Get your RPM’s up for 2014

By on December 31, 2013

Motorsports in 2014…

A look at what’s in store for the coming year.

Scott Dixon (photo: Chuck Green/Cg Photography)

Any race fan worth their genuine, authentic, replica pit crew shirt, can tell you the place to get your year started, the only location to satisfy that burning need for speed, is the warn tropical climate of the Sunshine State, Florida. Most every major professional racing series begins the year somewhere in Florida. Regardless of your poison, Stock Cars, Sports Car, Open Wheeled, Dirt, even drag racing, and offshore powerboats, you will find something to suit almost every race fans needs.

As a motorsports correspondent for Rocket Sports & Entertainment, I will offer some opinions, and insight as to what the 2014 season has in store by looking at a few of the major series that begin their season here in the Sunshine state.

Tony Stewart (photo Chuck Green / Cg Photography)

NASCAR: What can you say about NASCAR that has not been said already, the series considered to be the premier racing series in North America returns to the high banks of Daytona to start the season with the crown jewel of NASCAR racing, the Daytona 500. 2014 will again feature a 36 race schedule with the final 10 races of the season as the Chase to the Championship. NBC will return as the primary television network for the entire 2014 season and will showcase veteran driver, Jeff Burton in the broadcast booth. Jimmie Johnson will undoubtedly go after a seventh championship, and Tony Stewart will return to the #14 Chevrolet after breaking his leg in a sprint car crash in Iowa, that took him out of the championship hunt last season. Media darling, Danica Patrick should improve on her lack luster 2013 season with another year experience behind the wheel of a Cup Car. There are no major rule changes in place for 2014, but you can rest assured NASCAR will be keeping a watchful eye on drivers and teams to avoid another race fixing incident.

ALMS, and the Rolex Grand Am Series (photo Chuck Green / Cg Photography)

SPORTS CAR:  2014 will bring what is being billed as “A New Era” in Sports Car racing with the merger of the Rolex Sports Car Series, and the American LeMans Series, under the banner of the Tudor United Sports Car Championship sanctioned by IMSA. A unified rules package has been put in place to equalize the Daytona Prototypes from the Rolex Series, and the Deltawing, and Prototype2 cars from the ALMS. The GT Classes, featuring production based automobiles will also compete under a simplified rules package designed to bring parity, and closer competition. I would expect to see a few tweaks to these new rule packages, initial testing had both series pretty close, but when race day comes around we will see just how equal these cars will be. This new series will start the 2014 season with the historic 24 Hrs. of Daytona in late January.

INDY CAR: The Indy Car Series is without doubt the most popular open wheeled racing series this side of the Atlantic, but having said this, the series seems to lack in fan, and some will say, corporate support. This was evident when title sponsor IZOD failed to renew its contract with the series, saying they needed to pursue other avenues for their marketing campaign, this was a definite blow for the series along with a television package for 2014 that insiders say is somewhat nominal. Indy Car officials have condensed the 2014, eighteen race schedule, to what is considered a short six month time frame. A new race scheduled for early May on the road course at the fabled Brickyard, has left a number of fans upset that this new race will distract from the Greatest Spectacle in Sport, the Indy 500 run during the Memorial Day week-end. Officials hope this new race will bring more exposure to the sport, and attract new fans to Indy Car. Some say the 2014 season will be a make or break year for the Indy Car series, will the series go away? Probably not, however, officials may need to rethink their marketing plan. The Mazda Road to Indy Series, featuring three different levels of competition, the USF2000 series, Pro Mazda series, and the Indy Lights series will now be run under one corporate umbrella. Anderson Promotions will operate this developmental ladder series for 2014. I still believe the Indy Cars will be successful in 2014, and years beyond. The people that own, and oversee this series are some of the best in the business. Does the series have some problems, absolutely, but what business doesn’t.

To the victor… goes the burn out…2013 Champ James Hinchcliff (photo Chuck Green / Cg Photography)

DIRT RACING: For the race fan that loves to do it in the dirt, there are only three places you can be in February. East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida, Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida, And Volusia Speedway Park in DeLeon Springs, Florida. Every professional, dirt racing touring series, makes their way to Florida at one, or more of these venues. The World of Outlaws Dirt Late Model Series makes appearances at Bubba Raceway Park, and Volusia Speedway Park. The All Star Sprint Cars, and the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series start their seasons respectfully here in February, and one of the most popular, and visible Dirt Late Model Series, The Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series spends eight days on the dirt at East Bay Raceway Park, in Tampa. The Super Dirt Car Big Block Modifieds and the UMP Modifieds round out the show at all three venues.

Other series of note that visit Florida, the NHRA, and the IHRA drag racing series make stops early in the year, and Super boats International hosts seven events throughout the Sunshine State.

So whatever your racing pleasure, you will find it somewhere in the beautiful State of Florida during the first half of the year. All in all, 2014 looks to be a banner year for the sport. Maybe you should consider planning a trip to attend the event of your choice, what do you have to lose, shoveling the snow out of the driveway?

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