The 25th edition of the Bahama Brackets hit the track at Rockord Speedway (IL) this weekend. Over the past two and a half decades, the annual event has become not just a fan favorite, but a driver favorite as well. With its unique format and shiny prize package this year’s event is sure to continue a long standing tradition.
“It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for 25 years,” Rockford Speedway General Manager David Deery told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It is very neat to see this event evolve. We started out with two brackets and about 50 to 60 cars in the first event and last year’s event had almost 200 cars in six different brackets.”
The racing format is “bracket style” and starts with all cars qualifying Saturday afternoon. Drivers are then split into brackets based on car type, full size or four-cylinder, and qualifying time. Then the racing begins, with the catch that you are only allowed to race up to two tenths faster than your qualifying time. Over the years Rockford Speedway has made adjustments to the timing to allow for more cars to compete.
“This year’s version hopefully will grow in car count,” said Deery. “I have altered the breakout times and actually slowed some breakout times that should draw more cars to the event. The four-cylinder B bracket was slowed to a 16.00 from a 15.400 due to the fact there is a lot of 4-cylinder race cars that have not participated in this event because of the faster cars in the B bracket.”
Besides the unique format to the event, the weekend draws many different cars, ranging from Dirt Modifieds to hornets. What is so impressive to fans and challenging for drivers, is that all these different types of cars are on track at the same time. James Swan has been racing in the Brackets for almost 20 years and has been part of the variety of cars to hit the track in Rockford, IL.
“I have raced a LGR street stock, Mid-Am cars, a Dirt Modified, an Asphalt Modified, and a Limited Late Model in the past,” Swan stated. “It’s basically like a “run what you brung”, have fun kind of weekend.”
“My favorite part of Bahama Brackets is the variety of the cars competing against each other throughout the event,” Deery said. “Dirt Lates racing with Modifieds with Street Stocks and all at the same time.”
With drivers needing to pay attention to their lap times, as to not go more than two tenths over their qualifying time, their position and other cars on the track, it takes a lot survive your bracket.
“The strategy is simple, have fun,” Swan stated. “And try to stay out of trouble, and try not to ‘break out.’ I have only won once, in 2006. It takes a lot of luck and usually a lot of heads up driving due to the vast variety of cars racing with each other.”
The winner of the fastest bracket gets a choice between $1,500 or a trip for two to the Bahamas. There are other bonuses along the way, all Bahama themed, but a trip south during the cold winter months in Illinois is surely motivation.
“It’s the most exciting racing anywhere by far,” Swan said. “They offer $100 bonuses to the best Bahamas themed car, pit area, and the farthest distance travelled. Also $100 bonus for a dirt car, modified, or woman to win a bracket, it’s a must see for any race fan.”
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22