When certain parts of the country watch the weather for impending snow and ice, track promoters in Florida are directing their attention to hosting racing events. The temperate climate serves as the perfect background for enticing racers from far and wide to gather in what has become known as SpeedWeeks, WinterNationals, or some variation of such.
The long-standing tradition has equally served as a springboard for testing new ideas and knocking off months of rust from seasoned drivers. It has been a place where reputations are earned and careers are enhanced. It has always been a test. To be far away and have things not go as expected can lead to a long disheartening ride with an uncertain next step. No matter the outcome, the effort yields no shortage of memories.
For those who utilize vacation time just to sit and watch, to commune with fellow race fans and bench race the outcome on a nightly basis, this is as close to Utopia as you’re going to get. A variety of racing is offered through multiple locations. You can take in as much or as little as you choose to achieve your level of satisfaction.
In 2019, the action gets started just three weeks after ringing in the new year and doesn’t let up until early March. Whether it’s Stock Cars or Sprint Cars, Modifieds or Late Models, and just about anything in between, it’s racing and racing right now.
East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton starts off with the 43rd running of the WinterNationals, setting the stage for four nights of competition from January 23-26. UMP Modified hot-shoes gather with the local Modified contingent and are joined by the local Street Stocks. On Friday and Saturday, the southernmost track in SpeedWeeks, Hendry County Speedway in Clewiston is offering up USCS Sprints and Mini-Sprints.
East Bay’s second week of action rolls out on Thursday, January 31 with three nights highlighted by Top Gun Sprints and Crate Late Models. At the same time, Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala opens up competition with the All Star Circuit of Champion Sprints from January 31 to February 2. Hendry County gets back in stride on February 2, with Florida Late Models at the center of two nights of racing,
Monday, February 3, will see the start of a six-night run for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, who actually opened their season earlier with a stop in Georgia. As the LOLMDS series hits its stride, Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville starts a campaign that sees 11 consecutive nights of action, starting on February 6 with ASCoC Sprints and Modifieds.
Through the course of the run, World of Outlaw Sprints, World of Outlaw Late Models, DIRTcar Late Models, and Super Dirt Series Big Block Modifieds will have their shot at entertaining the often large crowds. Bubba Raceway Park plays host to USCS Sprints and USAC divisions from February 7-9. Hendry County is back in action with Mod Lites, joined by several local classes
As the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series heads north from East Bay, a one-day stop at Bubba Raceway Park gives competitors a shot at a little more traveling money.
East Bay’s final week sees an open-wheel extravaganza with 360 Sprints, joined by two additional open wheel classes, running February 14-16. The USAC AMSOIL Sprints take center stage at Bubba Raceway Park at the same time with Mod Lites, a class rapidly gaining acceptance in Florida. Hendry County showcases two nights of Florida Late Models with the wrap up act being three nights of Lucas Oil Southern States Sprints and Midgets February 21-23.
Bubba Raceway Park gets back in action with Durrence Layne Late Models and Street Stocks carrying the action to March 2, bringing an end to SpeedWeeks. March 2 also serves as the opening night of the regular season for East Bay Raceway Park, giving the travelers who really don’t have to go home a reason to stick around.
For those who can’t be there, we’ll keep you abreast of the action from the first green flag to the final checkered. Sure, it’s a task, but someone has to do it and OneDirt will be up to the challenge.