Thursday February 28, 2013
It doesn’t seem all that long ago racers and fans around the Southeast were talking about a new tour that would soon be contesting races around the region. During the winter of 2005-2006, the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South was born and Super Late Model racers around the country were anxious to see what it was all about. PASS had been a force in New England since 2001, but still, folks were unsure how double-file restarts and not counting caution laps would catch on in the South. As we know now, it did catch on and PASS has grown to be North America’s premier sanctioning body for asphalt short track racing. But for PASS South, there has been a core group of events that have been a part of the schedule since day one. The Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway has become one of the biggest Super Late Model races of the Spring. And, the Mason-Dixon Meltdown has concluded the season by bringing the best Super Late Model racers from the North and South together for one final season ending showdown. In between, the Firecracker 150 has provided Summer excitement and the Orange Blossom Special at Orange County Speedway has gone on to be one of the best attended races of the season. But, in addition to becoming one of PASS South’s most traditional races, the South Carolina Clash has chartered a history as unique as the state itself.
Early versions of the South Carolina Clash were held in the hot, stifling months of Palmetto State summers. In 2006, 17 cars took the green flag at Florence Motor Speedway in a race that marked the Super Late Model return to racing of hometown favorite Hal Goodson and the debut of future PASS South favorite Justin Wakefield. High attrition saw cars go every which way, including over the embankment of the track without walls. At the end, and with only five cars running, the race came down to a battle between short track legends Freddie Query and Mike Rowe and youngster Charlie Bradberry. With Rowe spinning and Query running out of gas, Bradberry held on for his only PASS South victory. Tragically, Bradberry would lose his life just a few short months later in an automobile accident after leaving Talladega Superspeedway.
In 2007, the South Carolina Clash transitioned to Anderson Motor Speedway. Following heavy rains all day on Saturday, the race was rescheduled for the following Sunday afternoon. A great field of 28 cars took the green flag in race dominated early by former track champion Gary Greenwood, Jr. Following a late caution, Ryan Lawler powered past Greenwood for his third win in four races dating back to 2006. The most memorable moment to occur in that event came on the final lap when Southern star Jason Hogan and PASS North Champion Ben Rowe crashed coming to the checkered flag while racing for fourth. The two got into a verbal spar on the front straightaway much to the delight of their fans.
In August 2008, the Clash found its home when it came to Dillon Motor Speedway. But, for the second year in a row, the event was marred by bad weather. The race had to be moved to the next day once again following a frightening wind storm that Saturday night. On Sunday, ambient temperatures spiked at over 100 degrees and proved to be quite the challenge for man and machine. Justin Wakefield, who debuted in the South Carolina Clash just two years earlier, dominated for his first career PASS South win. Ironically, this event also saw the debut of Jay Fogleman in PASS South Super Late Model racing. Fogleman methodically took his time, learning the car and the track all at the same time, to finish fourth at the checkered flag.
Following a myriad of weather related problems during the previous summers, the South Carolina Clash moved to the March date it currently occupies in 2009. Despite never having seen Dillon Motor Speedway before, Ben Rowe held off Wakefield and newcomer Ryan Blaney for the win. That win was the first of four PASS South triumphs for Rowe in 2009. He would go on to eventually double up and capture both the PASS South and PASS National Championships that year.
The next two years would see total domination in the South Carolina Clash by Ryan Blaney. In 2010, Blaney lapped everyone, but the second and third place finishers, Goodson and Steve Legendre. And, in 2011, Blaney outpaced Preston Peltier and Jay Fogleman for the win plotting him on a course for the PASS South championship.
In 2012, early headlines were made by the entries of Johnny Sauter and Steve Wallace to the South Carolina Clash. But, both had early problems and would not be a factor in the race. Brandon Ward led much of the early portion of the Clash, but faded and eventually finished in eighth. After top five finishes in 2010 and 2011, Preston Peltier was finally able to etch his name in the record books as a winner at Dillon Motor Speedway.
This year’s South Carolina Clash looks to have all the markings of another classic PASS South battle. Kyle Grissom returns seeking to defend his PASS South Championship, while Brandon Ward and Jay Fogleman will be back not only looking for a win, but to set a course for the 2013 PASS South title. Two-time PASS National Champion and former South Carolina Clash winner Ben Rowe makes the long trip down from Maine in the hopes of early season success. After a strong second place run in the PASS National season opener at Auburndale Speedway, Florida’s Joe Boyd heads to unfamiliar territory looking for similar results. Boyd will be joined by fellow Sunshine State driver Joseph Mursuli, who comes to PASS South from the Florida Truck ranks. Brad Keselowski Racing returns to PASS South with two new drivers behind the wheel led by Maine upstart Austin Theriault and Texas rookie Zak Hausler. The PASS South youth movement continues with the efforts of North Carolina’s Bobby Gower and Indiana youngster Karl Weber. Veteran John Batten returns along with Justin Allison, Jimmy Doyle and a host of others hoping to start the season off at Dillon with a win.
Following the South Carolina Clash at Dillon, the PASS South Super Late Models and PASS Pro Late Models move to Myrtle Beach Speedway on March 16 for the Inaugural Battle At The Beach. Fans are encouraged to check out the Run To The Sun XXV car show held in Myrtle Beach on March 14-16 by the Pee Dee Street Rodders. Vendors and fans who attend the car show will have the opportunity to pick up discount coupons for the PASS race at Myrtle Beach Speedway that weekend.
This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Mike Neff.
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