Hey, it's Unity Raceway and it's raining!

Surprise, surprise.

For the 4th time in as many trips for me this year to Unity Raceway, it has rained. Tonight is noteworthy, however, because it's the first time in those 4 trips that the races were actually rained out.

Oh, sure, Steve Rackliff won a Pro-4 Late Model feature and Troy Patterson won a Teen feature, but the 75-lap Gary Mitchell Memorial for the Super Streets was called off. Hey, it happens.

But for this track trying to do something nice to remember a true racing tragedy, it's a real shame. The race, named for a spectator who was killed when a tire jumped off a car and into the stands during a practice session in 1995, was rained out last week, too.

They'll try again to get it in on Sept. 7.

Unity Raceway is not being bulldozed

The infield at Unity Raceway looks like the dirt banks protecting each of its 10 light poles decided to multiply this week. All the extra dirt led to speculation that the race track was about to be sold.

Not true, according to Unity general manager Ralph Nason Jr., who addressed the topic during Friday night's driver's meeting.

"The dirt is for a super-cross track," Nason said. "It's not for an airport or anything like that. I heard we were going to bulldoze the place and build an airport to land planes. That's not true. It's for super-cross."

Nason is hoping to have the track completed in a few weeks, and it's his hope that he can invite some super-cross teams to race 2 or 3 times this fall at Unity. Those programs would be held on Saturday afternoons.

"They usually race on Sundays, and I don't want to step on anyone's points deals or anything like that," Nason said. "The facility is here for them. There's plenty of room for camping, concession stands, rest rooms, all that stuff."


For those of you trapped at home, just dying for some updates from the track tonight -- and judging by the crowd in the grandstands, most of you are -- there are 14 Super Streets here for the Gary Mitchell Memorial 75 later this evening. That's 3 more than were here for a similar 75-lap, $800-to-win Super Street open won by Nate Weston in early July.

Among the notable "out of towners" are former track champion Dan Trask, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway regular and 2006 champion Mike Landry and the former Unity driver turned PASS Sportsman Weston.

Weston and Landry each won their respective heat races, and then each said that the other one was the car to beat come feature time.

More Chubbuck, more Weston and more No. 8

Nate Weston of Madison, the defending Unity Raceway champion, won the last 75-lapper at the track in July.

The rain could conceivably help Unity draw more than the 11 cars it got for that race. Most of the Super Street teams that would consider running away from their home track were likely focused on the PASS Sportsman division's 75-lap event at Wiscasset Raceway last weekend.

Read the complete story in today's Kennebec Journal.


That old familiar place

So soon it will be the weekend, and when it is, I'll be at Unity Raceway. And, Lord willing, there will be more cars in the pits for the Gary Mitchell Memorial than toes on my feet.

Last time they went with an $800-to-win 75-lap open for the Super Streets, only 11 cars showed up. Of course, I'm willing to chalk that up to having been a holiday week. With no PASS Sportsman show around, there should be a few more of those cars willing to run on an off-night at every other track in the state of Maine.

Surely, when some people read this, they're going to wonder aloud why I'd be "wasting my time" by going over to Unity." A few will even call me to say, "They still race there?"

Hey, I know the place is struggling. I know the Nason family is working hard to make it a place people want to go and race (and watch races) again. And the whole process is baby steps -- it's better now than it was a year ago, no question.

But Unity Raceway and Oxford Plains Speedway are one in the same in my little childhood memory bank. Both of them scream 'sultry summer night.' The sunny haze over the backstretch at Unity, the bright green grass of the infield, the dust rooster-tailing into the sky as cars roll down the access road to the turn 4 banking.

It's like the sun setting at Oxford, or the lights coming on for the feature, or the cars moving out for Oxford 250 heat races.

It's what I remember, it's what feels comfortable.

Lap dogs

Look, before we get into a big "who woulda' won" argument here, let me just say one thing. Johnny Clark had 'em whipped at Wiscasset Raceway last Sunday.

But, boy, oh boy, does Scott Chubbuck ever have a beef with the way the race played out in the late stages of the PASS North Series 150. Chubbuck finished 2nd to Clark, but he had a shot at the win until a couple of heroes decided to mix it up right in front of him.

The lapped traffic at that PASS event was among the worst I've seen in a decade covering motorsports. I'm not talking about a few cars at the back end of a weekly Mini Stock feature here, either -- we're talking about a semi-professional tour with drivers who are supposed to know better.

With under 15 laps remaining and Chubbuck pursuing Clark in lapped traffic, the lapped cars of Bill Whorff Jr. and Mike Parks started racing one another side-by-side in front of Chubbuck after the leader Clark passed through. That held up Chubbuck long enough that Clark could be far more patient in picking his way through the other lapped cars ahead.

