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The New England stock car racing season gets under way on Sunday when the Pro All Stars Series North tour kicks off its 20th campaign with at least three races at the White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, New Hampshire.
Fans will not be allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the racing will be televised on a pay-per-view basis on the Northeast Sports Network. The fee is $25.
White Mountain Motorsports Park will hold its own weekly race card on Saturday and that will also be available on pay-per-view for $15.
The qualifying races both days are also part of the TV package.
Maine racetracks have not opened for competition yet due to the pandemic, although drivers can test at those tracks with a limited number of crew members. Under state restrictions limiting gatherings to 50 people or fewer through August, drivers might be competing in front of empty grandstands for most or all of the 2020 season.
Several Pro All Stars Series North races have already been postponed due to the coronavirus.
“It’s going to be fun. It will be good to get back in the car. We’ll see what happens,” said Morrill’s Travis Benjamin, a three-time Oxford 250 winner and two-time PASS North Super Late Model points champion.
Sunday’s PASS card begins at 2 p.m and will include a 150-lap North Super Late Model feature, a 60-lap North Modified event and a 50-lap street stocks race. There could also be a 40-lap North SLM “B” race.
“It will be obviously disappointing with no fans,” Hermon racer Mike Hopkins said. “It won’t be as much fun. But it’s good to be back racing and it is a huge step in the right direction.”
White Mountain Motorsports Park is a fast, high-banked, quarter-mile track and drivers can turn lap times of 12 seconds or less.
“It is a fun little track,” Benjamin said. “I haven’t had much luck there. I like racing there but the results haven’t shown how good we have been.”
Hopkins shared the same sentiments about running at a track where success has been elusive.
“I have run very well there but I’ve had a lot of bad luck,” Hopkins said. “We were having a good run in 2016 and got a flat tire.”
Hopkins said he heard 30 PASS North SLM drivers have already registered for Sunday’s race.
Benjamin and Hopkins believe having the races televised will be beneficial, especially for the team and series sponsors.
Hopkins hopes the event will spur other tracks to open up for racing.
“Everybody is anxious to get going. Hopefully, all of us will use our heads and finish in one piece. But we all want to win,” Hopkins said.
“Hopefully, everything will go smoothly and we can get back to regular racing,” Benjamin said.
The PASS website has 10 SLM North races listed, but it indicates that the tour is hoping to add more events if the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.
There were 17 races a year ago.
D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire, is the defending series champion. Benjamin finished sixth last year but didn’t run two of the races. Hopkins wound up 11th while running just 10 events.
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