One of the longest-tenured racing partnerships in New England came to a quiet end last Saturday.
Ben Rowe, the Pro All Stars Series’ ironman and the reigning American-Canadian Tour champion, parted ways with long-time team owner Richard Moody following Saturday’s PASS North feature at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
Richard Moody Racing announced the separation on Facebook shortly after the conclusion of the ninth event of the 2022 season.
“After an amazing 17 years together that brought many wins and championships, RMR and Ben Rowe have made the mutual decision to part ways,” read the post published just past 10:00pm. “We wish Ben the best of luck in all future endeavors and want to thank him for all the memories we have made.”
The parting brings to a close one of the most successful owner-driver pairings in the Northeast, a region where such owner-driver pairings in the Super Late Model sphere are already scarce.
The Turner, Me. veteran joined forces with RMR in 2006, on the heels of his third PASS North championship in the series’ five years. After a quiet start, Rowe and RMR caught fire, winning the last three races of the season and finishing fourth in points. Rowe only won a single feature the next year, but picked up his fourth PASS crown.
Rowe ran the 2010 PASS season for car owner Scott Mulkern and reunited with Moody in 2011, finishing no worse than third in the first six races and ending the year third in points.
With Moody’s backing, Rowe began chasing checkered flags in PASS’ South division as well, focusing on events that paid points toward the PASS National Championship. Rowe captured the 2009 PASS South championship and another five PASS National Championship rings with Moody’s operation. Rowe and RMR also fielded an entry in the 2017 Snowball Derby and finished eighth in the 2019 Motor Mountain Masters at Jennerstown Speedway in Pennsylvania.
Moody also welcomed Rowe’s legendary father Mike to the team in a second car in 2016, a year after the hall-of-famer earned a PASS championship of his own for Petit Motorsports. The son-and-father tandem finished third and sixth in points that year, respectively.
Recent seasons, though, became a struggle for the team. The team switched to a Senneker Performance chassis midway through 2018, with Rowe finding victory lane at White Mountain Motorsports Park that September. Despite their quick success, the team struggled to come to grips with the car over the next few years. Rowe remained a top-five fixture in points, but he was rarely a threat to win.
Rowe and RMR expanded their 2021 plans by adding a full-time ACT Tour program to their itinerary. While Rowe went winless in PASS again, he found consistency in the ACT mount, finishing no worse than 11th all year. In the season finale at Seekonk Speedway, he nudged DJ Shaw out of the way on the last lap to take not only the race win, but the ACT Tour championship as well.
A chassis change to Fury during the 2021 season did not reverse the Super Late Model team’s fortunes, though, and offseason rumors hinted that RMR was looking to make a change behind the wheel. One rumor pointed to Joey Polewarczyk as Rowe’s replacement, though all parties were mum on the speculation.
Speculation gave way to confirmation weeks later when PASS’ registered-driver list featured RMR #4 entries for both Rowe and Polewarczyk. RMR followed up with its own announcement that Polewarczyk would join the team as a teammate to Rowe, with schedules to be determined for both racers.
The season opened in strong fashion for both Rowe and Polewarczyk, with “Joey Pole” placing in the top five in his first three races and Rowe not far behind. Both cars struggled at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but top-five finishes for Polewarczyk and Rowe at Stafford Speedway suggested NHMS was a momentary hiccup in a big turnaround.
But the team’s success fell back to earth with tough days in back-to-back Oxford races. Rowe made an early exit and finished 24th; Polewarczyk sat out the race due to a schedule conflict. In the next visit to Oxford, Rowe was eliminated in an early crash and finished 36th, while Polewarczyk recovered to place 11th.
RMR’s efforts were divided a week later, with Polewarczyk racing at Lee USA Speedway in the Granite State Pro Stock Series Keen Parts 150 while Rowe kept his PASS start streak alive at White Mountain Motorsports Park. Rowe failed to finish Friday’s race, while Polewarczyk was 6th at Lee. Both cars were at WMMP Saturday night, where Polewarczyk finished eighth and Rowe 16th.
Only a couple hours later, a 17-year relationship came to an end.
In that 17-year span, Rowe and Richard Moody Racing claimed 13 PASS North feature wins, another ten PASS South wins, one PASS North and one PASS South championship, five PASS National Championship awards, two ACT Tour feature wins and the 2021 ACT Tour title. For both owner and driver, it was a successful pairing.
Now, the paths for both owner and driver are unclear.
RMR confirmed in its Facebook post that Polewarczyk will continue to drive the #4NH entry for the team. Polewarczyk is entered for Wednesday’s PASS Bay State Classic at Seekonk Speedway. Whether another driver will be courted to wheel Rowe’s former #4 remains to be seen.
Rowe is absent from the Seekonk entry list so far. Remarkably, the veteran has been credited with a start in every PASS North feature dating back to the series’ 2001 inception. Rowe’s “ironman” streak may end at 316 starts if he does not find a ride for the “Cement Palace.”
About an hour after RMR’s Facebook post last Saturday, Maine-based fabricator and race team RB Performance shared a post of its own. “Look for some great and exciting news to be coming in the very near future for all the RB Performance fans and followers,” the post read. “When opportunity knocks at your door, sometimes you just gotta answer it!”
RB Performance, owned by Mark Brackett, fields a part-time ACT and PASS program for Dillon Moltz, who won the 2014 GSPSS championship for Brackett and has six touring wins with the team. RB Performance also built RMR’s ACT Tour car, the car in which Rowe won the 2021 title.
Neither Moltz nor the RB Performance team are on the Seekonk entry list as of press time.
Making the split so intriguing is that driver-team shakeups are particularly rare in New England’s Super Late Model circle. The majority of drivers share either a family or business relationship with their race teams. As the driver goes, so does the race car and the sponsorship. Fully-funded independently-owned rides with teams like Richard Moody Racing are few and far between.
Rowe’s departure, then, presents a huge opportunity for a driver to take the seat of a well-funded ride. Or it could mean more resources for Polewarczyk, whose wins and championships trace back to the family shop in southern New Hampshire.
But it also means the absence of a significant veteran presence on the track. Rowe is the type of driver younger racers can learn from, both in and out of the car. And at 47, Rowe has plenty of years ahead to race competitively.
Without Ben Rowe on the track, even if the absence is only for a few weeks, a part of Maine’s racing history is missing, too.