Bristol Motor Speedway
Notes: Skagit prepared for Late Model invasion
Fans at Skagit Speedway near Burlington, Wash., are accustomed to high-profile sprint car racing at the 3/10-mile oval, but they'll get a rare taste of Dirt Late Model action this year with an invasion by the DIRTcar Northwest I-5 Late Model Tour.
The Sept. 3 Late Model visit at the famed Steve Beitler-promoted track precedes Sept. 4-5 action for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, giving tours operated by the World Racing Group a three-race stretch at Skagit.
“I’m excited to bring the DIRTcar Northwest I-5 Late Model Tour to Skagit Speedway,” said Beitler, a veteran sprint car driver entering his eighth season at the helm of the track. “The best Late Model drivers on the West Coast will be coming to Skagit, so the show is going to be fantastic.
“This race is going to give the fans the best of both worlds — Dirt Late Models and the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars. We already have a lot of people who camp out on Thursday night for the World of Outlaws races, so adding a Late Model show is going to give them something extra and spectacular to watch.”
Skagit's event is among 12 races in Oregon and Washington on the series that will continue the tradition of the former I-5 Challenge Series, which Bill Arnold of Lebanon, Ore.'s Willamette Speedway operated for the last nine years. Arnold is a key supporter of DIRTcar Racing’s arrival on the Pacific Northwest’s dirt Late Model landscape.
“I think DIRTcar running the Northwest I-5 Tour is going to help Late Model racing immensely in this area,” said Arnold, whose track hosted strong Super Late Model fields ranging from 28 to 47 cars during the 2008 season. “It’s what we’ve needed around here to get the tracks together so a series can grow into something big.
“Having DIRTcar directing the series opens the door for Late Model drivers from this area to fine-tune their talent by running more races on different surfaces and different size tracks, and the individual (track) promoters will have a better chance to draw more fans with the name DIRTcar behind them.”
Nine series races surround holiday weekends, beginning with a season-opening Memorial Day weekend tripleheader at Cottage Grove Speedway (May 22) and Willamette (May 23-24). Additional holiday tripleheaders will be staged around the Fourth of July (Southern Oregon Speedway on July 3, Willamette on July 4 and Cottage Grove on July 5) and Labor Day (Skagit on Sept. 3 and Willamette on Sept. 5-6).
Richard Barney, co-promoter of Southern Oregon Speedway, is bullish on the prospects for the series.
“I think this series will bring Late Models more to the forefront in the region,” said Barney, whose track is a cornerstone for DIRTcar modified racing on the West Coast. “The more people get exposed to these fast, wild-looking, exciting, high-traction cars, the more it’s going to build awareness and demand for the division.” — Kevin Kovac
CRATES INVITED TO RUN WITH SWDLMS: When the Southwest DIRTcar Late Model Series opens on March 7 at USA Race Park in Tucson, Ariz., the state's Crate Late Model competitors will be welcome to battle with their open-engine counterparts. Duckett Real Estate and Management has posted $200 in bonuses with $100 going to the highest finishing Crate competitor, and $50 apiece to the last Crate driver on the lead lap and the last Crate finisher overall. The Crate division is scheduled to run by themselves seven times at the Tucson track, the first on March 28. In other SWDLMS news, negotiations are under way to expand the 10-race schedule, with possible dates at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Ariz. Also Tucson's Eric Hoffman is new distributor for Hoosier Tires and will be on hand at all SWDLMS events. — M.J. Anderson
KEARNS PROMOTING SANTA MARIA IN 2009: Former Western Allstars series director Chris Kearns recently signed a three-year lease to promote his hometown Santa Maria (Calif.) Speedway. The 46-year-old third-mile oval has 10 Super Late Model events scheduled for 2009, including three Western Allstars DIRTcar Late Model Series events. "I believe that I know what it takes to keep the drivers happy, the fans entertained and everyone having fun," Kearns said. "If a fan leaves my track and doesn't feel they got their money's worth, then I haven't done my job." Kearns will be assisted by wife Kari, who has 20 years experience in the restaurant and catering businesses and plans to operate the concession stands. Among the track's special events is the 16th annual Danny Simkins Memorial, an unsanctioned Super Late Model event set for Sept. 6. — From track reports
ODDS AND ENDS: Driver Chris Shannon of Merced, Calif.'s Shannon Pump Co. will sponsor both Western Allstars events at Chowchilla (Calif.) Speedway, including the Oct. 16-17 Pacific Dirt Nationals. ... Kings Speedway in Hanford, Calif., has scheduled nine events for its new Crate Late Model division starting on March 21. ... Jerry Schram, who co-owned Sunset Speedway Park in Banks, Ore., with the late Doug Walters, has taken over the track and added new clay and reshaped banking. The track runs Fastrak Crate Late Models weekly and hosts an event on the DIRTcar I-5 tour. ... The 30th annual Maselli Dirt Late Model Classic at Petaluma (Calif.) Speedway is scheduled for Sept. 12. Winner Jeff Decker earned $2,500 at last year's Maselli.