The first night of Xtreme...
The first night of Xtreme Northern Series racing resulted in a photo finish. Jimmy Mars nipped Donnie Moran at the finish line at East Bay Raceway Park.
Off-season developments led to drama at every venue. At New Smyrna, there was the hope that the new ABC body rule would once again entice the traveling Late Model racer. There was the promise of business as usual when the NASCAR Tour Modifieds hit the track. At Volusia Speedway Park, it was the unveiling of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series and the DIRT Modifieds, now under the banner of Boundless Motorsports, making its annual appearance.
For fans at East Bay Raceway Park, the two Late Model series previously in action had now been merged under one banner (while remaining separate in terms of schedules and point standings for the upcoming season), but they were racing on Goodyear tires.
Triple Crown Oglethorpe Speedway...
Oglethorpe Speedway Park, Savannah, Georgia
In Daytona, most of the series contesting the 2.5-mile oval had drama of their own. The Nextel Cup, complete with new name, new fuel, and new point system to be implemented, offered up some uncertainties as some teams were racing with single race sponsorship, if any. In the Craftsman Truck garage, there was a combination of expectation and anxiety about how the newly arrived Toyota teams would fare. It was reminiscent of the attitude when Dodge returned to the then Winston Cup ranks. The former NASCAR Goody's Dash cars are back, but they no longer function under the sanction or the name. In their remote pit area, the IPower cars, complete with their new look, set out to challenge their first event.
Jerry Fifield was the fastest...
Jerry Fifield was the fastest qualifier in the two-day presentation. His Friday qualifying effort was the highlight as mechanical problems kept him from both features.
With all these changes, the racing still proved to be exciting. It set the stage for the year ahead.
With new show promoter, Moorea Marketing, at the helm, the annual Daytona Beach Motorsports Expo presented by Chevrolet witnessed increased attendance in its three-day run. The '04 attendance showed an 8 percent increase to over 20,000 attendees.
"We decided to refocus the show back to its roots, toward the Saturday night racer and race team," says Greg Nivens, president of Moorea Marketing. "It has obviously paid off for both our attendees and our exhibiting companies.
During the course of the show, a pair of racers each received $3,000 sponsorship deals. Thompson International Speedway Pro Stock driver Matt Zenisky of Holyoke, Massachusetts, was the first winner, with Kart racer Ray Tipton of McGaleysville, Virginia, winning the second drawing. Next year, the expo is expected to give away $20,000 to lucky winners.
East Bay Raceway Park, Gibsonton, FloridaNew York's Randy Hall made a visit, joining nearly 100 cars in the pit area in late January.
Ken Riddle of Parkersburg, West Virginia, slips inside a competitor during action in the 5th Annual Ramada Inn on Tampa Bay Open Wheel Modified racing.
Sonny Conley (1x1) battles Brian Birkhofer in the Stacker 2 Xtreme Dirt Car Series finale.
Three-wide racing was a common occurrence with the Late Models. Pete Parker (10), Ray Cook (53), and Anthony White scramble for position.
Davey Johnson (19) sweeps low to pass Bill Cunningham (59) during action in the Xtreme Northern Series finale on Friday night.
The field gathers on the frontstretch for the start of the Saturday night main event.
The big story line for the series came with the December '03 announcement of Goodyear tires on series cars. The East Bay date was the first for the new rubber, and the prognosis is good for 2004.
Nebraska racer Kyle Berck, who has won regional championships with NASCAR and touring titles with the WDRL PolyDome Series, chalked up an EastBay win on February 4.
While Late Models were occupying center stage, the 360 Sprints of the United Sprint Car Series (USCS) were also on hand. Tony Stewart jumped in for a spin in a 360. Stewart and driver Danny Lasoski chat with onlookers during a break in the action.
Tim McCreadie prevailed as fast qualifier and won the feature in the UMP Late Model opener. It was the first Late Model win for the DIRT Modified standout.
World Series of Asphalt Racing
New Smyrna Speedway, New Smyrna Beach, FloridaScott Reeves was a double winner in the Mini Stock division.
Scott Bloomquist (right) assists with an engine change in his Late Model. Bloomquist would prevail for the $12,000 winner's check in the World of Outlaws' closer on February 8.
Part of the attraction of the World Series is the arrival of the NASCAR Tour Modifieds from the Northeast. John White was named the top SK Modified on consecutive nights during the eight evenings of racing.
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, FLoridaIt was the end of an era as an open house marked the passing of Smokey Yunick's famous garage. The property will be sold and put to other use in the near future.
Tech inspectors saw plenty of Florida sun, but not much of the beach. ARCA officials were checking cars thoroughly before the start of qualifying.
Eventual winner Kyle Busch (87) keeps two-time Daytona champion Bobby Gerhart (5) and former Talladega winner Paul Menard (33) at bay.
Defending ARCA champ Frank Kimmel hasn't changed his name to one word, but it was done to remind the team of a joke from the team's history.
The new IPower Series changed the look of the cars and created marketing opportunities. A race day tragedy cast a somber note to the series beginnings as a track official was accidentally struck and killed.
Daytona Beach Motorsports Expo
Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FloridaThe crowd came early on opening day to see what was in store for 2004. Traffic was brisk throughout the show's three-day run.
The Daytona Beach Motorsports Expo featured a spacious display of concept vehicles and information about performance.
Longacre's Jeff Butcher came from the West Coast to provide short-track racers with an opportunity to see the latest products.
Displays stretched into the parking lot as trailer manufacturers joined others in an open-air display area.
Brake specialist Carl Bush was on hand at the Wilwood display in the center of the showroom floor.
Bob McDowell of Penske Shocks drew a packed house to the seminar area. Throughout the show, experts gave advice freely to interested racers.
Greg Nivens (left) awards a $3,000 sponsorship program to Thompson International Speedway Pro Stock racer Matt Zenisky.
Long-time show supporters Vic Irvan (left) and Kevin Smith of Irvan-Smith Company had a complete display of metal fabrication and racing equipment.
Clevite brought a round of the prestigious engine-building competition to the show. Professional engine builders put together a complete engine in under 25 minutes.
Vendors were kept busy with customers asking about the latest items.
An American Revolution is underway. The marketing campaign for Chevrolet was obvious in the displays outside the Ocean Center where the Chevrolet division of General Motors offered top cars for today's consumer.