its various types of Modified racing, as it is staple of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, started welcoming the Modified Racing Series starting last season and hosts weekly SK Modified racing on Fridays throughout the season.  However, the track also has a fair amount of fendered car history as well. 

Pro Stocks (which are now mostly known as Super Late Models) were a regular division at the track several years ago and current NASCAR Modified standout Doug Coby was one of the regulars of that division.  The track has also has hosted dozens of NASCAR Busch North/East Series events.  The recent visit by that series was in 2008 and current PASS North competitor Alan Tardiff was in the field that day.  Other former North/East Series drivers who have raced at Stafford and make at least occasional PASS North starts these days include Mike Rowe, Ben Rowe, Travis Benjamin, Kelly Moore and Billy Penfold.  Moore has the best record of the bunch at the track with multiple North Series victories to his credit there.

No active driver has a better record at Stafford though than Ted Christopher - who even has a grandstand named after him at the facility.  Not one to be left out, Christopher has already landed a ride out of the Mulkern Racing stables for the Stafford PASS North event.

It would be great to see some other drivers who have both Stafford and some type of fendered car experience in their careers land rides for the event as well.  Could someone put Doug Coby, Keith Rocco, Woody Pitkat or Tom Bolles into a PASS North ride come August?  We'll just have to wait and see.

Busch North Book Hits The Streets

The book ”Busch North Scene- the Busch Years” is now available for race fans who are looking for a good winter read.  The book is the second one about the series written by former Busch North Scene publisher George Campbell of Maine.  Campbell uses his first hand knowledge of the series to write about the glory days of a tour that was once centered in Northern New England and featured such personalities as Dave Dion, Andy Santerre, Kelly Moore, Dale Shaw and Brad Leighton.  There are even a few Billy Penfold stories in the book. 

Although the Busch North Series grew up to become the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division, now one of the premier development tours in the country, the Busch North years were known as a time when Northeastern racing fans got to chance to follow several regional heroes and watch some young guns move up the racing ladder as well.

A few guest writers including Brad Leighton, Penny Arcardi and yours truly also contributed to the book.

Campbell will appear this weekend to autograph books at the Northeast Motorsports Expo in Augusta, Maine, where several of the drivers mentioned in the book with also be on hand as well.

The books can also be purchased online at www.neracing.com and there is ordering info on the Busch North Scene Facebook page too. To order by mail, send a check or money order for either $20 for a soft cover version or $30 for a hardcover copy along with $5 for shipping & handling to:

Busch North Scene
542 Pleasant Pond Rd
Turner, Me 04282

Be sure to specify The Busch Years as there are two different Busch North Scene books now available.

Ricker Readies Racecars as a New Venture

Longtime short track crew chief and former PASS official Jason Ricker has started a new sideline to go along with his duties as the top wrench on the Pro Series/Super Late Model team of Aaron Ricker (who is not related despite having the same last name).

Jason Ricker has opened the doors of Ricka Racecars in Gorham, Maine.  Ricka Racecars is now building a number of cars to compete weekly at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) and on the PASS Sportsman tour.  For more information, give Jason a call at (704) 881-4429.

New England Racing Community Loses a Few of Its Own

Sadly, the New England motorsports community has lost a few of its members over the winter.  Vermont racing historian Cho Lee, Massachusetts racer “Nasty” Neil Murray and Connecticut car owner Charlie Bacon passed away in December

Cho Lee passed away after falling ill on the way to the Bear Ridge Speedway (VT) racing banquet.  Lee was described as a walking encyclopedia of racing information and a member of the New England Antique Racers.  He maintained a vast collection of racing programs, clippings, photos and artifacts. 

Nasty Neil Murray was a native of Woburn, Massachusetts who hitchhiked to West Peabody Speedway as a child and grew into a racer at New Hampshire's Star and Hudson Speedways as an adult.  He won races and championships while being known as one of the true characters of the sport.

Charlie Bacon co-owned the #X-6 Beal and Bacon Modified that Mike Stefanik drove to the 1997 and 1998 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championships.  Those titles were especially notable for seven-time WMT champion Stefanik because he also won titles in what was then known as the NASCAR Busch North Series during those years.  Bacon was a veteran of the United States Navy and worked for years as a Health Physics Technician at a Connecticut nuclear power plant.

Pit Notes

-  Sprint Car of New England driver Kevin Chaffee came out on top after over 13,000 votes were counted in the battle for the Vermont Motorsports Magazine “Driver of the Year”.  Chaffee earned  26% of the vote against a class that included ACT Late Model champion Brian Hoar and PASS North champion Johnny Clark.

-  For the second season in the row, the UNOH Showdown will take place at Thompson International Speedway (CT).  The September 8th-9th event will feature twin NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour features and then a 50-lap non-points showdown race between the best drivers in each series.

-  In December, the ACT Late Model Tour released a schedule with 10 points races for the 2012 season.  In addition, a number of special events such as the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Invitational, TD Bank Oxford 250 and The Milk Bowl at Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT) will draw many of the tour teams as well.

-  Race teams will have an extra incentive to compete full-time in 2012 on the Granite State Pro Stock tour in the form of a brand new Distance Racing Super Late Model/Pro Stock chassis that will be awarded to one lucky team.  Race teams that compete in all of the series events will be eligible to win this chassis, via a random draw at the 2012 awards banquet.

There are plenty of things for fans of all ages to see at the Northeast Motorsports Expo.
Andy Santerre is one of the drivers featured in "Busch North Scene - The Busch Years".
New Hampshire Motor Speedway has long been a place to catch some great racing on a big track by various short track tours.  Soon, the track will also feature an added attraction for race fans.
Modified (Top - Rick Ibsen Photo) have long been king at Stafford, but this year the PASS North Super Late Models will hit the track there as well (Bottom).