South Boston Speedway Mason-Dixon 500 preview
Rarely do you find a weekend of racing that will provide as much as action as what is about to be unleashed upon the South Boston (VA) Speedway. NASCAR and the Pro All Stars Series (PASS), two of the nation's leading sanctioning bodies in short track racing, are combining to bring racing fans the Mason Dixon 500. This weekend America's top racers from the PASS North and South Super Late Model divisions, along with the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Late Model Stocks cars, will converge on South Boston Speedway to compete in twin 250 lap races paying $10,000 each to the winners. But, before we look at the headline events, how did the Mason Dixon 500 come to being?
Since the late 1980's, a majority of racetracks in the Southeastern United States have utilized the Late Model Stock cars as their featured NASCAR division. In that time, South Boston's annual season finale has been one of the marquee events on the NASCAR Late Model Stock calendar. As for PASS, the PASS North division began back in 2001, with the PASS South division coming on board in 2006. In 2006, PASS South held the first Mason Dixon Meltdown at South Boston with 2008 PASS National Champion Cassius Clark taking the win in the inaugural event. Last year's Mason Dixon Meltdown moved to the Concord (NC) Motorsports Park with four-time PASS North champion Ben Rowe edging out Corey Williams for the win. During the off season, South Boston Speedway General Manager Cathy Rice and PASS President Tom Mayberry discussed the possibility of bringing the Mason Dixon back to South Boston and merging it with the big Late Model Stock weekend in October. The idea seemed to make perfect sense and thus the Mason Dixon 500 was born.
Heading to South Boston, the PASS South Super Late Models are readying for what could be one of the biggest events in series history. And, there aren't any shortages of story lines either. Following the Howler 150 at Greenville-Pickens (SC) Speedway, the race for the PASS South championship has been turned on its head. Former PASS South points leader Corey Williams' string of bad luck continued after a mechanical problem in the Howler. That has allowed Howler winner Alex Haase to take the advantage in the PASS South standings and has put Perry Brown back in contention for the championship. Two-time PASS South winner Justin Wakefield, Heath Hindman, Mark Gibson, and Alex Fleming are among the other PASS South regulars who continue to have a shot at the title should circumstances work out in their favor.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle for the PASS South regulars to overcome at this weekend's Mason Dixon 500 will be the huge number of drivers coming in from PASS North and other Super Late Model series. The Mason Dixon has been dominated thus far by PASS North competitors and this year might not be any different with no less than a dozen New Englanders and Canadians coming down to try and take the Southern loot.
In the second half of the 2008 PASS North season, no driver was stronger than the champion, Johnny Clark. Of Clark's four wins in 2008, three of them came in the second half of the season. Second year driver Adam Bates won two PASS North races this year and proved he could race in the South by finishing second in the Howler at Greenville-Pickens. Among the other PASS North drivers heading South are 2008 PASS North winner D.J. Shaw, former NASCAR Camping World East Champion Kelly Moore, Trevor Sanborn, and Canadian drivers John Fleming and Lonnie Summerville.
As if that were not enough, this weekend's field for the Mason Dixon just gets stronger. Jay Fogleman has turned many laps at South Boston over the years in NASCAR Late Model Stocks and USAR Hooter's Pro Cup competition and comes to the Mason Dixon high on momentum. Fogleman won in just his second PASS South start at the Newport (TN) Speedway and just this past weekend won round three of the USAR Hooter's Pro Cup Championship Series at Southern National Raceway Park. Former NASCAR All Pro Series champions Jeff Fultz and Hal Goodson have filed entries along with up and comers like Bubba Pollard, Ryan Blaney and Bill Elliott development driver Casey Roderick.
This weekend's Mason Dixon 500 begins on Friday, October 24th with rotating practice starting at 1 PM. Grandstand gates will open at 3 PM, qualifying for the NASCAR Late Model Stocks and PASS South Super Late Models at 4 PM and qualifying heat races at 7 PM. RC2 Race City Race Cars will present $200 to the fastest qualifier in the PASS South Super Late Model division. On Saturday, October 25th, grandstand gates will open at 11 AM, last chance races will be at Noon, with the 250 lap main event for the NASCAR Late Model Stocks starting at 3 PM to be followed by the 250 lap main event for the PASS South Super Late Models.
Tickets to Friday's session only are set at $10, while advance tickets for Saturday only are $15. A two-day pass for adults is available at a price of $25. On the day of the races, adult tickets will be priced at $20. Youth, ages 7-12, will be admitted for $5 Friday and $10 on Saturday. A two-day ticket for youth is available for $15. Children, ages 6 and under, will be admitted free. All youth must be accompanied by a paying adult to receive discounted admission.
For more information, phone the track at (434) 572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540.