As New England race tracks have confirmed their plans for the season ahead, a notable omission on many itineraries rose questions about the future of the Granite State Pro Stock Series. At last, some answers are at hand.
The New Hampshire-based Pro Late Model circuit unveiled its 2023 schedule last Thursday, confirming eight dates shared among three tracks, with one date still in the works.
It’s a schedule that, so far, lacks the grandeur of the 2022 season.
But in the absence of some opportunities, the GSPSS has found new opportunities to build on.
“Our 2023 schedule brings us back to some tracks where we have a great relationship with ownership, and those facilities produce some of the best Pro Stock racing in the Northeast,” GSPSS founder and president Mike Parks said in the series’ schedule announcement.
Last year’s nine-race program was contested entirely within New Hampshire for the first time since 2012, but the season had plenty for Parks and his team to be proud of. Two races served as opening acts for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. July’s $10,000-to-win Keen Parts 150 at Lee USA Speedway featured an appearance by NASCAR Cup Series star Tyler Reddick, who finished second to first-time winner Casey Call in a door-to-door thriller. August’s visit to Claremont Motorsports Park served up a $7,500 winner’s bounty of its own to Joey Doiron. September’s season finale at Star Speedway not only produced an emotional win for Bryan Kruczek, but celebrated the series’ second two-time champion, with Doiron claiming the crown.
Star Speedway remains a crucial anchor point for the 2023 schedule. The Epping, N.H. quarter-mile will host the series opener on May 6, kicking off the eight-date romp through the Northeast. Star’s customary September date, a Friday-night show in support of the track’s Star Classic Weekend, will be the penultimate event on the calendar. A third trip to “The Place To Race” is planned for July 1, where the GSPSS will headline alongside the Racers Honoring Racers 100 open-competition Modified show.
Also returning from last year’s slate is Riverside Speedway. The Groveton, N.H. bullring is a long haul for many racers, but stages thrilling duels on the high banks. For the first time, “Grovetona” will welcome the GSPSS for a pair of dates on June 3 and August 12.
New to the series is Speedway 95, which will host the first GSPSS races in the Pine Tree State since 2021’s trips to the now-shuttered Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. The venerable third-mile oval in Hermon, Me. was a regular stop for the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models, but fell off the schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic. June’s GSPSS date will be the first touring race of note at Speedway 95 since the North East Mini Stock Tour stopped there in 2021.
An eighth date on the schedule, the all-important championship finale on September 24, remains to be confirmed. Parks has expressed interest in staging a race at Lancaster Motorplex, a ⅝-mile oval in western New York. It would not be the series’ first visit to the Empire State; Mike Mitchell won a 2017 race at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, and a planned road trip to Adirondack International Speedway near Watertown was scuttled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As out-of-the-box as a race in western New York may seem, few other tracks closer to home are in the running.
Indeed, four New Hampshire tracks comprising six of last year’s nine races will not welcome the series back in 2023, the fallout of a parting of ways between Parks and the ownership of Claremont Motorsports Park.
Claremont is one of four tracks that came under common ownership in a rapid changing of the guard. Norm Wrenn purchased Lee USA Speedway in early 2018, with Ben Bosowski buying Hudson Speedway from the Webber family a month later. Wrenn entered into an agreement to purchase Monadnock Speedway in Winchester later that year. And early in 2019, Wrenn and Bosowski announced they had purchased Claremont as a joint venture.
The four tracks, along with Star Speedway, organized the New Hampshire Short Track Racing Association, an initiative that established uniform rules, introduced inter-track championships and welcomed NASCAR sanctioning at all partner tracks. Star and owner Bobby Webber, Jr. split from NHSTRA after one year, but the other four founding tracks remain committed to the venture.
Late in 2019, Parks announced that he had entered a lease agreement to promote races at Claremont, allowing Wrenn and Bosowski to focus on their other tracks and giving Parks’ GSPSS a home venue. Under Parks’ stewardship, Claremont was the first New England track to re-open during the COVID-19 pandemic, hosting the GSPSS season opener for a pay-per-view streaming audience. Over the next three years, Parks not only nurtured Claremont’s weekly show, but spearheaded high-stakes open-competition Modified races and brought back high-profile touring series like the International Supermodified Association and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
After November’s season-ending Turkey Day Classic, though, Parks was informed that a sale of the speedway was pending. While the track was expected to continue operating, his lease would not be renewed.
Social media response to Claremont’s announcement was overwhelmingly supportive of Parks, with concerns voiced about the track’s future under new ownership. When an update in January confirmed that Bosowski and Wrenn had decided not to sell Claremont after all, further criticisms arose.
Meanwhile, early schedule releases by the other NHSTRA partner tracks lacked the customary GSPSS dates, hinting at a larger conflict at hand.
The GSPSS is hardly the only loser in the transaction. While Lee and Monadnock have no shortage of noteworthy visitors on the calendar, the annual GSPSS appearances at Hudson and Claremont were some of the tracks’ bigger touring events. For Claremont especially, the GSPSS brings teams and fans that might not otherwise venture to the speedway.
Whatever the cause, four of New Hampshire’s seven short tracks have become unwelcome territory for the series whose moniker bears the state’s nickname.
Parks, for his part, has been gracious through the situation, thanking Bosowski and Wrenn in a press release for the opportunity to promote at his home track. In a recent appearance on “Uncommon Deeds,” a motorsports podcast hosted by Vermonters Justin St. Louis and Tom Corbett, Parks conceded the split was part of the risk inherent in a lease arrangement.
Challenges are nothing new to Parks, who has managed uncertainty and volatility for years, tailoring the GSPSS each season to fit the drivers and host speedways at hand.
The 2023 season represents yet another hurdle for Parks to clear.
But with months to go before the first green flag falls, he has a plan in hand.
|May 6||Star Speedway||Epping, NH||100|
|June 3||Riverside Speedway||Groveton, NH||100|
|June 24||Speedway 95||Hermon, ME||100|
|July 1||Star Speedway||Epping, NH||100|
|August 12||Riverside Speedway||Groveton, NH||100|
|August 19||Speedway 95||Hermon, ME||100|
|September 15||Star Speedway||Epping, NH||100|