HEADIN’ OUT… To The Track by Bob Dillner
Fall Classics on Tap this Week
The sign along the road in rural Indiana tells the story... Winchester Speedway is the World's Fastest Half Mile." And its amazing during the Winchester 400 weekend.
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Wake up in the morning and step outside and there’s something different. A chill is in the air, the leaves are beginning to turn and the sky looks just a bit crisper. It’s October, autumn is upon us; yet, that’ not the only change for us with the desire to smell burning rubber and race fumes. Gone are the grinds of most weekly racing tracks; fall finally brings some of the most anticipated events of the season and some of them are just around the corner in your backyard. Here’s what’s on tap this weekend on a short track in your neck of the woods.
The Winchester 400 – There is nothing like a true autumn day watching Super Late Models blast around 37-degree banking. And that’s what you will see this Saturday and Sunday, October 13th and 14th, when the 36th Annual Winchester 400 takes place on the self-proclaimed “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” Winchester Speedway.
This event is laced with history dating back to when Dave Sorg won the very first Winchester 400 in 1970. What is so unique is that the track has not really changed since then, except for a few upgrades in amenities. The officials tower in the infield is classic, the cornfields surrounding the facility are picturesque (they even serve as parking areas at times) and the waffle cones filled with more ice cream than you can imagine are unforgettable.
And check out the list of former 400 winners; Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Ted Musgrave, Gary St. Amant, Butch Miller, Mike Cope and Mike Eddy, just to name a few names that may ring a bell. The “King of the Winchester 400” though will always be Bob Senneker. You would think his smooth driving style would almost contradict the aggressive nature of the Winchester high-banks, but together they seemed to compliment one another. Senneker is a 7-time winner of the prestigious event.
This year’s 36th edition of the spectacle will feature at least 40 of the best Super Late Models from ten different states and two current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stars, “Chase” competitor Kyle Busch and David Stremme, who is a former competitor in what is now the CRA Super Series. Speaking of which, the 400 is the CRA SS finale in which we should see Chris Gabehart nail down the championship.
The track is located approximately 90-miles east of Indianapolis, so it makes for easy “getting to” from east, west, south or north. You hear this a lot, but this is one event, sometime in your lifetime, you need to see. Problem is, if you go once, you’ll want to go again. Think about it, Super Late Models on a worn our 37-degree surface on a beautiful autumn day in Indiana.
You can order your tickets online by going to www.winchesterspeedway.com or call the track at 1-800-514-3849. There is also a schedule of events on the website.
The World Series of Speedway Racing – There must be something to this weekend and special fall events on high-banked racetracks because about a ten hour drive east of Winchester, the 34th annual World Series of Speedway Racing will tackle the famed 26-degree banking of the 5/8’s of a mile Thompson Speedway in Connecticut.
The big dance at this event is the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour finale. Donny Lia has already wrapped up the championship, so this should be a no-holds barred type of “Mod Squad” dash for the cash. And if you’ve never seen the Mods go sparking into the corners at Thompson Speedway, there’s not a sight like it.
But what really makes this event so special is the mere fact that more than 500 cars will fill the pit area of the track in the furthest corner of the Huskies state. Fourteen different divisions will be racing during the three-day extravaganza. The mornings are early and the evenings are late, but there is plenty of racing to go around before the folks in New England go into hibernation for the winter.
And this is one event you can bring your significant other to and get away with it being a nice autumn trip for just the two of you, or event the whole family. New England is blazing in its fall colors right now and the trip from I-395 to the track, through a couple of small towns, is quaint and peaceful. The towns are filled with beautiful churches, old homes and a few small shops. To top that off, Thompson Speedway sits directly on the grounds of a beautiful golf course. And if your lucky, the Quarter-Midgets could be running a the tiny “Little T Speedway” just outside of turn number four. While there is not an abundance of hotels in a close proximity to the speedway, there is plenty of camping areas on the grounds. And if you want a good bite to eat, the Thompson Speedway and Golf Course Clubhouse provides good old fashion cooking and nice entertainment.
What makes the World Series at Thompson special is that its much more than just the Whelen Modified Tour.
You just gotta show up for tickets, but you can go to You just gotta show up for tickets, but you can go to www.thompsonspeedway.com for the entire weekend schedule of all 14-racing divisions.
Here’s the scoop about some of the other big shows around the country this weekend:
Friday, October 12th
Blizzard Series Finale – It’s down to one race for the championship in one of the healthiest Super Late Model programs in the country, the Blizzard Series at Five Flags Speedway. Ryan Crane and Justin Drawdy are duking it out for not only the Blizzard crown, but for automatic births into the prestigious Snowball Derby in December. If you’re in the panhandle region of Florida on Friday night, make sure you check it out (or if you can’t make it, visit Speed51.com for Trackside Now coverage of the event). Just a short trip down the road on Saturday night will be the SLM finale at Mobile Speedway (AL).
Saturday, October 13th
Tennessee Fall Brawl for WoO Dirt Late Models – What is special here is not the fact that it’s the World of Outlaws Dirt Late Model tour, but rather the venue they will be racing at, Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, TN. Sit down, strap in and grab the bull by
Ryan Crane is leading the points at Five Flags Speedway in the Blizzard Series.
the horns because this 4/10’s of a mile dirt track with 32-degree banking will rock your world. The Tennessee Fall Brawl will attract nearly 75 of the best Dirt Late Models in the country and will serve as the next to last race weekend for the WoO Dirt Late Models. And get this; the 100-lap event on Saturday is worth $20,000 to win! Steve Francis may be the WoO Dirt Late Model point leader, but points won’t be the main thing on racers’ minds in the Fall Brawl.
Sunday, October 14th
PASS North Series Finale – The PASS North Series has had some weather difficulty this season, but due to last weekend’s rainout at All-Star Speedway, this Sunday’s event at the beautiful White Mountain Motorsports Park in New Hampshire will be the finale. Coincidently, this race is actually a make-up event due to another rain postponement. For the title, it’s a father and son battle, with Ben and Mike Rowe separated by just a couple handfuls of points. And it’s a big triple-dip for the PASS folks as the PASS Outlaws and PASS Mods wrap up their season on Saturday at White Mountain.
Late Model Stock Car Specials – The fall classics for the southeast Late Model Stock Cars kicked off a couple weeks ago with the 300 at Martinsville, now a bunch of the tracks are jumping into the fray with their season-enders. But, here is something that is just flat-out stupid; all three of them this weekend are on the same day and within an hour-and-a-half drive of each other. There’s the classic “Fall Brawl” at Hickory Motor Speedway, the “Fall Final” at Friendship Speedway in Elkin, NC and Mid-Atlantic Championship at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC. They are all good races, but they are all relatively close to each other and all are on Sunday. Somebody scream… Dumb!
Rocktober at the Jersey Shore – Feel like doin’ it on the dirt this weekend? Well, there may be no better show this weekend than this one. This is a Friday, Saturday,
Late Model Stocks have plenty of options this weekend... almost too many.
Sunday triple-header. On deck Friday night is the $4,000 to win “Sock Hop 40” for the 358 Modifieds. Then on Sunday, it’s a double-dip of the Advance Auto Parts Super DirtCar Series. Twins 50’s for the Big Block Mods are worth $3,000 a piece and plenty of points with only two to go to determine the series championship. Finally, on Sunday, the Dirt Late Models wrap up the weekend with the “Rock N Roll 40” worth $5,000 to win. Also on the card are the URC Sprints, 600cc Micro Sprints, Super Sportsman Sprints, Sportsman Mods, Super Stocks, Vintage Cars, and Outlaw Stocks. And you get all this for a weekend ticket of only $55.