"I know if I'm a lap down with 10 to go, I pull right out of the way," Chubbuck said. "A couple of guys were racing side-by-side. I guess it's bound to happen."

It wasn't just at that point in the race, either.

Just after the halfway point of the event, as Clark was checking out to a 5-second lead, Cassius Clark, Chubbuck, Ben Rowe and Steve Berry were battling hard for positions 2 through 5 while having to dodge the antics of a number of lapped machines, including those of veteran Dave Dion and Trevor Sanborn. Heck, during one 6-lap stretch, Berry and Cassius Clark swapped the 2nd spot 3 or 4 times while wrestling lapped cars.

Of course, in my mind, it all goes back to PASS instituting its ridiculous "Lucky Dog" rule -- giving the 1st lapped car in the running order a lap back under each caution period. It's a NASCAR mimic, one that comes up woefully short and unflattering at the local touring level.

I'd like to say I'm digressing here by picking on PASS, but let's be honest. I'm not at all. That rule is the sole reason teams like Dion's and Sanborn's would be racing so hard and remaining in the way of lead-lap cars around them.

Johnny Clark stunk up the show at Wiscasset with a car that no one was equal to. But, in racing, the fastest car, as we all know, doesn't always win. Chubbuck had a chance to pull the upset on Sunday with a handful of laps remaining but was robbed by lapped cars.

Maybe, then, it's more accurate to say the lapped cars were the ones that stunk up the show. Big-time.

PASS takes a low road

It's a little bit disingenuous for the PASS North Series to use Cassius Clark to advertise a return to Speedway 95.

This weekend, the series makes its 2nd appearance of the season at the odd little Hermon oval, the first trip back since Clark thoroughly dominated a 150-lap event there in May. By the late stages of the event, Clark had used a long green flag run to lap the field up to 3rd place en route to the win.

We all know what happened next, of course. Clark was stripped of the win later in the week after failing post-race technical inspection.

Now, though, PASS is issuing a pre-race press release in advance of its teams' return to the track for Sunday's PASS 150. It's also touting Clark's return as "Cassius Clark is back in a retro looking #8 and is looking to repeat his May win."

Yeah, um, news flash here, gang. Cassius Clark didn't win that race. Johnny Clark did.

You outta know, too. You're the ones who saw to that.


New Hampshire fans wouldn't be put off with Michigan move

For going on 3 days now, all we've heard about is how bad it would be for New Hampshire International Speedway and its fans if the Nextel Cup race in Michigan got rained out this week.

Should rain claim the event for yet another day on Tuesday, NASCAR would give serious consideration to scrapping the week and moving the Michigan race to Thanksgiving weekend -- making it the last race in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Doing that, of course, would give NHIS the final race before the Chase begins (a spot otherwise reserved for Richmond) and start the chase on Sept. 23 at Dover.

On SPEED's on-the-fly pre-race show Monday morning, Jimmy Spencer lamented what would happen to NHIS, its owners and its fans, if it was deprived of a Chase race. Bob Bahre, Spencer said, sold tickets with the expectation of a Chase race.

And I say, so what? Anyone who thinks the 1st race of the Chase at Loudon is anywhere on par with the final "regular season" race at Richmond each season needs their head examined.

Each lap of race No. 26 changes which drivers are in and which are out of the Chase. Emotions bubble over like never before and run the gamut -- elation, euphoria, utter dejection, anger, frustration, ambivalence. The first race of the Chase is just a starter course -- a heat race, if you will, leading up to races 5-8, when the championship picture really takes hold.

After all, Kevin Harvick dominated at NHIS last September but was a footnote to the Chase chase.

If I'm in anyway connected with NHIS through ownership, ticket-holding fandom, or media member (which, obviously, I am) I'm praying for rain all week in Michigan. I'd love to see the final regular season race in New England this year -- what a story that would be, and what an event, too.

Chubbuck: Winning isn't the only thing

Given their ultralight schedule this season, you'd think it would be about winning -- and winning only -- for the Hight Motorsports team in 2007.

But to hear driver Scott Chubbuck tell it after finishing 2nd to Johnny Clark in Sunday's PASS North Series 150 at Wiscasset Raceway, that's not entirely true.

"We're happy with second," Chubbuck said. "We ran good, and the car doesn't have a (tire) rub mark on it, so we can go to Bangor next week."

Chubbuck is a 5-time Wiscasset track champion, and he was racing there for the 3rd time this season. The team fielded an entry for the return of the Pro Stock division on Aug. 4, raced there again the next week and was back for Sunday's event.

