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Notebook: SUPR expands spec-engine options

January 4, 2008, 11:13 am
From series and staff reports
SUPR founder Donald Watson (DirtonDirt.com)
SUPR founder Donald Watson (DirtonDirt.com)

The Louisiana-based Dirt Late Model series that introduced the lower-cost spec engine 15 years ago has announced an additional spec engine option intended to reduce the costs of the powerplants and make it easier for officials to inspect.

Spec engines under existing rules (as well as traditional open-competition engines) will continue to be legal on the O'Reilly Southern United Professional Racing tour, but series founder Donald Watson suggests that drivers who require new powerplants switch to spec engines under the new rules because the engines will be less expensive.

"After inspecting numerous engines and finding out what racers are paying for SUPR engines today," Watson said in a message on the SUPR website, "I know the racer is not getting dollar value in the product he is purchasing."

That's the main reason Watson introduced the additional spec engine program that will see SUPR working closely with engine builders to cut out cheating. If a SUPR race team wants a new spec engine, Watson said, the series will coordinate the purchase of parts with the engine builder, who must agree to build the engine with no alterations at a specified price. Any engine builder altering specified parts will be banned by SUPR and any racer using an illegal engine in a SUPR event will be disqualified from that event and assessed a 200-point penalty.

The additional spec-engine option is also intended to make it easier on technical inspectors. Each new SUPR spec engine will have a serial number registered to the engine builder and team, so other tracks or series allowing spec engines can check with SUPR if the powerplant has been deemed legal. The new rules make spec engines "almost tech free," Watson said, and officials can "check the engine for legality at any time without a lot of engine knowledge."

See the SUPR website for specific engine components and details.

SUPR popularized the spec engine in 1993 as a way for lower-budget drivers to compete with drivers using more expensive open-competition engines, and similar spec-engine rules have been adopted by other series and tracks, mostly in the South. The spec-engine package, adopted by most SUPR regulars, typically allows cars a 100-pound weight break and a taller spoiler (12 inches vs. 8 inches) than open-competition counterparts. — From series reports

Southern All Stars boost points fund

The O'Reilly Southern All Stars will wrap up the 2007 season by honoring champion Ivedent Lloyd Jr. on Jan. 12, but the series is already looking to 2008, when the points fund will see a boost of $10,000. The additional money will be spread through the middle of the payout, series co-owner David Miller said.

"We have needed to beef up the point money for a while now, and we have all really put for the extra effort to make sure that would happen in 2008," said series director Kelley Carlton. The champion is still set to receive $10,000 following the 2008 season, but Miller and Carlton added that potential new sponsorship could see a boost in that figure, too.

The 2008 payout: Champion ($10,000); runner-up ($5,500); third place ($3,500); fourth place ($3,000); fifth place ($2,500); sixth place ($2,000); seventh place ($1,750); eighth place ($1,500); ninth place ($1,250); 10th place ($1,000).

The series kicks off the 2008 season at the Super Bowl of Racing IV at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Ga., with three $10,000-to-win events on Jan. 30-Feb. 1. — From series reports

Southern Nationals schedule set

The O'Reilly Southern Nationals, the 4-year-old miniseries promoted by North Carolina driver Ray Cook, has announced a 10-race schedule from July 14-26 that will run in five states, including four races in Tennessee. Purses have been boosted for 2008 with $3,500-to-win events carrying a $17,685 purse (with every starter earning at least $450) and $5,300-to-win events carrying a $22,855 purse (with every starter earning at least $530).

New tracks for the series in 2008 are Green Valley Speedway in Glencoe, Ala., Gordon Park Speedway in Augusta, Ga., and Hartwell (Ga.) Speedway. The tour opens July 14 at Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Va. — Ryan Delph

Columbus ready for another early start

Columbus (Miss.) Speedway gets an early start on its expansive special event schedule with the eighth annual Carl Hogan Honda Winter Classic scheduled for Jan. 26. Included on the program is a $3,000-to-win event for Super Late Models and a $2,500-to-win event for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series for crate-engine cars.

Other notable Super Late Model events at Columbus in 2008 including the seventh annual Brown Engineering Rebel Challenge (March 7-8), the 14th annual James King Memorial (April 12), the 10th annual John L. Cliett Tribute (May 10), the 10th annual James Nickoles Memorial (July 12), the 19th annual Magnolia State 100 (Sept. 26-27) and the seventh annual Possum Town Grand Prix (Nov. 28-29). — Ben Shelton

Florida-based series launches

A new Dirt Late Model series that initially planned on limiting its schedule to Florida is already branching out to nearby states. The originally named Florida Dirt Late Model Challenge Series has now taken the name United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series as it makes plans for a 15-race season in 2008. Races are scheduled to pay a minimum of $3,000 to the winner with $10,000 scheduled to go to the champion of the series, which is directed by Ken Kinney.

The series is scheduled to run its first event Feb. 29 at Ocala (Fla.) Speedway, a track which is returning to its dirt roots after running as an asphalt oval since 1996. — From series reports

Odds and ends

The second-year Mid-South Racing Association, based in Arkansas, has received title sponsorship from O'Reilly Auto Parts, the Springfield, Mo.-based firm which sponsors several Dirt Late Model Series. ... Fans of the former Atomic Speedway near Knoxville, Tenn., can enjoy some photos from the track at the Tribute to East Tennessee Racing website. ... The Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series banquet is scheduled for Jan. 12 at the Speedway Club at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Ricky Weeks will be honored with his fourth consecutive series championship. ... Inaugural AMP Series champion Jon Mitchell, who worked the last three years with GRT Race Cars in Greenbrier, Ark., has moved back to his Texarkana, Texas, home to start his own racing business. He'll be a GRT dealer. ... The Southern Regional Racing Series has announced its 2008 champion will receive $10,000. ... Larry Yantz, a long-time racer, car owner and promoter, has been named series director of the O'Reilly Battle of the Bluegrass DirtCar Series for the 2008 season by series owner Tom McConnell.

Correction: A previous version of this article reported the Possum Town Grand Prix at Columbus (Miss.) Speedway would be held before Thanksgiving. The date for the race is Nov. 28-29.

 
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