Speedway News (8547)
Keep up on racing and speedway news from around the US
Opening Day is still a couple weeks away at South Boston Speedway, but the track will rumble to life this Saturday with the track’s annual open practice, traditionally held one week before the season-opener.
For most of the drivers the season-opener on March 16 is the biggest day of the year, but this Saturday’s practice session isn’t far behind.
“It’s like a first date for all of us,” reigning South Boston Speedway Late Model Stock champion Peyton Sellers said of the upcoming open practice. “We’ll be adjusting to a few new rules, some new team members. And the track has been vacant for six months. There are a lot of changes that we have made in the off season that we feel will affect everyone, so it’s important to get ahead of the curve quicker than our competitors.”
Registration begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, with cars on track from 10 a.m. until noon when there will be an hour break for lunch. Cars will be back on track from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. with the garage closing at 5 p.m. The practice is open to the public at no charge. All divisions, Late Model Stock, Limited Sportsman, Pure Stock and Hornets, will be practicing.
South Boston Speedway’s season-opener, the Danville Toyota NASCAR Late Model Twin 100s, is scheduled for Saturday, March 16 with gates opening at 12:30 p.m. and the green flag falling at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and children 12 and under admitted free.
Thomas Scott, who finished third in the 2018 Late Model points chase behind Sellers and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Philip Morris, said he hopes to break Saturday’s open practice into two separate parts.
“First we’ll just be shaking the car down to make sure there are no issues where it was completely disassembled over the winter,” said Scott. “We’ll be breaking in the refreshed engine, seating in the new brakes, stuff like that.
“Once all is good there, then we will work on the set up of the car, starting off with last year’s set up to see how much the track has changed over the past six months since we were on it last. I have some new stuff I want to try to see if it makes the car better or not.”
Not everyone can make it to Saturday’s day-long practice. Trey Crews, who is moving up to Late Models this season after winning a second Limited Division title in 2018, will be tied up with work and unable to make it to the track.
“We’ve worked hard in the off season getting ready to make a run at the Late Model division,” said Crews, praising the support of Stallings Collision Centers, Mincey Graphics, Elite Recycling and his dad, H.E. Crews. “I hope to test the Friday before the opening race. We already shook it down once and were pleased with the car.
“Our goal is to come out and have fun like last year and hopefully everything falls into place. We’re excited about the 16th (the opener) and hope our performance from last year rolls over into this season.”
Defending Pure Stock champion Jordan Pickrel isn’t sure he will make it Saturday either. He will, though, practice at least once before opening day on March 16.
“We will be looking to get back in the swing of things, getting myself back in rhythm,” said Pickrel. “We’ll try some things that we worked on over the winter and experiment. We’re not sure where the track is going to be due to aging over the winter. I expect we are probably going to have a little less grip this year so I’m sure that will be a learning curve.”
Tickets for the Danville Toyota NASCAR Late Model Twin 100s on the afternoon of March 16 may be purchased in advance by calling 877.440.1540 or by stopping by the office between the hours of 9 to 5 Monday through Friday.
Two ARCA Menards Series championship contenders, West Virginia’s Travis Braden and New Jersey’s Joe Graf, Jr., are heading to the second event of the 2019 season, the March 9 ARCA Pensacola 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions at Five Flags Speedway, each looking for their second career victory.
Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford), a two-time ARCA/CRA Super Series late model champion, stunned the ARCA Menards Series when he pulled off an improbable victory in his first career series start at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2015. Driving for his family’s self-funded team, Braden made sporadic series appearances in 2016 and 2017 before getting the call to drive for Don Fike’s RFMS Racing team to close the 2017 season.
One of just three full-time employees of the RFMS team, Braden does much more than just drive the racecar. He puts his education to good use within the team too; he has dual degrees from West Virginia University in aerospace and mechanical engineering. Braden earned those degrees while pursuing and achieving short track glory. He was attending classes full-time when he earned those ARCA/CRA Super Series championships in 2013 and 2014.
“Obviously, always having attended school throughout my childhood while racing somewhat prepared me for doing it while attending college, but it really turned out to be an exceedingly difficult task,” Braden said. “Not only because I was reaching a higher level of racing, in the ARCA/CRA Super Series which required more time and focus, but I also chose to study two degrees, both very challenging. I also chose to exceed the "recommended" curriculum pace and graduate early. I did all this from hundreds of miles away from the race shops I worked in and race tracks we raced at. For those four years, if I wasn't sleeping, I was on the go somewhere. Oddly enough, I really enjoyed staying full-throttle.
“A lot of people have asked me if I feel as though I'd be higher up the ranks if I hadn't gone to college, and I really don't know the answer, nor do I really care. It wasn't an option. I had no desire to gamble one hundred percent on racing being my only career. What I do know, is the life I chose to live through that stage of early adulthood has really given me the confidence that no matter how insurmountable a task may be, it can be accomplished with enough desire and dedication.”
Braden is currently sixth in the ARCA Menards Series championship standings, 30 points behind second-place Christian Eckes. Point leader Harrison Burton, winner in the ARCA opener at Daytona, is racing fulltime in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and is not entered at Five Flags.
