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National notebook

Notes: WVMS shrinking down to 4/10-mile oval

January 19, 2011, 9:31 am
From track, series and special reports
West Virginia Motor Speedway at last year's Dirt Track World Championship. (thesportswire.net)
West Virginia Motor Speedway at last year's Dirt Track World Championship. (thesportswire.net)

West Virginia Motor Speedway, one of the largest dirt ovals that hosts Dirt Late Model events, is trimming down for the 2011 season. The 5/8-mile oval in Mineral Wells, W.Va., will be reduced to a 4/10-mile oval in time for the Memorial Day weekend visit by the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

"We had always heard the desire of many racers and fans was to see a smaller track here," said Brian Ferrell, a partner with the second-year WVMS management group Mountain State Motorsports Promotions. "We feel that the change will make for more exciting and closer racing for all divisions without taking away from the great fan experience that has always been a part of WVMS."

The picturesque oval with its terraced, hillside spectating area opened in 1984 and has hosted many major Dirt Late Model events, including last year's Dirt Track World Championship. But critics have complained about the track's reputation for being hard on powerplants and for races getting strung out over the expansive surface.

Promoters hope that shortening the oval while maintaining sweeping turns and wide straightaways will improve the track.

"Everybody we've consulted with, or brought into work with on this project, has been super. There is no doubt this track has a lot of fans, but the enthusiasm that everyone has shown for this move has been beyond our expectations," Ferrell said "We know from discussions with the pros that this project is a huge undertaking. It involves a lot more than just moving dirt. The lights, guardrails, electric, etc., all will require attention."

The track, which hosted Late Models, sprint cars and monster trucks in 2010 after being shuttered since late 2007, was actually bigger than the advertised 5/8-mile distance, promoters found while considering the facelift. Because the inside guardrail was moved out in the mid-1980s, the track actually measured nearly 7/10-mile.

Construction, scheduled to begin April 1, will include work by earth-moving and construction professionals along with students at Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College and West Virginia University-Parkersburg.

"We see this as a win-win deal for everyone involved," Ferrell said. "The project will be one that involves local labor and trains area students, and the result will basically be brand new racetrack when everything is complete."

The World of Outlaws are scheduled to christen the reconfigured oval during RaceFest weekend on May 28-29 with $8,000- and $10,000-to-win events. — From track reports

YANKEE DOODLE ADDED TO UFO, ULMS SCHEDULES: Central Pennsylvania Speedway's 36th annual Yankee Doodle, a $10,000-to-win event scheduled for July 3, will be co-sanctioned by the UFO Race Championship Series and Northern Tier United Late Model Series in 2011. A 51-lap feature at the 3/8-mile oval, with each starter receiving a minimum $450, marks the richest one-day show on the UFO schedule. The event will be the first UFO race at the Clearfield, Pa., track since the inaugural series season in 2008. Former Yankee Doodle winners include Shane Clanton, Scott Bloomquist, D.J. Myers and Robbie Blair. The race is preceded by UFO's $4,000-to-win Earl Hill Memorial on July 2 at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va. — From series reports

CRATE LATE MODEL NOTES: Malden (Mo.) Speedway Batesville (Ark.) Motor Speedway have both rejoined the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series for 2011. Malden was previously sanctioned in 2006-07 while Batesville is back for its third consecutive season. ... Canada's Humberstone Speedway in Port Colborne, Ontario, plans to run weekly Crate Late Models in 2011, the first Fastrak Racing Series-sanctioned track outside the United States. Humberstone plans a Friday night division with occasional Sunday shows at the track 20 miles west of Buffalo, N.Y. U.S. drivers traveling to Humberstone require passports at the border. ... The NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series has made an adjustment to its regional points system to create more eligibility for weekly racers gunning for $5,000 regional titles. A driver will now record his best 14 weekly point totals to count towards� regional points. A driver can compete in multiple events each week, but only their highest point total for that week will count. The points season runs from April 1 through Oct. 2. In previous years, drivers could use the best 16 finishes in a season, and the new system is intended to boost drivers who race just once a week. — From series reports

ODDS AND ENDS: The Feb. 13 Battle Between the Coasts at Ocala (Fla.) Speedway will be co-sanctioned by UMP DIRTcar and the O'Reilly All Star Late Model Series. It's a non-points race for O'Reilly All Star competitors. ... The Great America Dirt Track in Jetmore, Kan., has condensed its $10,000-to-win event to a single-day show on April 30. The race is co-sanctioned by MARS, MLRA, NCRA and CLMA. ... East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City has set dates for its late-season Super Late Model specials. The $7,000-to-win Alabama State Championship is scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 2 while the $25,000-to-win National 100 is scheduled for Nov. 10-13. ... Millstream Speedway in Findlay, Ohio, plans four Late Model events in 2011. Besides an O'Reilly All Star race on May 15, the track hosts UMP DIRTcar Late Models on July 3, Sept. 25 and Oct. 9. ... I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich., announced its June 26 race on the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals will be contested on the facility's 3/8-mile track instead of the half-mile oval used last season.

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