USAR: Lakeland: Mike Mason race report

Mason Gets Up-Close Look At USAR Hooters Pro Cup Competition Lakeland, FL -- Mike Mason got his first taste of USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series action at the division's season-opening event in Lakeland, FL, but it wasn't exactly from the seat he...

Mason Gets Up-Close Look At USAR Hooters Pro Cup Competition

Lakeland, FL -- Mike Mason got his first taste of USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series action at the division's season-opening event in Lakeland, FL, but it wasn't exactly from the seat he hopes to be sitting in the next time he visits USA International Speedway.

"I watched the race from the backstretch grandstand," said Mason, a 17-year-old Bakersfield, CA driver who will make his Hooters Pro Cup debut later this season. "I was pretty impressed with the skill and competition level of the race. It was a lot like back home at Mesa Marin Raceway, just as fast and tight as we run back there. I'm looking forward to coming back here to race in September."

Mason, his father Marc, and Mason Motorsports crew chief Rick Grissom used the trip from California to the Lakeland race as a fact-finding mission. The team, which has already sold its late model and touring series cars, already has a Hooters mount in the body hanging stage and an engine builder deal. At Lakeland, the Mason's met with Hooters race officials before later mixing with the drivers and competitors.

"It was a great opportunity to meet some of the other drivers," said Mason. "It was interesting to talk to them and I was surprised at how helpful everyone was. We asked about set-ups, gear selection, tires, sponsorship, you name it. They gave us a lot of great information. Clay Rogers, Mike Garvey, Jody Lavender, Billy Bigley were very nice in making us feel welcome and helping us competitively at the same time."

"We spent some time with Fritz Augustine," said Grissom of the Hooters Pro Cup technical director. "Fritz answered a bunch of questions about car construction, technical data and inspection procedures. Attending the driver's meeting was also beneficial. We thought this would be a good trip so we could get to know the series and some of its people. We'll probably attend several more events before we finally get Mike in a car later this season. Mike's young, we'll be a new team. The more we can do now to make that an easy transition, the better we'll be off when we come back to race."

Grissom recently relocated from California to the Charlotte, NC area. He's in the process of finding shop space for the team. In early June, Mason will graduate from Bakersfield High School and immediately head to North Carolina where he and the team hope to test extensively this summer before debuting late in the season. Mason plans a full run at the USAR Hooters Pro Cup schedule in 2006.

"I want to get started right now," said Mason. "I'm pretty excited after seeing the Lakeland race. It was a great race, guys were fast. I couldn't believe how Garvey's car rotated the center of the corner. It was great stuff. I can't wait to come back here. I enjoyed watching the race from the back straight and learned a lot about how the cars come off the corner. I'm looking forward to being out there next time."

USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series will contest 30 events in two different divisions -- North and South -- in 2005. All 30 races will be telecast by SPEED Channel on Saturday evenings throughout the summer beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Billy Bigley , Jody Lavender , Mike Garvey