Ocala Ready for the O'Reilly Sprints and UMP Mods
by BJ Cavin
Ocala Speedway owner Mike Peters called his staff together on Saturday morning for a final meeting to discuss this week's big events before the O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions, and the UMP DirtCar Modifieds, begin to invade Ocala on Wednesday.
This is the biggest and most prestigious event held at Ocala Speedway in decades, and the very first 410 sprint car races of 2009 held anywhere in America, and Peters wanted to be certain that his staff was ready for the challenge as fans and racers from all corners of the nation and Canada descend on Florida's oldest and most historic race track.
And Peters himself has been busy, spending 7 days a week working at the track, making improvements and repairs, and promoting the upcoming special events. This will be an exciting and historic event for sprint car racing and for Ocala Speedway, and the track has received requests for info from as far away as California as racers and fans plan to attend.
The Ocala Speedway Winternationals officially get underway on Thursday with the first night of competition, but race teams begin arriving as early as Wednesday in preparation for the three night series of races.
A practice session is scheduled on Wednesday evening to allow the teams some track time, and both the O'Reilly 410 sprint cars and the UMP DirtCar Mods will take advantage of the extra time to adapt to Ocala Speedway's tricky layout. Ocala Speedway has the reputation of being the toughest 3/8ths mile in the southeast, and drivers are anxious to attempt to tame it.
The practice will run Wednesday night from 5PM until 8 PM on Wednesday and admission to the pit area will be $10 per person. Seating will be available in the turn one bleachers which afford an excellent view of the entire racetrack, and fans are welcomed to come. Since fans will be inside of the actual pit area, insurance requirements dictate that all attendees must sign a pit area waiver and be banded in order to be admitted.
Racing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, will include multiple heat races and B mains in order to set the fields for the A main feature races. Most of the top sprint car racers in the country are expected to be there to race, with Steve Kinser announcing via the "Dirt World" racing talk show on Real Racin' USA that he will be in Ocala and ready to race.
Several World of Outlaws drivers are planning on using the Ocala races as a tune up for their 2009 season, and the O'Reilly All Stars welcome them to the competition. There are very few chances to see drivers from the two top sprint car series on the same track together, making this a rare and exciting occasion for the fans.
The UMP DirtCar Modifieds are also bringing an impressive field of racers to Ocala, including Kenny Wallace and Buzzy Reutimann. The cancellation of a major modified race out west freed up a multitude of top modified teams from all over America, and many of them have contacted Ocala Speedway and have announced their intentions to come and race in this event.
And there is no shortage of regional and local modified drivers who want to put their skills and machines up against the best of the best. They include champions like Jeff Mathews, John Bradley, Dave Barber, and more. And a some top names are still on the fence about coming to Ocala for this race. Ken Schrader and David Reutimann have not said what their definite plans are at this point, but both could be there if they can fit it into their schedules.
Mike Peters said early on that he wanted the Ocala Speedway Winternationals to be "affordable" for most race fans, and Peters set admission prices for the three night event accordingly.
Peters' idea is to allow fans to see some of the top racers in America, and do it for less than what most tracks charge for racing of this caliber. An adult grandstand admission ticket is $25 for Thursday and Friday night's races, and $30 for Saturday's finale.
Children 12 and under are admitted for $15, and there is no charge for infants. Pit admission is $35 per night. The grandstand gates will open at 5 PM on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. RV camping is available at the speedway for $10 per night.
Call the speedway at 352-622-9400 to reserve space for your RV, or to get additional information on Winternationals events. Fans can also access additional information by going to www.OcalaSpeedway.com, or the Ocala Speedway MySpace at www.MySpace.com/OcalaSpeedway.
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