There are great short track racing events that take place all over North America each year, but for one reason or another, there are always a few that are more intriguing than others. In some cases, it’s because it’s a new event. In other cases, it’s because of an increased purse or a new race format.
We’ve put together a list of what we believe to be the top 10 most intriguing races for the 2018 short track racing season.
#1 – Dirt Million at Mansfield Motorsports Park (OH)
A short track race that has the word “million” in its name certainly sounds intriguing. This inaugural Dirt Late Model event is using a unique format that involves fans, race teams and businesses contributing to an increased purse.
We do know that the race will be a part of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series schedule and pay a minimum of $100,000 to win and $2,000 to start. However, the total purse could rise to $1 million while paying as much as $500,000 to win and $10,000 to start.
How will the format work and how will it be received? Only time will tell, and that’s why we consider it to be the most intriguing race of the 2018 season.
#2 – NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
We’ve seen the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on dirt, and now we’re going to see NASCAR stock cars on dirt for the first time. The stars from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will make a trip to Las Vegas in 2018 for the series’ first ever race on dirt.
How will the racing be? How will the cars handle the surface? Will it be a hit amongst drivers and fans? These are all questions to ask heading into the event.
We also have to wonder if this could be NASCAR using one of their regional series to test out the possibility of putting an XFINITY Series or Cup Series race on dirt in the future. Needless to say, it’s an intriguing race for all involved.
#3 – NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 250-lap Race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
The longest race in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour history will take place in 2018 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In September, NASCAR and NHMS officials announced that the Modifieds will compete in a 250-lap race (264.5 miles) as part of a tripleheader weekend with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Pintys Series.
There’s no doubting that the Modifieds have always put on the best show of the weekend at “The Magic Mile.” With one, two, three and even four passes each lap, fans are always entertained by the Mod Squad.
But a few questions have to be asked. Will the style of racing seen in their 100-lap races continue during the extended-distance race? Will the race attract drivers and teams that normally don’t compete in NWMT events? How will the fans turn out on a weekend that is no longer headlined by NASCAR’s largest series?
This event certainly has the potential to become a major short track race, but only time will tell if it will be.
#4 – Speed51 Super Select at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN)
Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” That statement will become true during the inaugural Speed51 Super Select at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. The winner-take-all Super Late Model race paying a minimum of $10,000 to win will be held on Saturday, September 9 during Brickyard 400 Weekend.
In addition to the unique winner-take-all format, the race will be an invitational race that will award the teams invited with free entry into the race and one set of tires to use. A 50-lap open race will also be held giving other teams a chance to race their way in.
With an outside-the-box format, the event certainly has some intrigue heading into the New Year.
#5 – Money in the Bank 150 at Berlin Raceway (MI)
After a successful first version of the Money in the Bank 150, the race will return for round two in 2018. The $20,000-to-win, one-day Super Late Model race attracted 30 teams in 2017 with Bubba Pollard hoisting the big check at the end of the night.
Many of the teams who competed in the inaugural race complimented track officials for allowing them to compete for a big check while keeping costs down. The one-day format limited the amount of practice time and tires used by race teams.
With one running in the books, it will be interesting to see if the race gains more support in its second year.
#6 – 51st Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL)
Although topping the atmosphere experienced at the 50th Annual Snowball Derby might seem like a difficult task, Five Flags Speedway promoter Tim Bryant has never been one to settle. Race fans should once again expect bigger and better things when they make their way to Pensacola, FL in December.
Additionally, the race has more intrigue for us here at Speed51.com after the revealed logo for the 51st Annual Snowball Derby featured the Speed51.com font. Our staff has worked extremely hard to bring coverage of the event to a worldwide audience, and we certainly want to do everything we can to make the 51st Snowball Derby a special one.
#7 – Chilly Willy 150 at Tucson Speedway (AZ)
The Chilly Willy 150 is an event that has the potential to become a major Super Late Model race on a national level. As one of the first major races of the season, it provides race teams from all over the country with an opportunity to head to the West Coast for a chance at big money.
With $10,000 on the line in 2018, the race has already attracted national stars such as Bubba Pollard. Stars from the West Coast including Trevor Huddleston and Chris Eggleston are also expected to compete in this year’s Chilly Willy 150 on Saturday, January 27.
Being held one week prior to the Winter Showdown, the race also gives teams a chance to head West to compete in a pair of big money races.
#8 – Mobile 300 at Mobile International Speedway (AL)
A 300-lap Super Late Model race has not been held at Mobile since 1983. That will change in October when the Southern Super Series visits the Mobile, AL track for their season finale, a 300-lap race paying $10,000 to win.
Three hundred laps around Mobile, coupled with an increased purse, should certainly provide race fans with a can’t-miss race to end the season. We expect to see many of the nation’s best Super Late Model drivers traveling to the Gulf Coast for this inaugural event.
Not to mention, this race could also be looked at as a great test for another 300-lap race: the 51st Annual Snowball Derby at nearby Five Flags Speedway in December.
#9 – 5th Annual Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park (CA)
If the Winter Showdown isn’t already listed on the list of Super Late Model crown jewel events, it certainly has the potential to make its way onto that list in 2018.
Thirty-five drivers have already pre-entered for the $30,000-to-win race held at the beautiful Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, CA. Among those drivers are former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch and NASCAR XFINITY Series playoff driver Daniel Hemric. Short track star power will also be represented in the form of defending winner Derek Thorn and two-time race winner Bubba Pollard, among others.
Needless to say, with the Winter Showdown entering its fifth year, the race has already grabbed the attention of many fans nationwide. This year’s race has the potential to reel in even more.
#10 – Anthracite Assault at Big Diamond Speedway (PA)
It’s the only race of the 2018 Short Track Super Series season that will see the best Modified drivers from the North region meet the best Modified drivers from the South region.
Held at Pennsylvania’s Big Diamond Speedway, the event paid $5,000 to the winner with a boatload of bonuses one year ago.
Unique to this event, Modifieds will utilize sail panels for the ‘Anthracite Assault’ – the only time all season at the 3/8-mile oval.
-Text by Speed51.com Staff
-Photo credit: Speed51.com