Do it right and do it professional.
That is the concept Granite State Pro Stock Series founder Mike Parks will look to continue to use as his series begins its third full season of competition in 2014.
The low-cost, competitive Pro Stock/Super Late Model Series will look to continue the trend of having high car counts and high-quality competition when they begin their season at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park this upcoming weekend, April 4-5, during Icebreaker weekend.
With 21 pre-entries already filed for the event and more drivers verbally committing to entering the event, Parks is hoping that the car count at Thompson will be a good indication of what’s in store for 2014.
“My goal this season is to be able to bring a quality car count to each event,” Parks told Speed51.com. “I think that’s going to be without saying. We ended the pre entry 10 days before the Icebreaker and we had 21 pre-entries. There are some of our regulars that didn’t pre-register, so I think we’re going to have a 30 car field at Thompson.”
One of the drivers already registered for the season-opening event is 2013 Granite State Pro Stock Series champion Mike O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan told Speed51.com earlier this week that he would only be running a partial schedule in 2014 as he awaits the arrival of his third son.
“I’m not going to be able to defend the title and run every race, but my brother (Tommy) will,” O’Sullivan said. “He’ll be carrying the flag for our team. My wife is due in two weeks. We have our third boy coming along so we decided to run a limited schedule this year. I’m not going to be able to defend the title. I’m a little disappointed, but excited at the same time to have another boy coming along.”
O’Sullivan is hoping his absence from running the series full-time will allow his brother, Tommy O’Sullivan, to step up and keep the Granite State Pro Stock Series championship in the family. Older brother Mike says he plans to enlighten his younger brother with some of the secrets that helped lead him to the 2013 championship.
“Yeah, definitely,” Mike O’Sullivan replied when asked if he’d share his secrets with his younger brother. “Our cars are at my mom and dad’s in a two-bay garage right next to each other. We’ve learned together as we go and when we get out of the cars we converse about what we thought about the race track and adjustments to get our cars better. I help him a lot setting up his car and he helps me out with stuff as well. I think he has a legitimate shot chasing the title.”
One of the strongest threats to win the 2014 championship will be three-time Granite State Pro Stock Series winner Matt Frahm. Frahm’s name was one of the names most mentioned by fellow competitors when asked who they thought would be their toughest competition this season.
The former NASCAR Nationwide Series driver was in the midst of battling for the series championship in 2013 before bad luck and engine failures forced him to fall back at the end of the season. He hopes to get back on the right track during the season-opening event at Thompson and compete for his first career touring series championship.
“Until last year, I had never really run for a championship,” Frahm said. “I’ve always bounced around from different series to series. It would definitely check off one of my goals in my racing careers. I’ve always wanted to run for a championship and win a championship on a touring series. It’s a lot of work with the travel and going to the different tracks. I’ve been to all these tracks already now, but even so it’s a pretty big accomplishment. It’s definitely something I want to check off on my goals for my career.”
Another major threat to compete for the championship in 2014 will be 2012 Beech Ridge Motor Speedway Pro Series champion Brad Babb. Despite being a newcomer to the series, the Windham, Maine driver hopes his team’s experience racing Pro Stocks will help put them in a position to compete for a championship in their first season running full-time.
With six different tracks on the 2014 GSPSS schedule, Babb knows that there will be some adjustments his team will be forced to make when they head to some of the tracks they’re unfamiliar with. Being able to find a setup that works at tracks they will be new to will be the key to Babb’s championship hopes.
“Obviously the championship would be the ultimate goal, but we’ve just got to take it one race at a time,” Babb said. “We’ve been to Thompson, White Mountain, and Lee. We haven’t been to Star, Hudson, or Monadnock. We’re going into half of the races blind, but hopefully we’ll have the car close when we get to the track for those races and be able to have strong runs.”
While there are a number of drivers planning to compete full-time with the Granite State Pro Stock Series in 2014, there are also a number of outsiders who hope to come in and crash the party from time to time.
2013 American-Canadian Tour champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr., whose Bruce Bernhardt-led team built a brand new Super Late Model during the offseason, will be one of those drivers that will be tough to beat whenever they show up to a GSPSS event.
2013 series champion Mike O’Sullivan welcomes the talent being added to the driver roster and looks forward to the challenge this season.
“I think the best way to explain it is: I think the Granite State Pro Stock Series is going to mirror the Modified Racing Series,” O’Sullivan said. “The MRS when it first started had a lot of weekly guys. As the series grew, they started to get tour guys to run their events. I think the same thing is going to happen with the Granite State Series.
“I think as the series grows, you’re going to see guys from PASS and ACT migrate in. The level of competition is going to move up some and the level of entertainment is going to go up as well. It’s definitely exciting to race against high quality competition. I like that.”
Connecticut Duo Teams Up for 2014 GSPSS Season
Veteran Pro Stock competitor Jeff Connors will team up with Stafford Motor Speedway Late Model competitor Cory Casagrande for the 2014 Granite State Pro Stock Series season. Connors and Casagrande will split driving duties for the season with Connor’s brother, James, serving as crew chief. Connors will race both events held at Thompson Motorsports Park, while Casagrande’s races are still to be determined.
GSPSS to Hold First Ever Event at White Mountain in 2014
One of the most anticipated events on the 2014 GSPSS schedule will be the September 20 event at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH). The event will be the first ever GSPSS event held at the North Woodstock, New Hampshire oval. To make things even more interesting, the event will also take place during New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend, which takes place about an hour away in Loudon, New Hampshire. This should allow more fans to witness the rapidly expanding Pro Stock series first hand while they’re in the area.
Two Multi-Time Winners in Four Seasons of GSPSS Action
Car counts continue to go in the upward direction for the Granite State Pro Stock Series due in large part to the equal level of competition that competitors expect to go up against when they arrive at the race track. In 18 races, only two drivers (Matt Frahm and Bobby Baillargeon) have been able to call themselves multi-time winners.
With a field full of strong competitors it will be interesting to see if this sort of trend continues for the series in 2014.
Increased Points for Heat Races Gives Fans More Bang for Their Buck
Without the support of fans, short track racing would not survive. GSPSS owner Mike Parks realizes that and implemented a change to the series’ heat race format in hopes of giving fans more for their money. During previous seasons, drivers who won their heat races or finished in the top-five were awarded bonus points towards the championship. First place received six points, second place received five points, third place received four points, etc.
In 2014, the number of points drivers receive in heat races will be doubled. Parks hopes that the change will encourage drivers to get up on the wheel for those extra bonus points if they’re competing for the championship.
“If you’re racing for points, now there’s a reason to get up on the wheel in the heat race,” Parks said. “That’s 12 points to win the heat race. That’s a big hit if you’re running for the championship.”
Parks Ready to Pull Double-Duty as Series Promoter and Championship Contender
In addition to his duties promoting the series leading up to race day, series promoter Mike Parks plans to once again buckle up in his No. 66 Pro Stock to compete in all of the Granite State Pro Stock Series events in 2014. Unlike in years past, Parks and his team hope to make a push towards the series championship this season.
“I have never raced for points,” Parks said. “It’s never been in my or my race team’s vision to win a championship. We always try to just go do the best we can. If we have a bad day, we have a bad day. If we tear the thing up, we tear it up but we don’t thrash to get it back together to get back out and get more points.
“This year, we’ve had a change of philosophy. I’ll be 52-years-old this summer and I’ve never won a championship. That’s my goal this year. We’re going at it a little differently.”