ROUGEMONT, N.C. – Since the first Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Model took to the Orange County Speedway, fans and racers could tell that something special was happening.
The PASS South Super Late Models quickly adapted to the high banked three-eighths-mile track and have staged some of the most memorable races there in series history. This weekend’s eighth annual Orange Blossom Special will mark the 12th time the PASS South Super Late Models have raced at Orange County and will put the track in some rare company. Orange County, along with Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway, are the only two tracks in the country to host at least one PASS South event every year since the series started in 2006.
So it is only fitting that the Orange Blossom Special will double as PASS Fan Appreciation Night. This will be an opportunity for fans to see the top short track stars in the country compete for an admission fee of only $20 per vehicle up to four adults with any additional adults only paying $5 per person.
While much of the focus will be on the championship contenders as PASS South points leader and local favorite Jay Fogleman seeks his first series win at Orange County as Kyle Grissom looks to back up his win there last year and close the gap in the title race, several drivers will be looking to steal some of that spotlight.
One of those drivers will be “Rockin’” Rodney Brooks. The Maine native, who now lives in Salisbury, N.C., recently took over the Godfather Motorsports entry co-owned by MRN Radio’s Dave Moody and Jim Gallison. Since taking the reins of the No. 30 KOMA Unwind/Trinity Oaks Senior Living Community Ford at South Boston Speedway in August, the team has rattled off three straight top ten finishes, highlighted by a seventh place finish at Hickory. Running in the top five much of the last event at Dillon Motor Speedway has Brooks excited for his chances in the Orange Blossom Special.
“I’ve raced from Maine to Florida to Tennessee, all over the country, and Orange County Speedway is my favorite race track, I just love that place,” said Brooks. “We’ve got a really good team with Godfather Motorsports. Good guys, good dedication, good car, good motors. As long as everything stays together and we stay out of trouble, we’re going to keep doing good and we’re going to get a win here pretty soon.”
A driver who has already had an opportunity to share in the limelight and prove the naysayers wrong is Hickory’sTyler Church. The hometown favorite shocked the short track world by passing his teammate and the all-time PASS South wins leader, Preston Peltier, late in the race to score his first series win at Hickory Motor Speedway in the Over The Mountain 150.
Church further proved his status as a contender the next race out finishing fifth at Dillon in the Wildcat 150. Despite another exceptionally strong field expected this weekend at Orange County, Church feels like his Johnson Motorsports team can once again challenge for the victory.
“The track’s a lot of fun and I’m excited to be going back,” said Church. “Preston [Peltier] taught me a lot about where I needed to run and having him to lean on he taught me that you can run up against the outside wall or you can run on the bottom, whatever works best. So it’s good either way.”
The field of contenders continues to grow daily for this weekend’s Orange Blossom Special with several new names returning to the series, including Massachusetts’ driver and PASS North regular Derek Ramstrom and North Carolina youngster John Hunter Nemecheck. Georgia’s rookie sensation Spencer Davis will be making his second start at Orange County Speedway and will be joined by fellow rookies Tate Fogleman, Joseph Mursuli, Karl Weber, Joe Ryan Osborne and Trevor Noles. Veterans John Batten, Brandon Ward, Randy Gentry, and Jody Measamer will each be seeking their first wins of the season his weekend as well.