If you think it’s been a while since you’ve heard the name Chad Dow in the state’s racing circles, you certainly aren’t wrong.
Dow, of Pittsfield, has done plenty of racing over the last few years — though it’s not the type that involved asphalt or short tracks. Long tracks would be more appropriate.
“When you’ve got competitiveness in you, you want to be able to compete at the highest level you can,” Dow said. “I had been racing snowmobiles, and I’ve been to Alaska for the biggest snowmobile race there is. That got to be too far away and just too hard to compete that far away.”
So instead of the Iron Dog, billed by its organizers as “the world’s longest toughest snowmobile race,” Dow will be much closer to home this weekend. The 32-year-old driver, who hasn’t raced stock cars full time since running the PASS Modified division in 2006, will drive the No. 2 for owners Tim and Matt Matheson in the PASS North Speedway Homes 150 on Sunday at Oxford Plains Speedway.
With roughly 10 races scheduled this season, it’s the first time Dow has tackled this ambitious a schedule since his Modified days.
“This weekend, I just want to race all 150 laps on the lead lap,” said Dow, who made a handful of Super Late Model and Late Model starts over the past decade, but none since 2013. “That’s probably an odd goal, but it’s been four years since I’ve done this. I don’t think I’ve forgotten how to drive, but it will take some time to get used to what it feels like again.”
Dow’s last race win came in May 2006, almost exactly 11 years ago when he won a Modified race at Speedway 95 in Hermon.
He thought about building his own car as recently as last summer and called on Dale Shaw — an accomplished driver and now owner of Dale Shaw Race Cars — about doing so. According to Dow, Matt Matheson decided he no longer could drive after suffering a few concussions. As a result, Shaw asked Dow about putting something together with the Mathesons — New Brunswick racers who have become fixtures on the PASS tour.
“It’s a killer deal for me, really,” said Dow, who will maintain the cars weekly himself, including a new car that was built over the winter. “And it turned out to be a good deal for them, too. They love going racing, they love the people on the PASS tour, and they go there to have fun and interact with people.”
Dow has spent the last few summers helping on the crew of six-time PASS champion Johnny Clark of Hallowell. He’d like to soon be racing alongside drivers like Clark and other perennial frontrunners.
“It will take three or four races (to get up to speed),” acknowledged Dow, who will concentrate on the races at Oxford, Beech Ridge and Speedway 660, the Mathesons’ home track in Geary, New Brunswick.
“We’ve got good equipment, so I don’t see why at some point we can’t run in the top five or be in the running to win a race, even.”
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Another driver returning to semi-regular PASS competition this weekend — although after nowhere near as long an absence — is Farmington native Cassius Clark.
Clark will be reunited with Hight Motorsports and owner Corey Hight for select races this season, including the Speedway Homes 150 and the Oxford 250 in August.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in the Hight car,” Clark said. “We’ve had some good runs in the past, and I’m hoping we can build on that for the handful of races we have scheduled this season.”
Clark drove the Hight No. 77 to the PASS championship in 2013. That season included a victory in the April race at Oxford.
“Hopefully the weather will be cooperative and we can get off to a good start again at Oxford on (Sunday),” Clark said.
Clark competed full-time for the King Motorsports team out of Canada last season and will race for them again in 2017.
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Traditionally the track to begin its weekly racing program earlier than any other in the state, Wiscasset Speedway won’t disappoint this year.
Wiscasset opens with the first of its two “opening days,” as the Pro Stock, Super Street, 4-Cylinder Pro Stock and Thunder 4 Mini divisions take the green flag on their season at 2 p.m. Saturday. One week later, the Late Model, Strictly Street, Modified and Outlaw Mini classes open their seasons, also at 2 p.m.
Wiscasset has made changes to the racing surface in time for the new season, with a wall being constructed through turns three and four for the first time, and some repair work done to the asphalt leading to the pit entrance off the race track.
The NELCAR Legends join the opening day card on Saturday.
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Unity Raceway hopes the third time is the charm. After two successful “Snow Bowl” enduros this winter, the track will hold a “Mud Bowl” enduro this Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
More than 60 cars were pre-registered for the race as of last weekend, and the field is expected to top the 73 cars that competed in the second Snow Bowl in March.
Travis Barrett — 621-5621