December’s release of the 2020 Pro All Stars Series North schedule was accompanied by a byline that promised some additional dates to be announced in the first week of January.
And sure enough, on Friday PASS released a number of schedule updates that not only fleshed out the remainder of the PASS North Super Late Model season, but laid out a schedule for the PASS Modifieds and a rough framework for the PASS National Championship.
The latest provisional schedule for the Maine-based sanctioning body’s twentieth season of competition now features eighteen events at nine of New England’s storied oval tracks. Friday’s announcement added four races to the fourteen already announced in December, while shifting some established dates to accommodate the schedule additions.
LOOKING BACK: PASS releases 2020 North SLM schedule
Oxford Plains Speedway will host three of the four new events, rounding out a schedule that was surprisingly thin on dates at PASS’ home track. With Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in nearby Scarborough reducing its touring involvement last year, Oxford picked up the slack, hosting seven events plus July’s non-points Open 100. With the strong base of Super Late Models at Oxford, Beech Ridge and nearby Wiscasset Speedway, the Oxford races are some of the best-attended on the schedule, with over forty teams filing an entry for last October’s event.
PASS will now stop at Oxford on Sunday, May 31, the weekend following Memorial Day. Oxford will also host the season’s penultimate race on Saturday, October 17.
In addition to the two standalone dates, PASS will test a new format for July’s scheduled Friday-night appearance on Independence Day weekend, with that evening’s raced changed to twin 75-lap features. Without the added context of a formal release, how points will be scored for the unique twin-bill has yet to be clarified. Last year’s Commonwealth Classic at Richmond (Va.) Raceway was run in a similar format, with most teams opting to run one of the two features. Teams that competed in both did not receive an appreciable boost in points.
One potential clue to the double feature is the absence of the annual Oxford Open. The non-points race was conceived several years ago as an event for drivers who had not won a PASS feature in five years, with the top finishers awarded provisionals for the Oxford 250. The non-winners restriction has been relaxed in recent seasons, helping to boost entries for the race.
With the Open still unconfirmed, and PASS yet to designate any 2020 races as part of the provisional-awarding Road to the Oxford 250, it seems likely that the twin 75-lap features could be key to awarding provisionals for the richest single-day show in short track racing.
The fourth addition to the schedule is an August visit to Spud Speedway, the northernmost track on the PASS itinerary. The Caribou, Me. third-mile was left off the December announcement despite successful visits to the track in 2018 and 2019. Fortunately for race fans in Maine’s Aroostook County, it appears that details merely had to be ironed out. Spud’s third annual Firecracker 200 will take place on Sunday, August 9.
Along with the schedule additions, a few previously-announced events have been shifted slightly on the schedule. Speedway 95’s lone race has been bumped ahead one weekend to Sunday, June 21, giving teams a short turnaround before their Saturday-night show the next weekend at Star Speedway. And to accommodate the addition of Spud to the August schedule, an event at Oxford was nudged a week ahead as well, giving teams one weekend off to prepare for the richest one-day show in Super Late Model racing.
And even among existing events, some race distances have been shortened. The season-opening Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, originally slated to be 75 laps, is now listed as a 50-lap event. No changes have been announced for the American-Canadian Tour’s half of the doubleheader. Previous PASS events at NHMS have been 60 laps, in the series’ 2015 debut at the speedway, and 50 laps last year, with both races incorporating an intermission for pit stops.
In addition, all Oxford events besides April’s American-Canadian Tour doubleheader, July’s twin features and August’s Oxford 250 will be 125 laps, down from the traditional 150. While attention has been given on a national level to the length of sporting events, a 150-lap feature at Oxford is usually a quick affair, especially given the track’s attention to running an efficient program. Shorter features could save teams some fuel and tires for future practice sessions, but will certainly provide a level of urgency with 25 fewer laps to get to the lead.
In crafting a schedule for New England’s top Super Late Model touring program, PASS officials walk a fine line between organizing a comprehensive roster of tracks and events while dodging the inevitable conflicts with the region’s other racing. The one apparent conflict is the newly-scheduled event at Spud Speedway, which runs on the Sunday following the Motor Mountain Masters at Jennerstown Speedway in western Pennsylvania. Last year, late schedule changes allowed a few PASS contenders to run at Jennerstown Saturday night, hightailing it to Oxford for a Sunday PASS show. Drivers hoping to double up this year will have another four or five hours to trek to Spud Speedway, making a tight travel schedule nearly impossible.
The finalized PASS North schedule also laid the groundwork for the 2020 PASS Modified schedule. The PASS Modifieds, a budget-conscious open-wheel companion class for the PASS Super Late Models, will shadow the PASS North schedule at all of their twelve appearances this year. Seven features at Oxford (including double features on July 3) plus appearances at six other tracks will round out the thirteen-race PASS Modified championship. The PASS Mods have grown in popularity over the last two years, with late-season events at Oxford drawing over twenty entries.
The PASS National Championship, however, is better described as a work in progress. PASS has committed to two events outside of New England; Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway will host the 15th annual Easter Bunny 150 in early April, and details are pending for a November appearance in Georgia after last year’s return to Lanier Raceplex. However, only one PASS North race, the Oxford 250, is branded as a National Championship event so far. In fairness, PASS has made no formal announcements about the National Championship program, making most of this observation speculative at best. Much like the Road to the Oxford 250, additional National Championship event declarations are likely forthcoming.
While some finer points still await answers, the schedule PASS has put in place ensures that Super Late Model fans in New England will have plenty of opportunities to see the fast short track cars and their favorite short track stars throughout the summer and fall of 2020.
2020 Pro All Stars Series North Super Late Model Schedule (current as of 1/4/2020):
|April 17-18||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||Loudon, NH||50|
|April 26||Oxford Plains Speedway||Oxford, ME||150|
|May 3||Hudson Speedway||Hudson, NH||150|
|May 17||White Mountain Motorsports Park||North Woodstock, NH||150|
|May 31||Oxford Plains Speedway||Oxford, ME||125|
|June 21||Speedway 95||Hermon, ME||150|
|June 26-27||Star Speedway||Epping, NH||200|
|July 3||Oxford Plains Speedway||Oxford, ME||75 (A)|
|July 3||Oxford Plains Speedway||Oxford, ME||75 (B)|
|July 18||White Mountain Motorsports Park||North Woodstock, NH||150|
|July 29||Seekonk Speedway||Seekonk, MA||150|
|August 9||Spud Speedway||Caribou, ME||150|
|August 16||Oxford Plains Speedway||Oxford, ME||125|
|August 28-30||Oxford Plains Speedway||Oxford, ME||250|
|September 19||White Mountain Motorsports Park||North Woodstock, NH||150|
|October 2||Thunder Road International Speedbowl||Barre, VT||150|
|October 17||Oxford Plains Speedway||Oxford, ME||125|
|October 24||Seekonk Speedway||Seekonk, MA||150|