A short track specialist, Braden has a lot of experience and dozens of paved half-mile tracks across the country. But despite his experience and success across the Midwest, he doesn’t have a lot of laps at Five Flags Speedway. His career includes only two attempts at Five Flags, the 2014 Snowball Derby and the 2016 Snowflake 100. Lady Luck wasn’t kind in either attempt, something he and his dedicated team are working hard to reverse when the ARCA Menards Series takes to the track.
“Unfortunately, I’ve not gotten as much experience at Five Flags as I would like to have, being the short track guy I am,” Braden said. “In the few times I've been there, we've always been fast, but never had the whole deal come together. Whether it be failing tech inspection, having a tire failure, or most recently getting rained out, I've actually never run a full-race yet in Pensacola. I'm glad the ARCA Menards Series is going to Five Flags this year. I feel like it's going to be a great show, and a great race for RFMS Racing.”
If there is anyone who Braden can relate to on the track, Joe Graf. Jr. (No. 77 Eat Sleep Race Ford) may be the one. While their backgrounds are vastly different, Graf is following in Braden’s educational footsteps. Graf is studying business, media, and sports management at New York University full-time while also pursuing the ARCA Menards Series championship.
“The biggest challenge has been balancing the college work load with racing every weekend,” Graf said. “I am a full-time student so I have twelve hours of classes on Monday, then one on Tuesday and another big day on Wednesday before we fly out to go racing for the weekend. I’d get back on Sunday and try to get all of my work done.
“There always has to be something after your sport,” he continued. “No athlete plays forever, no racecar driver drives forever. I still want to be a part of the industry after I am done racing, and the best way to do that is to get a great education.”
Graf is currently 19th in the ARCA Menards Series championship standings after overheating problems put him several laps down at Daytona. Graf earned his first series win in a fender-banging duel with Zane Smith at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan last August. Berlin is known for its weathered asphalt surface that is abrasive on tires, something it has in common with Five Flags. With previous success at Berlin, Graf hopes it translates to another win.
“I’m really excited to see a new track on the ARCA Menards Series tour this year,” Graf said. “I don’t have any prior experience at Five Flags, but we tested there with our No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Ford and I think that test will put us a little farther ahead for race weekend.
“The short tracks are tough in ARCA competition and even though it’s a new track, I expect the race to be very competitive. We had some bad luck at Daytona, so we’re all eager to go to Five Flags and have a good showing that will give our Chad Bryant Racing team some momentum heading into Nashville and Salem.”
Braden and Graf and the rest of the ARCA Menards Series take to the half-mile Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida on Saturday, March 9. Practice starts at 1 pm ET/12 pm CT; General Tire Pole Qualifying is set for 4:30 pm ET/3:30 pm CT; and the ARCA Pensacola 200 is set to go green at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT and will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCARacing.com will have live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates throughout all on track sessions free for ARCA for Me members. New members may register for free at ARCARacing.com/login.
ARCA Racing PR
Green and checkered arguably are the favorite color schemes of any Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge enthusiast, but fans also should look out for another one of their preferred hues very soon.
The initial ticket mailing - sent in the famous light-blue envelopes from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ticket Office - started today for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 26.
Federal postal inspectors come to IMS with a large truck for the first mailing, and many IMS employees pitch in to help load the truck. NTT IndyCar Series driver Zach Veach of Andretti Autosport also helped load tickets for mailing Monday.
It takes approximately nine to 10 weeks to package all pre-ordered tickets for mailing, from orders the day after the previous year's race up to current orders. Hard work from employees in the Ticket Office and a computerized system administered by the IMS Information Services department ensure the ticketing process runs smoothly and on schedule.
A few facts and figures about this year's initial ticket mailing:
- Number of tickets sent: More than 150,000 Race Day tickets and more than 180,000 products (includes Race Day tickets, parking, concert tickets, etc.)
- Number of blue envelopes sent: More than 26,000
- Number of U.S. Postal Service trays to accommodate envelopes: More than 500
- Weight of all ticket envelopes and trays in first mailing: More than 4,250 pounds
- Geographic distribution: All 50 American states, the District of Columbia and 35 countries, including the U.S.
- Hours needed to fill envelopes by hand: More than 800 person-hours
- Number of IMS employees who fill envelopes: 38
The return of two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso and the arrival of rookies Marcus Ericsson and Felix Rosenqvist have sparked a large uptick in ticket orders from Spain and Sweden, respectively, compared to 2018. Twelve times as many orders will be mailed to Spain this week to fans eager to see Alonso, while more than five times as many Swedes have ordered "500" tickets this year to see countrymen Ericsson and Rosenqvist.
Receiving an eagerly awaited blue envelope in the mail is a rite of spring for thousands of fans of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." But why are the envelopes blue?
In the 1970s, Indianapolis 500 tickets were mailed in brown envelopes with the IMS return address in the upper left corner. In the 1980s, a heavier-stock, gray-colored envelope was introduced to mail the tickets, with just the IMS Post Office box number in the upper left corner. A computerized printer also was used for the first time in the 1980s to print ticket customers' name and address on each envelope.
