NAPLES, Maine – For many, the Northwestern United States is known for its beauty.
In a lot places there, that rugged terrain has changed little since the days early explorers first traveled its unknown wilderness…a territory still known for its quiet, hard-working men and women. And, the racers of the Pacific Northwest also possess that subtle tenacity that has made them famous around the nation.
Over the last decade, however, super late model racing has skewed off course in the Northwest. Lack of organization, rules, and procedures have plagued the region over the last number of years. But, there is new hope in 2013, with the birth of the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Northwest Triple Crown.
The sanctioning body looks to build on the success it has enjoyed for more than ten years in New England, Canada, and the Southeast. In 2013, the PASS Northwest Triple Crown will kick off with three major events at Wenatchee Valley Super Oval (WVSO), the first being the Apple Blossom 200 on April 27. WVSO promoter and racer Garrett Evans believes PASS can eventually unify tracks under a common set of rules and procedures.
“Every track is independent in the Northwest and there hasn’t been a lot of organization for the last four years or more,” said Evans, a former 4-time Northwest Series Champion. “A lot of these guys have a bunch of time and money invested in these cars and they are looking for the organization that PASS can bring. Fans haven’t got to see good races lately and racers haven’t been able to compete in quality events for the most part. Hopefully together we can bring Northwest racing back to what it used to be.”
Interest in the PASS Northwest Triple Crown has been nothing short of remarkable. The list of racers that have committed to racing in all three events is nothing less than superb. Along with Evans, Ron Eaton of Tacoma, Wash., is regarded as one of the best racers to ever come out of the Northwest and hopes to defend his Apple Blossom 200 triumph of a year ago.
Brothers Jeff and Jason Jefferson have been busy wrenching the championship cars of Gene Price Motorsports as of late, but are looking to return to the driver’s seat in the PASS Northwest Triple Crown. Gary Lewis, Owen Riddle, Mike Longton, Ricky Allen, Mitch Kleyn and Wenatchee’s own Shane Mitchell will definitely be among the favorites to defend the home state pride. The “Z Man” John Zaretzke provides excitement every time he hits the track and will be joined in the Triple Crown by Brett Harris who is coming out of retirement to compete.
Western Canada will also be well represented by drivers like current WVSO track record holder Pete Harding, Kelly Admiral, and Brian Levant, who competed with PASS in 2011 at a $75,000 to win event at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Canadian native and current North Carolina resident Larry Pollard will be inducted into the WVSO Hall Of Fame and compete in PASS Northwest Triple Crown Race No. 2, the Columbia River 150 on June 15.
Idaho hot shoe John Gomez plans to compete in April’s Apple Blossom 200 and the final race of the Triple Crown, the Wenatchee Valley 300 on Aug. 9-10. The Wenatchee Valley 300 is one of the West’s most anticipated short track races of the season and could pay as much $16,000 to the winner.
Defending PASS National Champion Jay Fogleman also plans to make the long trek from North Carolina to race in the Apple Blossom in a car owned by Garrett Evans.
“Without a doubt, the Triple Crown is assembling the best lineup of drivers the Northwest has seen in many, many years,” said Evans. “It’s kinda like the old days and I think it will be a chance for people to see something that haven’t seen in a long time. Fans in the Northwest will get to see why people back East love the PASS tour and why it’s the premier sanctioning body for short track racing right now in the country.”