Florida Speedweeks is probably my favorite time of year. We’ve got all types of racing from dirt Street Stocks to pavement Midgets to Super Late Models and yes even those big taxi cabs that run on Sundays. And they run them practically every single night. So, not only is there a smorgasbord of racing to choose from but the whole Circle Track crew gets to see and hang out with racers and friends from all over the country.
When I was younger, every Thursday before the 500 we used to attend the twin 125-mile qualifying races during the day then head over to either Volusia Speedway Park or New Smyrna Speedway for some short track action at night. This year I got the bright idea that I would try to hit all three tracks in a single day. I wouldn’t see all the action, but no big deal my goal was to get to all three in one day for no other reason than to say I did it.
So Thursday morning I got myself up and out of the rent-a-condo over on Daytona Beach and headed to D.I.S. My plan: watch the first of the two Duel races, head to Volusia to catch the Dirt Big Blocks and Late Models, then race to New Smyrna for a 150-lap Pro Late Model race. At all three tracks, there seemed to be a very upbeat vibe throughout the pits. Here’s the short of it.
The action of the day kicked off at Daytona with the debut of NASCAR’s heavily promoted Gen 6 stock cars. Not a bad debut, but the drivers seemed to race conservatively—not as exciting as I expected. After a short bench racing session on pit road with Chevrolet Performance’s Bill Martens it was on to the good stuff.
Next stop Volusia Speedway Park. Now open just for the DirtCar Nationals I rolled up to a jam packed parking lot, but the crowd wasn’t just in the stands. Check the camera phone pic, 53 Late Models and everyone was there, Richards, Lanigan, Babb, Bloomquist and so on. The previous night our buddy Tim McCredie had won, but tonight he was chasing the track. The racing was great by the way.
In addition to the Dirt Late Models, the Big Block Modifieds were in town, 37 of them in fact. I grew up watching these cars at the long-gone Flemington Speedway in New Jersey, so they have a special place in the heart. While they ran heat #1, I ran into Jim Conje from Strange Oval. You’ll read more about their new axles in a future issue, but now it was time to head southeast to New Smyrna Speedway. If I timed it right I would have just make the Pro-Late feature.
I rolled into NSS to find a smaller crowd than Volusia, but a healthy car count for the Supers, and Pro Lates (a.k.a. Super with a crate), but light on the Tour Type Modifieds. The 29 Supers were good but the Pro Lates had a whopping 34 cars. Now 34 might not seem like a lot to some of you, but pavement Late Model racing in Florida has struggled mightily in the last decade. So to see 34 crate cars show up is quite impressive, prompting our own Bob Bolles, who I met up with on this night, to say “I don’t think I’ve seen this many cars here since the ’80s.”
By the way, did I mention that the racing was spectacular? The Pro Late Model show was easily one of the best races I’ve seen recently and I’m not the only one who thought so…many of those in attendance were impressed by the level of competition. If this February taught me anything it showed me that short track racing is positioned quite well for 2013…it should be a great year.
Until next time, go fast and turn left.