Olsen Collects Busch North Honors;
ACT Banquet This Weekend
By DAVE MOODY
Barre/Montpelier (VT) Times-Argus
Mike Olsen carried away the bulk of the hardware Saturday night from the annual Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring Division championship awards ceremony at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, NH.
The North Haverhill, NH, driver claimed the 2001 Busch North Series championship trophy, along with the Most Popular Driver, Bud Pole, and Gatorade Front Runner Awards. His point fund money and special awards added nearly $100,000 to his race winnings from the 2001 season. Also receiving honors were Olsen’s car-owner, northeast racing legend Stub Fadden, and co-crewchiefs Harry Norcross and Dave Allbee. Robbie Paterson of PCCW Inc., the team's engine builder, also received the Clevite “Engine Builder of the Year” Award.
In an emotional speech, Olsen thanked his long-time sponsor, "Little Trees" air fresheners, with a replica championship trophy. Olsen also presented his entire crew with their own replica trophies.
“This has just been a remarkable year," Olsen said. "It's been a dream season. We came into 2001 with hopes of winning a race, improving our qualifying, and hoping for the championship. It still hasn't sunk in that we've actually won it.”
Colchester’s Brian Hoar was honored as 2001 Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year, Matt Kobyluck was named the circuit’s Most Improved Driver, and Carey Heath received the Sportsmanship Award.
The 2002 BNS schedule will feature just 19 events, beginning at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway on Sunday, April 21 and concluding at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on October 12. Highlights include three races at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon (May 11, July 20 and September 14), the circuit’s annual visit to Thunder Road on August 31, and a new event at New York’s Adirondack International Speedway on August 17. For the first time in many years, New Hampshire’s Star Speedway will not host a Busch North race in 2002, while the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine cuts its BNS agenda from three races to two, and the Seekonk (MA) Speedway drops from two events to one.
Finally, NASCAR also announced that Lee Roy will serve as Busch North Series director in 2002. The Yarmouth, Maine, resident - a graduate of and former hockey standout at the University of Vermont -- formerly served as crewchief for Ricky Craven’s American-Canadian Tour team. He replaces Interim Series Director Ed Cox, who took the helm when former Director Phil Rowe jumped ship at midseason.
While NASCAR handed out its Busch North Series hardware last weekend, the ACT Dodge Tour honors its 2001 champions this Saturday night at the Sheraton Burlington Conference Center. The main man will be Morrisville veteran Pete Fecteau, who overhauled Jamie Fisher in the season’s final race to claim the 2002 Dodge Tour title.
Others to be recognized Saturday night include 2002 Thunder Road Late Model champion Cris Michaud, Flying Tiger king John Donahue, and Street Stock champ Dan Nolin. Airborne Raceway champions Mark Lamberton (LM), Jerry Winch (Flying Tiger), Jim Bushey (Street Stock) and Greg Wolcott (Renegades) will also be honored, while Donahue takes home the 2002 Flying Tiger 50 Series championship.
Four ACT Late Model racers and five Flying Tiger competitors have been nominated to receive "Most Improved Driver" awards at Saturday’s affair. First time Dodge Tour winner Kenny Dufour, Steve Fisher, Jacob McGrath and Jimmy Winters comprise the Late Model "Most Improved" ballot, while Pete Ainsworth, John Hayes, David Redmond, Ray Stearns, and Mike Terry are the Flying Tiger nominees.
While the 2002 ACT Dodge Tour schedule is not expected to be released Saturday, Series President Tom Curley says there will be very few changes from last year’s slate.
"We just had such a tremendous year, I don’t envision many changes,” said Curley. “I think you’ll see less weekly racing and more special events for the Late Models at Airborne, with more Flying Tiger events. I also think you’ll see the Dodge Tour add another race and go to 16. We may not race at each track we went to this year, and we may add somewhere (new), although we’re really in the preliminary stages of scheduling."
Reserved seating for the ACT fete must be purchased in advance by calling 802-244-6963. Tickets will not be available at the door.
Short (Track) Subjects…
…Second generation driver Ryan Moore will reportedly run the full ACT Dodge Tour schedule next season. Moore, son of former NASCAR Busch North Series champion Kelly Moore, topped the ACT regulars on his home track, Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway, this season, and is looking to race the full slate of ACT Dodge Tour events in 2002, with a new ACT “spec engine” under the hood.
…Jay Sauter has been released from the #43 Quality Farm and Country Stores Busch Series Chevrolet, replaced for the raminder of the season by Ron Hornaday, Jr. Hornaday will split the driving chores on the #43 car next season with his son, Ronnie III.
…Despite rampant rumors to the contrary, John Andretti says he will return to Petty Enterprises next season. "I made a commitment to Kyle and `The King' (Richard Petty) way back when,” said Andretti this week. "I believe in the guys on this team. It's a great team, and once we can close in on the parts and pieces (we need), we'll be in good shape."
…Rock n’ roll comes to Homestead Miami Speedway next month, when KISS band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley serve as Grand Marshals for the track’s annual Busch Series race. Winston Cup driver Sterling Marlin will also run a special KISS paint scheme that weekend. No word yet on whether the winner will be required to spit up blood in Victory Lane.
…Could any more be made of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s decision to drive a #3 Busch series entry in two events next season? The cars will debut at Daytona in February, and will be fielded by Richard Childress Racing. Fan and media around the country have gone gaga over the announcement, apparently forgetting that Junior raced the #3 for two seasons on the Busch Series, claiming the circuit championship in 1999. \par
…Robert Pressley is on his way to the Andy Petree Racing #33 in 2002, if a sponsor can be found. Pressley has driven for Petree before.
…From the "Circumventing the Rules” Department, this statement from the ever-unhappy Tony Syewart: "What we've had to do to get me comfortable in the car is make the Hutchens device not do its job. We've made the straps so long that no matter where I move my head, I don't get the tension of the straps."
… Sources say NASCAR is planning a one-day test of proposed new rules for the 2002 Daytona 500. The test will reportedly occur in early December, and will involve a number of Winston Cup teams. Among the items to be examined are a lower (60-degree) rear spoiler, and elimination of the roof spoiler, in an effort to create a car that punches a smaller hole in the air, and eliminates the three-wide racing (and massive crashes) that have plagued racing at Daytona and Talladega in recent years.
…Hut Strickin and the Hills’ Brothers Coffee sponsorship now belong to Bill Davis Racing. Davis will put Stricklin in his #93 Dodge next season, in place of the departing Dave Blaney.
…The Pro All Stars Series will add a pair of events at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway to its 2002 schedule. Series President Tom Mayberry and OPS boss Bill Ryan announced the partnership last week, beginning with the “New England Dodge Dealers 150” season opener on Sunday, April 14. The 2002 PASS champion will be crowned on Sunday, September 22, when the Pro Stock series returns to Oxford for it’s final event of the season.
"We’re pleased to have the opportunity to bring the Pro All Stars Series to Oxford Plains Speedway next season,” said Mayberry. “Oxford is a short-track tradition in northern New England, a place where every racer wants to compete and win."
Mayberry continues to seek a major sponsor for the circuit.