The team has only 4 events remaining on its schedule this season -- this weekend at Speedway 95, the Peterbilt 250 at Fredericton, N.B., on Labor Day weekend, and PASS races at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in September and All-Star Speedway in October.

Though he's still searching for a victory, Chubbuck said the season is defined by far more than the number of trips to victory lane. It's about the competition.
"We don't do this all the time, so when we come we want them to know we're here (racing) with them," Chubbuck. "That's all we want to do."

Clark pulls NASCAR-style double

After years of watching NASCAR drivers do it on television, Johnny Clark decided to do it himself.

"We were joking around about it this morning," Clark said after winning Sunday's PASS North Series 150 at Wiscasset Raceway, the same track he won a 50-lap feature on the night before. "We said, 'Hey, we just won the Busch race, let's go win the Cup race on Sunday.' "

Read the complete story in today's Kennebec Journal.


Clark wins PASS North Series 150 at Wiscasset

All Johnny Clark needed to cure his racing blues were a few trips over to Wiscasset Raceway.

Clark won the PASS North Series 150 there on Sunday afternoon, his 3rd win at the track in the last 3 weeks. He won his 2nd 50-lap Pro Stock feature there Saturday before winning the main event on Sunday.

"We said, 'Hey, we just won the Busch race, let's go win the Cup race on Sunday,'" Clark said.

All this on the heels of a July that saw him go from 3 race cars in his stable down to just 1 -- the one that has all of the Wiscasset wins.

Here's an unofficial top-10 from the PASS 150:

1. Johnny Clark, Farmingdale
2. Scott Chubbuck, Brunswick
3. Ben Rowe, Turner
4. Travis Benjamin, Morrill
5. Mike Rowe, Turner
6. Steve Berry, Gorham
7. Stan Meserve, Mooresville, N.C.
8. Adam Bates, Warner, N.H.
9. Alan Wilson, Hebron
10. Alan Tardiff, Lyman

2008 PASS schedule taking its shape

There will be 3 PASS North Series events at Wiscasset Raceway in 2008.

During today's driver's meeting, PASS president Tom Mayberry told those gathered that the series schedule would consist of 3 races at Wiscasset, 3 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, a couple of races at All-Star Speedway, 1 race in Nova Scotia and a possible return trip to Thompson International Speedway.

Official announcements will likely be forthcoming during the coming off-season.

The biggest alterations, obviously, are the number of dates at Wiscasset and north of the border. After years of multiple Canadian trips, it appears PASS is rightly beginning to focus its efforts here in New England. Car counts at Canadian dates were noticeably off this year -- both from the Maritime entries as well as U.S. teams willing to haul north.

Given the success of Sunday's PASS 150 at Wiscasset, the decision to return several times here is likely a good one. The 30-car field was the largest for a North Series event since July 22nd, and the parking lot and grandstands were both filled beyond capacity. It was only the 2nd of 11 PASS races this season with 30 cars to try and qualify.

Both Clarks are in the hizz-ouse

You can't trust anything racers will tell you.

Just 48 hours ago, Johnny Clark and Cassius Clark both told me they wouldn't be at Wiscasset Raceway -- Johnny for the weekly 50-lap Pro Stock feature and Cassius for today's PASS North Series 150. Well, Johnny went out and won last night, and Cassius is here in a red and white No. 8.

Both were last-minute decisions.

Johnny decided early Saturday morning to race that night, and he picked up his 2nd win of the season at the track.

According to Billy Clark, Cassius' father and crew chief, he and Ed Chapman decided to consider their long-standing friendship first and try and right whatever has been ailing their race team -- which has twice separated since April.

They've decided it's in everyone's best interest to work together, and that's what they plan on doing.


While we're on the subject of the PASS North Series event, there are 30 cars here today going through their heat races now. Among the notable entrants -- Maine racing Hall of Famer Stan Meserve, all-Busch East Series everything Kelly Moore and Dave Dion.

It should also be pointed out that I parked as far away from the track as I ever have in 3+ years of covering racing here. There were actually people directing traffic in the parking lot and campers all over the place. Good to see as the track tries to move forward with a PASS-affiliation and the new ownership of Doug White.


Not everything is hunky-dorey here.

Ran out of both racing fuel and tires for the PASS Sportsmen division this morning. We've been assured there's a back-up supply of both en route.


Mike Rowe, a former Wiscasset track champion, Rick Martin, and former Thompson International Speedway and Seekonk Speedway champion, and Ben Rowe, a 3-time PASS champion, all won their respective heat races.