Throughout most of New York's Hudson Valley, the ground is still covered in a layer of icy white snow, as it usually is in early March. While for many it may feel like we’re still in the depths of winter, OCFS race fans know they are less than a month away from the start of another exciting season of dirt track racing in Middletown, NY. This year, like those before it, The Orange County Fair Speedway is going BIG for the first event of the season. The “OC OVAL KICKOFF 40” will get the season started in 2021 on Saturday April 3rd with a $4,000 to win DIRTcar Big Block Modified 40-Lapper
Though many top drivers have begun their 2021 seasons in Florida during Speedweeks, most won't be settled into their regular season home tracks by April 3rd, giving them the ability to run the “OC Oval Kickoff 40” without conflict. That combined with a $4,000 to win purse, is sure to entice the country’s top Big Block Modified drivers to register for what will be a field of exceptional driving talent.
Of course, what would all that matter if fans weren’t able to see it? For the entire 2020 season, grandstands at OCFS were shuttered, with fans clamoring for precious drive-in spots or streaming the races online at home instead. Well, 2021 will not go down like that! Grandstands are expected to be open for The OC Oval Kickoff and the rest of the season at OCFS! Track management will still be taking extra precautions and limiting the amount of seating available to ensure proper social distance, but FANS ARE BACK IN THE GRANDSTAND FOR ‘21! Of course, the drive-in section will be back as it has every year since 1967 AND racing will continue to be livestreamed for out-of-area fans too!
Though it seems the worst of the pandemic’s fallout on racing is over, it has forced OCFS management into thinking outside of the box when planning events. One out of the box idea that’s come to fruition, was a reinvention of the Big Block Modified points series. The new 12 race series features a mix of special format or long-distance races and regular Saturday Night 30-lap feature races, but the major change comes in the form of a new "playoffs" style system designed to produce consistently exciting Big Block racing all season. It will also allow for both local competitors and outside invaders to be competitive for the points championship by winning into the "playoffs".
All Big Block races will have a unique combination of qualifying procedures which will include varying types of pill draws ,Time Trials and inversions which will be challenging and entertaining at the same time (2020’s “Revenge” redraw returns on June 17th).
Beginning with the OC Oval Kickoff (a conventional style pill draw to determine heat race positions with a redraw to determine the starting positions of the top twelve) Big Block race winners will automatically transfer to the “Final Eight” which will cut off after the July 10th “Big Block Final Eight” event. The balance of the Final Eight will be determined by the high point drivers. Then it gets taken down to the “Final Four” Big Blocks, with the final Thursday night event on September 2nd determining the order of the final 4 by their finishing positions. A simple new system that shakes things up a bit may prove to be controversial with some fans, but OCFS Management and Brett Hearn are confident it will create one of the most interesting finales in OCFS’s long and storied history.