Since the 1980’s, New Smyrna Speedway’s Red Eye 100 has become a New Year’s weekend tradition, not just for Florida, but all of short track racing. While the Red Eye is set to return this January, the first Late Model race of the year will come with a new look.
The 100-lap Super Late Model race is no more, with the Super Late Models set to share the spotlight on Saturday, January 5 alongside the Pro Late Models. Both divisions will compete in 50-lap sprint races in the first iteration of the Red Eye 50/50.
It is a bold new step for the first big Late Model show of the year in North America. While initial reactions have been mixed from drivers and fans, NSS staff, including Track Manager Rusty Marcus, have received warm feedback in recent days.
“We wanted to try something a little different,” Marcus told Speed51.com. “At first the response I got was, ‘What are you doing?’ But then once people started thinking about it, they thought it’s a good idea. We’ll see, there are times you got to try things to make them better.”
Marcus knows that change always involves a little risk, but the chance to prop up the Red Eye event was too good not to pass up. While the Super Late Models will still be at the center of attention, Marcus is looking forward to seeing New Smyrna’s growing Pro Late Model class go up against the expected invaders from the north.
“We got some up and coming Pro Lates. The Pro Late Model class has been bigger than what it’s been the last few years, they expressed interest in wanting to be a part of it.”
The other main goal of the 2019 Red Eye is to share in that tradition with the loyal racers in all of New Smyrna’s home track divisions as well. The American Auto Sportsman, Super Stocks, Mod Minis, Florida Modifieds, Bombers, and Ground Pounders will all see action alongside the twin Late Model 50’s.
“It upsets me at times when we have a big show at our race track, I consider the track the home of our drivers and I don’t like when somebody invites you to their home but you are not allowed to come. So we’ve invited all of our regular divisions to be a part of the Red Eye, which I think will be more exciting for the fans,” Marcus explained.
Overall, the goal is not just to produce racing simply by the addition of more divisions, but increase the competition within the races themselves. Having 50-lap races for both the Super and Pro Late Models with no time to save tires may just be the ticket.
“Fans are going to see a lot more racing period. Instead of there being a 100-lap race where you can relax, guys are going to have to go for it. Plus, you got two big races, with good fields of cars, plus again all of our local divisions who have put on great shows. From a fan standpoint I think it’s going to be a hit, from the driver’s standpoint hopefully it will be a hit.”
Being the lone racing event at New Smyrna before the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in Feburary, the Red Eye will be more of a warmup than ever before.
The full season schedule at New Smyrna Speedway is expected to be released in the coming days.
Drivers looking for entry forms for either the Red Eye or World Series, as well as fans looking for tickets to both events, can visit http://www.newsmyrnaspeedway.org/ for more information.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com