TERRE HAUTE —
Despite having already lost several bouts to the elements, the 2011 Wabash Valley motorsports season has taken the green flag and will soon be shifting into high gear on several fronts.
While fans, racers and track promoters face the challenges of a troubled economy, all signs point to business as usual for the upcoming campaign.
Valley tracks have released attractive and ambitious schedules. Several already have opened their gates to strong participant and fan turnouts.
To help fans plan ahead for the season, here’s the annual Trackside column that features key dates and phone numbers to make trips to the races easier:
• Terre Haute Action Track — After weeks of speculation regarding the future of oval-track racing at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds, it appears all is go for the 2011 season.
Fair Board officials have approved and submitted a signed contract to the U.S. Auto Club for the rights to promote events at the local half-mile dirt oval.
USAC released a four-race schedule for the track in January that listed three sprint-car and a Silver Crown event.
“We have sent USAC a signed contract. Although it hasn’t been returned, we feel confident there will be racing at the track,” said Fair Board president Jennifer Cook.
“They [USAC] have asked for four dates. There’s a possibility there could more than just those four races. We want racing at the track. It’s something we feel is good for the fairgrounds and the community.”
The USAC schedule includes the May 26 Hulman Classic for USAC sprints, July 3 Sumar Classic for Silver Crown cars, July 13 Indiana Sprint Week and USAC sprints Sept. 10. A fifth date may be added.
• Crossroads Dragway (812) 229-2167 — With one of the biggest seasons in track history looming on the horizon, the 1/8-mile strip will offer specials with the May 6 NADM Diesel Mania, May 14 Bernie Mann Memorial, May 15 Fast 33, June 17-19 Holzhauser Midwest Jr. Super Series, June 25-26 Quick 32, July 30 Slammin 16, Aug. 26-28 Scheid Diesel Extravaganza, Oct. 1-2 State Championship Jr./HS ET Points and Oct. 22 Fast 33.
• Anderson Speedway (765) 642-0206 — The quarter-mile banks will see action with the May 25-28 63rd annual Little 500 Sprints, June 18 HOSS sprints, Aug. 1 Redbud 300 for CRA Late Model Stocks and Sept. 17 Season Championship CRA stocks, F/8s and Thunder Cars.
• Bakersfield Raceway Park (812) 847-7485 — Located just east of Linton on Indiana 54, this popular 1/5-mile dirt and road course offers a weekly Friday night card of Mini-Sprints, 4-cylinder stocks and Jr. Sprints on its oval and six classes of go-karts on its road course every Saturday night.
• Bloomington Motor Speedway (812) 824-7400 — Racing doesn’t get much better than what’s presented each summer at this popular quarter-mile dirt oval.
In addition to its weekly Friday night card of sprints, modifieds and stocks specials, this season includes the May 20 Larry Rice Classic for USAC sprints, June 10 USAC Indiana Midget Week, June 24 Sheldon Kinser Memorial, July 15 USAC Indiana Sprint Week and Aug. 5 World of Outlaws sprints.
• Coles County Dragway USA (217) 345-7777 — Under new management, this NHRA-sanctioned, 1/8-mile drag strip located at Charleston Ill., will offer the May 15 Quick 8 and ET Bracket racing, May 28 Big Money Bracket $2,000 Box, June 4 King of the Track, June 24 Thunder on the Prairie, July 16 Quick 8, Aug. 20 Jegs Quick 32. Aug. 26-28 Midwest Jr. Super Series, Sept. 10 Big Money Bracket, Sept. 24 Quick 8 and King of the College ET Bracket and Jrs.
• Kokomo Speedway (765) 459-3877 — A popular Sunday night draw, the quarter-mile oval will be host for specials with the May 29 Kokomo Klassic for sprints, June 26 KISS sprints, June 12 USAC Indiana Midget Week, July 9 USAC Indiana Sprint Week, July 31 Bob Darland Memorial sprints, Sept. 4 Vince Orman Memorial sprints and Oct. 14-15 Kokomo Klash V sprints.
• Lucas Oil Raceway Park (317) 291-4090 — New name but same 5/8-mile paved oval offering a variety of oval-track racing. Specials include the USAC sprints May 12, June 16, July 7, Aug. 19, Sept. 8 and Oct. 13 as part of a monthy Thursday night program.
Other key events are the USAC Nite Before 500 midgets May 28, USAC Silver Crown, midgets and ARCA stock cars July 28, NASCAR Camping World Trucks on July 29, NASCAR Nationwide Kroger 200 on July 30 and the 31st annual NHRA U.S. Nationals on Aug. 31-Sept. 5.
• Lincoln Park Speedway (765) 653-3485 — A popular draw for weekly short-track racers and fans, the rejuvenated 5/16-mile dirt oval offers Saturday shows of sprints, modifieds and stocks with the May 7 USAC sprints, June 9 USAC Indiana Midget Week, UMP Late Model Summer Nationals on June 28, Putnamville Clash on July 30, Midwest Sprint Car Series on Aug. 20, King of Non-Wing Sprints on Sept. 3 and eighth annual Patriot 100 on Sept. 10.
• Lyons Raceway Park (812) 659-2951 — A popular draw for Wabash Valley drag racers, the NHRA-sanctioned drag strip presents a host of season specials that include the Black Smoke Burnout Diesel Drags on April 29-30, NHRA Jegs VP Fuels Quick 32 on May 20-22, Nostalgia Pro Comp Association Points on June 10-11, National Dragster Challenge on June 29-30, VP Fuels Quick 32 on July 29, VP Fuels Quick 32 on Aug. 5-7, NHRA Jr. Dragster League on Aug. 26-27, Quick 32 Bracket Bash Quick 32 on Sept. 2-4, Fastenal Racing Quick 8 on Sept. 23-24 and King of Track on Sept. 30-Oct. 1.
• Paragon Speedway (765) 537-2366 — Clearly the most successful short-track operation in the state, the 3/8-mile dirt track offers weekly Saturday night card of sprints and stocks with the Mike Johnson Memorial sprints May 28, Chuck Amati Classic sprints June 18, June 25 KISS sprints and 15th annual Stock Car Dirt Nationals on Aug. 20.
• Salem Speedway 1-888-246-7223 — The high banks of this historic half-mile paved oval will play host to ARCA stocks April 30-May 1, USAC midgets-Lucas Oil stocks May 14, 52nd annual Joey James/Pat O’Connor Memorial USAC sprints Aug. 6 and ARCA stocks Sept. 17.
• Tri-State Speedway (812) 768-5995 — Located at Haubstadt the quarter-mile dirt-oval ranks among the finest in the nation. Special events include World of Outlaws sprints April 30, Hut Hundred USAC midgets May 21, UMP Late Model Summer Nationals on July 10, USAC Indiana Sprint Week on July 16 and Haubstadt Hustler sprints Sept. 17.
• Winchester Speedway (765) 584-9701 — King of Wings Sprints on May 15, ARCA stock cars May 25, Old Timers Weekend on Aug 20-21. Rich Vogler Classic USAC sprints Sept. 18 and 40th annual Winchester stocks Oct. 14-16.
Fans are reminded schedules are subject to change and to call ahead in cases of inclement weather.
Joe Buckles can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com