Dirt 101-February in Florida

By on January 20, 2014

The World of Outlaws Champion Josh Richards at Bubba Racepark in Ocala (photo Chuck Green / Cg Photography)

Florida in February, a great place to be, sunshine, blue skies, warm temperatures, beautiful white sand beaches, bikinis, great seafood, salty margaritas, and let’s not forget, there’s no snow to shovel, and no sleet or ice to scrape off your windshield, no need for thermal underwear, snowmobile boots, or down filled parkas. Sunglasses, a Jimmy Buffet “its five o’clock somewhere” T-shirt, shorts and a pair of flip-flops should suffice nicely.

For the hundred gazillion gear heads throughout our great nation, February in Florida means Speed weeks, a perfect opportunity to get out of the cold, make the trek down south and take in some of the finest racing action one will ever have the chance to witness, and contrary to popular belief, some of the most competitive, side by side, nose to tail action does not take place on the high banks of a super speedway in Daytona, or the winding road course of the old WWII bomber base in Sebring, but rather on three dirt short tracks throughout the state, East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Bubba Raceway Park just north of Ocala, and Volusia Speedway Park on the east coast, just a bit outside of Daytona. Virtually every major, professional dirt track racing series will be at one or more of these venues during the month of February, and for those race fans that reside in Florida, February is the one and only time they will have to see these series compete due to the fact, that the touring schedules do not allow another stop in Florida all year. Let’s take a look at these professional touring series, and what you might expect to see during the 2014 edition of Speed Weeks.

Kenny Wallace, East Bay Raceway Park, Tampa FL (photo Chuck Green / Cg Photography)

Without doubt, one of the most popular forms of dirt track racing today is the Dirt Late Model, a high horsepower, purpose built race car designed to do one thing, go fast on a dirt surface. The two most visible, professional Dirt Late Model Series both make stops in Florida during Speed Weeks, The Cars and stars of the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series will be in Tampa at East Bay Raceway Park for seven action packed nights of racing beginning February 9th. Fans will see current Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Champion Jimmy Owens begin his title defense against the likes of Don O’Neal, Tyler Reddick, Tim McCreadie, and Scott Bloomquist. The World of Outlaws Dirt Late Models kick off their portion of Speed Weeks on the big half mile track of Volusia Speedway Park as part of the 43rd annual Dirt Car Nationals. After an outstanding 2013 season, and his third World of Outlaws Dirt Late Model Championship, Josh Richard is the hands down favorite to continue his winning ways. The World of Outlaws Late Models wrap up their Florida swing through Florida with a stop at the three-eights mile egg shaped oval at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala. The Outlaws are scheduled to be in Ocala four days with the final race set for February 16th. Other Professional Late Model Series in Florida during Speed Weeks, the NeSmith Dirt Late Model series, and the Fastrak Dirt Late Models will be in Tampa and Ocala respectfully.

Dave Reutimann and his dad Buzzie discussing race strategy (photo Chuck Green / Cg Photography)

The final event that needs mention is the Street Stock World Championship. The brain child of Al Varnadore, and Todd Hutto, promoters and owners of East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, This championship event is designed to give the Saturday night, week-end warriors, running at every short track across America the opportunity to run on a national stage under a unified rules package, in front of the major professional touring teams in the business. 2014 will be the 4th annual edition, and this event has grown into a favorite of fans, and racers alike. Every year, the number of racers have increased, and 2014 is expected to see a car count exceeding fifty or more race cars. This is a must see event for race fans, this is a chance to see the stars of the future audition, if you will, for national sponsorships, and the opportunity to strut their stuff for the owners of the high profile touring series.Sprint Car fans will also have plenty to satisfy their need for speed during Speed Weeks. The UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions stops at both Ocala, and Volusia. The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car series will also be at Volusia, and the 360 and immensely popular Florida Mini-Sprints will do shows at East Bay in Tampa. The biggest buzz circulating through the Sprint Car world is the announcement of the king of the Outlaws, Steve Kinser, running what is to be, his final full time season behind the wheel of a Sprinter. Sprint Car fans in Florida take notice, 2014 Speed Weeks will be your last opportunity to see this Sprint Car Racing legend  doing what he does best, don’t miss it.

Kenny Scharder (photo Chuck Green / Cg Photography)

So, as you can see, Florida in February is the best, and only place to be, to satisfy that burning need for speed. Tampa, Ocala, Volusia, maybe a trip to all three might be on your travel plans, or maybe you only have time to visit one of the venues mentioned, whatever the case, the closest, most competitive, most exciting racing during the month of February in Florida is indeed, in the dirt. What more can you ask for, blue skies, sunshine, great food, a wide variety of fast race cars, and oh, did I mention Bikinis?

A LOOK BACK, David Reutimann in victory lane after winning the 1998 Powell Memorial in Ocala (vintage photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN file)

A LOOK BACK, a media frenzie, David Reutimann gets interviewed in after winning the 1998 Powell Memorial in Ocala (vintage photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN file)

A LOOK BACK, David Reutimann on his way to victory in the 1998 Powell Memorial (vintage photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN file)

 

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