The 50th Super Bowl is about to take place this weekend as the Carolina Panthers seek to knock off the Denver Broncos in the golden anniversary of the historic football game. While that monumental event takes place in San Francisco, another big sporting event is about to turn 50 this month in Florida. The World Series of Asphalt of Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway will enter its 50th year when the green flag flies on Friday, February 12..
The multi-night race event calculates points for division over the nine nights of action. It’s mix of drivers running for wins, some for a championships, other are running only a few races, or even just one. Some will be there every night even if they have to put the car back together each night. It’s a true mix of all types of racing.
It started in 1967 with Late Models and a few others classes, but by the end of the 10th year the jaw-dropping Tour-Type Modifieds made their debut and have been a staple ever since.
Thousands of drivers have race during the Smyrna World Series in one way or another in the 49 prior years of action. Names like Evans, Trickle, Hanley, Christopher, Balough, Ruggiero, Wallace, Anderson, and Rogers are just a few of the top notch drivers who have come and raced at Speedweeks. The winners list reaches into New England and sweeps across the boarder to Canada where the international flavor has helped make the event one of the most competitive short track races in the county.
The level of competition is like no other at New Smyrna. With NASCAR eyes in and out of the track each night the winners just keep coming. In the Pro Late Model division their were six winners in seven races a year ago. The class is tough and there has never been a repeat champion since the division was started in 2007. Young drivers from Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Oklahoma took wins in the one class alone.
The Tour-Type Modifieds have been been putting on great shows for years and fans get treated to side-by-side racing and lead changes with a style of racing they are not accustom to seeing at their home track. The final race for the Modifieds is the Richie Evans Memorial 100 and past running have created some of the best races in the history of short track racing. In 2009 Ted Christopher and Ron Silk traded the lead some 15 times in the final 50 laps before Christopher took the checkered flag.
In recent years the local classes have been wide open as well as the Florida Modified class which has been dominated by the Sunshine State mafia after Vermont’s Todd Stone earned top honors a few years back.
More of the same can be said in the Super Late Model ranks. The wave of Florida champions has been halted by drivers from South Carolina, Maine, North Carolina, and California. You have to go all the way back to 2001 to find a repeat champion in the class. Over the course of the last 14 years there have been 14 different champions who have entered their name into the record books.
No matter the year, the World Series will offer great racing, young talent, tomorrow’s stars and a lot of history. For some their chapter will be written next week in New Smyrna Beach.
-By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @ElginTraylor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com