When the Brickyard 400 was added to the IMS schedule in 1994, the Ticket Office needed a way to distinguish between the envelopes containing tickets for the Indianapolis 500 and the annual NASCAR race, especially if the Postal Service returned the envelope as non-deliverable.
So the IMS Ticket Office decided to color-code the ticket envelopes for each event. Indianapolis 500 ticket envelopes became blue, Brickyard 400 envelopes purple, and ticket envelopes for other IMS events, such as the United States Grand Prix Formula One race or Indianapolis GP MotoGP race, use a variety of colors, including red, cream and green.
Tickets for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 26 and the INDYCAR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 11 are available at IMS.com.
ISM Raceway's Modernized Infield To Make March Debut With New Additions, Inaugural eNASCAR Heat Pro League Draft04 Mar 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson
The newly modernized INfield at ISM Raceway is set to make its spring debut with exciting new additions and fan amenities when NASCAR returns to the Valley of the Sun for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500 Weekend, March 8, 9 and 10. New to the INfield experience this race weekend will be a Junior Activity Zone open all weekend long and on Sunday, ISM Raceway’s Gatorade Victory Lane will host the Inaugural eNASCAR Heat Pro League Draft featuring the biggest teams in the sport.
“We’re excited to host the greatest fans in motorsports again this weekend for the TicketGuardian 500,” said Julie Giese, ISM Raceway president. “Our INfield is the most immersive fan experience in all of NASCAR and we’re proud to continue to grow that with new additions to the amazing activities already in place.”
Highlighted by the new interactive garages allowing fans to get up close to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers and teams, the opportunity to celebrate with winning teams in Gatorade Victory Lane and driver appearances throughout the weekend, the INfield offers an unparalleled access for fans. Along with the new Junior INfield access pricing, ISM Raceway is opening a Junior Activity Zone featuring inflatable games, giant coloring boards, face painters and other child-friendly activities.
Beginning on Saturday, March 9, fans will have the chance to receive copies of NASCAR Heat 3 and race head-to-head around the virtual ISM Raceway while their races are shown on the Gatorade Victory Lane video board. On Sunday, Gatorade Victory Lane will play host to the inaugural 2019 eNASCAR Heat Pro League Draft as the newly-formed esports league will feature 14 teams and 28 drivers, each owned and operated by prominent NASCAR teams. The draft will be broadcast on ISM Vision Screens throughout the facility, but fans with INfield access can see the event live in Gatorade Victory Lane as drivers, owners and other team representatives will be on hand to make their picks.
Fans will also have opportunities to see some of their favorite drivers on Friday and Saturday in the INfield at the driver appearance stage behind Gatorade Victory Lane during moderated Q&A sessions.
The current driver appearance schedule includes (subject to change):
· Brandon Jones – Friday, March 8 at 12:30pm
· Alex Bowman – Friday, March 8 at 2:00pm
· Kyle Larson – Friday, March 8 at 2:15pm
· Cole Custer & Chase Briscoe – Friday, March 8 at 2:30pm
· Aric Almirola – Friday, March 8 at 2:45pm
· Tyler Reddick – Saturday, March 9 at 9:15am
· Noah Gragson & Justin Allgaier – Saturday, March 9 at 9:25am
· Erik Jones & Alex Bowman – Saturday, March 9 at 11:30am
Fans with INfield access may also enjoy the O’Reilly Pre-Race Party prior to both Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race and Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500. During the Pre-Race Party, fans can walk pit road, sign the start/finish line and watch pre-race ceremonies.
Exclusive food and beverage options, as well as spacious lounging areas are favorites throughout the INfield. The Miller Lite Beer Garden, Modern Margarita Tequila Bar and Portacool Chill Zone offer fans an opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the best fan experience in motorsports.
Tickets and INfield access wristbands may be purchased online at, by phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223), or in person at the ISM Raceway ticket office. Adult and Junior prices are available.
ISM Raceway PR
Tickets are on sale now for the famed 59th annual Rose Cup Races. The 2019 event will take place July 12 through July 14 at Portland International Raceway (PIR) and will feature Pirelli GT4 America and TC America professional racing, plus four race groups showcasing the best amateur racers in the Northwest.
- Big Bore FOPIR Rose Cup feature race presented by Proficio Singapore: Large displacement engine cars like Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, Shelby GT350s, Cobras and Porsches. Three classes within one race called RC1, RC2 and RC3 depending on performance level.
- Spec Miata Challenge presented by Casa bella Granite, Marble & Quartz: Famous for tight battles and finishes that are just inches apart, these Mazda Miatas are also in a fight for a season-long championship in the Northwest Spec Miata Tour.
- Spec Racer Ford Showdown presented by Market of Choice: Open cockpit identical sports racer cars powered by 1.6-liter Ford engines put the focus on the drivers in this highly competitive group, with multiple lead changes per lap a common occurrence.
- Vintage Grand Prix presented by Columbia Roofing: A Rose Cup Races tradition with a wide variety of brands and iconic models that will have fans reminiscing about their favorite cars growing up.