Dave Mass of Brainerd has earned rookie of the year honors in every Wissota class he has raced before this season, Wissota Super Stock and Wissota Street Stock.
He did it again this season. He was named the Wissota Championship Sprint Car Rookie of the Year at the Wissota national banquet in St. Cloud Nov. 9. He competed in 28 shows and finished eighth in the class's national points.
This honor did not surprise a veteran sprint car racer and fellow racer Gary Walton of Baxter.
"I suspected all along (that he would be named rookie of the year)," he said. "He's really been smooth and been around racing long enough to know what's going on."
Mass, a former street stock national points champion and super stock and street stock track champion at different speedways, described his season as a "learning season."
"Sprint cars are tougher to handle than any other car," he said. (Racing a sprint car) is a lot tougher than it looks."
His worst crash in his rocket powered by a 360 cubic inch engine was a rollover early in a 20-lap feature race at the season finale at Superior Speedway last month.
He said he chose this "tougher" racing class to challenge himself. His highest feature-race place was third at Grand Rapids. He also won four heat races, including one at North Central Speedway.
His late grandfather Mel (M.J. Mass) also contributed to his decision.
Mass, whose wing of his car is painted with M.J. Mass CoPilot on it below his number 12, said this class was his grandfather's favorite.
"He really wanted me to race a sprint car," he said.
Reflecting on his season, Dave Mass said his biggest adjustment in each show was track conditions.
He said they are always changing. These conditions also determine if a racer is able to mash the car's accelerator to the floor entering and exiting a track's turns.
Dave said it took him awhile to get comfortable with running "wide open" especially at the 5/8th-mile Fargo speedway where he reached straightaway speeds of more than 120 mph.
At the much shorter third-mile North Central Speedway, Dave said he was more challenged because it was usually tacky and shorter. Sprint cars were reaching speeds of more than 100 mph on the straightaways.
His best feature finish was eighth in four sprint specials at NCS.
But Grove Creek Speedway near Litchfield where he blazed around a dirt track for the first time in his racer will be etched in his memory for a long time.
He said this was the most memorable because he ran "wide open" en route to winning his first heat race.
So what are his racing plans next season?
He said he will continue to race his sprint car and super stocker.
Scelzi to race
Gary Scelzi, a three-time NHRA Top Fuel points champion, will return to the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series next season after a year absence.
Scelzi will drive one of the two Oakley Funny Cars. Scotty Cannon will return to drive the other one. Both are owned by team owner Don Schumacher.
With these two cars, Schumacher will field a three-car Funny Car team. Whit Bazemore drives his other racer sponsored by Matco Tools. Schumacher's team also includes his son Tony in his Army Top Fueler.
Force, Dixon nominated
GLENDORA, Calif., -- NHRA Funny Car pilot John Force and Top Fuel racer Larry Dixon are among the nominees for the prestigious Driver of the Year Award as stated in a NHRA Nov. 14 press release.
Other nominees include 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart and open-wheel racers Cristiano da Matta and Sam Hornish, Jr.
Force, the only drag racer to win the award, earned his 10th consecutive NHRA Funny Car championship and 12th overall behind the wheel of his Ford Mustang this season.
Dixon also won his class's points championship.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.