While there are some race fans who may choose to twiddle their thumbs until late February waiting for the majesty of the top levels of racing in the nation to return, the short track hardcore know that there is no such excuse. With tracks opening their gates in both the deep Southeast and desert Southwest, as well as indoor venues across the snowy North hosting trade shows and indoor racing shows, there is something for everyone this “offseason”.
Things roll right along in January with asphalt Late Models getting their first opportunity to stretch their legs at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) with the Super Late Model Red-Eye 100 and Pro Late Model Zack Donatti 125 on Saturday, January 7. Be sure to follow Speed51.com for Trackside Now lap-by-lap coverage.
Speed51.com will also be at Auburndale Speedway the following day, January 8, for the Diamond 100, the first race in the new Sunshine State Challenge Series Super Late Model championship.
The weekend also features standalone events at Bubba Raceway Park (FL), Dillon Motor Speedway (SC – Street Stocks), and Five Flags Speedway (FL – Eduros) on Saturday, January 7.
Dirt Late Models of the east will head to Alabama for Ice Bowl weekend January 6-8, while western Dirt LM world will begin their year at Arizona Speedway for the six-race Wild West Shootout beginning January 7 and ending January 15. You can watch that live through DirtOnDirt.com.
January’s middle weekend features one of the great racing events of the season, a bucket list item for many; the 31st Chili Bowl National for Midgets rolls at River Spirit Expo in Tulsa, OK with four nights of qualifying racing from January 10-13 and ending with a day full of feature racing on Saturday, January 14. This already record field is set to feature many of the best drivers in the country and Speed51.com will be there with coverage all week long.
That same weekend also features indoor racing from Kellogg Arena in Michigan, while down south the Sunshine State Modifieds roll for their inaugural outing at 4-17 Southern Speedway, both on January 14.
The Saturday of January 21 features two Sunshine State tracks in action with 4-17 Southern Speedway hosting the Super Late Models and Desoto Speedway hosting the Modifieds.
The month of January closes out with TQ Midgets ending the Indoor season at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, Friday and Saturday, January 27 and 28. Down south the Midwest competitors of the ARCA/CRA Super Series and JEGS/CRA All Stars Tour roll at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, GA for SpeedFest 2017 with two days of practice and qualifying leading to feature racing Sunday, January 29. Speed51 will be on hand at both events.
Super Late Model racing carries right on into the first weekend of February, the day before the Super Bowl on Saturday, February 4 with the 4th Chilly Willy 150 at Tuscon Speedway (AZ), the Sunshine State Challenge SLM at Desoto Speedway (FL) for the Icebreaker 100, and the PASS South tour opening their 2017 season with the Winter Meltdown at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC).
The second week of February gets even more hectic with the 3rd Annual SRL Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park (CA) on Saturday, February 11, which will also feature the season opener for the Lucas Oil Modifieds. Also kicking off their 2017 seasons that weekend will be the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at Golden Isles Speedway (GA) and USMTS at Cotton Bowl Speedway (TX).
And to go back to the beginning of the year, there is no shortage of racing for the New Year’s Weekend.
Friday/Saturday shows are set at Tennessee’s 411 Speedway for the Hangover 40 Dirt Late Model event. The TQ Midgets of the Indoor Auto Racing Championship are getting ready for the second event of Winter at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, while full size Midgets roll for the Rumble in Fort Wayne (IN) at War Memorial Coliseum.
Florida’s Showtime Speedway races both New Year’s Eve and Day with a menagerie of divisions, while Ohio’s Sandusky Speedway has its Hangover event on New Year’s Day Sunday for its divisions.
Oklahoma race fans will have plenty of race action with multiple open-wheel divisions breaking in the dirt at River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa for five straight days of racing beginning Wednesday and ending on Sunday.
Be sure to check out the trade shows and expos up north, starting with the Northeast Motorsports Expo January 13-15 in Augusta, ME. The Motorsports Racecar & Trade Show is on from January 20-22 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (PA). Also the Racer’s Expo in Marlborough, MA will run February 3 and 4. Be sure to look out for the Speed51 staff at these three shows.
Story By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
Photo Credit: Speed51.com