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Notes: NeSmith heads north by signing I-96

January 19, 2009, 4:05 pm
From series, staff and track reports

I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich., has signed on with the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series, giving the 4-year-old series for weekly Crate Late Model racers its northernmost sanctioned track. The signing of I-96 Speedway now gives the Southeast-focused organization a new challenge in its growth.

“Signing I-96 Speedway gives us a northern base for the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series and we now have a large geographical gap to fill between Michigan and Tennessee,” Helm said. “(I-96 promoter) Mike Mouch and his staff have committed to help the series grow in Michigan, and we are in contact with other promoters and industry leaders that are interested in bringing the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia.”

Mouch said 18 drivers have committed to supporting the division in 2009 and he has a goal of 30 by the time the season opens at the track that's 30 miles east of Grand Rapids, Mich.

“The NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series offers many benefits to I-96 Speedway and its competitors,” Mouch said. “The series promotional efforts will expand the awareness of I-96 Speedway and its competitors nationwide, and their technical support will help keep a level playing field in an effort to provide a level playing field, which will lend itself to economical racing, and more competitive racing."

There are now NeSmith-sanctioned tracks in Michigan, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Also recently joining the NeSmith weekly series for 2009 is Mountain Raceway Park in Maryville, Tenn., a track with a rich history. The Maryville oval hosted the NASCAR Grand National Division (now Sprint Cup) when the track was a half-mile asphalt oval in the 1960s and '70s known as Smoky Mountain Speedway. — From series reports

MODOC KICKS OFF FASTRAK SEASON: Modoc (S.C.) Speedway is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the richest season-opening event in touring history for the Fastrak Racing Series with the $10,000-to-win Modoc 100 on March 6-7. The event marks only the second 100-lap race in track history. Action kicks off on Friday, March 6, with hot laps, time trials and heat races. Consolation races and the feature are set for Saturday, March 7. Included in the 26-car starting field is a provisional starting spot for the longest-traveling driver and another provisional for a pre-entered driver. — From series reports

TYLER COUNTY JOINS FASTRAK NORTHEAST REGION: Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va., has joined the Fastrak Racing Series Northeast Region for the 2009 season, becoming the eighth track to host weekly Crate Late Model racing. Pennsylvania's Dog Hollow Speedway, Raceway 7, Mercer Raceway Park, McKean County Raceway, and Tri-City Speedway ran in 2008 during Fastrak Northeast's second season while Arcade International Raceway in Freedom, N.Y., and Roaring Knob Motorsports Park of Markleysburg, Pa., have also signed on to run in 2009. "Last year we made the move to go all Crates and were pleasantly surprised with the results as we ended up with 8-12 cars per week, and expect that to grow with Fastrak coming on board," Tyler County co-promoter Scott Strode said. An informational meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m., Feb. 8 at the log building on the Tyler County Fairgrounds. — Mike Leone

JOHNSON GOES FOR THREE STRAIGHT AT COLUMBUS: Hall of Fame driver Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, Tenn., will gun for his third consecutive Winter Classic victory on Jan. 24 at Columbus (Miss.) Speedway in a $2,500-to-win event on the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. Johnson, the only driver in tour history to win a race in each of the four previous seasons, will be among dozens of drivers expected for the season's second race. The series recently announced a 23-race schedule that should maximize travel for race teams in 2009. The series plans events at 10 racetracks with the 23 races contested over 13 weekends. Drivers will frequently compete in two to three events on the same weekend at the same track, or different tracks within 50 miles of each other. — Roby Helm

BATON ROUGE, PIKE COUNTY TEAMING UP: Two Southern tracks that competed for Crate Late Models and fans in recent years are joining forces for 2009 with plans to run on alternate Saturdays beginning March 21. Baton Rouge Raceway in Baker, La., and Pike County Speedway in Magnolia, Miss., tracks separated by 100 miles of interstate, have struggled amid deteriorating economic conditions. "A lot of people can't afford to go to the races every weekend, so we're thinking this is a possibility that can help both racetracks," said Baton Rouge promoter Greg Holmes, adding that perhaps fans and racers can benefit. "This is something we're going to try and see how it works." Drivers will run for individual track championships as well as a two-track championship. A point fund will be set aside for drivers who run 80 percent of the 2009 events at both tracks, and two-track champions will be named at the conclusion of the season. — Todd Turner

FASTRAK ADDS MID-ATLANTIC REGION: The Fastrak Racing Series has added a new Mid-Atlantic Region for the 2009 season, covering parts of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware as the Crate Late Model organization continues to branch out. Kathy and David Hunter of Clintonville, W.Va., will manage the Mid-Atlantic Region, which features just two tracks starting out, Princeton (W.Va.) Speedway and Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Va., a mainstay Fastrak facility. "Both David and I love dirt track racing," Kathy Hunter said. "We’ve always wanted to see the market and driver base in our area expand, and there is no better way in which to do that than the Fastrak Racing Series." — From series reports

ODDS AND ENDS: Eldora (Ohio) Speedway's annual Fastrak event is scheduled for Aug. 1. ... Kings Speedway in Hanford, Calif., has scheduled Crate Late Model events for April 11 and Oct. 24 and plans to add more. ... The Fastrak Northeast schedule should be released in early February with 12-15 races. The season will wrap up Oct. 2 at Mercer (Pa.) Raceway Park with a Grand Nationals event.

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