The Granite State Pro Stock Series announced its schedule for the 2019 season. The young Late Model tour’s eighth full season will feature races in three New England states, with the later-season races pairing the GSPSS with some of the region’s biggest short track events.
Fourteen races will decide the GSPSS points championship, two more than the 2017 and 2018 seasons, marking the longest schedule since the series’ inception in 2011. The schedule bears many similarities to last year’s itinerary, with most returning events retaining their relative position on the calendar. Returns to two familiar tracks and the addition of a premier event in late September will add a spark of novelty to the series.
Claremont Speedway, nestled in New Hampshire’s Upper Valley, will host the GSPSS season opener on May 3, with a test-and-tune day one weekend prior. The third-mile oval will kick off the schedule for the second straight season. Claremont will also be the site of the second annual Rocky Ridge 150 on Labor Day weekend. The extra-distance, $5000-to-win event has become the marquée event of the GSPSS schedule.
Lee USA Speedway, thirty minutes from the New Hampshire shoreline, will host its first of three races in 2019 in mid-May. The two-day show will include the debut of the Steel Sportsman Series, a new GSPSS-backed tour intended to showcase early Pro Stock and NASCAR North aesthetics on modern chassis. The second race at Lee will be a Friday-night July show in conjunction with the track’s Independence Day celebration.
New London-Waterford Speedbowl will welcome the GSPSS teams for three races of their own, starting with a Memorial Day weekend feature that will retain last year’s triple-feature billing. Three 35-lap segments will be run with an ultimate winner crowned for championship points. A second visit at the coastal Connecticut bullring will be in early August, under the standard 100-lap format.
The fifth race of the schedule is a mid-June stop at Speedway 51 in Groveton, N.H. The quarter-mile returns to the GSPSS schedule after a one-year absence. Additional summer stops in the tour’s namesake state include a mid-July return to Hudson Speedway and the annual JBH 100 at Monadnock Speedway, run in memory of GSPSS co-founder John Hoyt. The JBH 100 will be in mid-August, but the track and tour have yet to confirm the date.
The final five events of the schedule feature the GSPSS alongside some of New England’s biggest short-track racing weekends. Star Speedway in Epping, N.H. kicks off the hit parade in September, with the GSPSS racing in support of the annual Star Classic. This year, the GSPSS will headline a rare Friday night card at Star. The track will experiment with a new format featuring fendered racing on Friday evening with the ISMA-sanctioned Classic headlining an open-wheel program Saturday.
Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts returns to the GSPSS schedule in late September. For the first time, the GSPSS will sanction the Pro Stock feature of the annual DAV Fall Classic. The Fall Classic, named for Seekonk founder and Pro Stock supporter D. Anthony Venditti, will pit the touring teams against Seekonk’s competitive weekly Pro Stock class.
Seekonk kicks off a busy four-week stretch run to the season finale, as the GSPSS returns to Lee USA Speedway the following weekend. For the second time, the GSPSS will compete as a featured touring division in Lee’s multi-division Oktoberfest spectacular. From Sunday’s feature at Lee, the teams will have a short week to prepare for a Friday night feature at Thompson Speedway. The season’s penultimate event is part of the kickoff to Thompson’s annual Sunoco World Series. The championship battle will conclude one week later at New London-Waterford Speedbowl, site of the season finale since 2015.
One track falling off the schedule is White Mountain Motorsports Park, the only of New Hampshire’s short tracks not to host a GSPSS event in 2019. An offseason ownership change, coupled with new special events for the track’s associated tours, may have left little room on the schedule for another touring event.
Also, as previously announced, the GSPSS will not be a featured tour in June’s Short Track Showdown at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, with the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models taking top billing. This feels like an affront to the series, after being an integral part of the first two Showdowns. However, it is worth considering the dominance of teams from outside the series in those first two runnings, not to mention the cost to run at a one-mile speedway. For the GSPSS faithful, the opportunity to redirect that money into more short track events will likely be a welcome change.
The 2018 season was a successful year for the GSPSS. A deep schedule featured multiple headlining events while positioning the series against the region’s premier touring divisions. Several events built on their own legacy as schedule staples while a new crown-jewel race was established. Strong car counts and deep fields were apparent at each race, particularly notable given that, unlike other local tours, Pro Stocks are not a weekly class at most of the series’ usual haunts.
The GSPSS and series president Mike Parks are taking a measured approach to 2019, building on last year’s successes while holding sacred what makes the tour unique. The addition of the Steel Sportsman Series in 2019 is a sign of the series’ evolution into a more comprehensive sanctioning body, providing its own support events as PASS has done for years with its Modifieds and the former Sportsman division.
Regional racing often draws criticism for the proliferation of similar divisions drawing from the same pool of talent. Instead, the Granite State Pro Stock Series is maturing into a viable third option for New England’s top fendered racers. Shorter features, lower costs to compete and a bullring-centric schedule have been crucial to the series’ growth, and the series’ promoters and teams have embraced those strategies entering the new season.
2019 Granite State Pro Stock Series Schedule
April 27 – Test & Tune Claremont
May 3 – Claremont
May 18 & 19 – Lee USA
May 25 Waterford
June 15 Speedway 51
July 4 or 5 – Lee USA
July 14 – Hudson
Aug 3 – Waterford
Aug 10 – Monadnock
Sept 1 – Claremont
Sept 6 – Star
Sept 28 – Seekonk
Oct 6 – Lee USA
Oct 11 – Thompson
Oct 19 – Waterford