Kansas-based NCRA joins DIRTcar Racing fold
The World Racing Group's DIRTcar Racing organization has added one of the longest-running Dirt Late Model tours to the fold. The Kansas-based National Championship Racing Association, a 41-year-old short-track organization which sanctioned a Late Model division for 26 of the past 31 years, became the 10th DIRTcar-affiliated Late Model tour late last week.
"It's a good group to be with," said Chris Smith, NCRA's director of competition. "We've been around since 1970, but we think the DIRTcar is a good way to go now for us, just because of the stability they have. ... We think it's a good thing; we wouldn't have done it if we didn't."
The new association will change few things for a tour tentatively renamed the NCRA DIRTcar Series, Smith said, because most rules were already uniform and the series will maintain its already announced 18-race schedule. The biggest change is the addition of a regional DIRTcar points fund that gives drivers the opportunity for more postseason awards.
"I think it's a good thing for us because it gives us more racetracks to be affiliated with," said DIRTcar director Sam Driggers. "And any time you put more money in these guys' pockets, the better off you are."
DIRTcar's addition of NCRA helps bridge a geographic gap between two existing tours, the Missouri-based MARS DIRTcar Series and the Colorado-based Championship Late Model Association DIRTcar Series. The Midwest DIRTcar Late Model Series also runs primarily in Kansas, so regional drivers heading east and west from Kansas can maintain DIRTcar ties.
"Hopefully down the road, it will help us get a few extra cars running for DIRTcar points," NCRA's Smith said.
In addition to touring DIRTcar events, Caney Valley Speedway in Caney, Kan., has added weekly DIRTcar-sanctioned Late Model racing this season, and NCRA has also added satellite tour for 2011 that requires less travel, the Great Plains Late Model Series.
Smith and Driggers first met during co-sanctioned MARS-NCRA events last season, and negotiations continued during January's Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla. Paperwork was completed and contracts were signed last week, but details about how NCRA fits into the DIRTcar regional structure is being hammered out, officials said.
NCRA's Late Model division began in 1979, running for 11 seasons before going on hiatus from 1990-94. The tour founded by legendary promoter C. Ray Hall resumed in 1995, later adding title sponsorship from O'Reilly Auto Parts that lasted throughlast season. Past NCRA champions include Billy Moyer ('94), Larry Phillips ('92 and '86) along with eight-time champion Larry McDaniels and Kelly Boen of Henderson, Colo., who captured five titles over the past six seasons. Boen tops the all-time NCRA victories list with 56, more than twice as many as any other driver.
Besides NCRA, MARS, CLMA and MDLMS, the other DIRTcar-sanctioned regional tours are the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals (Midwest), Sunoco American Late Model Series (Ohio), Northern Allstars Late Model Series (Illinois), Four Corners Late Models (New Mexico), Western Allstars (California) and Northwest I-5 Tour (Oregon). Overall, 134 tracks are hosting more than 2,000 DIRTcar-sanctioned Late Model events in 2011, Driggers said.
The DIRTcar Racing organization grew out of the Bob Memmer-founded United Midwestern Promoters organization, which merged with the Xtreme DirtCar Series in 2004. The World Racing Group, parent organization of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, took over the organization a year later and expanded its reach. — Todd Turner
SCHLIEPER’S PLANS UNCERTAIN AFTER LOSING SPONSOR: Dan Schlieper, a regular on the Lucas Oil Late Dirt Series since 2007, may not follow the series full time this year after losing his primary sponsor. Schlieper of Oak Creek, Wis., lost sponsorship from Rockstar Energy Drink during the offseason, but competed during Speedweeks with sponsorship from Arnie Ranta Motorsports. Now that partnership has fallen through and will not continue for the remainder of the season. The lack of funding could cause Schlieper to miss this weekend’s Lucas Oil-sanctioned Indiana Icebreaker at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway and has his plans for the entire season up in the air. “He called me up and decided not to do it this year, so I’m looking for sponsorship,” Schlieper said. “I don’t know exactly what I’m gonna do yet. It’s completely up in the air and I don’t even know if I’m going to Brownstown yet.” Schlieper added that the elevated price of diesel fuel will make it nearly impossible to follow the national tour without a primary sponsor. “That’s the worst thing about it, these fuel prices are gonna kill us,” he said. — Joshua Joiner
DART CHALLENGE SERIES RELEASES 2011 SCHEDULE: The Dart Challenge Series has released a 15-race schedule for 2011. The series for WISSOTA Late Models will visit three new venues this year and will host eight races paying at least $3,000 to the winner. The series will kick off the season with the $5,000-to-win Challenge Cup XI presented by Prostrollo Motors June 4 at Dakota State Fair Speedway in Huron, S.D. The three racetracks new to the series schedule in 2011 are Dacotah Speedway in Mandan, N.D., Southwest Speedway in Dickinson, N.D., and Nodak Speedway in Minot, N.D. After a three-year hiatus, Superior (Wis.) Raceway returns to the series schedule with a $2,000-to-win event July 20. — Rob Fogle
PONDEROSA SPEEDWAY VANDALIZED: Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky., was vandalized over the weekend leading track officials to cancel an upcoming practice day scheduled for March 25. Among equipment tampered with were the track’s grader, lights, electrical wiring, and caution lights. No monetary amount of the total damage was released, but activities at the 3/8 mile D-shaped clay oval are on hold until further notice while repairs are made. — Michael Despain
CRATE NATIONALS SET TO ROLL AT GREEN VALLEY: Green Valley Speedway in in Glencoe, Ala., will host the Crate Nationals this weekend after making format changes to the event in its third year. After paying $25,000 to the feature winner the past two seasons, the event will include three feature races this year that will each pay $2,000 to the winner and at least $200 to each driver making the 24-car starting fields. The event will be highlighted by Saturday night’s $5,000-to-win King of the Crates finale that will start the top 12 points earning drivers from the first three features. — From track reports
ODDS AND ENDS: Non-renewed suites for April and May events at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, are available for purchase. Availability is limited for many events and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Call the Eldora ticket office at (937) 338-3815 for more information. ... The UFO Race Championship tour has made adjustments to series rulebook. Adjustments include additional minimum rear quarterpanel specifications to prevent partial quarterpanels. The use of titanium in suspension and chassis components and the use of titanium or carbon fiber brake rotors have both been outlawed. The series also clarified that all parts on the GM CT525 motor must remain stock except the valve cover and breather system. ... The National All Star Racing Association will begin its 2011 season April 2 with a trip to Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway for the $3,000-to-win Charles Trammell Memorial. ... The fifth annual Bartlett Hardwood Floor Service Midsouth Dirt Track Championship at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Ark., has been moved to Oct. 8. The event, which is the series finale for the COMP Cams Super Dirt Series, was originally scheduled for Oct. 1, but was moved to avoid conflicts with other area events.